Monday, 18 January 2021

Building a better Encounter Roll

Random encounters are good, but rolling them by the book sucks.

After you've rolled to check if there's an encounter, you have to roll for what the encounter is (sometimes this is two rolls, one on a subtable, e.g. the first roll is for category of encounter like animal, human, dragon, whatever, and then the second roll for what  the specific encounter is, like bear, wolf, snake etc.), then roll for number appearing, surprise, and encounter distance. That's five rolls to do one thing. Since the dice for number appearing is different per monster and encounter distance changes depending on surprise, you can't roll them all at the same time either. That fucking sucks.

Let's answer all of these questions in two rolls.

First off, encounter checks: condensing the check to see if an encounter happens into the other rolls is too much work. Instead, use the hazard sytem, which condenses an encounter check with like four other things, for maximum efficiency.

Next up, we're structuring our encounter tables like Nick does, using 2d6. In addition to allowing us to create a bell curve probability to determine the encounter, using two dice also allows us to get number appearing, surprise, and encounter distance all from one roll. Here's how it's done.

  • The sum of the dice gives you the encounter.
  • The first dice indicates surprise. Monsters surprise on a 1 or 2, players surprise on a 5 or 6. This allows you to give creatures different 'stealthiness' levels.
  • The second dice gives number appearing. You can add a modifier or multiplier to this for specific creatures. You can also index it to specific results per monster type (e.g. 1: 4 goblins, 2: 1 goblin boss, 6 goblins, 3: 1 goblin boss, 1 goblin shaman, 8 goblins) and just note that down next to the monster entry.
  • The first number multiplied by the second number multiplied by 10 gives you encounter distance. You can ignore or modify this if the result doesn't make sense, obviously; of all the rolls, encounter distance is the easiest one to ignore.

To properly understand this, we need to understand what the dice combinations on a 2d6 roll are and design the encounter table accordingly.

2 (1,1). This creature always surprises the party at a distance of 10 feet and shows up in units of one.

3 (1,2; 2,1). This creature always surprises the party at a distance of 20 feet, and shows up in units of one or two.

4 (3,1; 2,2; 1,3). This creature has a 66% chance of surprising the party, and does so in either units of two or three and at a distance of 40 or 30 feet. Otherwise, it shows up in a unit of one at a distance of 30 feet.

5 (4,1; 3,2; 2,3; 1,4). This creature has a 50% chance of surprising the party, and does so in units of three or four at a distance of 60 or 40 feet. Otherwise it shows up in a unit of two at 50 feet, or a unit of one at 40 feet. 

6 (5,1; 4,2; 3,3; 2,4; 1,5).  This creature has a 40% chance of surprising the party, in units of four or five at a distance of 80 or 50 feet. It has a 20% chance of being surprised by the party, in a unit of one, at a distance of 50 feet. Otherwise, it shows up in units of two or three at a distance of 80 or 90 feet.

7 (6,1; 5,2; 4,3; 3,4; 2,5; 1,6). This creature has a 33% chance of surprising the party, which it does in units of five or six at a distance of 100 or 60 feet. It has a 33% chance of being surprised by the party, in a unit of one or two at a distance of 60 or 100 feet. Otherwise, it shows up in units of three or four, at a distance of 70 feet.

8 (6,2; 5,3; 4,4; 3,5; 2,6). This creature has a 20% chance of surprising the party, which it does in units of six at a distance of 120 feet. It has a 40% chance of being surprised by the party, in units of two or three at a distance of 120 or 150 feet. Otherwise, it is encountered in units of four or five at a distance of 160 or 150 feet.

9 (6,3; 5,4; 4,5; 3,6). This creature has a 50% chance of being surprised by the party, in units of three or four at a distance of 180 or 200 feet. Otherwise, it shows up in units of five or six at a distance of 200 or 180 feet.

10 (6,4; 5,5; 4,6). This creature has a 66% chance of being surprised by the party, in units of four or five at a distance of 240 or 250 feet. Otherwise, it is encountered in a unit of six 240 feet away.
11 (6,5; 5,6). This creature is always surprised by the party, in units of five or six, at a distance of 300 feet.

12 (6,6). This creature is always surprised by the party, in units of six, at a distance of 360 feet.

So, the smaller the number is, the stealthier the creature is, the fewer numbers it is encountered in, and the closer the encounter ranges are. The inverse holds true for how big the number is. Makes sense right: stealthy things are hard to notice till they're close to you, large groups are easy to notice from a distance, whether that's by sight or sound.

If you want to do encounter sub-tables inside this roll, then the sum of the two dice gives you the category, and the result of the first dice gives you the specific creature type on a sub-table. Note that this does result in certain creatures always showing up in certain numbers and always having surprise or not. This can be remedied by making specific creatures show up multiple times both within and across encounter sub-tables. Personally that seems like a bit too much trouble, and given that you can roll on a table and a sub-table at the same time so long as they use consistent dice, I don't think it's worth the effort.

I originally wanted to include reaction rolls in this by indexing the result of the second die to reaction categories (e.g. 1: hostile, 2: neutral, 3: friendly, or 1-2: unfriendly, 3-4: neutral), but it resulted in a similar problem to above where certain types of monsters always had the same type of reaction. It can also probably be remedied the same way as the encounter sub-table problem, but reaction rolls feel just distinct enough from the other encounter rigamarole that it doesn't feel necessary; I usually decide reaction or roll it when the first player talks to the creature. And, since reaction rolls are always 2d6, you can also just roll it at the same time as an encounter (different coloured dice help). 

In fact, if you're doing encounter tables with subtables, and you structure them both as 2d6 rolls, you can do encounter category, encounter type, number appearing, surprise, encounter distance, and reaction rolls with a 6d6 roll.

Anyway there's the Hyper-condensed encounter roll or the New! Dove 4-in-1 Encounter Roll or whatever the fuck. Thanks.

Addendum: Anne has pointed out that this roll is probably better suited to just determining surprise, number appearing, and distance and not actually the encounter itself, and honestly I'm inclined to agree. It fundamentally still allows you to roll for things only once as you can roll encounter+ sub-table if necessary+ distance, number, and surprise+ reaction all in one go without having to restrict specific encounter types to certain distances or surprise or whatever. In this case, it's also probably more efficient to just do encounter distance by the book as the sum of the two rolls (2d6) multiplied by 10. 

I guess there's a reason shampoos max out at 3-in-1.

(it's fucking hilarious that dove only makes these 3-in-1 shampoos for men)

Thursday, 24 September 2020

Active Armour

As is in Errant, armour works like so.

  • Armour gives you AP, essentially an extra pool of damage you can take before it gets to your HP. There are no to-hit rolls, so armour doesn't make you "harder to hit", except in the sense that HP is an abstraction that represents your ability to mitigate taking serious damage.
  • Armour is piecemeal, so you can wear a helmet that gives you 2 AP and some gauntlets that give you 2 AP and end up with 4 AP total.
  • When you're down to 0 AP, you can use an armour repair kit and repair your AP back to full.
  • If you ever take max damage from a hit, a piece of armour you're wearing loses a point of Quality; at 0 Quality something is broken for good.
  • Shields work a little differently, so as to create a mechanical distinction between a regular shield and a helmet. A shield instead Impairs incoming damage (Impair means to reduce the damage taken by a die step, so d8 -> d6). A regular shield Impairs 1 while a large shield impairs 2 (e.g. d8 > d4). While this makes shields more powerful for reducing damage, it also makes them more likely to break, because smaller dice size = higher chance of rolling max damage.
  • You add a quarter of your max AP to target numbers for sneaking, climbing, swimming, squeezing, or balancing. Swimming while wearing chain or plate torso armour is going to cause exhaustion from hypothermia. Add half of your max AP to the target number for spell retention rolls.

I have a couple of problems with the armour rules as is.

  • Once you have all your armour on, the piecemeal aspect is kind of lost as it all gets aggregated into a big blob of AP. It still comes up diegetically enough whether or not a character is wearing a helmet or gloves when interacting with environment, but still.
  • Quality/AP disjunction: you track Quality for armour parts individually, but AP in aggregate. It can also be difficult to remember to take Quality damage, because unlike weapons which can take Quality damage when they're used, taking Quality damage to armour is passive.
  • Which is the crux of the issue, is that armour is passive, and in general, it is harder and more fiddly to keep track of passive resources which deplete rather than active resources which are used (and less exciting).
So, here is my attempt to fix those problems. 
  • Every piece of armour has a number of Blocks. Each Block can Impair damage by 1, but the player has to describe how they use that armour to reduce the incoming damage (e.g. a helmet is helpful if rocks are falling on your head).
  • You can use more than one Block at a time; this follows the normal rules for Impairment, where two instances of Impair 1 = Impair 2. Of course, taking a bigger hit with your armour means its more likely to lose Quality (if damage is reduced to 0, that still counts as taking max damage).
  • You can only use one piece of armour to Block per attack or instance of damage.
  • You can also use Blocks to negate non-damaging harmful effects that make sense (e.g. if a save or die poison needle trap is on a door handle, you can use a Block from your gauntlets).
  • Total # of Blocks function the same as AP for physical checks and spell retention checks.

Thursday, 9 July 2020


Inspired by Nick's POSER Manifesto and also this dumb tweet. Thanks Nick, for teaching me the importance of being shit.


1. Playing is like pooping: everyone knows how to do it, everyone does it different. Don't make it harder than it needs to be. Do what you gotta do.
2. This is a different space and time from the rest of your life. Drop all pretense and aspiration and conformity. Let yourself be gross, smelly, ignorant, cranky, bloated, uncomfortable, and relieved.
3. Don't play with people you wouldn't shit in front of.
4. Let yourself shit in front of more people.
5. Redefine shit. You are shit. Your work is shit. There will always be a gap between the ideal in your head and what you actually end up doing. There will always be something you forget or mess up or misinterpret completely. This is good. This is not failure. This is you. This is your work. What emerges in actuality is the honest creation of your own body. The gap between what you wanted to do and what you actually did is the space where transformation occurs; it is the difference between mere imitation (yes, even fulfilling what's in your own head would be mere plagiarism of yourself) and honest to god creation. Shit is transformative. Shit is creative. Shit is growth (literally, fertilizer; faeces are fecund).
6. FUCK ELVES. Elves are anti-shit. Graceful, hyper-competent, perfect, stagnant. An elf never has B.O., or farts, or gets gassy after a meal, or muffin tops in their favourite pants, or has body hair or even any bodily fluids. Elves eat kale salad without dressing every day. Elves eat that kale salad in juice form. Elves are what everyone tells you is sexy and good. FUCK THAT. Rejoice in scatological excess. The best parts of everything, eating, sleeping, shitting, fucking, are the grossest parts. Scratch your ass and eat a sandwich and lick your partner's armpit hair and admire the back rolls where the sweat collects and the acne because you guys drank too much last night! Let yourself be attracted to the grossness! The grossness is what makes us human. Fuck anyone who says otherwise, and fuck anyone who pretends they're not gross.
7. You know what a bad shit feels like. Do not let what you think, or what other people say you should think, trick you into disregarding what your body knows does not feel good for you.
8. Be shit at things. Play games you don't know the rules to. Write games you don't playtest or edit. Play games that you wrote but forget the rules that you wrote or ignore the rules that you wrote and play anyway.
9. Shit regularly.
10. Good manifestos might have ten points but this is a DUNG manifesto, it is shit, it is a heaping pile of stinking manure.

Monday, 4 May 2020

Rules and Diegesis

This is a series of loose meditations around the purpose and nature of "rules" in D&D-like RPGs. What I say here could probably be extrapolated out to things like PbTA but that's not my focus here. These tweets by Ben Milton were the catalyst for these thoughts.

I found this to be kind of a surprising statement considering that it leaves out "players use rules to overcome in-world problems", especially given that one of Ben's pet RPG mechanics, item slots (I don't think I've ever seen him miss an opportunity to suggest switching to a slot-based inventory system if the opportunity presents itself) to me typifies exactly that problem solving mode.

Let's unpack these statements though. What Ben is pointing out essentially is the difference between non-diegetic and diegetic design; however, in any medium, no work is wholly diegetic, as every text must include the extradiegetic level of presenting the work to the reader*. In RPG terms, this is simply because the "in-world" space does not actually exist**, and therefore requires a manner of ingress into the fictive world, some extradiegetic device that allows us to access the intradiegetic world: in literature, this is printed text, in film, cinematography, and in RPGs, it is discussion.

This is the first "rule", as in extradiegetic device, of RPGs, then: that by talking about a fictional world, we are allowed to enter it. A rule is a point of ingress into the fictional world.

The problem with RPGs, however, is that they are collaborative, and as such authority over the creation of the intadiegetic world must be distributed and maintained. Thus, we usually come to a second necessary rule to ingress into a fictional world, one that distributes authorial power in some way, such as: one person is the final arbiter of what happens in the intradiegetic space***. Without this, what you're liable to end up with is something like that of children's playtime gone wrong: "I attack you with my laser", "I use my shield", "you don't have a shield", "do too!", "it doesn't work against my laser though, it's an anti-shield laser!", "well my shield is a special anti-laser shield!", etc. The above exchange, as we can see, can not ingress into the intradiegetic space and takes place wholly on an extradiegetic level.

Our hypothetical RPG with only these two rules would occupy the lattermost position on Ben's axis, having only minimal extradiegetic elements. The problem with this type of game, obviously, is that as a game increases in complexity of things that can not be reasonably simulated through simple conversation (say, carrying items, engaging in combat, travelling through several miles of terrain), it becomes increasingly burdensome to resolve conversationally, and the difficulty of ingress into the intradiegetic world increases****. We create specific rules for these scenarios, then, to allow us to ingress into the intradiegetic world for that specific activity or task.

Item slots are a prime example of this. Pure weight-based encumbrance lies closer to the intradiegetic than extradiegetic side, and even farther in would be simply describing what and where your character is carrying everything at every given moment. An item slot system reduces this complexity by introducing a rule that keeps such things abstracted until it becomes salient intradiegetically. 

The Supply system in Five Torches Deep is also a great example; instead of buying exacting quantities of every item before an adventure, one simply says what they are taking (torches, food, etc.) as well as specifying the amount of Supply they are bringing, which can be used to replenish depleted consumable items that they have brought.

All of the items in Ben's list representing the "in-world" side of his axis, monsters, spells, items, still represent extradiegetic devices that allow us to more easily ingress into the intradiegetic world for the purposes of imagining that specific object or activity. They are still "rules" as such.

I think what Ben is noting in the first case of "rules interacting with rules", then, is the degree of what Brendan Strejcek terms proceduralism, that is the degree to which a specific rule directs a certain outcome. Brendan's own Hazard Die system we can say is moderately procedural: it directs a certain outcome, yet also makes allowances for Referee's to interpret the results of the outcome as they see fit, up to and including ignoring it (but only so many times). Combat in D&D, however, is rather strictly procedural: you roll to hit, a hit either connects or misses, and then a certain amount of damage is dealt to hit points. We can think of proceduralism then as the degree to which an extradiegetic element ingresses towards another extradiegetic element.

The other factor at play, I think, is the speed at which an extradiegetic element ingresses towards another extradiegetic element. As I think may have become element, extradiegesis and intradiegesis are intertwined, you can not have one without the other. Combat in D&D, for example, still requires the existence of an intradiegetic space for the extradiegetic devices to make sense, but that intradiegetic space need only be touched on in the briefest of manners. This is how we end up with "I roll to hit, 8 damage to the orc." "The orc rolls to hit, 12 damage to you" and so on.

I think rather than Ben's admonition to stick to either an extra or intra-diegetic style doesn't totally make sense in light of this: rather, I think what's important for designers to consider is where do you want your extradiegetic points of ingress to the intradiegetic space to be, how do they achieve that ingress, how procedural are they, and what do you want the breakdown of extra vs intradiegetic time do you want to look like?

These are all very loose thoughts and there's likely to be gaps in my reasoning. Please feel free to point them out and start a conversation!

*I use text and reader to refer to any cultural work and audience member
**It would be interesting to see how LARPs figure in this paradigm
***Obviously there are other rules that could take the place of this one, such as group consensus, but I'm using the Referee model
****I think the main reason this comes up in RPGs so much is, compared to other media, even videogames, the burden of creating and enacting the extradiegetic devices is largely on the reader, whereas in books, films etc the extradiegetic labour of telling/creating has been already done by the author.

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

On Vampirism

Well, it finally happened.

Carrion is rife with vampires. They're crawling out of the woodwork.

One of my players finally got turned.

Here are my rules for vampirism. Since energy drain in my game drains experience directly instead of reducing level, and if you're reduced below 0 xp, you die, it made sense for me to think of becoming a vampire as a sort of 'prestige class'. You retain the abilities you had up till you died and were turned, but you know have to go about growing your power as a vampire: normal modes of gaining experience and classes are no longer available to you.

Of course, you start out as a vampire thrall. When you're initially turned, a Wisdom Save (or equivalent) is allowed. If you pass, you have autonomy, though your master may not be aware of this. If you fail, you're in thrall to the vampire that killed you and you're going to have to find some way to break out of that.

When you do, you're free to feast and grow in power.

Archetype: The Vampire

Vlad Dracula Iconography in the Byzantine style painting.Unknown artist.
Just cause I love his brother Radu and obsessed with byzantine thing~

Attack Damage - As per mortal Archetype, except now do 1d6 unarmed/biting.








1. You are a vampire, and thus, you are undead. You retain the Archetype abilities you had at the time of your death. You are physically immortal and can not die through aging. You do not need to eat food, drink water, or sleep, though you must sate your hunger with blood every day or else lose the ability to use your Boons until you feed again. You can not be magically charmed, put to sleep, or held, and are immune to paralysis and poisons. Damage based on cold or electrocution only deals half damage to you. Any spell, magic item, or ability that affects undead also affects you. You can no longer heal through resting, or be resurrected as a mortal.

2. You are no longer bound by the realms of the mortal. You grow not in Renown (my version of levels) but in Power. For the purposes of recognition, add your Renown at the time of death and current Power. 

You can only gain experience through feeding upon a creature until it dies. Each creature is worth 100 experience per HD/Renown. People who are near and dear to you are worth more experience: 500 XP per HD/Renown for close friends, 1000 XP per HD/Renown for loved ones, and 2000 XP/HD for a soul mate. Creatures whose HD/Renown is less than your Power provide no experience. Feeding upon a creature also restores hit points to you equal to the damage dealt by your bite.

You start at 0 experience and your experience requirements are based upon the amount of experience you would have needed to increase your Renown when you died (e.g. if you died at Renown 1, you would need 2500 XP to grow to Power 2. If you died at Renown 2, you would need 5000 XP to grow to Power 2.)

3. You have Banes, vampiric weaknessess. At Power 1, you start with the Sunlight Bane. At Power 2, you gain the Staked Bane, and gain an additional Bane every Power thereafter until you have 10 Banes, after which you do not gain any more. If damage from contact with a Bane is needed, assume 2d10 as the default. Contact with a Bane disables the use of any Boons.


Sunlight - If you are exposed to direct sunlight for longer than an Initiative Rounds, you turn to ash and die.

Staked - If you are staked in the heart, you are paralysed and unable to use any Boons so long as the stake remains embedded in your chest. If you are decapitated after being staked, you disintegrate.

Running Water - If you are immersed in running water for longer than two Initiative Rounds, you disintegrate.

Wards - Traditionally apotropaic wards; garlic, hawthorn, aspen, mustard seed, holy water, religious symbols of good deities held aloft with conviction, a mirror or reflective surface, etc. will become very unpleasant to you. Any actions done in their presence are done with Disadvantage.

Metal & Fire - Silver, cold iron, and fire do double damage against you.

Arithmomania - You are compelled to pick up, tidy, and count small disorderly things, like grains of seed or millet. This Bane does not disable your Boons.

Invitation - You can not enter into any place you have not been invited to, nor any consecrated ground. Once you have been invited into a place, you may come and go freely. Businesses and other public places are considered to extend an invitation to all.

Random - Roll on the following table. The presence of the Bane causes all actions to be done with Disadvantage. Furthermore, contact with the Bane (or being within 5 feet of the source of a sound or smell) does 2d10 damage. (List taken/adapted from from blog of holding)

1-2: Copper
3-4: Gold
5-6: Horseshoes
7-8: Needles
9-10: Cutlery
11-12: Clocks
13-14: Stained glass
15-16: Dolls
17-18: Feathers
19-20: Combs
21-22: Pearls
23-24: Oak wood
25-26: Bread
27-28: Ginger
29-30: Salt
31-32: Pepper
33-34: Blankets and bedsheets
35-36: The scent of flowers
37-38: Tobacco smoke
39-40: Green flame
41-42: Cooked meat
43-44: Wine
45-46: Milk
47-48: Alcohol
49-50: Water
51-52: Fey creatures
53-54: Mummies and mummified things
55-56: Old people
57-58: Dirty people
59-60: White clothes
61-62: A children’s rhyme
63-64: Music from a specific musical instrument
65-66: Being mocked for a particular feature
67-68: An ancient language
69-70: Its own name, or the name of someone from its past
71-72: The face of its victims
73-74: Cats
75-76: Children
77-78: Bare feet
79-80: Songbirds
81-82: Roosters
83-84: Skulls
85-86: The queen of hearts, the red dragon, or another playing card
87-88: True love
89-90: Extracted teeth
91-100: Roll twice more on this table. If you roll the same result multiple times, the vampire is even more obsessed with this item, and contact damage increases by 2d10.

4. You have Boons, vampiric powers. At Power 1, you choose one Boon, and gain an additional Boon each time your Power increases.


Vampiric Power - Choose an Ability. While this Boon is active, it becomes equal to 14+Power, if it is not already higher. This Ability score will change as your power does (i.e. if you select this Boon when you are Power 1, that Ability will be 15. When you increase to Power 2, it becomes 16.) This Boon does not mitigate any Ability score loss (i.e. if your Ability is decreased by 1 from a source, the Ability can be thought of as 14+Power-1.) This Boon allows your Ability score to exceed 20. This Boon can be taken multiple times.

Thrall - Any humanoid creature slain by your bite and then buried will rise the next night as a vampire in thrall to you. If you take this Boon again, you gain the ability to turn someone into a vampiric companion, which will not be a thrall but an independent vampire with autonomy. You must visit the victim, feeding on them until they are at the point of death. At the last, when all hope seems lost, you draw away the last vestiges of the companion’s life and infuse them with your own energies. The process is both traumatic and passionate, for this mingling of essences is far more intimate than any purely physical act of love. When the bonding is complete, both the vampire and its victim are exhausted and all but helpless for upwards of an hour. At the end of that time, the victim has become a vampire.The companion shares a special metaphysical link with its you. Both can experience the other’s senses. Your companion also has the ability to command your other thralls, so long as no action is ordered that would place them in direct confrontation with you. You can have a number of thralls equal to your Power, and 1 companion.

Vampiric Regeneration - You regain 1 HP per Initiative Round if you have taken damage. This Boon can be taken multiple times, increasing the HP value regenerated by 1 each time.

Spider Climb - You can walk on walls and sheer surfaces.

Summon Animals - You can summon rats, bats, and wolves, or three equivalent animals of your choosing. Roll a number of d10 equal to your Power for the amount of rats or bats you summon, and a number of d4 equal to your Power for wolves.

Vampiric Gaze - You can cast the spell Bewitch at will upon anyone who meets your gaze.

Gaseous Form - Select a coffin or other resting place. If you are reduced to 0 HP you are forced assume a gaseous form. If you are able to make it back to your coffin or resting place within the hour, you will reassume material form over the course of 8 hours. 

Vampiric Magic - Select two spells of any school apart from Apotropaism or Spiritualism. You may cast each of those spells a number of times equal to your Power per day. This Boon can be selected multiple times to learn new spells. 

Omens of Doom - Your presence, should you wish it, can cause portents of dooms to plague a surrounding area of radius equal to your Power in miles. Such portents may include paranoia, hysteria, failure of crops, stillborn or mutated births, foul weather, etc.

Vampiric Immunity - Gain immunity to the effects of the Wards Bane. If you take this Boon again, refer to the following list: 2. gain immunity to the effects of the Arithmomania Bane; 3. gain immunity to the effects of the Metal & Fire Bane. 4. gain immunity to the effects of the Running Water Bane. 5. you can survive a number of Initiative Rounds equal to half your Power in Sunlight, though you can not use any Boons while you do so, and take 2d10 damage each Initiative Round. 6. Gain immunity to the Sunlight Bane. This Boon can not be taken more than 6 times. 

Dracula - Luke Parker a.k.a. future-parker

Saturday, 8 December 2018

imaginary worlds, imaginary numbers

these are cerebral and inchoate thoughts mostly related to my thesis that are going here because they have theoretical implications about how and why we run games the way we do, and the implications thereof. It is unlikely to be of interest to any other than me and is only going here as a record of notes.


the trend towards new paperback editions of staples like lieber, moorcock, et al are to include maps even when the original editions had none. in the case of works like elric, where concepts of geography, spatiality, temporality are deliberately confused, this seems laughable at best. an  obsession with "naming, counting, listing" theory, but delany's appendix in return to neveryon, an over-running katafictional story throughout many of his works, is the "modular calculus". the osr returns to the megadungeon, or approaches fictive spaces that don't conform to the approach of reified post-enlightenment fantasy worlds (the megadungeon as psychological space, as we see in Courtney Campbell's work, or Logan Knight's Corpathium to name one example), but the underlying structure of the game is based on algebriac logic: sequential turns, 10' spaces, 6 mile hexes (A1, B2) depleting rations, dice rolls. Naming, counting, listing. Perhaps the approach of od&d: to provide stats, a numerical rationalist grounding in the world, and then devalue those in favour of the conversation exploring the fictive approach, is meant to provide the destabilising effect of coming into these altered, non-rational spaces.

How to mathematically represent a Tanelorn or Viriconium or Neveryon? Perhaps it's the roguelike or the procedural. No Man's Sky produces an infinity of spaces that all share the same essential characteristics.

But what would running a game based on the logic of calculus look like? If we were to represent imaginary worlds with imaginary numbers.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Warriors V2.0 - Now with Feats!

Bloodborne arts                                                       …

I'm quite a fan of character builds, as are many of my players. The crunch and system bloat that comes with character builds in 3.X, 4e, or 5e, though, is something I, like many in the OSR disdain.

In my system, I feel like I've done a pretty good job keeping the sort of player-facing options that differentiates one person of the same level in a class to another, while not making options that make players more likely to "play their sheet" and not overtly bloat the system. Mystics have their relics and their deities, Sorcerers have their Maleficence, Arcane Tradition Focus, and a unique selection of spells, and the Specialist is a Build-A-Adventurer.

Except for Warriors. Poor Warriors. They get everything at first level and all they do after is check to see if their stats increase and dawdle around waiting to get extra attacks. Of which they have too many. As I currently have them, they get a number of attacks equal to half their level, maxing out at 5 basically, which I'm fine with, and attacks equal to their level against enemies with fewer HD, maxing out at 10, which is too god damn many. But I don't want to take away more options from them, nor their mook killing ability. What am I to do?


Yes, the word is anathema, but hear me out. I present:


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Warriors can attack recklessly or defensively (attack with advantage, defend with disadvantage; attack with disadvantage, defend with advantage).
At every odd level (excepting 1st), a Warrior gets an extra attack
whenever they make an attack action.
Warriors can sunder shields (break their currently equipped shield instead of taking damage).
Warriors have a number of combat die, which are d8s, equal to their current level. They can use one combat die per turn to use a Feat. Combat die replenish after a Warrior takes a long rest.
Warriors start with these Feats;
  • SMITE - On a successful attack, you may roll a combat die and add it to the damage.
  • GRIT - As a reaction, when taking damage, you may roll a combat die and heal that many hit points.

At every even level, Warriors can learn a new feat from the list below (or devise a feat pending DM approval)

  1. IMPROVED MANOEUVRE - If you successfully hit when making a combat manoeuvre, you may roll a combat die: the manoeuvre automatically succeeds *and* the creature takes damage equal to the number rolled on the combat die (plus any damage bonuses from current weapons.
  2. CLEAVE - Expend a combat die: this turn, whenever you reduce a creature to 0 hit points, or land a critical hit, you may make another attack.
  3. SURGE - Expend a combat die: you may take another action, though this action may not be used to attack.
  4. COMMAND - Roll a combat die: you can forego one of your attacks this turn and allow one of your allies to attack, with a bonus to the attack equal to the number rolled.
  5. POWER - Roll a combat die: this turn, all your attacks receive a penalty to hit equal to the number rolled, and receive a bonus to damage equal to twice the number rolled.
  6.  PRECISION - When making an attack, you may roll a combat die and ignore enemy AC equal to the number rolled.
  7. PROTECTION - As a reaction to an ally that you can being attacked, you may roll a combat die and give the ally a bonus to AC equal to the number rolled for that round.
  8. DESTROYER -Expend a combat die: this turn, all your damage dice explode on a roll of 7 or 8 (or 6, if improvising, and 4, if unarmed.
  9. SENTINEL - Expend a combat die: this round, whenever an enemy enters your combat range, or attacks an ally, you may make an attack of opportunity without using your reaction.
  10. BULWARK - Expend a combat die: this round, all enemy attacks (or any abilities that target one creature) must target you. If they do not, the enemy must Save or lose their attack.
  11. INDOMITABLE - As a reaction upon failing a save, you may roll a combat die and re-roll the save, with a bonus equal to the number rolled.
  12. EVASION - Roll a combat die: this round, while moving, you have a bonus to your AC equal to the number rolled.
  13. ASSESS - When you encounter a creature or the signs of a creature, as an action you may roll a combat die to make an INT or WIS test with a bonus equal to the number rolled on the combat die. You may then ask the DM a number of questions equal to your level about the creature.
  14. SLAYER - Roll a combat die: this turn, your crit range is increased by the number you rolled on the die (e.g. if your STR is 15 and you rolled a 5, you crit on a 10-15).
  15. EXERTION - Roll a combat die: This turn, you may make as many attack rolls as you wish, but each attack roll you make past your normal amount causes damage equal to the number rolled on the combat die (goes past AP directly to HP).
I'm happy with these feats. They seem tactical, but simple, and the limited use of them (1 a turn, up to level per day) should still keep combat brisk and not force a reliance on them, while still giving players who rolled Warriors meaningful choices in play.