Monday, February 1, 2021

Rules are on the House

 


Herein a compilation of my house rules for when I run games.


ODnD/Basics

If a level 1 Cleric cannot cast spells, he can instead cast spells as a level 2 Cleric. Starting at second level Clerics cast according to RAW.

There is no Raise Dead (will implement this next time around, the spell is grandfathered into my current campaign...)

When an NPC would have an exceptional attribute due to his description, it is rolled on 10+1d8 instead of 3d6.

A Luck roll is a roll under your lowest attribute on 1d20.

Holmes Basic/Blueholme

Attribute checks are on 1d20 instead of 3d6.

Surprise is handled like in later Basics, with a dedicated Surprise round.

There is no 1 in 6 chance of dropping your weapon if surprised unless special circumstances dictate there would be a chance.

Drawing and attacking in the same round incurs a -1 penalty to the attack roll.

Variable weapon damage ranging from 1d6 to 1d10. No weapon speed, everything attacks once a round.

Crits do max damage during combat.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess

Specialists have 8 skill pips at level 1 instead of 4.

Empire of the Petal Throne

Fighting Men have +1 to hit.

Myfarog 2.7


Happy rolling!




Sunday, January 31, 2021

Notes for Mayan Old School games

 


"There was heaven and earth, but the light of the Sun and the Moon were murky.

One by the name of Wukub K'aquix enhaughtened himself because of his riches.

Wukub K'aquix had two sons: Zipacná and Cab Rakán. The oldest took ownership of the hills, for he would create them in one night and his brother Cab Rakán would make them shiver and quake. All three brandished their great arrogance.

This appeared wrong in the eyes of the two young men called Junajpú and Xbalamqué, and so they decided to kill them."

System:

Any Old School game will do but Empire of the Petal Throne fit like a glove. Once the setting was adapted the only homebrew I used was a Lore stat (average of Strength, Intelligence, Dexterity and Comeliness), used when characters were liable to be fed obscure cultural knowledge. Most setting details though should be given out without a roll so that players can easily drop in.

Setting:

Main groups of non-Yucatec Mayans: Quiché/K'iché/Kawek (confederation of three tribes: K'iché, Tamub and Ilocab), Cakchiquel/Kaqchikel

Widely used materials: wood, cotton, resin, corn/pumpkin/other plant fibers, bone/feather/fur/other animal materials, flint, jade, precious stones, gold and silver, obsidian (used to make weapons and mirrors)

Armor: cotton armor (similar to a buffcoat), decorative headgear and other decorative/symbolic armor (feathers, fur, bone, bodypaint, jewels), shield. I had decorative armor convey an AC bonus as well because of the fear/awe factor.

Other body decoration: body painting (clay, mineral powder etc). Nose rings are a sign of nobility/kingship/authority. Kaqchikeles do not pierce their ears or elbows (but Quichés do). There are records of jade-studded teeth but this was probably exceptional.

Weapons: daggers, axes, maces, macahuitl, bows, blowguns, slings, spears/javelins, atlatl

Pom (copal tree resin) is often burned in everyday ceremonies.

The owl is a harbinger of death. When the black vulture spreads his wings at night, the sun will soon rise.

The Kaqchikel

Your tribal totem: zotz (the bat), therefore your people are also known as the zotzil. Your lord/king is known as Ajpop-zotzil (lord of the zotzil)

Your legendary tribal ancestors: Gagawitz, "fire mountain" (=Quiché Jacawitz) and Zactecauj, "snowy mountain"

Appendix N:

Popol Wuj, Annals of the Kaqchikels, The Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel, Ritual of the Bacabs



"With the great rains and hail the fire of the other peoples had gone out, and they all came, shivering with cold, teeth hitting teeth, to ask for fire from Balam Quitzé, Balam Ak'ab, Majucutaj and Iquí Balam. They gave it, under the condition of joining them, and all the peoples accepted.
But there was a people who did not want to ask for the fire, the Cakchiqueles, who stole it under cover of the smoke instead."



Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Flame Prïncess Cult, a LotFP zine

 


Old School Hero Jeff Rients has edited a LotFP zine going on issue #6 at the time of this posting. It features writing by Jeff, Zak S, Tim Harper, yours truly and many, many other creative Lamentations enthusiasts. The issue that sees the most time at my Tuesday game table is number 3, but every single one of them is worth your while.

Brook no delay and go download and print off your copies right now!


Flame Prïncess Cult



Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Shakespearean Fight minigame

 


A ragged youth enters.

YOUTH: Let each man do his best. And here you draw a sword, / Whose temper you intend to stain / With the best blood that you can meet withal / In the adventure of this perilous day. (Henry IV part I 5.3.96-99)

He exits.


A Shakespearean Fight is cinematic, dramatic, and primarily punctuated by dialogue. This minigame generates opponents, dispositions (reactions), initiative, and a progression leading to a result, optionally (read: optimally) death. This game, besides of course the Bard, takes inspiration from Venger Satanis and Eric Holmes. Every mechanic in the game is resolved by a roll on a d6.

To begin, Shakespearean names are generated (see Names table below). Then, players roll to determine their disposition towards one another (see Reactions table). Then initiative is rolled, the highest number going first.

Each round of combat represents an exchange of blows and at least one exchange of lines of dialogue. See tables below for some dialogue options. Both players always exchange blows, even if the lower in initiative is declared dead after being wounded by his opponent. This makes it possible for even the victor to die before the duel is done.


When rolling an attack, interpret the results thus:

1. Abject failure. Roll on Missing. Opponent rolls on Taunt. Optional Retort.

2. Miss. Roll on Missing. Opponent can Retort.

3. Inconclusive, barely miss. Opponent rolls Laud. Optional Retort.

4. Inconclusive, barely hit, no Wound. Roll on Taunt or Retort, opponent rolls on opposite.

5. Hit, causes Wound. Roll on Taunt. Opponent can Retort.

6. Impressive hit, causes Wound. Opponent rolls Laud. May roll Taunt or Retort, if former, opponent Retorts.


If wanting to keep things basic, a player dies after being wounded twice (roll Death, followed by survivor rolling Elegy).

However, the table is encouraged to lengthen the fight as long as may prove dramatic by making the wound threshold higher, either by consensus or by Stage Director decision. Note that doing this raises the threshold for both players.

This game does not strictly require a stage director (GM). If it includes one, then he will participate in the description of the attack roll results, and of other scenery happenings, etcetera.


Once more onto the tables!

Names (trochaic)

1. Duncan

2. Malcolm

3. Percy

4. Seyton

5. Osric

6. Fabian

Reaction

1. Abject hate

2. Bloody vengeance

3. Derision/Condescension

4. Curiosity/Challenge

5. Respect

6. Great admiration

Missing

1. Opponent says as an aside: O, this boy lends mettle to us all! (Henry IV part I 5.4.24)

2. (Defeatedly) I was adored once too. (Twelfth Night 2.3)

3. Opponent says: By my soul, I never in my life / Did hear a challenge urged more modestly, / Unless a brother should a brother dare / To gentle exercise and proof of arms. (Henry IV part I 5.2.54-57)

4. Come, sir, I will not let you go. (Twelfth Night 4.1.38)

5. Opponent says: Thou wouldst be great, / art not without ambition, but without / the illness should attend it. (Macbeth 1.5.18-20)

6. Either thou I best, / Or else my sword with an unbattered edge / I sheathe again undeeded. (Macbeth 5.7.23-25)

Taunt

1. Then yield thee, coward, / and live to be the show and gaze o' th' time. (Macbeth 5.8.27-28)
2. My voice is in my sword, thou bloodier villain / Than terms can give thee out. (Macbeth 5.8.9-10)
3. 'Sblood, you starveling, you elf-skin, you dried neat's tongue, you bull's pizzle, you stock-fish! (Henry IV Part I 3.4)
4. A weasel hath not such a deal of spleen as you are toss’d with. (Henry IV Part 1 2.3)
5. Get thee to a nunnery. (Hamlet 3.1)
6. I prithee, Harry, withdraw thyself. Thou bleedest / too much. (Henry IV part I 5.4.1-2)

Retort

1. Yet I will try the last. Before my body / I throw my warlike shield. Lay on, you fool, / And damned be him that first cries "Hold! Enough!" (Macbeth 5.8.37-39)
2. But, seeing thou fall’st on me so luckily, / I will assay thee. And defend thyself. (Henry IV part I 5.4.33-34)
3. Full bravely hast thou fleshed / Thy maiden sword. (Henry IV part I 5.4.132-133)
4. What, is it a time to jest and dally now? ((Henry IV part I 5.4.59)
5. And God forbid a shallow scratch should drive / one such as I from such a field as this. (Henry IV part I 5.4.11-12)
6. What, what? Nay, then, I must have an ounce or two of this malapert blood from you. (Twelfth Night 4.1.44-45)

Laud

1. Turk Gregory never did such deeds in arms as you have done this day. (Henry IV part I 5.3.48-49)
2. Come, my young soldier, put up your iron. You are well fleshed. Come on. (Twelfth Night 4.1.38-40)
3. (As an aside) Pray God defend me! (Twelfth Night 3.4.314)
4. Thou dost fight masterly. / My life upon't, young though thou art. (Twelfth Night 2.4.25-26)
5. O Douglas, hast thou fought at Holmedon thus, / I never had triumphed upon a Scot. (Henry IV part I 5.3.15.16)
6. As easy may I the intrenchant air / With my keen sword impress as make you bleed. (Macbeth 5.8.12-13)

Death

1. The earthy and cold hand of death lies on my tongue: no, Percy, thou art dust, and food for-- (Henry IV part I)
2. The rest is silence. (Hamlet)
3. O, I am slain! (Hamlet)
4. Now my spirit is going; / I can no more. (Antony and Cleopatra)
5. Thou know'st 'tis common; all that lives must die, Passing through nature to eternity. (Hamlet 1.2)
6. The foul practice hath turn'd itself on me. Lo, here I lie. Never to rise again. (Hamlet 5.2)

Elegy

1. Your son, my lord, has paid a soldier's debt. / He only lived but til he was a man, / The which no sooner had his prowess confirmed / In the unshrinking station where he fought, / But like a man he died. (Macbeth 5.8.44-48)
2. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. (Twelfth Night 2.5)
3. Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. (Macbeth 5.5)
4.To die, to sleep / To sleep, perchance to dream - ay, there's the rub / For in this sleep of death what dreams may come. (Hamlet 3.1)
5. Fare thee well, great heart / Ill-weaved ambition, how much art thou shrunk! / When that this body did contain a spirit, / A kingdom for it was too small a bound, / But now two paces of the vilest earth / is room enough. (Henry IV part I 5.4.89-94)
6. Dissolve, thick cloud, and rain, that I may say / The gods themselves do weep! / So, fare thee well. / Now boast thee, Death, in thy possession lies / A lad unparalleled. Downy windows, close, / (he closes his opponent's eyes) And golden Phoebus, never he beheld / Of eyes again so royal. (Antony and Cleopatra 5.2.354-355,374-378)





This post was made as part of a group project for a University course. Consulted works include the quoted plays and the card game Great Shakespearean Deaths. Many thanks to Tyler and Natavie for valuable input.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

MYFAROG: an edition comparison

 


This is a straight up comparison between MYFAROG 2.6, 3.0 and 4.0 with a little bit of critique/editorializing thrown in. I do not own 1.x so that will not be included; the few things I say about the first edition are all second-hand knowledge so let me know if I got anything wrong.


Basics & tldr bullet list

- The game has had four numbered versions to date. Version 1 and further tweaked versions numbered 1.x were released as limited print runs and are all sold out.

- Version 2 was a rules overhaul intended to streamline the game and fix some bugbears. It also included some relatively minor changes to the setting. The mechanics changes were significant, and as is usually the case, these changes came with their own problems, of which the 2.6 release was an attempt at addressing. 2.7 is simply an errata version of 2.6.

- A number of splatbooks with optional rules and gameable content came out around the age of Version 2. The version 2 corebook and splats were released as POD through Amazon and are no longer available.

- Version 3.0 included a big apocalyptic twist to the setting, including the addition of many Tolkienesque/D&D tropes. It also featured some mechanics changes, most notably with playable races and the magic system. This version was also released through Amazon and is also no longer available, making versions 1 through 3.0 only available through secondary markets.

- From version 3.0 on, all the splatbook stuff is included in the corebook.

- Versions 3.3 and 4.0 (the second is an errata version of the first with different cover art) are currently available from Amazon and feature changes to the core mechanics intended to further streamline the game, as well as more setting changes, which reverse the apocalyptic event of 3.0 but preserve the Tolkien/D&D elements.

2.6/2.7

Base resolution mechanic: 3d6 + mods (roll high) against a target number.

Combat/other mechanics:

Simulationist, HEMA-inspired bent. Using Conan or Wuxia logic will get you killed in a big hurry. PCs trained in combat are significantly better at it than those who are not. Attacking an unwitting or helpless target is extremely unforgiving for the target. Armor absorbs damage, shields make it harder for you to get hit. Fighting prowess helps with defense as well as offense. A lot of rolling during combat if using most of the subsystems.

Morale subsystem which also affects PCs. Slow healing. Somewhat crunchy encumbrance system. Big emphasis on survivalism and travel.

Setting:

Thule is based on folklore going back to European Barbarian Antiquity, think Frazer's The Golden Bough, Tacitus, European folktales, pre-Christian paganism and animism and a bunch of original research. Feels very different from D&D, Tolkien, and other Appendix-N type fantasy. There is a clear emphasis on Germanic barbarians, but room is left for further tailoring.

Every player option mechanic hooks deep into the setting, particularly Life Stance.

The game uses Proto-Norse for a lot of names of setting-related stuff, Proto-Norse being assumed by the game to be the Thulean common language. 

The game bestiary is again heavily influenced by European folklore, which is evident in the terminology, which is again different from D&D and Tolkien. As an example, in the game, the name for undead is "troll" ("screamer"), while the name for giants, dragons and other session-ending beasts is "ettin" ("big eater").

While there are also clear influences from Lovecraft and the Roadside Picnic novel, the setting is very unique when compared to other RPGs.

Player options:

Races: Native, Elf-born, Deity-born, Fairling, Wood Elf race-class. Arbi and Khemetian (both foreign to the default setting) as PCs possible but the book does not recommend it.

Social Classes: Noble, Freeman, Thrall, Outlaw.

Life stances: Traditional, Religious. These basically refer to the character's worldview in regards to mysticism (animism vs polytheism).

Classes: Bacchante/Maenead, Bard, Berserk/Valkyrie, Ranger (Religious only), Sorcerer (Traditional only), Civilian, Stalker, Trickster, Warrior.

The game also mechanically takes into account Cultural Background (i.e. regional origin within Thule) and PC sex.

Magic:

A Traditional caster (Sorcerer) picks an element at character creation (Earth/Wind/Fire/Water/Spirit) which will limit the spells he can cast. Religious casters (every other spellcasting class) have more options but are to an extent limited by the spells their Deity can cast.

3.0

The base resolution mechanic, as well as combat etc, are virtually unchanged from 2.7. An exception to this is stat modifiers.

The new setting does not rewrite the prior one but advances it thousands of years into the future, after a worldwide apocalyptic event. All permanent settlements of old have been swallowed by Jötunnheimr (the ettin-fog EtunahaimaR from previous editions) and are now populated only by hordes of wraiths. Fairlings, Arbis and Khemetians have disappeared. The Deities have left. Magic is rarer.

The common language is now Old Norse. Only the elves speak Proto-Norse.

The weapon and armor options reflect a later historical time, more like Early Middle Ages than Antiquity.

Character options:

Social Class and Cultural Background are removed from the game, though outlawry is still mentioned. Life Stances stay the same.

Races: Elf (Wood Elf, race-class), Halfling (race-class), Common Man, High Man, Lesser Man. Dwarf, Gnome, Common Orc, Goblin, Half-Orc, Hobgoblin, Ogre as PC race-classes possible but the book does not recommend it.

Classes: Bacchante/Maenead and Berserk/Valkyrie are removed.

Magic:

Spell list reworked. Sorcerous casting is more versatile (Sorcerers do not have to pick an element at character creation), but this is somehow limited by stat modifiers. Wil is less important and Int is more important for spellcasting. Favor Points and Divine Aid removed, Sorcerers no longer spend Stamina to cast. Sorcerous and Religious spellcasting is made more similar: every spell must be learned regardless of the class of the caster, effectively nerfing the versatility of Religious spellcasters. New specific spells tied to the race-classes.

3.3/4.0

Base resolution mechanic: d20 + mods (roll high) against a target number.

Combat/other mechanics:

Attacking unwitting or helpless targets is nerfed. Armor no longer absorbs damage but instead makes it harder for you to get hit. Fighting prowess now only helps with offense. Because attacks are rolled on a d20, it is now easier to roll attack, damage, cut and shock simultaneously with a big handful of dice.

Consequences of failed morale rolls linger longer. Encumbrance system reworked. Travel while encumbered is harder. Character Size simplified. Other miscellaneous mechanics are cut down/simplified especially regarding combat and character creation. Stat modifiers as in 3.0.

Setting:

The common language and the equipment options stay similar to 3.0.

The apocalyptic event of 3.0 is retconned, but this setting assumes a time period at least centuries after 2.x. There are no Fairlings, Arbis or Khemetians. In essence, this is is an Early Medieval, Tolkien-like setting considerably more similar to traditional D&D fantasy.

Player options:

Life Stance is removed from the game. Social Class and Cultural Background stay removed.

Races: Dwarf, Gnome, Grey Elf, Half-Elf, High Elf, Wood Elf, Halfling (race-classes), Common Man, High Man, Lesser Man.

Classes: Bacchante/Maenead and Berserk/Valkyrie stay removed.

Magic:

The changes from 3.0 remain, but PCs can learn twice as many spells, it is easier to learn more powerful ones, and learning of spells of different elements by Sorcerers is easier since it does not depend on stat modifiers.


What is to be done? (editorial)

MYFAROG 2.6 was responsible for seriously getting me into TTRPGs in my adult life after a brief stint as a young teenager. The game has always had some good mechanical ideas, but what really drew me in was the setting and how unique it was.

When I bought 3.0 I wasn't wowed. Setting-wise, though the apocalyptic idea was intriguing, I didn't like the shift towards Tolkien; we already have MERP for crunchy Tolkien. And in regards to the core mechanics it was basically the same game except for Magic. The "Deities have left" and "Sorcery is rarer" concepts also didn't really hook into the mechanics as much or make perfect sense with the rest of the setting.

Now that I have a copy of 4.0 in my hands, I'm happy to see the core mechanics changes and I think I'm gonna like trying them out, but I'm really not pleased with the direction the setting is taking. In my mind the special element of MYFAROG has always been Thule, not the rules. I think these setting changes significantly water down Thule. The change from Proto-Norse to Old Norse, for example, makes some sense given that the timeline has been advanced, but moves the setting from a more general Barbarian feel to a specific Viking feel. Doing away with Cultural Backgrounds has the same effect. Details matter.

If I went back to running MYFAROG, I would take the 4.0 changes to the core mechanics and port them back to the setting from 2.x. That's where Thule is for me. Not generic, not Medieval, not Appendix N, D&D or Tolkien, but its own beast. I love D&D, but I come to MYFAROG for something unique.

MYFAROG is a personal passion project for Varg Vikernes. He is clearly writing the game he would like to be playing. The players in his home game are his kids. I understand why he's taken the Tolkien direction; the kids want to play in that world, and he wants to use the old modules he's got lying around from other systems. However, given that the setting for 2.x is fundamentally different than the one for MYFAROG 4, it's a real shame that 2.7 is no longer for sale. I'm just glad my 2.6 book is still in usable shape.

sound of sad Thulean horn




Friday, October 16, 2020

MYFAROG houserules

 


I played a bunch of Myfarog 2.6 back in the day, both in the default setting and using one I made myself. Given the fiddliness of the mechanics, I came up with a few houserules to streamline them somehow, which follow below.

Character generation

Civilians get an extra Trained skill and an extra Talent at level 1.

Combat

Cut and Shock effects are only rolled for if the hit was not a near-miss and if it dealt at least 2 damage.

Morale is only checked at the beginning of combat and when battle conditions change significantly.

Drawing and attacking in the same round can be done but at a -3 penalty to OV. Normal DV penalties for drawing apply.

Bleeding

Light and Medium bleeding wounds last for 1d6 10-minute increments or 1d6 minutes respectively instead of a flat 6. This is rolled individually for each wound. When a Medium bleeding wound turns into a Light bleeding after its effect ends, the duration of that Light bleeding is rolled separately.

Stamina

Stamina use during Combat is increased as follows:

Carrying out a charge costs 4 SP
Engaging in Melee costs 2 SP / round
Tactical advance costs 3 SP
Tactical retreat costs 1 SP / round

This Stamina houserule is the only one of these ideas I have yet to test out in play. I think it's worth trying out, though. The rationale behind it is that in all the games I have run or played in (easily over 50), nearly no character has ever expended their Stamina to become Tired (never mind the further levels of exhaustion) from combat alone. The only time that's ever happened is when I played a Sorcerer who was casting spells that required attacking, every single turn, in the context of a large skirmish.

Clearly, then, the default Stamina of 8 is too high for the purposes of combat. I considered the idea of reducing default Stamina to 6 or even 4, but then the other, non-combat Stamina expenditure values might need to be adjusted. This solution bypasses that problem.


If you try these ideas, let me know how you fared. Axes high!


Saturday, September 26, 2020

Pall Thee in the Dunnest Smoke of Hell: a LotFP spell

 


Pall Thee in the Dunnest Smoke of Hell

Magic-User Level 1, Duration: 1 Turn/Level, Range: Touch

The target, including her clothing and armor, is blanketed in nonreflective magic, rendering her pitch-black to the eye. Held objects the size of minor weapons will be enveloped by the darkness; larger objects will protrude out. By casting it as a Level 2 spell, the effect will be extended to small weapons, and so on for medium and great weapons up to the size of a long spear. An unwilling target is allowed a saving throw to resist.

If in uneven flickering light, shadows, or darkness, the target's Stealth skill is increased by 4. She also gains a 1-in-6 Sneak Attack skill if she did not previously have points in the skill, or increases it by 1 otherwise.

The target's vision is similarly affected. She sees the world as if in total pitch-black darkness, yet as if possessed with infrared vision. This will allow her to see heat, but will not allow her to distinguish faces or other similarly identifying physical characteristics. Her hearing is also dampened, making it impossible for her to understand human language or even distinguish differences in pitch. She will not be able to distinguish between voices.


Miscast Table for the Weird Magic System

1. Roll 1d6. The target's vision is affected as above; this lasts for 1-3 days on a result of 1-3, or is permanent on a result of 4-6.

2. Roll 2d6, adding the caster's Charisma modifier. The caster's shadow now thinks and acts independently of her. Consult the reaction table on page 56 of Rules & Magic to determine its initial impression of the caster. Additionally, if two uneven numbers were rolled, the shadow can henceforth separate from the caster at will. This will be especially interesting if it is now unfriendly towards her.

3. The next time the target draws a weapon, she will seek to attack the nearest ally until an attack lands or the weapon is removed from her hand. Should neither of those conditions be met, the effect lasts 1d6 turns from the moment the weapon is drawn.

4. 1d6 random targets within a 50' sphere centered on the caster lose their sight. This is not in fact blindness, but 12'' diameter spheres of magical darkness centered on the targets' heads. Their hearing is also dampened, so that understanding is still possible, but not distinguishing between voices. The effect lasts for 1d6 turns.

5. The next time the target makes an attack for which the result of the roll is sufficient to strike the caster's armor class, a pitch black void in space will appear in front of their weapon. The other side of this empty void appears next to the caster, who is struck by the attack instead.

6. The target or caster (50/50 chance) henceforth becomes a nightly sleepwalker. While in this state, she will talk in her sleep, revealing her most base desires, however violent and destructive, to whoever will listen.

7+. Refer to miscast table on front inside cover of VaM/EC or other miscast tables you may have cooked up.


Come, thick night,

And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,

That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,

Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark

To cry "Hold, hold!"