The Walls of Uruk
Monday, January 17, 2022
A timeline for historical games in the Lowlands
Monday, February 1, 2021
Rules are on the House
Herein a compilation of my house rules for when I run games.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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"
Popol Wuj, Annals of the Kaqchikels, The Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel, Ritual of the Bacabs
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!
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)
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!
1. Abject hate
2. Bloody vengeance
6. Great admiration
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)
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.
Base resolution mechanic: 3d6 + mods (roll high) against a target number.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Base resolution mechanic: d20 + mods (roll high) against a target number.
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.
The common language and the equipment options stay similar to 3.0.
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.
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.
Friday, October 16, 2020