Sunday, November 13, 2016

Dungeon Grappling Kickstarter

Douglas Cole of Gaming Ballistic has started a Dungeon Grappling Kickstarter. He was a great player in my DnD 5e Majestic Wilderlands campaigns, and the author of several GURPS Supplements including Technical Grappling for GURPS.

The basic idea is that there a better way of dealing with grappling. Doug developed a set of mechanics that takes the same basic mechanics of rolling to hit and inflicting damage and turns the result into something meaningful when it comes to grappling. He did this for GURPS and now he doing this for classic DnD, Pathfinder, and DnD 5e with the kickstarter.

Doug's project already funded however further support will allow him to pay for a ebook layout and full color art. I hope you will support him.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Ten days left to get onto Operation Unfathomable.

+Jason Sholtis and his team are putting together Operation Unfathomable. A adventure/setting setting set in a weird fantasy underworld. I only had the pleasure of playing once in his setting but it was a pretty cool experience. I found myself enjoying it a lot which was surprising as weird is really not my thing as a referee or a player.

So you know I am biased when it comes to Jason and his team work. I did some maps for one of his products as well as he did the art for Scourge of the Demon Wolf.

Even if you don't think this is a thing for you, you owe yourself to check out their intro video. Definitely one of the best I seen for RPG Kickstarters.

Just read the below and just ask yourself whether this is something you can pass up.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

More Treasure Tables and Inspiration Pad Pro Tutorial

So for my lunch hour project I been working on Random Treasure Generation for my Majestic Fantasy RPG. First as I stated earlier, making a decent random treasure generation is surprisingly a lot of work. And that it is critical to code it up using software like NBos's Inspiration Pad Pro to see if what you expected happens over 100 to 1000 rolls.

I was surprised to find that Matt Finches Swords and Wizardry  random treasure generation to be very stingy. An solitary Adult Red Dragon with a CR 15 is going to have a treasure horde worth between 4,600 gp to 9,600 gp. According to the Sword and Wizardry treasure rules this will on average result in 1 roll on the major treasure tradeout, 5 to 9 rolls on the medium treasure tradeout and 46 to 96 rolls on the minor treasure tradeout.

There only a 10% chance of getting a trade out over the cash value. When you do roll a tradeout there only a 1 in 20 chance of rolling magic items. This means only 1 in 200 dragon hoards will have a major magic item. Roughly 1 in 30 dragon hoards will have a medium magic item. And finally roughly 1 in 3 even having a minor magic item like a healing potion.

I realize I sound critical, but I do know that for many referee an extremely low number of magic items is what they prefer for this campaign. However this does not fit how I been running my Majestic Wilderlands for the last decade. I been using the ODnD treasure tables and Gygax's monster and treasure assortments. Magic items are not plentiful in either but they do appear about 20% of time with the type of item appropriate to the power of the creature.

The general idea behind the Swords and Wizardry treasure generation system is sound so what I been doing is adjusting the odds in Nbos's Inspiration Pad Pro until it product what I expected over a 100, and even 1,000 rolls.

Before I was getting stuff like this for the CR 15 Dragon

Orb Brass 14 oz. (14 sp), Scroll of Speak with Animals, 400 sp

now I am getting stuff like

Potion of Dragon Control, Potion of Heroism, +1 One Handed Spear, Lapis Lazuli Gem (5 sp), Bronze Necklace (7 sp), +1 Broadsword, 1 crown (320 sp), 1,163 sp

Much better for how I run my campaigns. Again the lesson, if you going to do an elaborate system of random tables, code it up to see if it does what you expect it too.

Now for the second half of my post. How do you code this up with Inspiration Pad Pro. Today I will cover the basics.

The first thing to remember is that Inspiration Pad Pro random table are just text files that can be edited in notepad. The newest version has a built in editor as well. The file is saved with a ipt extension instead of a txt extension. You will need to place your file in a folder in the generators folder where you installed IPP. 

Inside the you will start off like this.

Header: Random Cursed Magic Items for the Majestic Fantasy RPG

Next you define the table like this


1-2:Bag of Devouring
3-4:Censer of Hostile Elementals
5-6:Cloak of Poison
7-8:Crystal Ball of Suggestion
9-10:Dancing Boots
11-12:Flask of Stoppered Curses
13-14:Horn of Collapse
15-16:Medallion of Projecting Thoughts
17-18:Mirror of Opposition
19-20:Robe of Feeblemindedness

Table:(name) is used to name the table which is not important for a file that has single table. However if you have sub tables then it become important.

Next Roll:(dice roll convention) defines what type of dice I will be rolling.

The entries are formatted like:
(dice range):(result)>

The dice range can be a single number '5' or a range '5-6'. The result can be any piece of text you want.

Finally you terminate the table with EndTable:

You also can do random lists like this


With each item having equal odds of appearing.

With this you can define one table per file and save them in a folder underneath the generator folder. When you fire up IPP then you will see them appear.

Is there is more? Yup, and I will cover that in another post. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Old School Is Too Cool: The Dungeon Fantasy RPG

It not often I get asked to help out with another company's promotion. But SJ Games reached out to me and asked to post this article by Christopher Rice about the Dungeon Fantasy RPG.  The only benefit I am receiving from this is a link to my blog from SJ Games; social media. After Mr. Rice's article I will link to some things that may be of interest to fans of GURPS that I have written about.

Old School Is Too Cool: The Dungeon Fantasy RPG

The first ever GURPS Kickstarter ends September 30, and has funded. While that’s incredible news for fans, it’s absolutely amazing news for those not yet acquainted with the Generic Universal RolePlaying System or GURPS.

The Dungeon Fantasy RPG is based on the excellent GURPS Dungeon Fantasy series. Dungeon Fantasy is old-school roleplaying (go on a quest, kill some monsters, get some treasure) that uses the flexible and potent GURPS engine. I like to tell my new players that GURPS is like a smartphone: There’s an app for everything! Except in this case, there’s a rule for everything. The beauty of the system is that you don’t have to use those rules. You can pare it down to the bare bones if you want – and that’s exactly what Sean Punch does in this new game. The Dungeon Fantasy RPG starts with the GURPS rules set, takes only what it needs, and ignores everything else. This boxed set is broken down into a multiple books: Adventurers, Exploits, Spells, Monsters, and Dungeon.

Adventurers streamlines the front-loaded character-creation process for GURPS, making it quick and manageable. All the details you need are right there and ready to go.

Exploits gives players and GMs clear and concise rules for Doing Stuff. The task scaling modifiers using narrative descriptors alone is amazing, but everything in this book is downright useful to old hands as well as new. Exploits takes the rules from the GURPS Basic Set: Campaigns, boils them down to their essence, and then adds more, while somehow speeding up game play.

Spells uses the GURPS Magic system, with several tweaks to turn spells into more playable (and streamlined) traits.

Monsters has every sort of creature you can shake a stick at and then some. From your humble orc all the way to the exotic six-armed peshkali, and of course everyone’s favorite: the leaping leech.
The provided adventure, I Smell a Rat, harkens back to the old All in a Night’s Work (though it’s a group adventure, not a solo one).

Sean Punch provides an action-packed boxed set with things newcomers to GURPS can enjoy – and enough novel rules and approaches to game mechanics that old hands will enjoy it just as much.

The design obviously incorporates solutions to problems gamers had with the standard Dungeon Fantasy series, while remaining true to spirit of GURPS and Dungeon Fantasy. If I can use a metaphor: The Dungeon Fantasy RPG is the recipe handed down to your children after years of perfecting the original so it’s “just right.”

This is in my opinion the best work Sean Punch has written to date. What he does with established material turns Dungeon Fantasy on its head – in a good way. So if you haven’t seen the Kickstarter yet, head on over, buy a copy of the new boxed set (or two or three!) and be welcomed into the world of Dungeon Fantasy and the larger world of GURPS.

The biggest concern people often have about this is what I call the Munchkin factor. Munchkin is a game that in part as a parody of various genres including dungeon crawling. I have the Dungeon Fantasy line and for the most part it is a straight forward well designed distillation of GURPS for the type of campaigns that most people use the various DnD core books. It is not GURPS Dungeon Munchkins or GURPS Hackmaster 4e. And the Dungeon Fantasy RPG look to be similar in tone. And as you saw from the preview of the Bard I posted, it will support all types of roleplaying encounter as least as well as any edition of DnD does.

So why GURPS and not just stick with DnD. Well even at the 250 pt level that the DF line targets GURPS is a deadly game. Character survive because of their skill not because they can sit there and absorb blow after blow. If you caught under the wrong circumstance or somebody has better tactics, you are going to go down quickly. Combined with character customization it makes for a different kind of challenge than your average DnD campaign. 

Now the promised links. 

Here is the link to my Majestic Wilderlands website containing some of the house rules I used when running a GURPS Majestic Wilderlands campaign.

The Myrmidon of Set template reflecting how I would write templates for GURPS
A session roster from the last GURPS campaign I ran.
The original Scourge of the Demon Wolf when I ran it using GURPS. Note much in the way of notes. I used the basic wolf and just made the quantity of the wolves such they were a serious threat.
Paltar the Spearman a 100 point GURPS Character. 
No GURPS stats but a handout with rumors for the last GURPS campaign I ran.

Last I want to say that my Majestic Wilderlands is a translation of the templates and stuff I used in my GURPS into DnD classes and items. When the DF RPG is in hand I plan on taking my original notes updating them and releasing them as a free document/ For example the Myrmidon template above. The Knight Killer Crossbow, etc.

Armor as Reduction

+Joshua Macy shared a post from Tales of the Rambling Bumblers about Armor as reduction.

The advantage of armor is that is distributes the force of a blow over a larger surface area than the weapon itself. The result that the force experienced by any one part of the target's body is considerably less despite the total amount of force being the same. Also note it points out why even the plate armor is not 100% effective in all cases. Not because of gaps but rather there are times when distributing the blow is not enough. A lot of time this will result in some form of blunt trauma.

Armed with this knowledge, it makes sense to represent armor as reducing damage right? That classic DnD got it horribly wrong with the Armor Class system. Well it turns out that classic DnD had a very good reason for using Armor Class in combat. It also goes hand in hand with levels and hit points.

It has to do with the game Chainmail. In Chainmail, you had man to man combat. You cross indexed the weapon you were using against the armor being worn by the target. You roll 2d6 if it equal to the target number or higher the defender is dead. In the fantasy supplement of Chainmail, a Hero could fight as four figures, and you had to deal four hit in mass combat OR man to man to take out a Hero. A Super Hero fought as 8 figures and took 8 hits to take out.

When Dave Arneson started up the Blackmoor campaign focusing on player playing individual rather than armies, his starting point for man to man combat was the Chainmail rules.
One hit = one kill was boring to Dave Arneson, so he expanded it to 1 hit = 1d6 damage and 1 hit to kill = 1d6 hit points. In addition instead having just three ranks of experience (Veteran, Hero, and Super Hero) he allowed character to be in-between those rank. A veteran+1 that could take 2d6 hit points of damage. This led to the concept of levels with the Veteran being 1st level, the Hero 4th, and the Super Hero 8th. Gygax used this as the foundation for his draft of Dungeon & Dragons. And it was carried over the final version released in 1974. In the Greyhawk supplement weapons damage was varied in the number and kind of dice used, and each class was changed to use a different dice for hit points. (MUs and thieves: 1d4, Clerics: 1d6, Fighters: 1d8) That what the abstraction of armor class, hit dice, and hit points means in D&D. Everything else is after the fact justification for how it evolved from Chainmail. The more interesting question is why did it stick around for so long? There are lot of examples where trail blazer in a field is supplanted later by another that finally gets it right. But the classic D&D abstractions persist to this day and enjoy widespread popularity.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Working on Treasure Tables

In this day and age if you going to make a detailed set of random tables take the time to code them in for Inspiration Pad Pro or tablesmith and generate a 1000 results. I been working on random treasure generation for my Majestic Fantasy RPG and just got done a few days ago with the first pass on the tables. On paper it seems reasonable but when I coded them up and looked how they worked. It was not entirely what I expected. So I been playing with the odds to get it more in line with what I expected and then I will edit the rules to match it. The Details
A while ago I coded up the OD&D treasure tables for my own use and generated several rather large locales off of it like the Wild North. So I developed a sense of how much magic items there are versus the monetary value of a treasure. Later I started using Gygax's monster and treasure assortment which generally produces similar results to the treasure type system.

I developed my take on Treasure Tables off of what +Matt Finch wrote for Swords & Wizardry. It is a system where you calculate the value of the hoard then roll for "tradout" in 100 gp, 1000 gp and 5000 gp blocks. If you roll a 19-20 than the gold is traded out for jewelry or magic items. But only magic items if you roll a nat 20.

The result is nothing like the treasure type system of ODnD or ADnD. It doesn't generate any where near the number of jewelry or magic items the original system does.

I like the general algorithm of Matt's scheme so I am tweaking the odds of the tradeouts to get something closer to what I been using. The lesson here is that it pays to spend the time getting into a computer utility to see what it does over 1000s of rolls.

I am going to honest and say that while I plan to include random treasure tables into the books that I am writing, The part you will be using will probably be the assortments. I am defining the assortment as a random table where each entry is the result of using the random treasure generation. It way easier to use as there is just a single table with a 100 or so precalculated entries. Note you can't just roll a 100 entries for the 2nd dungeon level and be done with it. You have to look the result and make sure that there are not too many repeated result. If there are, reroll until the assortment reflects the variety of that available with the full blown random treasure generation.

I still use random treasure generation but only wnen I need something different for a specific encounter or area.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A sneak preview of a GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Character

Over on the kickstarter, the SJ Games crew released a preview of a Dungeon Fantasy Character.

Lyndon Glibtongue

First off kudos for releasing a Bard character first. There been considerable debate over the fact the project is oriented towards Dungeon Fantasy and that all that it will support is hack and slash gameplay. Looking over the Bard character you can see that the character has plenty of skills (Carousing, Savoir Faire. Merchant) that could be used in pure roleplaying encounters. 

Also as far as being a GURPS character it looks pretty standard which should make using the rest of the GURP line pretty easy to use if you want too. Of course compared to a OD&D character there is a lot more there, but I think people will know that when they try this game. 

The key will be how easy it is to make this character? With the 4th edition core books it is a matter of going through voluminous lists which takes considerable time and very confusing to a novice. With the Dungeon Fantasy RPG hopefully it is as easy as going through the 2nd edition boxed set with its 72 pages of character rules.