D12 Tables

1d12 is my go-to die for random tables in just about every campaign, every system.

I could make a 1d12 table of 1d12 tables I want to make.

That’s how much fun they are. I won’t bore you with that one here, but it could be done. I make d12 tables a lot for just about every game.

I make 1d12 tables for a lot of odd random things as a DM, though. They add all kinds of spicy goodness to bland encounters. They work for weather, travel, global events, some NPC attitudes, and of course, random monster encounters. I know I’m old school, but I still believe in the old wandering monster table. Because maybe the troll down the hall decides to go for a stroll about the time the party thinks they’re going to rest. Bwah ha ha! Rolled an 11. Meet the troll.

I think the d12 is the most underrated dice in any game, except ICRPG. Yay! I suppose they’re good in SWADE and EGS, too if I remember right. But D&D and Pathfinder are very reserved in their use of the d12. My solution is to use them for any and every thing I can think of. I carry the things for fun every day. Really.

My players have called me out on it in the past. I have a pattern for most of my tables. You can probably guess the pattern. 1’s are, of course going to be catastrophically bad or unwanted news. 12’s are, naturally, something favorable or at least more favorable. 2-3 are usually something unwanted but not scary bad. 10-11 are usually the pretty good end of whatever the table is. Everything else is likely meaningful but random. I’ve done more random variants, but that’s the gist.

I have more d12s in my bag than d20s. Yes, I rolled a Nat 12!

Let me throw down a sample:

Roll 1d12. Average Night at the Stable:

  1. The stable catches fire! If the group has mounts there, the animals are in danger! One of the stable hands running into the inn a major panic to get help and save the animals.
  2. Horse thieves! Choose a random party member who had a mount in the stables. Their mount is now missing.
  3. Oops. The stable boy accidentally left the stall door open when he was cleaning. Choose a random party member. Their mount is now out wandering around somewhere.
  4. Asleep on the job. Stable keeper accidentally loaned one of the characters’ mounts out to a local merchant. The animal is treated well, but won’t be in the stable until the next night.
  5. Where did they find this kid? The stable boy decided to ignore his chores. The animals are not fed or watered, and stalls are not cleaned out. This will lead to somewhat moody, fatigued, smelly mounts the next day.
  6. All is well. The stable keeper feeds the all of the animals a treat! Unfortunately, it doesn’t agree with one of the mount’s tummies the next day. (Choose a random mount.)
  7. All of the mounts are well fed, well treated, and are ready for action the next day.
  8. The stable keeper notices an issue with a horse shoe and takes care of it, free of charge. He lets the group know the next morning.
  9. The stable keeper chases off a predator outside the stable. He lets the group know about it in the morning. One of the characters’ mounts is still skittish. The stable keeper will offer to loan out his personal thoroughbred for free if desired.
  10. The mounts are well-loved. They receive a +1 discretionary bonus to any one given roll during the day.
  11. What’s in that feed? Whatever the stable keeper fed the mounts, is working very well. The group receives an Advantage on any ONE given roll related to travel or the mounts.
  12. Holy buckets! The mounts are well fed, loved and ready to go! ALL mounts gain a +1 discretionary bonus and Advantage on one travel/mount related roll. They will also automatically pass the first morale roll within 24 hours automatically! The mounts are happy.

Anime RPG is Mindset as Much as Ruleset.

My point is, you can slip a little of that anime flair into just about anything. Ask my college writing professors. It can be done. (*Pretty sure one of them retired early. I’m not saying it was my fault, but…)

With Dyskami dropping Anime 5E on us around June 1, it’s time to briefly discuss Anime as attitude and game system.

Dyskami Anime 5E

Btw, if I haven’t mentioned it yet, I’m a bit biased toward this particular genre and anything Big Eyes, Small Mouth in general and have been for many years. I actually had the privilege of going to a Gen Con seminar with Mark MacKinnon all those years ago. I learned a lot about RPGs in general and anime/manga games in particular. I also think Lemmings in Space would be a hilarious but short-lived RPG. Mark and the team at Dyskami have delivered a wonderful new spin on this genre, attitude and rules.

*Note, if fantasy is less your jam and you want more cyberpunk/mecha/space anime action, I highly recommend BESM Fourth Edition from Dyskami. Anime 5E is very much fantasy genre oriented, being based on the 5E D&D rules. All of the races, classes, monsters, magic and other tropes are based around fantasy stuff.

But enough shameless promotion, on with the show!

Just as a writer can pick up different tones and perspectives while writing, RPGs can come with differing attitudes for GMs and players. If a writer is working on a horror novel, for example, the tone might be dark, gritty, and have almost a feeling of hopelessness hanging in the air. Where as a horror RPG might have rules for insanity; penalties for PCs casting dark, creepy ritual spells; and foreboding, unfathomable, undefeatable old gods and monsters.

What does one think of when we hear the term “anime” or “manga?” It’s a pretty broad genre. Japanese animation and comics cover a pretty large spectrum of subgenres such as horror, science fiction, fantasy and cyberpunk to name a few. Personally I think of giant robots and cyborgs followed by high flying fantasy martial arts and determined samurai. It’s a different flavor of roleplaying gaming all together.

If it’s an attitude, won’t any old RPG system work?

The short answer to this is: I guess. Mileage may vary.
The long, complicated answer is: Nope. Don’t do it. You’re trying to force a square peg into a triangular hole. There’s an easier way.

I love a lot of basic European style medieval fantasy RPGs. Pathfinder 2E, D&D, ICRPG, DCC, and dozens more. Orcs, elves, dragons and labyrinthine death dungeons are the order of the day for me. Good stuff. I can certainly approach those with the anime/manga mindframe. But, then the rules fall a lot short of the mark.

How do you pull off a 50′ anime character leap while wielding a Bisento as an unarmored samurai? How do we set the scene for a brief chibi moment during a long rest? What do you mean I can’t play a cat girl ninja? It’s just not in the rules. (In fairness, I did stat out cat folk and ninjas for ICRPG, but…) If you want anime rules for a “classic” game, it’s going to end up being heavily homebrewed.

If I’ve learned anything from being a GM/writer over the years, it’s don’t try to reinvent the wheel. If someone else has done the legwork for you in terms of an RPG system, by all means- beg, borrow, or steal as much as you can for your game. If another system does something better than the one you’re currently using it’s not like you’re married. Switch to what works or adapt bits as needed. If that means switching to a new ruleset, then by all means.

The question is always how far to go.

If your D&D game is running just fine with a few anime moments, then maybe stick to D&D proper. If you’re just borrowing a few tropes here and there with the Monk, Fighter (Samurai) and Rogue (Ninja) characters and the players are cool, stick with it. Maybe the characters yell a lot. There are some chibi character moments that don’t detract. Dragons are worshipped as gods in the campaign setting. Certain weapons and armor are re-skinned. Maybe add some homebrew rules for unarmored defense?

OR- things are crazy overly stiff an rule dependent and you’re dying to be able to do more cool stuff. Try an actual anime RPG and setting! As a GM, boot whatever seems too outrageous or unreasonable. It’s still your game!

The main thing is do what you, as a GM, and the players will have the most fun with. Typical fantasy settings don’t do mecha and/or firearms at all. Anime games have to such restrictions depending on the GM. Giant leaps are very possible in anime. Ninjas are more Naruto and Ninja Scroll than historical black pajama party. Stuff blows up more in anime games. Trust me.

Complicated Relationship Table.

Another advantage to anime games is the amount of character drama. I once drew a very complicated flow chart for myself to map out all of the very complicated relationships in an anime supers game I was working on. This person has a crush on this person, but is secretly liked by this other person who they want nothing to do with and so on. It ate a couple of entire pages of my notebook and looked like one of those crazy conspiracy theory board memes by the time I was done. It ended up being useful for dealing with specific character interactions, though. It made for a fun game, despite over 20 pages of NPC backstories. I might have overdone it a little.

Anime fits in with so many other tropes and themes.

SCS mecha by Zsolt Varga is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0

Anime does very well with several subgenres either as a separate game or as part of a preexisting one. Many anime videos exemplify this.

Horror- easy. I’m sorry, have you seen some of the scarier anime? Eesh. I don’t want to give video examples. Just… it’s the internet. Feel free to explore, okay?

Supers- Sentai, giant robots, psychic cops even four color heroes. Again, it’s an easy catch. Power Rangers, Patlabor, Witch Hunter Robin and Tiger & Bunny are great examples of video anime supers. In fairness, I have to mention Sailor Moon, which is the premiere magical girl supers anime. It’s also one of the older anime RPGs.

Fantasy- Such a broad category by itself. Fantasy anime covers things such as Record of the Lodoss Wars. (Fantasy anime emulating a fantasy rpg emulating Tolkien. Mind bending.) Ninja Scroll is serious fantasy anime, and brutal. Rurouni Kenshin is great fantasy samurai anime. One of my personal favorites, which is also sorta shoujo, Inu Yasha makes for amazing rpg fodder. I also highly recommend Princess Mononoke. I should also mention Full Metal Alchemist, too. Again, they’re all fantasy anime, each with its own unique angle.

Mecha and cyberpunk are more or less ready made for anime games. These two subgenres pretty much started out as anime. Masamune Shirow was a pioneer in both genres with Appleseed, Dominion Tank Police, Black Magic M-66, and Ghost in the Shell. Mecha anime would not be complete without a mention of Macross/Robotech just to start. I should also mention Gundam in all of the many series on video. There are a lot of other cyberpunk anime on video, many are ultra violent in nature. Likewise, I’ve barely scratched the surface of mecha anime on video. The RPG potential is almost unfathomably deep for both subgenres.

Action- Last is all of the action anime. This would work with any modern type RPG. It could be martial arts, detectives, pirates, demon hunters, or any other number of action tropes. There are more anime video examples than I could list. I would recommend Gunsmith Cats if you get a chance.

I realized I barely dove into inspirational videos.

Anime 5E Magical Cat Girl

I’m probably going to write more articles in the coming weeks/months about anime RPGs. I didn’t even mention many of the anime I’ve taken inspiration from over the years.

I’m a huge fan of Neon Genesis Evangelion, but I’m not sure how it would float as an RPG? I’d also recommend Big O and Giant Robo as both mecha and superhero anime. There’s also A.D. Police Files, Bubblegum Crisis and Bubblegum Crash. These series were all a mix of police, mecha, supers, and cyberpunk anime with a tiny bit of psychic stuff thrown in. Last, Starfinder fans especially would benefit from watching Iria: Zeiram the Animation.

Like many otaku, I could go on for hours mentioning tasty videos to watch. Bringing character concepts and tropes over to RPGs is a subject to approach with your GM. Likewise, GMs probably shouldn’t expect players to just jump blindly into an anime series if it’s not what they’re expecting.

More, much more to come. Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you. Thanks.

Saucerhead. A new Power Rangers RPG Threat.

Not your average foam rubber suit monster.

Not your average foam rubber suit monster.

“I was okay when it was just a flyin saucer.” –Brock, Black Lightning Force Ranger.

Could almost be a foam rubber suit, I guess.
(Art by Jeff Craigmile.)

THREAT LEVEL: 8
SIZE: HUGE | HEALTH: 12
TOUGHNESS: 18 | EVASION: 16
WILLPOWER: 13 | CLEVERNESS: 14
GROUND MOVEMENT: 30 ft.
AERIAL MOVEMENT: 90 ft. (Transformed)
Saucerhead is a living construct created by General Gnarl and General Slayn to try to prove their worth in the Triumvirate. He is mostly robotic. The lower portion looks like a 1950’s mechanical sci-fi robot packing a Raygun and at Tesla-coil style probe hand. It speaks in a mechanical robot voice. It is fascinated with Earth cows for some inexplicable reason.
SKILLS:
Initiative +d4
Intimidation +d4
Melee +d6
Perception +d4*
Targeting +d8*
PERKS:
Transform: Saucerhead’s entire body retracts into the saucer portion of his head. He can move up to 90 ft per turn, perform maneuvers that would squish a regular pilot, and stop on a dime. It receives Edge on all Ranged attacks while transformed. Transformation takes 1 turn.
ATTACKS:
Probe arm (Melee): +d6, Reach
(Toughness, 1 Stun Damage)

2 Raygun Blasts (Targeting): +d8, Range 45 feet
(Evasion, 3 Energy Damage each) Can be set on Stun.

OR

1 Raygun Beam Blast. (Targeting): +d8, Range 30 feet straight line, targets all in the line. (Evasion, 2 Electric Damage all within the line.) Can be set on Stun.

POWERS:
Summon Landing Putties. Summon 2d6 Modified Small Putty Patrollers per Encounter. Putties are Small size, armed with Rayguns and look like stereotypical Gray Aliens. Raygun: Targeting +d4, Range 20′ 1 Electrical.

Deflective Armor: Saucerhead’s chrome metal shell provides him with deflective armor.

HANGUPS:
Easily Distracted: Serious Irrational attraction to Earth cattle. It will literally stop what it is doing to admire a cow.

Thanks for stopping by. The gigantified version and possibly some artwork by yours truly will be published later. (It gets freakier.) I appreciate you! Have a fabulous weekend!

Looking Out for the Players a Bit.

All of the above are just recommendations. I’m sure there are plenty of games/systems I’ve missed. There’s just something about having your own book.

As GMs/DMs, we’re regularly faced with the challenge of picking the game system we want to run.

I love Basic D&D. Ya know, the one from back in the day? The original? The Rules Cyclopedia? Many good times were had with that game.

Would I run a campaign out of it tomorrow? Probably not. The books aren’t what you’d call, “regularly available” to most players. That’s the first thing I look at.

If I have the only copy at the table, there’s a problem.

D&D editions 3-5 have a common problem. There are tons upon tons of books out for these games. Third and Fourth editions have been out of print for ages. DMSGuild and Half Price books still have most of the stuff still available if players are willing to shell out for whatever character options they want to invest in.

Fifth Edition is what some of us call, “bloated.” Third suffered from this problem as well. There are so many options for players to choose from. Where do you even begin? And what is the DM going to do?

Sure, the PHB is cool. You’re going to want one for the basic rules, anyway. But then what’s next? Tasha’s? Xanathar’s? DMSGuild guide to X class/race variant? The amount of source material out there is staggering.

Some DMs ban homebrew or third party material outright. Others say PHB only. Still others stick to PHB and anything officially printed by WotC. But some players always want that extra edge, the unique advantage or something completely different than what we’d consider canon.

I want the players to have access to everything the game has to offer without having to take out a second mortgage.

I have gone so far as to buy table copies of rulebooks for some games. I have extra copies of a lot of 4th Ed D&D books for my players. Unfortunately, I haven’t run 4E for a long time, but it was there when I needed it. Werewolf the Apocalypse was another game where I kept a spare core book for the table. It was just easier and cheaper back then for my group.

Nowadays, I really appreciate my players having their own physical copy of the rules handy because my copy is bookmarked to hell and gone. Many times I have both the physical book and at least one digital copy open at any given time for monster stats on one and rules lookup on the other.

If my copies are tied up and I’m going to ask the players to acquire their own, I don’t want a system that will break the bank. In most cases, I don’t think a pdf copy or even a single, physical copy per player is too much to ask for an ongoing campaign. I know there are plenty of games that are expanded to the nines and practically require a winning lottery ticket to keep up with.

One thing to avoid.

Okay, let’s be honest. How many of us frequented a certain website that offered free download pdf copies of all of our favorite games? Most of these sites eventually get shut down and for good reason. Those sites aren’t just socking it to the corporations, but hurting smaller creators as well.

Tempting though it might be, printing or copying pdfs for players is really something to steer clear-of except in the most dire of circumstances because it tends to rob creators of their money. I might print off just enough for someone to play their character or get by for a few weeks until they can acquire their own copy. I’ve found on many occasions a little taste of the book is enough to sell a full copy to a lot of players.

I am loathe to admit there are still free pdf copies of some things out there. I won’t ever link any of them. IF you acquire a book this way, I strongly urge you to track down and pay for an official copy. Be kind to designers. They have to eat, too.

Here are five alternatives to D&D and Pathfinder that are easy on the wallet.

I love Dungeon Crawl Classics from Goodman Games for this exact reason. My core rulebook cost me $25.00 at my FLGS and the pdf was free. I’ve rarely seen a better deal.

Another example is Runehammer’s Index Card Roleplaying Game Master Edition which just recently went on DriveThruRPG in Print on Demand with pdf for almost half what the hardcover cost. Heck yeah! Thanks Hankerin!

ICRPG is easy to learn, affordable, and fun! A lot of time and effort went into this game. It’s easy to GM and rules lite for the players. Plus it has tons of homebrew potential. More on that some other time.

FUDGE is good, as I have said before. The FATE dice are easily substituted or faked using regular d6s. FATE is another good recommendation for a single book as the Condensed version retails for around $8.00. I tend to lump these two rulesets together as they are similar.

I’ll also give another shout out to Open Legends RPG for being rules lite and all in one book for the most part. If I had to steer a first time gamer to something other than D&D, this would be close to the top of the list. Free is good last I checked and the whole group can have access to the book on their various mobile devices or GM printouts if they wish.

Another thing I look at is Open Licensing.

OGL games have become a mainstay in my book collection. My overall goal in life is to get something published on DriveThruRPG. I find that OGL games with only a few core books are far easier to work with because there isn’t as much competition and it’s easier for players to get behind. If I can put out one $4.99 sourcebook with quality material to go with a mostly free or inexpensive core book, is it worth the investment?

I’m starting to think it’s the best way to go in terms of publishing. True, it’s harder to find an audience for than D&D 5E. Many of the games I really get behind are fairly obscure in comparison. But sometimes a dedicated niche audience is more willing to invest a little to help the game grow.

All of the above are just recommendations. I’m sure there are plenty of games/systems I’ve missed. There’s just something about having your own book.

Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate you. Stay hydrated. Stay safe. Have fun!

Monster of the Week 1d12 Tables

A couple of modern horror RPG tables just for fun.

Or any generic modern horror campaign.

Roll 1d12 on the table below:

Viral Internet videos and photos:

  1. Drone footage of a clown in a nearby field.
  2. UFO over the city within the last week.
  3. Large, hairy biped seen in the woods a few miles of town.
  4. Extraterrestrial caught on camera in a local driveway just passing through.
  5. Vague Cryptid seen walking through a convenience store parking lot in the early morning hours. Could be a dog? Or maybe a monkey?
  6. Gray alien caught on doorbell camera late at night.
  7. Local hunter sees ghost on trap camera.
  8. Kids conducting a seance at 3:00AM in a local cemetery get really freaked out and run away from unseen force.
  9. Local ghost hunters have multiple positive contacts in a downtown building recently scheduled for demolition.
  10. Child goes missing in the middle of the night only to be found the next day in a field 20 miles away bewildered and unharmed.
  11. Local police officer catches photos of a black dog with eerie red eyes crossing the street late at night.
  12. Local kids shoot video of objects moving around the house with them.

Bonus Table: Freaky Locations for strange happenings.

Roll 1d12. Randonautica, eat your heart out.

  1. A shed in a suburban backyard far older than the surrounding houses.
  2. A pair of grave markers in a well known town park.
  3. An abandoned car from the 1930’s in a field on the edge of town.
  4. The old veterans hospital near the center of town.
  5. A Freemason temple now a hospice.
  6. An old Native American burial ground underneath a residential district.
  7. A house in an old residential neighborhood abandoned for over a decade.
  8. A pauper’s graveyard covered by a high school football field.
  9. The WW1 exhibit at the local museum.
  10. Junkyard/Landfill built on top of a Civil War battlefield.
  11. Under an old bridge.
  12. An old well on the farm nearest town.

Catacomb of the Wolf Lord: Room 1-3

Room 1-3 of Catacomb of the Wolf Lord. The group may have found treasure, but is it cursed?

The “Treasure” Room.

The entrance to the Treasure Room 1-3 is concealed under a thick layer of old mud and gravel. In the dim lighting and all of the mud, the door will be difficult to find. If the group “plays” with the elementals, more earth will be caked onto the old mud. Ask the players if/how they are searching.

If the group finds the door and excavates it, it opens into Room 1-2. Beyond the door, there is a 5’x5′ unlit hallway leading to another door. Across the way, is a wrought iron bound locked door. The lock is trapped and will drop a 1 ton granite block on the trap victim and blocking the hallway. (Detect Trap DC15.)
Pick Lock DC 18. 8d6 damage from the block + being pinned. Reflex Save for no damage.

If successful, the door opens into a magically lit 15′ x 15′ room, domed ceiling with a faint glowing light in it, with a magical circle drawn on the floor. Inside the circle are four items. The first is a dagger (athame) in an ornate wooden box. The second is a leather bound book with a lock and key. It looks to be very old. The third is a gray fur cloak with an ornate wolf’s head clasp. The fourth and final item is a wolf’s fang.

Once the first character fully enters the room, a ghostly wolf appears. It speaks clearly to the group. It points to each item with its nose and states, Cleric, the dagger; Wizard, the book; Thief, the cloak, and Fighter, the tooth. Read the following aloud:

The ghost stares at you, or possibly through you. It points to each item and states clearly a second time Cleric, the dagger; Wizard, the book; Thief, the cloak, and Fighter, the tooth. Choose wisely. You make only keep one. Bring it to my final resting place for your real reward if you are so worthy.The rest are cursed.

It sits and says, “I’m waiting for your answer. You may ask one question of each item if you wish. One I shed. One was my end. One was my life. One is my gift to you if you are worthy.”

The ghost, a spirit messenger of the Wolf Lord, will answer truthfully one question of each item within reason. Its answers will always be cryptic and vague. It won’t try to encourage or discourage the group from choosing any of the items. It might also answer a little more about itself.

The Wolf Lord wasn’t always a wolf. It lived for a while as a man to better understand men. He took an elven bride and had two children: Koga and Kei. Koga became feral and ran away at a young age to join a wolf pack. Kei grew up to be a refined elven lady. (Current whereabouts unknown.) The Wolf Lord eventually rejoined his spirit pack and left his mortal family behind.

After many centuries, the great animal lords were forgotten. In turn, each returned to a sacred place where a coven of followers put their bodies to rest and sealed them away from the mortal world.

*Note: If any of the cursed items have the curse removed, the item is rendered permanently inert.

A) The athame is a cursed dagger +1. It radiates strong magic. The wielder must feed it one hp per day or lose 1 Stamina each day the hp requirement is not met. The wielder may not give its own hp.

B) The Coven’s Spellbook: The Coven’s Spellbook is a cursed antithesis of all that is Lawful or Neutral. Any mage who opens it will automatically become Chaotic, and will turn more toward being un-dead with each page read. Any/all spells copied or cast from the book with automatically backfire. Any creatures summoned automatically turn on the caster. It was never meant for the world of the living.

C) The Cloak of the Gray Wolf: At first, this cloak appears to not be cursed. It offers a +1 Agility bonus to Stealth and +1 bonus to AC. Once per day it allows the wearer to shapeshift into a normal wolf. All items become part of the new form. Mental stats stay the same.

Wolf, common: Init +3; Atk bite +2 melee (1d4); AC 12; HD
as wearer; MV 40’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +3, Ref +2, Will +1;

The ability resets at sunrise.
But the cloak is cursed. At the first full moon after acquisition, the wearer transforms permanently into a wolf under the control of the GM until the curse can be lifted.

D) The tooth is a regular tooth. It is not cursed, nor is it terribly useful yet. However, it is the key to unlocking the real treasure in Room 2-2, the Wolf Lord’s burial chamber.

While the Wolf Lord is considered a demigod and will grant certain spells to his followers, this is clearly not the book to do it with. The Wolf Lord will be available as a Mage Patron and as a Demigod to be detailed elsewhere.

Once an item is chosen, the rest vanish along with the circle and the lights in the room. The eerie outline of the spirit can still be seen, but it will not interact after the choice is made.

That’s it for this room. It’s obvious the other party never made it to this room. The journal makes no reference to tests or treasure beyond a vague mention of some kind of treasure believed to be buried with the bones of the Wolf Lord himself.

Thanks for being here! I appreciate you. Can’t wait to see what happens in Room 1-4 and 1-5? Hang in there. They’re coming soon.

Monster of the Week: Continuing the Conversation

I’m loving Monster of the Week more every day. This game is well-designed and has so much to offer new Keepers.

Monster of the Week by Evil Hat Productions.

MotW is a fascinating RPG.

I really dig this game, but it’s taking a little bit of getting used to. Specifically, the Keeper’s section. I’m probably going to have to run a couple of mysteries before I get the hang of the system.

I still feel like it’s a little stiff and rigid from the Keeper’s side of the table. Then again, I’ve always felt that PbtA in general is a push toward GM-less roleplaying. As I say often, if that’s what you’re into, go for it.MotW would be a tough run without a Keeper because someone has to come up with all the cool monster and plot stuff, right?

I keep coming back to Page 131.

I actually think MotW is great for new GMs (Keepers.) They give you a play-by-play how to way to run a game session. They give all kinds of really solid advice on running a #ttrpg. The core book gives two mysteries and walks the reader through how to run them.

How awesome is that if you’re brand new? I would have loved this back in ye olden days. I’m still wrestling with it mentally now. It’s like learning to run a game all over again.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? It’s the same thing I’m already used to doing, but I never referred to it as “using moves.” Up until this came up, I never had a strict list of principles to stick with in order to run the game.

My long standing way of setting up a campaign (*Oops! Not supposed to say, “campaign” any more. Now they’re “plot points.”) So, my long standing way of setting up plot points is episodic in format. I plan 24 sessions/games. At one episode per week that’s about half the year give or take. It rarely works that way, but that’s how I plan it.

My original planning for this game was to set up 24 episodes with pretty specific agenda. So, I hit rewind. It’s going to be more of a sandbox now, kinda like I planned Power Rangers RPG campaign. (Which is also still in the works, btw.)

I’m going to build a set of case files that the group can fall back on for clues and in-character advice. They’re following a group of three hunters that have vanished or moved off grid for mysterious reasons. Not really X-Files, but more like Giles’ school library in early Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The group’s mystery files won’t cover every mystery, though.

I already know who the first season BBEG looks like and what they’ve got going on. We’re going to touch on some real world conspiracies and paranormal events. I already know who most of my Bystanders, Minions, and Monsters are going to be. I have most of the behind-the-scenes stuff worked out. I think we’re still going to do episodes, but they’re going to be more like story arcs and done similarly to the way they’re described in the MotW core rules.

They have a very nice template worked out for writing mysteries. They walk the reader through all of the steps of mystery creation. It’s brilliant! Other game companies could learn from Michael Sands.

In short, with any game system, harvest what you like, pass on the rest. There is no one set way to run a game, as many, many of us have said. I’m personally just struggling to learn and adapt to the PbtA way of doing things.

I’m going to be dropping some of my mysteries on here, since I’m not expecting my players will read my blog. Bwah Ha Ha. I’ll put trigger warnings on the really gruesome stuff. I have an in-game calendar of events in my head, depending on which hooks get a bite. <“evil” Grognard Keeper noises.>

Thanks for being here all. I appreciate you! Have a great weekend!

Inspiration for Dungeon Crawl Classics Material.

I am a big fan of the Beg, Borrow, and Become-Inspired-By school of campaign and dungeon design, however. What’s a game without homebrew materials? Especially one like DCC that strongly resembles old school D&D.

I borrow from other RPGs when building campaigns for just about anything.

I have three games that I am drawing a lot of inspiration for my DCC campaign. I’m building this game for fun, partly on here, partly just for fun. Three games immediately came to mind when I first read through DCC. They were Warhammer FRP (First Ed mostly,) Hackmaster, and Earthdawn.

I’d be remiss if I left off prior editions of D&D, but I think that should be pretty obvious. I really liked a lot of 3rd Ed. The Diablo 2 books were of particular interest for DCC given that game is almost a never ending dungeon romp. There are also some keen things in 4th Ed, oddly enough. I’m thinking of borrowing some items and abilities from that edition.

*Disclaimer: I’m not publishing anything that I borrow directly from any of these games. I am a big fan of the Beg, Borrow, and Become-Inspired-By school of campaign and dungeon design, however. What’s a game without homebrew materials? Especially one like DCC that strongly resembles old school D&D.

The 0-Level funnel and class abilities in DCC immediately made me think of Warhammer FRP.

Ran this a lot back in the day.

The first edition of WFRP was epic in its own right. The classes and utterly brutal combats made for an outstanding game. The combat and class abilities are a nice fit with DCC. I may actually consider pulling some of the classes over. They’re pretty simple. Heck, DCC is a pretty simple system to begin with.

DCC only has 10 class levels to work with. The previous 0-Level career also plays in a lot like good old WFRP’s mulitclassing options. Not to mention WFRP’s rich world and grim fantasy adventures. This system begs to be pillaged for spells, items, and character classes.

The Dungeon Crawls and overall camp value reminded me of Hackmaster.

Using a game that emulates another game for ideas in a game that emulates the same game… Deep thoughts.

I still have all of the Hackmaster books within easy reach on my shelves. I’m most likely going to pull some of the less cartoonish weapons and monsters from Hackmaster. Every time I look at DCC, I think of Knights of the Dinner Table. The Hackmaster sword, the Crossbow of Slaying, and a Fireball coming online.

Yes, Hackmaster is a campy take off of Rolemaster and old D&D, but it is hilarious and a lot like DCC in its delivery. Given a +2 weapon is noteworthy in DCC, I’m sure the big ticket items from Hackmaster will fit in quite nicely. The modules for Hackmaster are knockoffs of old D&D modules, so converting them should be fun. I also like Flateroy’s Guide to Fortification and plan on pillaging some from that book.

Last but not least is Earthdawn.

FASA really out-did themselves with this RPG in terms of campaign creation and world design.

I played a lot in the first two editions of Earthdawn. The Horrors are ridiculously powerful. Magic was its own sort of special. The gods? Long gone, IIRC. I miss a lot of the Earthdawn world

When I read through the magic system and saw the variable monster tables (*Demons, Dragons, etc) toward the back of the book, Earthdawn immediately came to mind. I think a few d12 tables of unspeakable random horrors would be good for DCC. I’m also considering adding Windlings to DCC and possibly Orks and as friendly races. I think adding Trolls and Obsidimen might be a bit too much.

Thanks for stopping by. More to come. Have a great week!

Laughable Old Grognard Moments.

I’m still pretty committed to keeping things positive and this is by no means a jab at anyone in the RPG community. I’ve heard a few things recently that make me chuckle in a way that only some of us older gamers can really relate.

Y’all kids make me laugh.

I mean that in the nicest way, of course. I’m still pretty committed to keeping things positive and this is by no means a jab at anyone in the RPG community. I’ve heard a few things recently that make me chuckle in a way that only some of us older gamers can really relate.

Btw, when I say “kids,” I really mean some of you younger Players and Game Masters that are in your 20s and 30s. Again, not dissing on anyone, it’s all good clean fun. Some of us just don’t remember the glory days of D&D as well and it makes me laugh.

Someone on YouTube said, “When a cleric switches domains, they might lose touch with their deity for a session or two.”

Ravenloft 2E. The campaign setting so potentially brutal it nearly required a change of underwear.

This comment had me rolling on the floor. Anyone remember getting dropped into Realms of Ravenloft (*Not just the module with Strahd) as a cleric from somewhere else? Or a paladin? Congratulations! Your cleric just became a second rate fighter and your paladin just became a fighter with a holy symbol that meant absolutely nothing! Rangers and druids didn’t have it much better.

See, Domains in Ravenloft (*The setting not the specific geographical domain Ravenloft, where Strahd lived,) didn’t have a standard pantheon of deities and demigods per say. The Mists were controlled by an unknown element (*Who we always suspected might be the Old Gods of R’lyeh, but could never confirm due to IP reasons.) The Mists were renowned for grabbing adventurers from other realms such as FR, Greyhawk, Dragonlance, and elsewhere, and dropping them off in a suitable realm where they could be tempted toward evil. The Mists would also rarely spit adventurers back out if they proved to be too incorruptible.

The healing magic in Ravenloft… Let’s just say the healing you wanted you weren’t getting and the magic healing you received was usually at a terrible cost. Remove Curse? That ain’t happening. Raise Dead? If you did have access to it, did you really want to see what happened? Eesh.

Dragonlance has been teased.

Picture of my copy of the AD&D 1E Dragonlance hardcover.

Oh, y’all thought Ravenloft was tough on clerics? At least they had clerics. OG Dragonlance didn’t even mention clerics!

It got better. Mages had to make a critical choice of which Tower of High Sorcery to serve. Spells were limited accordingly. Oh, and Tiamat’s illegitimate sister was on the list of things you could possibly run into at high levels. Paladins and cavaliers had it kinda rough, but not really. (Knightly orders ftw.)

Races played a huge role in old DL. I’ll be curious to see what they do in the new WotC paradigm of warm and fuzzy races everywhere. I will say Minotaurs, Wild Elves and Kender were pretty friggin sweet, though. (Love my Kender thief.) We’ll see what happens.

Someone mentioned they hadn’t been born when the last edition of Spelljammer was new.

Old Spelljammer. Let’s bring back audio cassette tape adventures while we’re at it. (Yes, that really happened.)

Okay, I’m old. I graduated high school in 1990. Spelljammer was first released in 1989.

I was not the first kid on the block to avoid this thing. I remember the Forgotten Realms comic even mentioned it. Great comic series, incidentally. The group in the comics actually had access to a ship with a spelljamming engine.

Despite all advertising efforts, I just couldn’t get into it. For me, sci-fi is its own separate entity. If I wanted to do space fantasy, there’s always Star Wars or Rifts. Nowadays we have Starfinder.

I go back to the notion that there’s nothing wrong with Spelljammer per se. It’s just not my cup of tea. It’s worth a shot, just like Strixhaven and Candlekeep Mysteries. Maybe it will turn out better in 5E. Who knows?

What puzzles me the most about 5E right now is-

Why did they choose to bring back Spelljammer and Dragonlance? Why not Al Qadim or Dark Sun. For crying out loud, they brought back Dark Sun in 4th Ed. It wasn’t that bad.

Or better yet, Greyhawk, Birthright, Oriental Adventures and Mystara are completely untouched by the newest editions. Why not? Are all these old campaign worlds a tough sell for the Mighty Matt Mercer? (Yeah… Old Grognard still poking at Matt. Sorry, kid.) What? They can’t be reimagined for today’s audiences but Spelljammer can? What’s next? Chronomancy?

Here’s a deep thought: If 5E spawned as many or probably several more homebrew campaign worlds than even 3E, why not tap into one or two of them? I mean, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of homebrew campaign settings and ravenous hordes of fans looking to become the next Ed Greenwood or Keith Baker. Why won’t WotC tap into a literally untapped landscape of campaigns with no real IP attachments or potential lawsuits?

Food for thought, anyway. I hope you’re having a great week so far. Take care. Thank you for being here.

Power Rangers RPG vs the Military? Part 2.

Oh, and they’re Krohn’s Putties disguised as soldiers. (Did you really think I’d make the Rangers duke it out with real soldiers? Pffft!)

What happens when they say “No.”

In the previous article, I went over what might happen when the group agrees to join the US Army and the absolute nightmares that would follow. The Morphing Grid and Zordon will not likely agree to this plan. So then what happens?

Let’s give the American Military DIA of Earth 129 some credit. They’ve done their homework. The know where the Ranger’s base is. They’ve managed to hack into the base communications and Alpha 4. If the group rejects the offer to join, the military will strike!

Monsters are one thing, but live soldiers?

Okay, there are some plot elements I haven’t mentioned yet. First, because the Triumvirate, the Season 1 bad guys are a military type organization, General Krohn has infiltrated the Army and kidnapped General Bronson and replaced him with a clone, the monster General Mayhem.

The soldiers going in to arrest the Rangers aren’t armed with regular firearms. They have stun staves and blaster pistols. Oh, and they’re Krohn’s Putties disguised as soldiers. (Did you really think I’d make the Rangers duke it out with real soldiers? Pffft!)

Just before the military strikes, the group is going to be distracted by a kaiju attack. Gnarl has sent down Gigalon to threaten Bennet’s Cove. Once the Rangers are engaged with the giant monster using their Megazord, the “military” will shut down the base and the teleporters completely, override and shut down Alphour, and force the base closed.

The plot thickens.

Zordon of Earth 129 was sent to protect the Ninja Steel encased Zeo Crystal. Rather than let the location of the Crystal fall into enemy hands, Zordon will seal the secret chamber to the Morphing Grid interface and retreat within the Grid itself.

Alphour will behave a little differently once she is hacked. The group knows she is fascinated with humans and wants to become more like them. However, hacked Alphour will revert back to her cold, robotic personality. She’s fighting the hacker’s control. She will subtly hint that things are not right in the base, followed by notifying the group that the teleportation system is down. (Locked out to prevent the military from gaining control.)

After that, it’s a typical Rangers RPG adventure.

The Rangers will travel back to the Zord’s hangar in their Zords after dispatching the kaiju. Once everyone is in, General Mayhem will appear and the trap will be sprung! The group will slug it out with the K Putties.

Alphour finally shakes off the hacker’s control, becoming a fully sentient AI. She unlocks the teleportation system and transports the whole works outside. She also back hacks the military and finds the secluded warehouse where the real General Bronson is being held.

Once the K Putties and General Mayhem is defeated (for now,) Alphour teleports the group to rescue the real general. Of course, in true Rangers fashion, once General Bronson is rescued, the monster goes Mega mode and will be ready for that giant monster fight.

Aftermath…

General Bronson is grateful and somewhat indebted to the Rangers for rescuing him. Things could have gone much, much worse. The Rangers (Morphed) are awarded with a medal for bravery. The military agrees to only call upon them to help with giant monsters and other such villainy.

Krohn leaves a few spies in the military unrevealed for future schemes. Even though Alphour has beefed up the firewalls and base defenses both physical and computer. While defeated, the Triumvirate is one step closer to finding the Crystal.

The ROTC comedy relief characters are back to their zany antics and life goes on in Bennet’s Cove.

I’ll put up the stats for General Mayhem and the K Putties in the near future. Of course, we all know no plot survives a run-in with the actual players. Who knows what will actually go down. I can only plan for my NPCs and the bad guys.

I know Krohn is going to continue to manipulate the Army into other plots involving the Rangers. Truth be told, I can’t resist creating an attack helicopter Zord and equipping a land Zord with 120mm cannons. Also, I’m pretty excited for GI Joe RPG… I mean, there’s a Street Fighter/Rangers crossover.

Thank you for being here! I appreciate you. I hope this was useful for you. Please feel free to steal this plot and rock it in your own games. Game on!

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