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.

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!

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.

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!

DCC Catacomb of the Wolf Lord Room 1-1

Over a century ago, the physical bones of the Wolf Lord were lay to rest. A sword of legend and other riches lay within the tomb.

This is the first room of my new dungeon.

Room 1-1 and the hallway leading to the dungeon. What mysteries lay within?

A couple of farm kids accidentally excavated an entrance to an ancient burial mound deep within the ground. It is perfect for adventurers who want to make a name for themselves exploring the tunnel and beyond.

The tunnel is long and unlit. The walls are mostly made of packed earth and stone with the occasional very old wooden brace. Those familiar with the earth may make a check to notice the grade of the floor. The long tunnel goes down about 3′ for every 5′ square. There are torches sunk into the walls every 30′ of the 120 foot tunnel.

The walls are old, but have held up exceptionally well over the years. The whole place smells earthy and musty. It is obvious no one has passed through here in many years.

Room 1-1: At the end of the long tunnel are 6 alcoves, 3 on each side of the wall with what at first may appear to be dirty old bronze or iron statues. Closer inspection reveals they are actually zombies that activate and attack!

6 Zombies: Init -4; Atk bite +3 melee (1d4); AC 9; HD 3d6; MV
20’; Act 1d20; SP un-dead; SV Fort +4, Ref -4, Will +2; AL C.

After the battle, the party will see two huge iron banded thick wooden doors. Both are locked. In front of the door are the corpses of what appear to be two dead adventurers. The bodies are very old, perhaps a century or more. There is little more than scraps of cloth and bones. Closer inspection will indicate the doors were closed by the adventurers before they succumbed to their wounds.

Loot: Rummaging through the deceased adventurers will yield a Silver Dagger, a pristine set of Thieves Tools, a scroll with the Level 1 Spell- Ropework, a solid staff, a Level 2 Enchanter’s (Neutral Wizard) spellbook with 7 First Level Spells, and a journal with entries regarding the Wolf Lord. (See Bevin’s Journal.)

The two large stone doors are locked. The lock is centered between the two doors. A large bronze carving of a wolf’s head is above each door. The lock is DC 15 with a Poison Needle trap within that triggers when the lock is opened with anything other than the proper key. Trap DC 15 to detect/disarm. The poison is the equivalent of Asp Poison Fort Save DC 20 1d3 Agi/1d6 Agi. Normal healing.

Once the doors are opened… To be continued.

Fantasy TTRPGs- Starting a Dungeon

Dungeon crawls. Why do they exist and who would build such a thing?

Giving the dungeon, and the module, a backstory.

Whether I’m creating a typical five room dungeon or a massive underground mega sprawl, the first question that always comes to mind is: why? And the why actually goes both ways. Why would anyone in their right (medieval fantasy) mind want to build the complex, possibly underground at all? Furthermore, why would a group of characters want to go into a dank underground complex full of terrible traps and drooling, slobbering monsters?

Now, not every dungeon adventure the party is going to face is necessarily underground. It could be a hedge maze, an old manor, a shipwreck, or something even stranger. The question always remains, why is it there?

Who built it and for what purpose?

Not every dungeon is built for a reason. Some occur naturally. But every dungeon is inhabited for a reason. (Or worse, abandoned for a bigger reason.) I mean, every creature needs a home, right? Even drooling, slobbering, scary monsters gotta live somewhere.

But a true dungeon, a real stereotypical fantasy underground complex, springs to life with a legitimate reason of some sort in mind. I find it important to decide on a cause before I start construction so I know what the centerpiece of the place is going to be. Bear in mind, a truly huge dungeon would take thousands of man hours and gold coins or lots of magic in order to build it safely. Guards and traps are extra, of course.

Then we come to the who. Sometimes it’s obvious from my GM/DM’s perspective that said BBEG or villain needs a cool lair. Sometimes (Out of character) I need a particularly deadly place to stash some epic loot the party might need some time down the road. Other times yet, it’s just for flavor, like a sidetrack or incidental.

The builder’s in-character motive always comes to mind as well. Maybe it’s a tomb full of stone soldiers constructed in memory of a forgotten general. Perhaps a power mad necromancer needed a secluded place to build his golem in peace. (Darn villagers with their torches and pitchforks…) It’s possible a well meaning group of beings long ago wanted to seal away a gate to their realm. It could be the lair of an innocent Ancient Red Dragon that just wanted to keep it’s modest filthy lucre mountain safe before he can donate it to the orphans. Maybe a group of well meaning good samaritans wanted to seal something truly horrific away forever and throw away the key. Still another reason might be to bury a powerful artifact away from those who would abuse its power.

These are mere examples. We could go all day and night coming up with cool reasons to build a dungeon. The history and lore should play an important role in the next step: getting the player characters in the door. To be continued…

Fantasy TTRPG: The ‘Why’ of Dungeon Crawling.

One of my favorites is the group stumbles onto the thing completely by accident through a buried entrance or random hole in the ground. “While doing your character’s business off the trail, he stumbles into a hole and plummets 30 feet into (dungeon room number 1.)”

I like to give players a reason for their character to enter the spooky underground maze of despair and certain doom.

Picking up where we left of yesterday. Why would anyone in their right mind enter an underground complex full of locked doors, deathtraps, and horrifying foul creatures of every sort? Okay, beyond the motivation of, “We’re perpetually angry thieving murder hoboes looking for the filthy lucre mountain to steal.”

What is the hook of the dungeon going to be? What can I put out there to get at least one player, if not the whole group motivated to go traipsing down into The Lair of the Vampiric Devil Dragon? What logical reasons could there be for wanting to cheat death? Okay, aside from it being a fantasy game.

The two most basic kinds of motivation: Intrinsic or Extrinsic.

We’ll start with the complicated reasons- the intrinsic kind. Maybe the group wants to rescue someone. Maybe the lost component of someone’s backstory lies within. Perhaps the lich that built the place is someone’s great grandfather. In extreme cases, it might be to keep some really frightening thing from ending the world. Whatever the intrinsic reason is, it’s something motivated by the characters themselves.

By comparison, extrinsic reasons are pretty simple. The group has a reason to believe wealth, fame and fortune lie within. They’ve been promised a great reward for braving the depths and retrieving the MacGuffin. Gold and magic items top the list of extrinsic motivators.

There’s always basic curiosity and dumb luck.

All of us veterans know some hooks by heart. For example: a ragged looking wizard stumbles into the inn with a map in his hand. He falls over dead in the middle of the group’s table, dropping the map in the unsuspecting rogue’s lap after muttering something about an ancient curse.

One of my favorites is the group stumbles onto the thing completely by accident through a buried entrance or random hole in the ground. “While doing your character’s business off the trail, he stumbles into a hole and plummets 30 feet into (dungeon room number 1.)”

Last, there’s always basic curiosity. Rumors abound at the inn about a miner’s discovery of a door covered in an ancient, unknown dialect. The cleric’s order recently unearthed a series of forgotten vaults underneath their oldest temple. Why is the humble town of Tristram suddenly under siege by hordes of demons and undead? Who lives in the Death Fortress on Skull Island? There might be some sick loot in the old ruins at the top of the hill.

Whatever the reason, good luck to you and your players. Thank you for being here. I appreciate you!

Birth of a Dungeon Crawl?

DCC/MCC project is intended to be a work in progress. I’ll be posting one or two dungeon rooms at a time here on my blog, useable in OSR games. I’m also looking at popping out some items, spells, classes and races for both DCC and MCC.

I’m contemplating a new series of articles.

I recently got turned onto Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC) and Mutant Crawl Classics (MCC) by Goodman Games. DCC has been around in its current form since 2012, but its roots extend back to the good old 3rd Ed D&D days. (*Editor’s Note: I still have many of the old modules and treasure them dearly.) DCC in its current printing is very much in the vein of Old School Revival (OSR) as it looks a LOT like old B/X D&D. (*Editor’s Note: I’ve written more about it here.)

MCC is a little newer (2017?) and is a throwback to Metamorphosis Alpha/Gamma World in so many ways. It also reminds me a little bit of Palladium’s Rifts with its mix of magic and technology. DCC and MCC are fully compatible with one another, which is awesomesauce when designing creatures. While I’m not huge on post apocalyptic genre games in general, I like MCC because of its old school charm and simplicity. It also uses the same character funnel 0 Level play as DCC only AD Terra style.

One thing that really jumps out at me about both DCC and MCC is the incredible amount of third party support that exists for both games. Goodman even goes so far as to list many of them in their books. I have not begun to dig through the various websites to look for what am looking at creating. I have ideas for several character classes/races. Much like other OGL endeavors, I’m certain anything I come up with is going to resemble material that already exists somewhere.

It will be a work in progress.

Similar to my Power Rangers RPG campaign, my DCC/MCC project is intended to be a work in progress. I’ll be posting one or two dungeon rooms at a time here on my blog, useable in OSR games. I’m also looking at popping out some items, spells, classes and races for both DCC and MCC. Anything I put on the blog is always free to use anywhere. I might eventually cobble together an entire book for pdf publication on DriveThruRPG or my Ko-Fi Page.

My plans from there in regards to OGL endeavours is to either do more on DriveThruRPG or possibly consider starting up something on Patreon. There are a staggering number of RPG startups out there. Honestly, I’m not sure what’s going to set my work apart just yet, but I’m going to do it anyway. Because DCC/MCC are an OGL venture, I may eventually veer off into other systems such as D&D or ICRPG.

What can I say? I love RPGs. I love monkeying with different systems.

Thank you for being here. I appreciate you. More to come. Take care. Have a great week. Game on!

Rayguns and Spaceships in D&D?!?

But hey, if that’s your thing, cool. I’m still a fan of fantasy mecha, steampunk, Victorian era fantasy, and other assorted combinations of fantasy plus whatever. I just think if I’m personally going to run a starship game, I’m leaving the elves at home and running Star Trek. Where we have Vulcans…

Not exactly a new concept, but…

So, your character is a standard issue, run of the mill knight or even barbarian in what would seem like a regular fantasy style RPG campaign setting. There’s magic swords, elves, dragons, and of course lots of spells being flung about. Characters look up at the stars at night and wonder about where the gods live.

Pretty standard D&D game for the most part, right? Could be Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, or even the Witcher. Right up until the dropships come down and start unloading their payloads of jump infantry and grav tanks.

“What in Murlyn’s name?!?” exclaimed the halfling wizard.

Dragons vs Twin Linked Laser/Radar guided 20mm Vulcan cannons? What sort of magic is contained in this “electromagnetic railgun?” How can common men fly without magic in these jump packs?

Meanwhile, out of character players are groaning and throwing various things at the unsuspecting DM. No one mentioned this at Session Zero. That was weeks ago. The DM didn’t want to spoil the surprise. Nobody mentioned lasers!

Two great tastes that have been known to start riots at conventions.

You got science fiction into our fantasy world!
You got fantasy all over my science fiction!
Star Trek!
Middle Earth!
Star Wars!
Game of Thrones!
And the feud continues to this day. Some fans sincerely refuse to cross the line. Others show up to a Ren Faire dressed in Star Trek costumes and pretend to be an away team. It takes all kinds, I guess.

I’m not going to get into the debate over which is better or worse. I love both, honestly. On any given day, I’ll watch either. I’ll run either. I’ll play either.

In terms of gaming I do tend to lean a little more toward sci-fi. I’m an old Star Wars GM from when all we had was the D6 system, which was recently reprinted for its 30th anniversary, I believe? I also love anime, especially mecha games. But I grew up watching Conan and Hawk the Slayer between D&D sessions, too.

A handful of games have tried to do both over the years.

Dragonstar by Fantasy Flight Games

I remember Dragon Star by Fantasy Flight Games for 3rd Ed D&D. I remember the campaign was pretty unique and cool at the time. It was a pretty big change of pace at the time.

I remembered mentioning it to my players at the time and watching the group divide almost straight down the middle. My wife and one of my other players who were die-hard fantasy fans said, “no.” My two hardcore sci-fi guys said, “no,” but for completely different reasons that the other folks. That was an easy call and campaign was shelved before it ever started. Yet Star Wars was not beyond us? Hmm…

Starfinder by Paizo is another prime example of a game that crossed the boundaries and does it all pretty well. Someone on Twitter recently remarked that it is a bit daunting when you look at the rulebook with everything it has going on. Unfortunately highly detailed games that do multiple genres together require complex rules sometimes.

Starfinder by Paizo.

.

Of course, Palladium’s RIFTS probably does it all the most. I won’t say best because it’s literally a mashup of every genre, but mostly confined to Earth. Supers, post apocalyptic combat, giant robots, dragons and magic all under one roof. Some would say the rules are unwieldy at best. I was a huge fan for many, many years. I still love that game, but others have better rule systems.

Spelljammer Logo.


The reason I mention all of these games is because D&D is once again poised to cross the line itself with Spelljammer coming back. This classic campaign did things the other way around. It was fantasy applied to science fiction. To me, t would be like reversing the polarity of a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup and putting the chocolate on the inside.

To use my example above, it would be like a Centurion outpost bristling with guns and housing jump infantry and grav tanks suddenly coming under siege with magic fireballs and dragons. Instead of complex science star drives, there are spelljamming engines capable of traversing vast distances of space.

I can’t say I’m a huge Spelljammer fan. I’d rather run one of the other three I mentioned above. I was cool with Alternity and Amazing Engine Bug Hunters, which were available around the same time. I just couldn’t get into the whole Elminster in space vibe. I mean yay, I suppose. It’s no Babylon 5 by any means.

But hey, if that’s your thing, cool. I’m still a fan of fantasy mecha, steampunk, Victorian era fantasy, and other assorted combinations of fantasy plus whatever. I just think if I’m personally going to run a starship game, I’m leaving the elves at home and running Star Trek. Where we have Vulcans…

To complete the circle of the peanut butter cup.

I think Session Zero is really the key to not having a campaign fizzle and die horribly. Please, be upfront with your players about the type of campaign you intend to run. Or at the very least mention things like, firearms, spaceships, zap guns and giant robots potentially coming up in the campaign to gauge where the players stand on such things.

If it’s going to derail your campaign plans entirely, just re-word things. “Robot” becomes golem. “Gatling gun” become fireball launcher. “Laser” becomes magic wand, or lightning bolt. Instead of deep space, the threat comes from the shadow dimension. I think you get the idea. It’s the same concept, just with a different trope attached.

Thanks for being here. Hope you’re having a great weekend. See you soon.

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