#RPG – Post Apocalypse World – Salvage

Salvage-Crew-Removes-USS-Guardians-Bow-Section*Smashes Apocalypse World to pieces*
*Rummages through the bits*

OK, how can we retool this into a halfway enjoyable, workable game…

OK, we need more scale to finesse things, so let’s double the scale from 2d6+bonuses to 2D12+bonuses.

You could whack together any stats you wanted, but for sake of argument let’s go with…

  • Will
  • Body
  • Sexy
  • Mind
  • Soul

In AW stats are normally -2 to +2 normally, -3 to +3 later than character generation. This would normally be doubled here, but here’s an opportunity to do better.

Let’s bring in a more traditional Stat+Skill organisation structure, since Moves suck balls, so we can have stats and then skills, which combined give you your totals. So Stats run -6 to +2 and skills run from zero to +2, with 3 possible later on and certain exceptions.

Stats start at zero and can be bought up to +2 at character creation with the four points you have to spend.

Skills start not being had at all, but again you have four points and spending a single point gives you a skill at +0.

You can drop stats for extra points to spend on stats and skills, but no lower than -6 and buy no higher than +2 at character creation.

You have six health, at zero you’ve snuffed it. You can choose to take a permanent penalty of -1 to a stat in place of damage at any point.

You get two spare points you can chuck into anything, like extra health, extra in a stat or skill (still within limits) or for weird abilities not unlike FATE stunts.

You can develop relationships with players and NPCs or communities in games from -6 to +2(3)

Every session gives you 1xp which can be used to buy stuff by paying 1 or its existing, current level, whichever is highest. That could also limit the maximum amount that helping people is good for.

Doing stuff?

Roll 2d12+Stat+Skill

1-2. Fail and six bad things happen.
3-4. Fail and five bad things happen.
5-6. Fail and four bad things happen.
7-8. Fail and three bad things happen.
9-10. Fail and two bad things happen.
11-12. Fail and a bad thing happens.
13-14. Succeed, BUT a bad thing happens too.
15-16. Succeed and a good thing happens.
17-18. Succeed and a two good thing happens.
19-20. Succeed and three good things happen.
21-22. Succeed and four good things happen.
23-24. Succed and five good things happen.

Every two more higher or lower cause more bad or good things to happen. Those things can be more damage, knocking a weapon flying and so on. Maybe you could also spend multiple good things to do special effects (I did something like this in Kagai! where you spend your successes to do damage).

Armour reduces damage 1-6.

Weapons do base damage, modified 1, 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d12 and maybe descriptions of special stuff they can do.

Baddies have a difficulty rank from +6 (like an asthmatic goblin) to -6 (an imperial dragon), health points, armour, some tactics they can use and some ‘bad things’ that they can do.

You get the idea.

So a character might look like…

Sir Fighty McFighterson – Knight of the Realm

Will +1
Body +2
Sexy +1
Mind -2
Soul -2

Stabbing Monsters +2
Riding Horsies +2
Bellowing Scarily +1

Two handed sword for jobbing monsters 1d10 damage, bleeding.
Plate Armour: 6
Shield: +1 Armour (7).

Sir Fighty is clobbering an orc, an Orc warrior is difficulty -2 and carries a dirty cleaver, that does 1d6 damage. The Orc can also take 6 damage.

The orc lunges for him with its dirty sword and Sir Fighty decides the best response is to clobber the motherfucker.

He rolls 2d12+Body+Stabbing Monsters for a total of 17, -2 for the orc challenge level for a total of 15. The sword does 6 damage +1 for a ‘good things’ making 7. That’s a dead orc.

A new challenger appears, another nasty orc. In closing with this wee bastard Sir Fighty ballses it up only rolling a total of 6, which with the -2 is reduced to 4. That’s a fail and five bad things. The orc rolls 4 for damage, which is all soaked up by the armour, spending all the extra ‘bad things’ brings that up high enough to do two damage. Huzzah for orcs!

You get the point, there’d be a lot more to do but stripped bare and reconstructed there’s a more workable (if still somewhat clumsy) RPG in there.

Dungeon World does it better, but doesn’t solve all the issues.

If you’re after a Post Apocalyptic game of worth, Barbarians of the Aftermath is good, retooling Cyberpunk 2020 with the Maximum Metal book works well too.

Munchkin: They Killed Me & Took My Stuff

cover_lgApparently Munchkin is going onto Xbox and maybe other computery game platforms too.

I have tried for a long time to be sanguine about what happened with Munchkin. Me and Steve Mortimer wrote The Munchkin’s Guide to Powergaming and from that came the d20 stuff and, eventually, the card game. Both the d20 material and the original card game contain a huge amount of material taken from or inspired by the book – but just not quite enough to trip the clause in the contract where they’d need to give us more money.

By and large my relationship with SJG is pretty good. They pay up on time and e23 does well for me – second only to RPGNOW – but at this point, with Munchkin seemingly keeping the company afloat and making them money hand-over-fist it seems… ungrateful not to have involved us again or even acknowledged us, let alone cut us in for any amount of the fortune ensuing from our humour.

Furthermore it has become clear to us recently, via another slap in the face, that our role in this gaming phenomenon is not only being ignored but actively being written out.

SJG gave us our first break in writing and essentially launched my career as a gaming professional. Perhaps it is churlish of me to feel this way but I do feel that our contribution is worth greater acknowledgement and that, perhaps, it might have been nice to do a tenth anniversary recap or to have brought us back to do a supplement.

It was even me that wanted John Kovalic to illustrate the original book, though he couldn’t do much then due to other commitments.

I’m torn on this. I feel ungrateful to be so bloody angry about this but every time we’re left out, another add on comes out or it conquers another medium its a stab in the gut and a sharp reminder of being cut out.

I don’t know what to do with how I feel about this any more. I use to just joke about it, but it’s no longer funny.

Please Stop Selling Bad Art

Wait. I’m the bad guy?

You’re not good enough yet.

Really, you’re not.

I know that people are always out for cheap art to illustrate their RPG projects and that not everybody’s presentation is professional or even semi-professional. I tend to go for fairly simple, minimalist layouts for that reason but please…

Stop selling your bad art.

Any schmuck can put together wooden looking poser dolls and anyone can trace an outline. You’ll get better with practice but that horrible scratching you’re selling for a buck a throw? It’s doing everyone harm, including you.

How is it doing harm?

1. You’re giving yourself a bad reputation – Get a rep for shitty art and people will stop looking and checking.

2. You’re pushing product off the front page of sites like RPGNOW – If you’re throwing up shitty sketches twice a day you’re contributing to product churn and pushing worthy product off the front page. The front page is important advertising for people with new product. Books that take months to put together are being knocked out of view by your napkin doodles. Stop it.

3. You’re depressing the acceptable price of stock art and flooding the market with crud. – That makes it hard to search through and find the good stuff and the price of stock art is already low, very low, compared to direct commissioning.

Now, what constitutes crap art is very subjective. I’m not saying everything has to be perfect and the ‘dodgy doodle’ can even be a stylistic choice for some games trying to capture to old-skool feel. There’s a few things you can do though, even if you can’t stop:

Being Less Crap:

1. Find honest people to give you honest, critical feedback.

2. Consolidate your releases. Don’t release ten, individual, shitty pieces of art for a buck each. Put them together in a collection and sell them. The good pieces will stand out, you won’t flood the front page so much and you’re providing value and giving yourself space to practice.

3. Do spot illustrations. Spot illustrations don’t have to be as good, typically and if they’re a little rough they just recall classics like Fighting Fantasy books or old adventure modules.

4. If you can’t do spot illustrations, do graphical elements, textures, things like that are always useful and you don’t need to be OMFGBRILLIANT to make something useful.

Now, I’ve also become aware of rumours about a disturbing trend amongst other small RPG companies. Reselling artist’s work as stock art.

This is a ‘Dick Move'(tm). Don’t do it. Let’s be honest here, most of us cannot afford what the work of these artists is worth. Allowing them to retain right of resale and reuse of their art or allowing the rights to revert after 3/6/12 months is a way we can help compensate for being cheapskates.

The stock art that I sell is commissioned AS stock art from the artists involved and includes highly detailed and highly stylised art depending on the artist. If I’m selling stock art money is going to the artists and I’m providing a central clearing house with, what I hope, is a good reputation for decent art. I’m not taking advantage as I fear some companies and individuals may be.

Don’t treat artists like crap and if you are an RPG artist I think you should be asking for these rights and finding places to sell your art – after rights revert – to help you squeeze a living out of a tough business. At this point, honestly, this should be standard procedure for small press.

TLDR: Don’t sell shit, don’t be a dick, re-sell your art yourself.

Putting Skyrim into a Tabletop RPG

I’ve been playing and enjoying Skyrim a great deal, as a great many people have. One thing that I particularly like is the near total irrelevance of the levels (they’re really unnecessary, you could work stamina and health upgrades into the perks system) and the ability to customise your character simply by DOING.

I found myself wondering how you could recreate this feel on the tabletop and a couple of obvious inspirations leapt to mind. Dragon Warriors uses fixed damage in a way that would work quite well but the most obvious system to recreate a Skyrim experience on the tabletop is BRP/RuneQuest/Legend/OpenQuest and all its ilk.

You would need to change a few bits and pieces and you would need to expand the basic rules to an heroic scope by introducing a perk equivalent (Legend/RuneQuest already did this to an extent) but what I would suggest is using a skill threshold of 50% with every five points above that skill level granting a Perk point and with perks spent to provide specific bonuses and heroic qualities.

It would take a lot of work to produce Perk trees for every relevant BRP skill, but as a vague sort of thought along those lines, here’s my Skyrim character rendered into BRPesque system, though with some alterations along my own lines towards a system change I’ve also been considering. Two birds, one stone and all that…

Corwin

Race: Breton
Gender: Male
Handedness: Right
Height: 5’8″
Weight: 155 lbs.
Age: 35

STR: 10, CON: 12, SIZ: 11, DEX: 12, APP: 14, INT: 13, POW: 10, EDU: 14

Hits: 3 (NB: This is the other change I was on about, all combat becomes single roll, Crit = Dead, Special = Out, Hit = Hit, Miss = Miss. Tougher characters can take multiple hits before upgrading to ‘Out’).
Toughness: 10% (35%) (NB: The single roll is a combination of hit/wound chance based on the resistance table. A character’s toughness helps protect them from harm).
Wound: 5% (NB: Weapons have a ‘wound’ value, that is their chance of scoring a ‘Hit’ as a wound. Stronger characters get a bonus).

INNATE SKILLS
Effort 50%
Stamina 60%
Idea 65%
Luck: 50%
Agility: 60%
Charisma: 70%
Know: 70%
(NB: Derived stats experimentally become skills, like any other) 

GENERAL SKILLS
Bargain: 20 (45)
Etiquette: 10
Fast Talk: 20
Persuade: 30
Status: 10
Craft (Armourer): 30
Craft (Weaponsmith): 30
Craft (Enchantment): 10
Craft (Alchemy): 30 (50)
Fine Manipulation: 30 (50)
Sleight of Hand: 10
Appraise: 10
First Aid: 10
Gaming: 5
Literacy: 20
Insight: 5
Listen: 20
Research: 5
Sense: 20
Spot: 20
Track: 20
Climb: 20
Dodge: 20
Hide: 30
Jump: 20
Stealth: 30
Swim: 10

WEAPON SKILLS
Brawl: 10
1H Weapons: 30
2H Weapons: 5
Thrown: 10
Bows: 40 (60)
Shields: 5
Light Armour: 25 (NB: Armour skills are used for putting them on under duress, and to govern armour perks).
Heavy Armour: 0

PERKS
OOOOO Fortune’s Favour – Luck Reroll x5
OOOOO Charmer’s Bargain – +25% Bargain bonus
O Bow Kill +1% crit chance.
OOOO Bonus Bow Damage +20%

FIST – Wound 20%
HEADBUTT – Wound 20%
KICK – Wound 20%
SHORTSWORD – Wound 40% Iceblade: +5 wound chance, target loses an action next turn if hit, Shockblade +5 wound chance, target loses 1 magic point if hit.
Dwarven Longbow – Wound 45% (65%, Crit +1), Soul Draining – On a kill drains magic points into Soul Gems.

Mask of Krosis – Armour 10% Halve perception skills, +20% Fine Manipulation, Craft (Alchemy), Bows.
Fine Hard Leather Armour – Armour 15% -5% Physical Skill penalty.

Other Tips for Skyrimming Your BRP

  1. Average damage on hits, only circumstances (surprise/backstab) or criticals/special hits increase damage. Standard hit – average damage, Special hit damage +1, Critical hit double damage. EG: Longbow – 6/7/12 – Perks can increase this)
  2. Magic Points regenerate at one per turn, specific spells in specific fields draw hit and damage from skill, specific effects to specific skills.
  3. If you wanted you could introduce Stamina Points (from Con) that could be used to power more powerful physical/attack Perks. Also regenerating one per turn.
  4. Let people increase their HP/MP using Perks as well as by increasing stats.
  5. Don’t forget blessing bonuses, magic item bonuses etc, though these tend to be basic and workmanlike unless attached to epic and legendary items.

Cosmic Encounter Alien: Healer

Rapid geological activity forced extreme biological diversifications on the Healer home world. Possessing vast knowledge of herbal and mutant lore, Healers are now prized by other beings for their life-sustaining skills. Amidst loud rejoicing over new health, who could deny their modest fee?

 

Traveller

Notable Education +1

Healing Touch: Healer’s gain +1 to Animals (veterinary), Medic & Science (Biology) at the end of character generation.

Social standing is replaced by ‘Wisdom’.

Homeworld: Oosshanaa B988889-A Ga Ri

Starport B, 14.4k km, dense atmosphere, 80% water, hundreds of millions population, civil service bureaucracy, law level 9, tech level 10.

Starblazer

Healers have the following traits:

  • Life giver [Stunt] – With a touch a healer can remove stress from a target and place it upon themselves.
  • Supermind [Stunt] – Medical applications only.
  1. Bad eyesight: -2
  2. Weak to heat.

General

The swampy world of the Healers has its water distributed over its surface in many lakes, swamps and aquifers. The air is humid and everything is soft and wet. The atmosphere, thick with moisture and CO2 is perfect for growing plants and the whole planet is covered in thick and persistent growths from a multitude of highly evolved, highly specialised plant life that is very resilient and contains much in the way of complex chemistry. The Healers (Ullanoo) are part plant themselves and have a deep and innate understanding of the flows and complexities of life force and the chemistry of medicines.

Cosmic Encounter Alien: Hate

A short, physically unimposing race the Hate evolved in a crowded part of the cosmos and were pushed aside by other, more powerful races. Forced to subsist on food scraps and the leavings of the other species the Hate swore that one day they would be the ultimate power on the cosmic scene.

Traveller

Feral: 1d6 Edu

Strong Characteristic: +2 Edu

Small: 1d6 Str, 1d6 End, 3d6 Dex

Hatred: The Hate do +1 damage with any weapon that they wield.

No Fine Manipulators

Homeworld: Gatt C442BA4-9 Hi In Pr Red

Starport C, 6.4k km, thin tainted atmosphere, 20% water, hundreds of billions population, charismatic dictator (messiah), law level 4, tech level 9.

Starblazer

Hate have the following traits:

  • Berserk [Stunt]: Hate can enter a rage for a scene which increases their physical rolls by +1 but reduces mental and social ones by -1.
  • Jump [Stunt]
  • Hard Hide [Stunt]
  1. No fine manipulation
  2. Weak to taunting/social manipulation

General

The Hate (Gatta) are a third rate species looked down on and bullied by much of the rest of the species in the universe. This has given them a cultural feeling of inadequacy and a simmering rage that has been building for centuries, now expressing itself in a great crusade of revenge. Berserk and hateful they might look comical, but they pack a hell of a punch once they attack.

Cosmic Encounter Alien: Hacker

Masters of technology, the Hackers have embedded various devices into their bodies in an attempt to improve their skills at computer fraud. Although geniuses when it comes to code breaking and decrypting data, Hackers aren’t much good in more conventional battle. However more than one would-be conqueror has learned to their sorrow that the Hackers have nasty ways of getting revenge.

 

Traveller

Notable Intelligence & Education: +2

Small: Strength 1d6, Endurance 1d6, Dexterity 3d6

Cyber-Compatible: Cybernetic implants and computing devices of Hacker origin cost a Hacker half normal cost.

Compu-Brain: Hackers increase their Comms, Computer, Engineering (Electronics) & Sensors skills all by +1 at the end of character generation.

Homeworld: Stack A676A00-D Ga Hi Ht In Amber

Starport A, 9.6k km, standard tainted atmosphere, 60% water, tens of billions population, no government, no law, tech level 13.

Starblazer

Hackers have the following traits:

  • Small [Stunt]
  • Supermind [Science]
  • Supermind [Engineering]
  1. Weak to Electromagnetic attacks

General

Hackers are entranced by technology and have interwoven it into themselves at a very basic level. Given to extremely powerful and logical linear thinking they are born mathematicians and technicians and seemingly phobic of the natural world, perhaps given their difficult evolutionary history, the same history that gave them their powerful mentality and tool-using capabilities. Anarchic and libertarian the Hackers control much of the interstellar communication grid and collect a fast amount of data from other, more careless species.