Grimdark – Madness

 

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As a reminder, back towards the beginning of these articles I talked about creating a ‘sanity’ system of mental stress for adventurers. Here’s a quick recap:

I would also like to bring in a second system for handling mental health, somewhat taken from Call of Cthulhu’s Sanity Points or stress in Darkest Dungeon. Stress will do as a placeholder term, perhaps to be replaced by stoicism or something later. Your Stress would be determined by your class in much the same way as Hit Dice, modified either by Intelligence or Wisdom. You would gain stress from suffering conditions. Off the top of my head:

  • Blinded: 1d4
  • Taking damage from a critical hit: 1
  • Death Saves (Each): 1d4
  • Permanent Injury: 1d6
  • Charmed: 1d6 when the Charm wears off.
  • Deafened: 3
  • Frightened: 1d6
  • Grappled: 0
  • Incapacitated: 2
  • Paralysed: 1d6
  • Petrified: 1d8
  • Poisoned:1d6
  • Prone: 0
  • Restrained: 0
  • Stunned: 1
  • (Diseased):1d6…

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#RPG #DND Grimdark – Monsters

miss-swarm-hobgoblinMonsters would need to be handled a little differently in the game skeleton and modifications that I have laid out. They need to mirror what we’ve done to player characters in that they need to be more fragile in terms of hit points but still need to have the capacity to do greater harm and to be minor and even major villains – rather than simple ‘mooks’ – without just becoming massive hit-point sinks.

If we look at a standard monster stat sheet, we can see that we don’t really need to change that much. The only real problems that we have exist around Hit Points and Challenge Rating, but this isn’t insoluable.

For Hit Points we can do what we do for player characters, a basis of Hit Die type + Constitution Bonus, with Heroism (Morale) going up by level. However, given that players encounter lots of monsters, the CR determines how many – total – Heroism points they contribute, and their maximum spend. This going into a pool used by the Games Master – with a maximum spend equal to the highest CR in an encounter. This also does a nice job of modelling the role and value of leadership – and of taking out enemy leaders…

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#RPG #DnD5e – Grimdark – The Paladin

pierre-raveneau-16601782-10154419138026378-29610573204484191-o.pngWhile fighters cover a huge range of different types of warrior, the Paladin is a very particular form of combatant in this case. Here we are talking about martial orders, warrior monks (of the non-Eastern variety). These are Templars,

Hospitallers, Knights of the Sepulchre, Knights of Lazarus or similar orders. They are empowered by their faith and their oaths of chastity, poverty, obedience and sometimes fourth, solemn vows of particular import to that individual.

Paladin’s in this write-up have ‘power’ as a result of their zealotry and religious faith, more than by magic or divinity per se, as with the cleric the truth of divinity is more of a question requiring faith.

Class Features:

  • Hit Points: 6+Con Bonus.
  • Heroism: 1d8/Level

Proficiencies:

  • All armour, shields.
  • Simple weapons, martial weapons.
  • Wisdom and Charisma saving throws.

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#RPG #Dnd5e – Grimdark – Cleric

russell-dongjun-lu-priest-finish-small (1)The Cleric is – by and large – OK. Perhaps a little more combative than is strictly appropriate, but the existence of chaplains and martial orders, as well as the ability to make characters with different emphases, doesn’t make that so much of a problem.

A few changes are, however, needed. Obviously, the miraculous curing of wounds is something that shouldn’t happen – if at all – until the higher levels, but people can draw strength from faith and faith can motivate and move people. As such, what would heal normally, would now restore or grant temporary heroism.

Rather than material costs, higher level spells like resurrection would require donations or the sacrifice of experience points.

Class Features:

  • Hit Points: 5+Con Bonus.
  • Heroism: 1d8/Level

Proficiencies:

  • Light Armour, Medium Armour, Shields.
  • Simple Weapons.
  • Saving Throws: Wisdom/Charisma
  • Skills: Any two of the following: History, Insight, Meicine, Persuasion and Religion

Tools/Equipment:

Five of the following, multiples are permitted – Fine clothes, vestments, mace, club, warhammer, chain mail, leather armour, light crossbow, pistol, 20 rounds of ammunition for a weapon, priest’s pack, explorer’s pack, shield, holy symbol.

Clerics retain spellcasting and channel divinity (along with destroy undead), but with a severely limited spell list and only one domain…

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#RPG #DnD5e – Grimdark – The Bard (Cunning Man)

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Art by Grace Liu

Bard (Cunning)

In a low magic setting the magical side of a bard is not something we can really incorporate, but there is a tradition of ‘cunning men’ who were associated with magic but who were, in all likelihood, conmen, tricksters and people with secret or hidden knowledge – albeit of a different sort to that found amongst artisans and guildsmen.

As such we need to reinterpret the Bard into being something more about patter, confidence tricks, diplomacy, etiquette, storytelling and, yes, music. This kind of career would be one that would be suitable for nobility, scions of noble houses and – if the setting is as sexist as the times in which it mirrors – for women.

Some things we could keep, other things we would have to change – most notably the spellcasting.

Class Features:

Hit Points: 5+Con Bonus.
Heroism: 1d8/Level

Proficiencies:
Light Armour.
Simple Weapons, One-Handed Ranged, Longswords, Rapiers, Shortswords.
Saving Throws: Dexterity/Charisma
Skills: Any three.

Tools/Equipment:
Five of the following, multiples are permitted – Fine clothes, costume, musical instrument, writing gear (pen, ink, parchment or book), jewellery worth 50 gp, rapier, longsword, dagger, pistol, hand-crossbow, 10 shots for a weapon, diplomat’s pack, entertainer’s pack, leather armour…

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#RPG – Grimdark – Characters

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Art by Maxime Defoulny

So these rules are really me brainstorming how I would need to change the rules of D&D to better fit the ‘grimdark’ setting I am intending to crowdfund in the near future.

D&D is great for all sorts of games, but as a ‘general’ rules set doesn’t particularly excel at being anything other then D&D. Lamentations of the Flame Princess and other, hardcore ‘old school’ games hark back to the extreme peril of playing low-level characters in Gygaxian misery-dungeons, and often have a grind-house/grind-core heavy metal aesthetic, veering more towards horror than fantasy.

That’s great and all, but I want to do something with 5e, to appeal to people on a basis of more than nostalgia and to provide a familiar, but different, experience for people who are new to role-playing and have entered through the popularity of 5th Edition.

There’s something of a fetish for super-difficult games in computing, from Darkest Dungeon, Salt and Bloodborne to the Infamous, Dark Souls. Tabletop games are different, you can’t learn or hone the skill of the game or learn the attack patterns of the monsters, character builds can be optimised, but that tends to diminish the role-play. Difficulty, then, has to come from the sense to play tactically, carefully, swing the advantage in your favour and to deal with difficult and horrifying roleplaying and decision making.

We need to take that, lustrous, heroic edge off 5th Edition’s default rules-set to amp up the difficulty and make people play more carefully, but without turning it into a total meatgrinder.

Let’s talk about characters then…

Species

In the setting I am envisioning you would only be able to play humans. So far as the types go otherwise, there isn’t really anything much else that needs to be done. As a default the human traits – especially the variant ones – go a long way to helping compensate for bad rolls at character creation, mixing self-determination and the ‘hardcore’ nature of the ‘straight roll’ character generation – which I would foresee being the standard rules…

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#RPG #DnD5e – D&D Month: Grimdark

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Art by Nikolay Razuev

A new month, a new blog project.

I’m thinking ahead to my next crowdfunded project, though I don’t know when I will get around to it. There’s no harm in thinking on the issues involved though.

5e has taken a step back towards the ‘old school’ style of play and improvisation, coupled with a few story elements from the indie scene. What is, perhaps, missing a bit is the grittier, nastier side of dungeoneering.

The setting I will be creating is a harsh, horrific setting – a closed off city that has been left to the undead, into which criminals, heretics and the foolhardy are cast – never to return.

For this I need a deadlier, nastier take on the standard rules and need to expand them to take other things into account. I want a low/no magic setting, slightly more technologically advanced setting.

This is going to take a considerable amount of changes, innovations and new approaches.

Starfinder month was open, D&D month will be paywalled for Patrons and Minds.com subscribers. Tasters will be here, but the full text will be found there.