#RPG – Dragon Warriors Game Stream is Recruiting Players

Hello there!

With people starting to trickle back to work, our regular twice-a-week streamed game of Dragon Warriors has gotten a little thin on the ground. After having to had to miss a week due to illness, we had to cancel a game tonight due to lack of players.

That’s a shame.

As such, I’d very much like to extend an open invitation to anyone who’d care to join us on either our Tuesday or Saturday game slots, one or either (we just ignore the continuity error if a player can’t make it). We have space for, maybe, one or two more players.

We play from around 7:30pm UK (2:30pm EST), to around 10-11pm UK, depending how people feel. We run on Hangouts, and stream to Youtube. You don’t need to show your face – if you feel shy.

The system’s simple to pick up, and the best way to do so is to play, plus we have pregenerated characters to pick from, so all you really have to do is show up!

I intend to keep this going – running games online – into the future, long past COVID, running other games of all kinds. So if DW doesn’t take your fancy, perhaps something else will.

Drop a comment or hit me up on Twitter @grimachu or anywhere else you can find me.

#RPG – Dragon Warriors – Combat Stunts and Grappling

We’ve been playing Dragon Warriors, a lot, over on my Grimstreams Youtube channel. It has a delightful ‘old skool’ charm to it. Much of this is down to the medievalist setting, which invokes the best of Arthurian legend, and Robin of Sherwood. It happily inhabits the schizophrenic mythology Britain developed as a legacy from Celts, Picts, Romans, Normans, Norse and other influences.

There’s something, however, that I have never liked about the old school, and that is how deadly dull combat can be. I do my best to inject description and to interpret the rolls excitingly. Still, combat choices mostly come down to which weapon to use, or some ability automatically triggering. When it comes to actual combat, then at best it’s about manoeuvring and is otherwise two ents, taking turns to hit each other with a hatchet.

Dragon Warriors helps a bit, in that combat tends to be reasonably swift, even with high ranking foes. However, still, there’s something just unsatisfying about it.

One way I’ve dealt with this in other games, like my own Machinations of the Space Princess, is to open up the possibility for any player to engage in ‘stunts’. Special manoeuvres that aren’t exhaustively listed, but are up to the player and the Games Master to interpret. The difficulty of these can be offset by sinking some skill points into your ‘special moves’.

Dragon Warriors would have to be a little different. It doesn’t have a rigorous Skill system, but given it works on a 1-20 scale in the same way D&D and its derivatives do, it shouldn’t be too hard to port things over. In those D&D derivatives, I allow a stunt with a -5 penalty to hit. This will enable fighters to excel at special combat manoeuvres, making them a more competent and capable class with their own standout capabilities. In Dragon Warriors, the warrior classes can get a little sidelined at higher levels as well. Still, their Attack score also rises far more quickly, as does that of the assassin class.

In Dragon Warriors then, we can open this up by applying the same -5 penalty. This gives the combat-oriented classes a level of versatility, as they can afford to ‘waste’ those points doing something outlandish.

Again, this would be open, but a few possibilities present themselves from the pre-existing options. However, many are superseded by special abilities.

  • Disarm: When you hit, the target takes no damage, but you roll 3d6, and if it’s over their rank, you knock the weapon free from their hand.
  • Strike Past Armour: Take a penalty equal to the enemy’s Armour Factor to strike at a weak point or gap.
  • All-Out Attack: Trade multiples of 5 Defence for +1 Attack.
  • All Out Defence: Trade multiples of 5 Attack for +1 Defence.
  • Two-Weapon Combat: Roll both weapons at -5 attack, you cannot defend this turn.
  • Trip Attack: Roll an Attack at -5 and then roll 3d6+Rank. Roll 3d6+Rank for the enemy and, if they fail to beat your score, they are knocked to the ground.
  • Stunning Blow: Roll an Attack at -5, if you hit roll 3d6 and if it is over the target’s current Health they are stunned and unable to act for one turn. If you roll over double their current Health, they are knocked out or made helpless.

Grappling

Grappling is conspicuously absent in the main rules. Here’s a couple of ideas.

To make a grapple, you make a special unarmed attack, in place of your normal unarmed strike. If you land a blow, this doesn’t do any damage, but you then have a hold on the enemy. They cannot move while they are held, though they can try to break free as their own Attack, which does no damage but gets them out of your grip. They can, instead, opt to use a short weapon like a dagger to stab at you, which is also a valid attack once they get it free.

With someone in a hold, you have various options. You can try and keep them held, you can try and choke them, throw them or apply force to a restrained limb or their neck.

  • Choke Hold: Holding them in this grip forces a roll of a d6, and if this is below their current Health, they stay conscious. Otherwise, the person being choked passes out. On the second turn, this roll is 2d6. The dice rolled increases by one each turn until they pass out. Once they have passed out, you do your maximum unarmed damage each turn.
  • Break: You lose your hold, but do maximum unarmed damage, ignoring armour.
  • Throw: You hurl the held person 1d4 metres +1 if your Strength is 16-17, +2 if your Strength is 18. Check this distance against falling damage, and step it up by one level. If you hurled someone six metres, for example, you would do 1d10 damage, minus armour. The target would also be six metres away and knocked prone.

#RPG – Dragon Warriors – The Hōl Tribe of the Northern Gnawing Wastes

The Hōl

The Hōl (pronounced ‘Horl’) are an alliance of tribes from the far north of The Gnawing Wastes. Nomadic herders and raiders they are divided into a handful of clans, each associated with a different totemic beast. They are feared and respected throughout the north, and their yearly migrations can take them as far south as the northern parts of the Selentine Empire. So fearless are these tribes that they even raid the Nomad Khanates.

Appearance

The Hōl appear to be something of a blend between the Mercanian people and those of the Nomad Khanates. They tend to be extremely pale, with pale blond or jet black hair and brown or blue eyes. There is a tendency towards stockiness, but something in the Hōl bloodline frequently produces giants of six or even seven feet in height. They tend to have high, rounded cheekbones and eyes that are slightly slanted and/or hooded. Some take more after the Khanate peoples, others take more after their Mercanian blood.

Art

The Hōl have many expert craftsmen and women amongst their number and they produce a great deal of jewellery, typically in the form of bone, tusk or beads. Their nomadic lifestyle does not lend itself to metal-working, and so jewellery of a more conventional sort is uncommon amongst the Hōl, though they will trade for it – or steal it – should the chance come about.

Their armour is often extremely decorative, as are their tents and the harnesses and tack they use on their beasts and herds, these decorations conveying meaning through colour and arrangement. The more extravagant the bead-work, the more colourful the armour, the more prestige the tribe member has.

The Hōl still prominently use stone in many of their weapons, saving metal for armour, swords and axes, and still using flint or obsidian for spear, javelin and arrow heads. Stone weapons frequently have small totemic items – feathers, bone and bead-charms – attached to them, as a ward against chipping or breaking.

The Hōl tend to eschew dance as a waste of energy, the closest thing in their culture being an hypnotic swaying and chanting during some of their festivals.

Clothing

Hōl tribe-members wear a fairly unisex outfit of fine-tooled, insulated buckskin tunics and britches, surmounted by a waist-mat of fur, their upper body further protected by a fur vest and a cross-piece of leather, fur or reindeer skin, covered in toggles, onto which they can hang their gear, weapons, bags, bottles, quivers and so forth. Their sleeves even have toggles, which their gloves or mittens button to, so they can free their hands for delicate work without losing them or setting them down.

The Hōl grow their hair and beards long, as protection against the cold, braiding them with beads and knotting them into elaborate ropes for special occasions, or out of vanity.

Herds

The Hōl primarily farm reindeer for meat, horn, bone, leather and milk, as well as drinking their piss – infused with hallucinogenic mushrooms – as part of their vision quests. They also maintain packs of wolves, trained as fierce hunting companions, a breed of battle-elk, and even a breed of bear that one tribe uses as mounts. Legends tell of lost tribes that tamed the great sabretooth tigers, or even the gigantic hairy mammuk. That knowledge has been lost to time. In addition to their herds they take food on their raids, gather and preserve berries, fruit, fish and nuts when they can and engage in trade if they have a surplus – but only during their seasonal festivals.

Organisation

A tribal leader is accepted by a crude sort of consensus, if nobody significant objects. In times of battle a war leader is chosen amongst the warriors, through a combination of reputation, non-lethal single combat and consensus. Either leader is advised by a Shaman, typically an Air or Water Elementalist. There is no succession, save in the Shamanic line, where each Shaman educates two apprentices, only one of which can become the new Shaman.

There is no appreciable gender division in Hōl society, everyone must be able to fight, everyone must be able to tend the herds, everyone must be able to craft – to at least some degree. There is no more or less honour in any particular role, and every tribe-member is free to seek out their calling and their place, their ‘Kashin’, one of the two most important concepts in Hōl society.

Religion

The Hōl practice ancestor worship, or rather memorial, and animistic respect of the spirits. They see no spirit in rocks, plants or places, but only animals and people. This spirit they call ‘Liekki’ or ‘soulfire’ and many of their sayings revolve around the relationship between fire and life. Unlike most inanimate things, the Hōl believe fire itself is alive, and can convey some of that life when it is applied to things – like metal-working or fire-hardening. Just as it sustains the life of those who warm themselves by it.

Chief totemic spirits of the Hōl include the reindeer, the elk, the wolf, the fox, the eagle, the tiger, the mammuk, the bear and the rabbit. Though every animal in their land has a place in their pantheon.

Slavery

An unfortunate aspect of the Hōl is their practice of slavery. On their raids they frequently take captives from the places they raid, and consider the act of sparing those captives to mean that they are now owed that person’s life. These bondslaves are considered part of the tribe, albeit at a low rung, and can ‘buy’ their way out of their position by saving a life of the tribe, bearing a child for the tribe or committing an act of heroism or great worth to the tribe.

War Beasts

Battle-Elk

Battle-Elk (a moose for our transatlantic cousins), never shed their antlers. Instead they continue to grow constantly throughout the elk’s lift, and have to be constantly trimmed, honed and sharpened. Battle-elk are also considerably larger and more powerful than their wild cousins.

Attack: 22, Horns (d8+1/5), Kick (d10/6).
Armour Factor: 1 (4 in armour)
Defence: 6
Movement 10m.
Magical Defence: 5
Evasion: 3
Health 3d6+16
Stealth: 9
Perception: 5
Rank: 8

Special: Charge attack: Speed 14 vs Evasion, 1d6+5 damage, minus Armour and thrown 5m back and winded for 1d3 combat rounds.

Herd-Wolf

Herd-Wolves are enormous, wolf-like dogs with pure white fur, who serve as hunting companions and warriors alongside their tribe partners.

Attack: 21 Fangs (d6/6)
Armour Factor: 0 (3 in armour)
Defence: 5
Movement: 12m
Magical Defence: 3
Evasion: 3
Health Points: 2d6+4
Stealth: 16
Perception: 11 (elfsight)
Rank: 4

Bear-Mount

Bears, bred to be mounts as well as for size and fierceness, bringing them close to the legendary cave bears in ferocity. They do not hibernate, and require considerable resources from the tribe to stay fed – especially during winter.

Attack: 23, Claws (d10/6)
Armour Factor: 1 (4 in armour)
Defence: 9
Movement: 10
Magical Defence: 5
Evasion: 4
Health Points: 3d6+20
Stealth: 10
Perception: 6
Rank: 9

#RPG – Dragon Warriors – Breylak

The City of Breylak

Completely non-canonical, just some musings I had for my own game.

Breylak is a major port city in Albion, straddling the watermill-choked River Abus before it turns into marsh and mud, and laying south-east of The Noden Moors.

The Moors are a wind-blasted, bleak landscape of gorse and heather. Their windswept expanse is dotted with stone tors, burial mounds and the occasional copse of twisted trees. The land is virtually useless for anything beyond grazing sheep, and often plagued by monsters.

Breylak is a city that suits its location, grey stone walls against grey skies, full of no-nonsense, hardy men and women. Even the Breylak cathedral is a simple, minimalistic slab of a building and its clergy grey-faced and humourless.

Most of the folk, rich or poor, are involved with the wool, linen and rope businesses that dominate the city. Other businesses buy and sell material from across Albion and trade it for goods from the continent.

The water mills were supposedly engineered by the dwarves, originally, who dwell in the cave systems beneath the moors. Whether this is true or not is unknown, though some claim to hear the beautiful sound of the dwarven battle-choirs echoing out of the ground.

Very occasionally a few dwarven traders do appear, to exchange coal, tar, bitchimen, copper, lead and crystals of fluorite for food and cloth. Despite the distance these dwarves observer, the stubborn and wilful nature of the people of Breylak leads many to speculate that there’s more than a little dwarvish blood in their human stock.

Breylak is split between it’s eastern and western sides, with a Duchy on the Eastern half of the city – and its surrounding moorland – and a much older Earldom on the western half, which lays claim to the more arable land, south-west of the river.

While the city is a single entity, the split nobility has people from different parts of the city in fierce competition with one another, even coming to sectarian blows over whether they serve the poor, but plucky, ‘newcomers’ to the North-East (Osterlak) or the more established and traditional ‘old timers’ to the South-East (Vesterlak).

Duke Eadva Osterlak rules over the newer, watermill and grazing part of the city, supported by two barons. Baron Langley whose lands encompass the estuary, and Baron Bran whose lands, technically, spread north onto the moors. Baron Bran styles himself ‘of Breylak’, refusing to take part in the petty squabbles of times past. For this moderate and measured attitude, he is treated poorly by the rest of the local gentry.

On the other side of the river Earl Cynnamar Vesterlak’s claim takes in the wealthier and older parts of the city, as well as the more fertile farmland. His subordinates are the young dowager-Baroness Alethia of Vesterlak, and Baron Chauncey of Vesterlak, each with equal subdivisions of the city and its farmland.

A rising power in the city is The Syndic of the Draper’s guild, the anonymous council of the most powerful guild in the city, to which all other guilds are subordinate. Their wealth is distorting the traditional power dynamic of the city’s feudalism, but the Osterlaks and Vesterlaks are too consumed by their rivalry to pay attention.

While they squabble The Syndic begins to bring in mercenaries from the continent, to provide security to their shipments, sheep herds and mills. A private army in all but name.

Recent Events

A series of murders in the city were blamed on a minority group, The Ibram, a monotheistic precursor to The True Faith, which existed in small numbers in the city, primarily as assayers and crafters. This mass murder is now a guilty, open secret that has riven the city even more.

#WeirdHookMonth – Powerful Liquor

katherine-souza-health-potion.png

The Hook

One bottle of Charavask’s Reserve is made a year, the centennial bottle gifted to those who gather the rare ingredients to make it. Elemental water, dryad’s nectar, assassin vine berries, giant bee honey and more are used. Can you win this year’s bottle by finding what is needed?

Suggested Systems

Advanced Fighting Fantasy, D&D, Pathfinder, Dragon Warriors.

Art by Katherine Souza

#RPG A Witcher Class for the Dragon Warriors RPG

Geralt_of_riviaWitcher Class: For Dragon Warriors

Dragon Warriors is a brilliant ‘Old School’ RPG, reincarnated by Cubicle 7. It has an innate old-Europe feel, somewhat different to standard fantasy fare and well in keeping with The Witcher, which makes it a perfect system in which to run Witcher style RPG sessions.

You can get the PDFs HERE.

Minimum Requirements

A player who wishes his character to become a Witcher must roll scores of at least 10 for Reflexes and Strength and at least 9 for Intelligence and Psychic Talent.

Sign Casting

Witchers may cast their signs an unlimited number of times (there are no magic points) but they must have a hand free to do so and can only cast a sign every third turn.

Witchers and Armour

Witchers can wear any kind of armour but cannot (or at least do not) use shields. Witchers are primarily trained to fight in light armour however.

  • A Witcher can wear armour with an armour factor of 1-2 without penalty.
  • A Witcher can wear armour with an armour factor of 3-4 with a penalty of -2 to Attack/Defence.
  • A Witcher can wear armour with an armour factor of 5 with a penalty of -4 to Attack/Defence.

Witchers and Weapons

Witchers are extensively trained in the use of one-handed weapons only, to an insane degree of expertise. They are much less effective with other weapons. Two handed-weapons suffer a -2 penalty to Attack. This includes ranged weapons, with the exception of pistol-crossbows.

Pistol Crossbow: Damage: D6, 3 points. Short 0-15m, Medium 16-25m, Long 26-35m. 75F.

Health Points

Witchers start with 1D6+6 Health Points.

Combat Factors

Attack 13, Defence 5

Magical Combat Factors

Magical Attack 12, Magical Defence 4.

Evasion

A Witcher’s starting Evasion Score is 4.

Stealth & Perception

A Witcher begins with Stealth 14 and Perception 8.

Initial Equipment

A Witcher starts play with:

  • Gambeson armour (1 armour).
  • A steel sword (d8, 4 points).
  • A silver sword (d6, 3 points). Silver swords can strike incorporeal opponents. Against supernatural monsters a silver sword gets +2 to its armour-bypass roll and +2 damage. Only Witcher-forged silver weapons have these abilities.
  • A backpack.
  • Flint and tinder.
  • A dagger.
  • 1d10 Florins.

The Special Abilities of a Witcher

Witchers have a few innate abilities and a very broad degree of customisation.

They begin with the following abilities:

Heightened Senses

Witchers have an (already) boosted Perception and can see clearly in low-light conditions, but not in total darkness. They start play with the Track ability, as per the Knight class.

Poison Resistance

Witchers consider their Strength to be two points higher than it is when resolving poison effects.

Ranking Up

  • +1 to Attack each time the character increases in Rank.
    +1 to Defence at 3rd Rank and every 2nd Rank thereafter (3,5,7,9…)
  • +1 to Health Points each Rank.
  • +1 to Magical Attack and Magical Defence at 2nd Rank and every 2nd Rank thereafter (2,4,6,8…)
  • +1 to Evasion at Rank 5 and another at Rank 9.
  • +1 to Perception at 2nd Rank and every 2nd Rank thereafter (2,4,6,8…)
  • +1 to Stealth at 4th Rank, 7th Rank and 10th Rank.

Each time a Witcher ranks they get two Skill Ranks to spend, which can be spent to buy the following (though they may only increase their Rank in any ability by 1 each time they Rank up):

Alchemy: You must be at least Rank 6, this gives you access to the Potion making abilities of a Sorcerer but you only have access to Dexterity, Occult Acuity, Strength, Healing, Poison, Theriac, Smoke, Amianthus, Truth, Love and Sleep.

Armour Piercing: As per the Assassin ability.

Armour Training: Offset your armour penalties for heavier armour by 1. You may take this up to four times to completely offset armour penalties.

Arrow Cutting: As per the Warlock ability.

Disarm Technique: As per the Knight ability.

Main Gauche: As per the Knight ability.

Major Enchantment (Armour): As per the Warlock ability.

Major Enchantment (Weapons): As per the Warlock ability.

Minor Enchantment (Armour): As per the Warlock ability.

Minor Enchantment (Weapons): As per the Warlock ability.

Quick Draw: As per the Knight ability.

Ride Warhorse: You can now ride warhorses.

Sign (Aard): A telekinetic wave is projected from the Witcher’s hand. This has a Speed of 13 and does 2 damage out to a range of 5m. A critical hit (double 1) knocks the target over. Extra Skill Ranks can be invested in this ability to raise the Speed, Range and Damage by +1 each per rank, to a maximum of Speed 18, 10m range and 7 damage.

Sign (Axii): Axii allows you to stun an opponent. Make a Magical Attack against an enemy and, if successful, they are stunned for one turn. A critical hit makes them fight on your side for that turn. Extra ranks spent in this sign increase the duration, up to a maximum of 6 turns. You can also use this ability in roleplay to try and subtly bend people to your will.

Sign (Igni): A blast of fire is projected from the Witcher’s hand. This has a Speed of 12 and does 3 damage out to a range of 5m. A critical hit (double 1) sets the target on fire for 1 damage per turn. Extra Skill Ranks can be invested in this ability to raise the Range, Damage and Damage per turn by 1 to a maximum of 10m, 8 damage and 6 damage per turn. You can also use this ability in roleplay to light or extinguish torches, candles, lamps and small fires.

Sign (Quen): Quen creates a magical barrier around you which can resist one hit from any attack. This operates like a shield (blocking on a 6 on D6) and lasts 1 turn. You can spend extra Skill Ranks on this sign to raise its duration and blocking ability by 1 per rank to a maximum of blocking automatically and lasting up to 6 turns.

Sign (Yrden): Yrden drops a magical trap at your feet which lasts until your next turn. Any enemy in the trap area (5m diameter) takes a penalty of -1 to Defence and if incorporeal is rendered vulnerable to normal attacks. Extra Skill Ranks can be invested in this ability to raise the duration and the Defence penalty by 1 per rank to a maximum of 6 turns and a -6 penalty.

Swordmaster: As per the Knight ability.

Unnatural Toughness: Add +1 Health Point. You may take this as many times as you like.

Old School Sucks

Well, kind of. I think many  of us are blinded by nostalgia and fail to recognise the advances that have been made in games. I’m not being subjective when I say ‘advances’ either. Things like unified mechanics, dramatic mechanics and systems that allow for players to ‘buy in’ to the narrative in a more formal fashion are improvements. Skills are an improvement, guidelines and examples on how to handle various ‘stunts’ and tricks are also an improvement.

A while back we tried a session of our favourite old school game, Dragon Warriors. Almost immediately we fell into problems and it’s not like we didn’t all play these older style games back in the day. Something was definitely off though.

  • Nobody felt heroic, or even competent.
  • The ‘whiff’ factor on attacks was huge.
  • The game – as written – had no way to cope with typical player actions such as disarms and so forth, without gaining enough levels to access them as special skills. This seemed to cut them off from being done earlier on without that ability.
  • Dragon warriors doesn’t have quite the same magic issues as early D&D or its clones, but there was a definite ‘holding back’ on the spell front.

I resisted the temptation to ‘fiddle’ with things for a long time. I wanted a true, old-school experience, I wanted the nostalgia but as it turns out, as written, and for our grown up selves, spoiled by FATE and Storyteller, the old school experience is a crock of shit.

I started bringing in flanking rules, allowed them to pull off stunts and tricks, adjusted the monster stats on the fly, interpreted the healing rules in a more generous way and so on. Basically, betraying everything I originally set out to do for the sake of a better game.

You know what? I think that’s what we actually used to do. I think that was the ‘old school’ game experience. Every individual group fixing things in their own way, playing their own game and that was what made for these formative experiences rather than the games themselves. We were all playing our own variations, our own ‘perfect’ games derived from games that were loose and incomplete and subject to interpretation.

Dragon Warriors’ background is always the thing that really appealed to me, much the same with Fighting Fantasy. If we play it again, I think we may use some different rules.

We’ve definitely changed.

Infrno

Infrno is a Beta of a web-based RPG playing application/social site (isn’t everything these days?) which I’ve been signed up to for a while but hadn’t really gotten to grips with until this weekend.

We decided to keep things simple and went for a game of Dragon Warriors, playing through the first adventure in the main book, using the ‘whiteboard’ for maps and the webcam and audio to give the thing a proper test.

First the pluses:

  • Infrno is very easy to use and set up. Not necessarily always intuitive or simple but, in my experience, far more simple and intuitive than all the other, rival options that are out there at the moment.
  • Anyone with a web browser can use it.
  • The social side allows you to keep game notes etc on the site as well as characters, storing them in the cloud whether for your online or offline games. This makes life a lot easier.
  • The whiteboard isn’t complicated and its simplicity makes it extremely usable. You just have to drop images down onto there if you want to use them so making tokens, maps etc is a piece of piss. I never normally bother with them but it’s easy enough with this that I might more often.
  • It’s not wedded to any single system, so it’s open to all kinds of play, all kinds of games. It would be easy, EASY, even to play board games or war games over the interface if you created CGI tokens and that’s something I hope the Infrno guys look into doing with the blessing of various companies.
Now the minuses:
  • The in-site audio wasn’t great, we ended up switching to Ventrilo. We weren’t on the best of connections – one player was in rural Wales connecting via bean-tins and string and the site is in beta, but still that’s a problem. You can always conference in Skype or whatever until this gets fixed though.
  • We suffered the occasional random drop-out from the game, this wasn’t too much of an issue though as they were able to get right back in.
  • The whiteboard took a long time to load for some players.
  • There were pretty heavy, periodic, lag spikes.
  • The dice roller utility is not robust enough for many games.
  • The generic characters sheets are great, but huge and bewildering and unwieldy when trying to enter characters, especially if you’re doing pregens.
That said we had a good time and a successful game, playing online does always seem to be slower than playing in person though. We’re going to keep playing our Dragon Warriors game, at least for a while and I hope to use Infrno to run demos. Even with the Beta-period drawbacks and issues I think Infrno is a serious contender for a system neutral method of online play and of all the ones I’ve tried I like it the best. Get on there and look me up or find me on my company profile, let’s play!