#RPGaDay2018 – 2 – What is the first thing you look for in an RPG?

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Gamers come in two broad types, in my experience. Those who play one thing and those who play everything. Some people are perfectly content playing nothing but First Edition AD&D until the day they die, others want to buy and play anything and everything that catches their interest.

I fall into the second category.

Being a game-slut is only part of it though, as a game designer myself I am interested in mechanics. I cannot help but check out how a game operates as part of my assessment process. If there’s an innovative or interesting mechanic (or if it uses a polished version of old mechanics) then I’m sold on it, purely from a design point of view. Feng Shui, Over the Edge and FATE all grabbed me via their mechanics.

Art and design are important of course. I tend to prefer simpler layout in my own work, just because it’s more readable. If I crack open a book to be presented with a heavily overworked layout or a ‘cool’ background that makes the text harder to read – I’m going to groan. Vampire is a game that grabbed me, immediately, via its unconventional and graphical oriented cover. Simplicity really is, sometimes, for the best.

The overall idea and concept also has to be something that interests me. A big problem with a lot of games (feel free to disagree) is that they are derivative. God knows, I’m guilty of this myself, but we really don’t need a 100th iteration of D&D or Star-Trek-By-Any-Other-Name. Some games rise above their derivative origins or gain something in the alchemy of mixing-together different influences. Vampire – again – was very derivative of any and all vampire fiction you could think of, yet rose above those origins with a combination of execution, mingling of ideas, some originality and sheer enthusiasm. Some games offer something more and come up with an engaging and fascinating set of ideas or worlds of their own. Earthdawn made waves by inverting the usual ‘dungeon’ adventure form, Mechanical Dream has a compelling (but somewhat unplayable) world and SLA Industries was post-cyberpunk before post-cyberpunk was a thing.

It is some combination of all these factors that I look for in a game, it is no single thing. As to where I hear about things? Word of mouth, so if you want to help me or my fellow designers out, leave reviews and talk about our games that you’ve enjoyed!

Hey, thanks for stopping by. I’m an independent RPG (and other games) designer and author. You can check out my stuff via the links at the side of postmortemstudios.wordpress.com. If you feel so inclined, after a look around, you can support me at patreon.com/grimachu, Minds.com/grimachu or steemit.com/@grimjim. Questions and queries are welcome, remember, ‘Nullius in verba’!

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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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Grimdark – Feats & Wounds

gary-laib-the-choir-of-the-dead

Feats are both more wide and more powerful in 5th Edition. In order to compete with Ability increases, they’d have to be. Taking ‘Observant’ as an example, to compare with its 3rd Edition equivalent – which (Alert) gave you a +2 bonus to Perception checks. By comparison, Observant in fifth edition gives +1 Wisdom or Intelligence, the ability to lip read and a +5 bonus to passive Perception and Investigation rolls. That’s – approximately – three times as powerful as the old feats and something to keep in mind when doing conversions, perhaps by grouping several old-style Feats together.

Given the emphasis on personal skill rather than supernatural capabilities, Feats would have to be heartily extended in any Grimdark setting.

Example: Undead Slayer

  • When an undead creature enters a 5′ zone aound you, you may immediately make a melee attack against that creature. You are limited to one of these free attacks per turn.
  • You have advantage on Saving Throws against Undead powers, diseases and attacks that require one.
  • You do an addition 1d6 damage to Undead enemies.

Death and dying has been simplified in the new edition, and that’s fine as it…

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Grimdark – Peasant, Merchant and Noble

fernando-carmona-fraternity-royal-family-scene18.pngThese three classes constitute non-specialist classes and describe the three main social classes that exist in most medieval worlds through to the end of the Early Modern era.

Hit Points

  • Peasant: 7+Constitution Bonus
  • Merchant 6+Constitution Bonus
  • Noble 5+Constitution Bonus
  • Heroism 1d8 per level.

Proficiencies

  • Peasant: Simple Weapons, Light Armour, Appropriate Tools, Strength Save, Constitution Save.
  • Merchant: Simple Weapons, Light Armour, Appropriate Tools, Dexterity Save, Intelligence Save.
  • Noble: Simple Weapons, Martial Weapons, Light & Medium Armour, Shields, Charisma Save, Intelligence Save.

Skills

  • Peasant: Choose two from: Animal Handling, Athletics, Intimidation, Nature, Perception, Survival.
  • Merchant: Choose two from: Arcana, Deception, Insight, Investigation, Medicine, Persuasion.
  • Noble: Choose three from: Deception, History, Insight, Intimidation, Perception, Persuasion.
  • Peasants and Merchants may choose an additional skill determined to be suited to their trade.

Equipment:
Choose five pieces of equipment, suitable for your social class and trade.

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Grimdark – Ranger

jake-waddington-jake-waddington-main-beauty.pngThe only real thing wrong with the Ranger is the magic. Everything else is pretty much useable as is. We just need to shift the focus and alter a few things to take the setting into account.

Class Features
Hit Points: 6+Con Bonus.#
Heroism: 1d8/Level

Proficiencies:
Light Armour, Medium Armour, Shields.
Simple Weapons, Martial Weapons, Hand-Arms, Long-Arms.

Saving Throws
Strength
Dexterity

Skills
Choose three from Animal Handling, Athletics, Insight, Investigation, Nature, Perception, Stealth and Survival.

Tools/Equipment
Scale Mail, Leather Armour, Warhound, Shortsword, simple melee weaon, dungeoneer’s pack, explorer’s pack, longbow, 20 shots, flintlock rifle…

To read this full article, please donate $1 a month on my Patreon to get articles like this, access to me and discounts on apparel and PDFs of RPGs. You can get many of the same perks (but fewer) by following me on Minds.com and donating 1 token a month.

#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 The Cave of Gold Released!

CaveOfGoldFrontThumbIn this adventure for the Tales of Gor roleplaying game, the characters are charged with investigating peculiar tales of a golden cave on the fringes of the Northern Forest.

Jailbreaks, bandits, panther girls and strange monsters all stand in their way, before they finally uncover a plot that has been unfurling for almost fifty years.

This book also contains Games Master tips for portraying alien mindsets and using smell in your games, especially with reference to the Priest Kings.

PDF Download

Print on Demand

gor_slavegirl_alphaFor the next couple of days you can use the check-out code FIFTEEN to get a discount on the PoD.

Gor Tshirts are coming!