RPGs, Life, Unexpected events

This whole pandemic has blown up my gaming group.  Most of my gang was in seclusion in fear of catching this bug.  This is not a political blog judging pro or con, it just was the fact that my group was in seclusion.

I’m grateful in a way, because I was getting tired of my out of control Sci Fi game.  My hope is when they feel comfortable enough to at least meet outdoors at a distance, we can play a different game together.

What I want to play is Pits & Perils or Blood of Pangea    but instead if I have a hacked up version of D&D 3.5 and all the skill inflation bullshit that goes with it. No matter how much I tried to simplify it, it got out of hand.  I forgot to put the Master in Dungeon Master.

I worked part time for a month but didn’t touch my book during the whole time.  Troy hasn’t left for magic school, but I did write a story of Tana’s first Orc kill, and how she felt about that.  I fleshed out a little how the different tribes of humans communicated with post riders travelling long distance.  With how the world is going, I doubt I’ll ever finish this book now.  It almost seems futile.

Game Sessision. Blood of Pangea, The Cave Of Elements

I’m exciting to share my first actual live play of Blood of Pangea with another person. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for over a year, and I had a great time. It just so happens that my ex-wife and I have become friends again, and I got to play this with the very person who inspired my taste in fantasy role playing games.  If you haven’t played it, I highly recommend it as a versatile, rules-lite system that easy covers low magic fantasy, sci fi, and dark fantasy genres.

I did not run the game rules-as-written. Instead of a narrative, I had her describe five things her character is particularly good at. Inspired by the first draft of my book, she named her character Tana. Which, funny enough, the character was inspired by the first Fighting Fantasy character she played who was also named Tana. So we’ve come full circle, game-wise. (No, we’re not getting back together, but we are friends)

I also used the bestiary “Out Of the Pit” to populate this dungeon. There are some custom monsters, but most come from there. I particularly like this bestiary because it’s mostly descriptions of behavior and habits, and very little in terms of mechanical crunch, and as such the monsters are easy to adapt to any game system.

Here are five noteworthy things about Tana:

1) good at communicating with animals

2) has good aim

3) has good balance

4) grew up in the mountains

5) very creative

Tana’s inventory at game start: backpack, bedroll, 7 rations, hand ax, bow and arrows, lantern, climbing pitons, rope

She also has a six armed monkey named Abu.

After briefly explaining how Luck serves as both hit points and a chance to boost die rolls, we got down into it. A young lad arrives at her village burnt, battered, weather-beaten and half drowned, but with a bag full of gems. He claims to have been to the Cave of the Elements., After surviving monsters, traps, and hazards, found great riches.

So being down on her luck, Tana and Abu set out, and after two days reached the Cave of the Elements.

 

CaveOfElements.jpg

 

Tana examines the ground around the inscribed stone plinth at the main entrance and sees many footprints in the dirt heading in and out along the stone bridge. There are daintier, lighter footprints going to the rope bridge. On either side of both bridges, a chasm of unknown depth (in reality, maybe 15 to 20 feet before hitting a cliff edge) Thinking this was a trick, she considered taking the rope bridge, but thought better of it and decided to just test each step of the bridge before putting her weight on it. Tana lights her lantern.

Given that this would take time, I rolled an encounter. A swarm of bats came up from the depth and began buffeting Tana and Abu with their wings. She rolled to communicate, and succeeded in conveying her non-hostile intent. The swarm began to leave, but she called one back and asked him if he knew what was beyond the bridge. The bat replied there’s a door that’s seldom opened, but there’s a very damp breeze that comes out when it is opened.

Tana crosses the bridge and reaches a swollen, damp oak door. She forces it open (auto-success, I just wanted to warn her this was the water room) and opens onto a damp, drippy cavern with a well and bucket in the middle. There are three other buckets of water. There’s a marsh troll here sharpening mussel shells. This is the Cave of Water.

Tana greets the troll, and I roll a reaction, and got a neutral response, and so let her play it out. She learns that other heroes have come here and tried to hurt the troll, and some got eaten. She offers the troll a ration in exchange for a bucket of water to put out the fiery door to the southwest. He agrees and eats the ration. Now on more favorable terms, she asks about what’s in the fire room to the southwest. He explains that gems spew up from deep vents in the earth, and that they’re guarded by fire creatures.

So Tana pours the water into the doorway and puts out the fire, and enters The Cave of Fire. It’s really hot in the fire room. There are little gems on the floor around the red-orange glowing vents. Every once in a while there’s a puff of vapor and debris flies up, and in that debris are gems.

Tana makes a run to scoop up some gems, trying not to get scalded. She succeeds, and two hell-hounds materialize. They have glowing red eyes and smoky breath. They win initiative, she dodges one, and the other blasts her with fire. She then escapes the room and strikes the doorway with her flint and steel to re-ignite the flames. The magical flames erupts, and the hell hounds do not pass through it. Note that I didn’t even consider that it was possible, but because she thought of it, I decided it made sense that some kind of magical field needed a spark to get the fire going again.

She asks to buy a bucket of water for a gem, and the troll agrees (he would have let her take it for free, but accepts the donation). She quenches her scalded skin and heals one point.

She takes Abu down the east corridor and the air gets progressively drier. She hears shouting and laughter around the corner. Tana sneaks in and finds three dwarfs playing some kind of chess game with animated clay pieces. They bet gems over the game. There’s some bedding here, a cask of ale, and some digging tools. It looks like they’re taking a break from excavating the cave. They don’t notice Tana until she announces her presence.

Startled, but not hostile, they laugh at Tana and say she’s yet another fool out to risk her neck in this place. Come, play some chess. She bets one gem and loses a game (opposed roll).

After this, she is dismayed and moves on. Tana and Abu reach the Cave of Earth, which is dry as a bone, and filled with soft diggable clay. Some little trenches have been dug here and there. There’s a mining cart here amd digging tools. There is also a giant clay oyster, and a giant clay toad, each about three feet high. Tana picks a spot behind the clay toad and she and Abu begin digging.

In comes two wandering giant centipedes. Tana and Abu stay put. Both Centipedes blow their notice rolls and move off to the south.

Tana finds some gems in the clay and pockets them. She then checks out the clay toad, which blinks, and then comes to life. Tana assures the toad she’s not hostile, and begins asking questions about the place. The toad can’t answer much. He came out of the oven just a month ago. Someone made him. He likes to eat bugs. Thinking of the danger posed by the giant centipedes, she sends him south in pursuit of the nasty critters.

There’s a banging and crunching ruckus, and then silence. Tana then turns her attention to the giant oyster. When she approaches, the clay mouth opens wide, revealing a fist sized pearl! She tries talking to the oyster, but it doesn’t respond. Maybe it’s a trap, or maybe it’s just a chest of sorts that opens when you approach.

She tells Abu to snatch the pearl. Abu snaps it up before it can slam shut on his arm.

They then move south to check on the toad. It is crunching away on giant centipede. It’s skin is cracked from battle damage, but slowly heals as it eats the big creatures. It then follows her and Abu to the Cave of Wind.

I drew this whole map on a white board, and put the ledges a lot closer together. There’s a brisk wind blowing out of the darkness, and her lamp light cannot reach the ceiling. I add that there’s several human skeletons in pieces on the floor, as well as a sack and a staff with a crystal knob. Tana puts the monkey in her pack, and then hammers pitons into the wall using her superior balance to get across. There are little crystal eggs on each ledge. They are translucent, but there’s no sign of babies inside. I roll for encounter at each ledge, and when she works her way down to E, six lizard-like clay bats dive down from the ceiling. Three go after her and Abu, and three go after the toad.

Initiative is tied. Tana dives under cliff E (success). Three attack her with a penalty. Two crash into the cliff and shatter to clay dust, and one bites her arm. Three go after the toad. He snags one out of the air with his tongue. Another fumbles and smashes to dust. The third bites the toad. Next round, Tana swipes the bat off her arm with her ax, and it shatters to clay bits. The toad eats the other bat, and then there’s only the brisk wind and no other noise.

Tana gets down to the floor and checks out the loot. In the sack is a potion of blackish liquid that’s unusually light. “Thank you Willy Wonka,” my ex-wife says, and tells me Tana drinks it. She floats up to the very top of the ceiling and sees a hole from which the wind comes and it pushes her about. There’s also nests made of clay straws, and more crystal eggs, only these do have embryos. So Tana doesn’t take them, burps and farts her way down to each ledge, and takes all the other crystal eggs. The potion expires just as she reaches the toad.

Tana debates climbing down for the staff, is puzzled at how to do it, and gives up, figuring 28 gems (counting the crystal eggs) and one giant pearl are plenty of loot. She returns with Abu and the toad to the Cave of Earth. She asks if the toad wants to come, but he’s not much of a talker, and figures he’ll stay here and eat bugs. So she says goodbye and goes to visit the dwarfs.

The dwarfs greet Tana and congratulate her on finding so many gems. Would you like to play another game of chess? Tana agrees and wins the game this time. Then they party for a little bit, and the dwarfs talk about how they made the animated chess pieces with the clay from the Cave of Earth. Mix water with the clay, and cook it in the Cave of Fire, and they come to life.

So Tana gets the idea to make a friend for the toad she left behind, and she and Abu go dig up some clay. She makes a toad and puts it in the mining cart, and pushes it up the corridor to the Cave of Water and uses the water to pack the clay tight and finishes her work.

The Troll warns her that the hell hounds won’t like her trying to get into their lair, and offers to help defeat them for one gem. So she agrees, and Tana, Abu and the Troll each take a bucket of water. The troll douses the magical flame door. The hell hounds can see them now. Tana and Abu each douse the hell hounds with water, and the red glow in their eyes goes out, their breaths hiss with steam, and the two beasts whimper and run to a corner. They then fade away.

Tana pushes the cart over the fiery cracks and leaves it to cook for an hour. They then come back with water and douse the mining cart to cool it, and push it out of the room. By the time they push it back to the Cave of Earth, the new giant clay toad blinks and hops out of the mining cart. Tana tries to explain to the new creature what it is, but it hardly comprehends. It sees the older toad, however, and begins mimicking its movements. In time, she realizes, the newly born toad will learn to live like the other toad.

Satisfied that she had done good deed, and happy with her winnings, Tana and Abu escape and return home.

The final haul is 28 gems and one giant pearl.

I liked how I could tweak the adventure to suit her tastes. My ex-wife does not like prolonged combat scenes, so it’s easy to have just enough enemies to make it interesting, and I made them all one-hit foes with success on 7+. As things went, she only had to fight the bat-lizards in the Cave of Air, and used diplomacy and puzzle solving for the rest of her adversaries. The troll would have taken two or three if she decided to fight him. I’m glad he wasn’t hostile right away, because I think parleying with such a creature early in the game is a lot more entertaining, at least at first. Maybe things go sour and you end up in a fight. If she went down the well and held her breath, she could have swam to a mucky cave where the troll slept and try to pilfer his treasure.

All in all a great time and I’m so glad I finally got to play BOP with someone else.

Rough Draft of Plush Friends Adventure

This is what I have so far for my non-infringing adventure with living plush animal friends.  I’m making this adventure for Blood of Pangea, which is a low magic, sword & sorcery genre RPG.  Characters are defined by their narrative, and their one stat is “Might” which pretty much translates to Hit Points and Luck, which is spent to avoid injuries or boost die rolls.

Plush Friends

A rough draft of an adventure for Blood of Pangea

The Place:

The 41 Hectare Forest

Plot:

There was to be a celebration of Biron’s birthday, and the party is attacked by Rat Warriors. The Mad Hatter and Biron are captured. Zuff’s tail is stolen. Alice survives only wounded, and is trying to stitch up the wounded friends while Delbert solicits help from the Heroes.

The prisoners were carried off into the Unhappy Forest some three days prior, to the Swamp of Stink. Biron is being held prisoner, forced to animate large dolls shaped like Goblins and Ogres. The Mad Hatter is held prisoner with other tailors and seamstresses and forced to make dolls.

The leader of the Rat Warriors is a Elf Sorcerer with ambition to conquer the 41 Hectare Forest and all the surrounding lands. He intends to curse Zuff’s tail to turn him evil, hoping the evil will create turmoil among all the animals that live in the 41 Hectare Forest.

Cast of Characters

Biron K Frist, Esq. Son of Lord Frist, an English Duke and renown entomologist. He shares his fathers enthusiasm for insects but not for politics, and fled through the Looking Glass to this world, taking only his plush friends. Little did he know that in this world, his imagination can animate dolls. 3 Might. Non-combatant.

Alice, who once fell down a hole to Wonderland, and walked through the Looking Glass to the same universe, decided she too would remain, and met the charming young Biron through the Hatter. 3 Might.

The Mad Hatter. An insane hat maker and friend of Alice. 3 Might

Zuff, the sad yellow dog who lost his tail, 2 might
Lars, the hyper, silly monkey, 3 might

Winkle, the hedgehog scholar, 2 might

Plumpy, the fat pig who loves mushrooms, 2 might

Delbert, the card playing bat, 2 might, can fly, echo-locate

If slain, a bereaved Biron can reanimate a plush friend.

Giant Spiders: 2 might, on a hit save or suffer paralysis / Queen Spider 3 might

Rat Warriors: 1 or 2 Might, fights with spears, nets and crude bows

Rat Leader: 3 Might, armor and shield, will spend Might to score a hit

Swamp Zombies: 1 or 2 Might, On a hit save or get pulled under the water

Goblin Doll: 1 or 2 Might, spear

Ogre Doll: 6 Might, +1 to hit/+1 damage, club, thrown rock, Move 30

Elf Sorcerer: 6 Might, high magic spells that can deal direct damage

Scene 1: The Hatter’s House

In a large forest clearing by the road is the hatter’s house. There are two burned picnic tables, smashed plates, bowls, pots. Food debris strewn about, now covered with visiting flies. The house itself was only lightly scorched with fire, and is otherwise intact.

Plumpy the pig sits in the sunlight, nibbling on a mushroom. The rest are milling about, with crude stitches to their wounds. All living characters are forlorn.

To the south is the 41 Hectare Forest. To the east are the Cheerful Hills. To the north is the Unhappy Forest.

Upon questioning the characters the PCs can learn:

The rats took Biron and the Mad Hatter.

Delbert thinks they were heading for the Stinky Swamp, because there’s a dilapidated fortress on the island there. It’s about a day’s journey.

Alice set off with Winkle after them this morning, not willing to wait for help.

The animals aren’t built for fighting. However, if any are persuaded to come with the PCs, they’ll arm themselves with simple weapons like sticks or a pocket full of rocks (which do a maximum of one damage).

Assuming the party agrees to the mission, proceed to scene 2.

Scene 2: The Unhappy Forest

This forest has an unnatural darkness. The trees all seem to frown. The sunlight is blocked by a dark haze. The air is stale. Shadowy shapes seem to peer at the party from a distance, and then fade away. And there’s a plague of biting mosquitoes. If Delbert is present, he will fly about and eat the mosquitoes.

The trail bends downward into a little valley. There are assorted mushrooms growing here. Plumpy will eagerly go for the mushrooms. This is a trap. Observant characters may notice large bundles hanging from the trees before the Spiders attack. Otherwise Spiders descend on silk from all around them and get the first move. There is one spider per party member, plus the queen. If half of the spiders are slain, the spiders will retreat.

If the PCs cut down the bundles, they will find Alice, drugged and asleep. Winkle, merely bound up and gagged but unharmed by the poison. Some of his fluff spilled out from puncture wounds. There are three other bodies, now just desiccated and corpses and clothes. One is a rat warrior. Searching the bodies will reveal:

-A potion that will heal 1d3+1 might

-A big red balloon and a string, if inflated, this balloon will float as though filled with Helium and can lift one person.

– 20 silver coins

– two random chess pieces that, when invoked, will turn into a human sized version of the real thing. Roll 1d6 for each

1)A pawn will serve as a basic laborer, carries basic camping gear, 1 might

2)A knight will ride on a steed and thump enemies with a great club, 1 might, +1 damage, armor

3)A bishop will cast away the zombies in the Stinky Swamp, 1 might

4)The Rook has a heavy crossbow, +1 to attack and damage. 1 might

5)The queen will nag and belittle the enemy, who must save or be demoralized for a round, 1 might

6)The king will give encouragement, eats sandwiches: +1 to ally attack rolls and ability tests, 1 might

If there are two of any piece, they will be from rival colors and loathe to get along. The chess pieces will interact with each other but will obey the one who invoked them. When slain they return to regular chess piece form, and cannot be summoned for a week.

Scene 3: The Stinky Swamp

A stagnant lake floating with slime, algae, dead logs. The air reeks of decayed vegetation. Some insects buzz about, and there’s even the occasional frog croak. A dilapidated fortress is on the island. The crumbling wall circles the perimeter of the island. A bridge stretches to the west from the island to the mainland. There’s three rowboats docked on the east side. The party can clearly see a tower jutting above the walls. At night there are torches lit around the perimeter, and candle light can be seen in the tower.

The shoreline offers decent cover in the bracken and thorny vegetation. If the PCs make excessive noise, they may attract the attention of the rat warriors on patrol.

Upon arriving at the swamp, the PCs will notice a brigade of what looks like goblins and ogres marches west across the bridge. These are animated dolls, serving the Elf sorcerer.

The party must figure out how to get to the island. From the south shore to the island, the water is only about 12 feet deep. If they swim across, they will be assaulted by Swamp Zombies that grab at them from beneath the water. The party may circle about to use the bridge, or create a boat, or any other solution. There are rat patrols around the perimeter of the island.

Scene 4: The Fortress

The Tower

Floor 1: A hallway leading to stairs up. In the room is Biron, shackled to a wooden chair. There are candles all about, a spinning kaleidescope lit by candles. Biron is drugged here and in his hallucinated state animates the goblin and ogre dolls. There’s usually one guard. There is a trap door. When not animating, Biron is held in a dank cell below the trap door.

Floor 2: Library and alchemy. There’s an alchemy bench and a pantry of supplies for it. On the bookshelf are assorted tomes of lore, including two books of sorcery.

The Loot

Potion of Shrinking: Become as small as a mouse for 1 hour.

Cake of Growing: Become as large as an Ogre for 1 hour.

Potion of Animation: For ten minutes, the drinker can cause any doll to become alive, reflecting his or her feelings about the doll. Love makes a doll friendly, fear makes it hostile, and so on.

Smoke Marbles: Six marbles that when struck against a hard surface explode into a billowing cloud of smoke.

Tome of Fire: The sorcerer who uses the magic within can manipulate fire: Intensify, stretch, diminish. For example: cause a candle to burn extra quickly, shoot flames from a torch, explode a lit lantern, etc. The user cannot summon fire, but can manipulate existing fire.

Tome of Biting: This book is a trap! When opened, this book will clamp down on the readers hand with sharp teeth, dealing one point of damaging and rendering the hand useless until freed. If carefully pried open, the victim can free his hand without further harm.

Floor 3: The Elf’s Chamber. A nicely furnished chamber with a bed, desk and armoire. The Elf has Zuff’s tail here on the desk, along with assorted candles and ritual paraphernalia. There is a potion of animation on the desk and a book with a ritual to transfuse Biron’s blood into the caster to gain his power to animate dolls.

There is a bright red carpet spread out by the door. At the Elf’s command, it will pull out from beneath whoever is standing on it.

The Elf can command fire, and will hurl lit candles at the PCs and explode them. He can call a large stuffed raven that will come to his window, allowing him to escape. If reduced to half his Might, the elf will try to escape. If this is a one-shot adventure, he will forget Zuff’s tail. Else he will grab it and try to escape, as a plot hook for later adventures.

An ogre doll is here as bodyguard to the Elf.

The Shed – A large double-doored shed with a padlock. The newly animated goblins and ogres are stored here. The are obedient to the Elf or his Rat Warriors, but otherwise have personalities akin to real goblins and ogres.

The Barn – The Rats make their home here in nests of straw. Anyone searching the nests must save or catch biting fleas that put them at -1 until the fleas are removed. They can swim in the swamp, jump through a smoky fire, sorcery, or any other creative solution. In each of the nine nests are 1d6 silver coins, some bones, bits of bread or cheese, and other refuse of rat creatures. The weapons rack on the wall has three spears and a shield.

The Sewing Shop – Eight seamstresses and tailors are shackled here, forced to sew goblin and ogre dolls. There are great bails of thread, burlap, buttons and polished glass for eyes. The Mad Hatter is here. The slaves are allowed only four to six hours to sleep. There’s a 4 in 6 chance of at least one guard. The slaves have been beaten and poorly fed, and lack the collective will to rebel.

The Blacksmith – A human smith is held here, forced to make weapons and tools. His daughter is one of the seamstresses, and dares not misbehave lest she be slain. If she is freed, he will break his own chain and help the PCs. There are assorted tools and weapons here. Spear, dagger, ax, steel crossbow with 6 bolts, assorted nails, hooks, iron pot, horse shoes.

The Latrine – A house over a pit. It stinks.

This adventure needs more puzzles or traps. I like combat scenes, but there needs to be ways to win without a straight-up fight. Perhaps the heroes can lead the swamp zombies into the town and let the rats fight it out, and they can rescue Biron without risking their own lives.

 

 

High Magic Spells for Blood of Pangea

This is an old post I had saved as a draft from September 4, 2017.  I release it now as it does no good sitting in the draft bin.

In a previous post I brainstormed some magic spells that fit within the rules of regular sorcery in Blood of Pangea.  Now I want to brainstorm some high sorcery, as I personally prefer a game where there’s amazing magical spells of all kinds.  I  like the idea of a free form magic system.

The challenge with free form magic is there’s no yardstick for determining cost vs effect.  There is a Might cost, but one must have a metric for how much might it costs for a given effect, and that is difficult for me.

Having actual limits to your magic helps spur creativity.  You have an idea of what realm you have mastery over, and focus your efforts at making it work within that realm.  World Of Dungeons has an interesting system whereby the magician has use of two “spirits” that grant the caster powers, and those spirits each have mastery two domains of power, such as lightning and stone.  Spell damage is capped at 2d6 or 3d6, and otherwise you can cast any spell that’s plausible within the domains of the spirits in your service.  It’s not quite free form, but it’s free form within a limited domain.

A creative person might take this spirit of lightning and stone and work their creativity on it.  Stones that explode with electricity, stones that glow with electric light, electric sparks that follow the caster like a torch, animating stone statues, making your target’s hair stand on end, charging your staff so anyone you poke with it gets a nasty electric shock, crumbling stones to dust, etc.

BOP has no restrictions on high magic except that  1 point of damage costs 1 Might.  The Judge can impose restrictions or conditions as he sees fit.  Here’s an example from a Google+ discussion, where member James Ciriaco explains his take on animating zombies.  It was an excellent idea.

With a Might cost related to damage inflicted, one could use that as a metric for all kinds of matter changing sorcery.  Without a lot of Might to spend, even your high magic effects are limited.

Someone commented over on the Google+ forum about my previous post having spell effects similar to using “The Force” in Star Wars.  That may well be a good point of reference.

So with that in mind, I will list a few high magic spells. I will add that ritual could be used to help achieve the desired result, but it would take time and materials to do so.

Here’s the spells:

Any kind of damaging spell could be themed to suit the style of the sorcerer.  A ball of energy, an ethereal putrescence, ice, fire, acid, doing damage equal to Might.  Over on the trollbridge forum, someone said they themed a “Take That You Fiend” spell as the victim’s shadow coming to life and strangling them. The Emperor in Star Wars used Lightning.

Breaking down doors.

Crumbling stone.  Levitating a 250 pound boulder might take only 1 might, but crushing it to rubble would take more, I think.  If the one hour duration and concentration rules are used, then you might negotiate a cost of Might vs Time.  Let’s say the 250 pound boulder blocks a crawl space you need to pass.  Then the Judge could offer a deal such as it would cost 1 might for one hour to slowly crumble the stone, or 5 might to break up the stone right now.

Set something on fire.  The larger or more flame retardant the target, the more it costs.

Call a prolonged wind to push a sailing boat or ship.

Push down a tree. * Consider how many axe strokes it would take to cut down a tree.  Toppling even one 40 foot tree with a 6 in diameter trunk could possibly take a tremendous amount of Might.

Removing body parts.  If a body can be levitated, surly part of the body can be levitated. If you’re into the macabre, then there’s some interesting implications to this idea.  I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Cauterize a bleeding wound.

Jump start someone’s heart with electricity.

Snap someone’s weapon in half. * This is a Pits & Perils spell.

Mend a broken sword. * This also is a Pits & Perils spell.

Cause the targets to lose control of their bowels.

Summon a small whirlwind.  Simple little dust devils cost little, more powerful gales or tornado speed winds, very expensive.

Heat a water-logged porous rock from a stream, causing it to explode like a bomb.

Attract lightning from an overhead storm cloud.

Summon demons.

Summon floating lights.

Animate thorny plants to entangle a target.

 

 

 

 

I’m running a PBF game on RPGGeek

I’m running a sci-fi adventure over on RPGGeek.com.

https://rpggeek.com/thread/1913421/mining-base-ic-mature

It is using 1974 Style   a rules-lite stripped down OSR clone.

I was torn between Blood of Pangea: Retrospace and 1974 Style, as I wanted to run both. In retrospect I kind of wish I used BOP–but fuck it(!)–there will be time to run that as well.  Every choice means foregoing another choice, at least for the time being.  Thankfully this adventure is only 13 rooms and their connecting corridors.

Feel free to follow the adventure if reading PBF games interests you.

While we’re discussing PBF, here is a link to the Fighting Fantasy PBF I ran that went over two years.  If you ever want to play “Shaggradd’s Hives of Peril”, you are better served by not reading it, so nothing is spoiled.  To be honest, I think Shaggradd’s Hives is an inferior adventure to “The Wishing Well”, which is the first of the two adventures included in “Fighting Fantasy: The Introductory Role Playing Game” . You wouldn’t be spoiling very much.

https://rpggeek.com/thread/1345027/shaggradds-hives-peril-ic

 

 

How Advanced Fighting Fantasy Led Me to Pits & Perils (and BOP)

How Advanced Fighting Fantasy led me to Pits & Perils
or
My autistic obsession with mathematical reduction
or
How my desire to play games with my non-gamer wife led me to love simple rules

Part 1

When I was a kid, my autistic obsession for detail drove me to ever more complicated RPG games. D&D to MERP to Rolemaster. Then burning out, excising chunks of Rolemaster and appending it to MERP, and then condensing MERP skills to the broad categories in Lord Of the Rings Adventure Game (all three published by Iron Crown Enterprises). I was on my way to simplicity in RPG gaming, and then sex and the drama of teenage life and later adult life led me away from the hobby.

Part 2

I returned to RPGs to a) do something fun with my wife and b) get my friends to do something fun aside from stand around and chat. I’m an autist: I need my conversations to be structured and go somewhere entertaining to me.

When it came to games, my wife was certainly not a grognard . The most complicated board game I could play with her were Carcassonne or “Zombies!!!” I had to pick my games carefully. Enter Fighting Fantasy.  It was a hit.  We tried Dungeon World, but we found it way to wordy and complicated. While we had fun that one time, it was a mechanical failure.

I played FF a couple more times with my wife, and it was a success. I wanted a little more meat and potatoes to my FF, and bought Advanced Fighting Fantasy. Whoa, too many choices for her taste. It was like picking salad dressing in a supermarket.  She said something to the effect of: “I just want to be an archer who can talk to animals.” I obliged by house ruling the basic Fighting Fantasy.

Part 3

Base rule for Fighting Fantasy is this: when your character attempts an unopposed task, roll 2d6, and if it is less than or equal to your SKILL plus any modifiers, then the attempt succeeds.  For opposed actions, roll 2d6 + SKILL + modifiers, and if it’s greater than your opponants 2d6+SKILL+Modifiers, you succeed.

If you convert the unopposed check to to a roll greater than or equal to system, then the target number is 14.  2d6+7 >= 14 is identical in odds to 2d6 <= 7. I’m a big fan of uniform mechanics and roll-high, because it is easy to imagine higher numbers are a better outcome.

Your typical AFF character has a starting SKILL of 7. He could have less than 7, that is, if one puts points into MAGIC or LUCK instead.  Generally, however, one favors SKILL or MAGIC, and then putting a point or two into LUCK or STAMINA. The reason being that the SKILL score is the baseline for all Special Skills, so even if you have a Sword Skill of 4, and your base SKILL is 4, then your total combat skill is 8. Whereas if you had a base skill of 7, and 4 points in Sword, your combat skill adds up to 11.  That is a lot more impressive.

High base SKILL makes your character all around better (in a pinch) than someone with low SKILL and several points in a Special Skill. There are house rules to work around this, and give specialists some kind of extra advantage, such as automatic success when a Master at a special skill (with 4 ranks) has the time and tools to succeed (similar to Take 10 or Take 20 in Pathfinder). I got to feeling, however, that there must be a simpler way of doing character skills.

Given that your typical character will start with a SKILL of 7, why not just reduce SKILL to zero, and then reduce the target number for success to 7. Same odds, simpler math. And thus you can eliminate the SKILL stat, and just list Special Skills as bonuses to your 2d6 roll. Likewise one could do this with MAGIC also, just listing the magic special bonus for your character (Sorcery, Wizardry, Priest, or Minor) and adding that to a dice roll: target number 7. This number works out well for my taste because it represents a marginal chance of success (roughly 58% without modifiers), and nobody wants an adventure about a bunch of failures (though they can be entertaining if narrated well)

Combine this with my desire to nix the damage table for each weapon (flat damage and +1 damage for two-handed), convert the armor to a per-encounter ablative function, all magic fueled by Stamina, and ad-hoc rulings that fit the narrative, I had what I thought was my ideal abridged Advanced Fighting Fantasy.  Maybe it would be Basic Fighting Fantasy Plus or AFF Minus. There are Skills for things you try, Luck for things you can’t control, Spells if you have them, and Stamina to measure how much pain and misery you can endure.

Part 4

This obsession was frosting my ass for a couple of years. Having had no live play since my divorce (my ex-wife being my primary gaming partner), I was eager to try my revised Advanced Fighting Fantasy.  Unfortunately, I had no outlet.

In comes Pits & Perils with everything I want. Target number 7 (or 9 for combat), check. Bonus for being good at something, check. Simple damage. check. Ablative armor, check. Room for rulings, check. I discovered this gem while watching reruns of Crossbow, a medieval fantasy show from the late 1980’s. So the wave of nostalgia swept over me just as I perused the the gameplay example of the three characters exploring a tower, and I knew I just wanted to get this game.

Now I have an ad on a Meetup forum, trying to entice a group to play.

*House Rule: If you have a crossbow ready to fire, you can fire first, even if you lose initiative.

Part 5

Why Advanced Fighting Fantasy led me to Blood of Pangea
or
My Autistic Obession with Customization and Minimalism

What I liked so much about AFF was how you can customize your character at creation, and pursue all kinds of wacky builds (if you’re so inclined). High Skill, High Luck, Magic, lots of Stamina, good at jumping, good at climbing, good at lock picking, or stealth, or throwing spears, or several languages. There’s even a distinction between Bargaining, Conning and Etiquette: commerce, deception and polite interaction. The character sheets had an entry for “Class” but that was just for flavor. Your class is what you wanted it to be. You could do a hybrid fighter-mage-thief, but at an early state of adventuring he probably wouldn’t be especially good at any of them.

I liked the versatility of AFF, but my obsession with mathematical reduction irritated me, and I also developed a taste for simplicity due to my desire to include my wife in my gaming.

In comes Blood of Pangea, a reduced form of Pits & Perils meant for a Swords & Sorcery game world. What I like about it is how you can customize your character with but a basic narrative, and everything else flows from there. It doesn’t get much more reductionist than one numbered stat and a character description. Rules are akin to P&P, though the target number typically is 9 for all tasks (but adjusted as appropriate). I like how the Might is a universal resource for avoiding harm or achieving glorious feats. Armor is just Armor (soaks 3 points), and if you want more nuance to your armor (Leather, Chain, Plate), you can do so. My (ex)wife’s simple desire for an Archer who can talk to animals is realized in this gaming system. And my desire for customization and simplicity is satisfied by this game.

Part 6

I will conclude with a quote from “Adventurers! Exploring the Unknown”, a modified version of “Searchers Of the Unknown”, which is itself a reductionist take on D20 D&D. They managed to capture my general philosophy of Role Playing Gaming with this brief passage: “Every PC is an Adventurer with only a little customization done during the creation of the PC. The player will bring complexity and flavor to the PC through their play.” (emphasis by the Author)

[edit 2/25/18:  I got the feeling that I wasn’t entirely clear when I finished this post.  I enjoy the complexity that emerges from creative play, and not from mechanical complexity of the rule set. ]

download link for Searchers of the Unknown 2012 compilation

Spells for Blood of Pangea

I must admit I have difficulty thinking up magical spells for Blood of Pangea that fit within the guidelines.  The most noteworthy being that sorcery cannot directly cause permanent damage: causing someone to break out in sores, fireballs, death rays, crumbling boulders to dust etc.   So that means permanent changes in matter. There is an optional rule to allow it, but I want to push my creativity by adhering to this rule and see what I can think of.

Spoiler warning.  If you don’t want your imagination contaminated with my ideas, turn back now.

Some of these ideas may warrant charging the caster more than 1 Might. The sample spells given: summoning a smoke to distract a monster, took 1 might. Levitating the caster out through the roof took 1 might, but taking his friend with him took an additional point of might.

With that in mind, I’m assuming a large, muscled character and his gear weigh 250 to 300 pounds, tops.  So Each person levitated up to that weight takes 1 Might.  Lifting your horse may take therefore 3 or 4 might.  Likewise, I’ll use that as a guideline for moving other heavy objects.

Here we go!

Levitate a looped rope around the target’s neck and strangle him with it.

Yank the spear or sword from the enemy’s hand and chase after him with it.

In an environment with loose sand, levitate the sand from beneath a target’s feet and the target falls into the pit.  Then bury said target with the sand!

Levitate target off a cliff, then drop it!

Hurl boulders, spears, any other projectile.  Send a storm of stones at approaching infantry.   *  This may not be in the spirit of maximum movement of 50′ per turn.  I assume that means a gradual rate to 50′, as opposed to moving really quickly, all of a sudden.  But why not?  Matter is not being changed, nothing is being directly damaged by the spell.  Perhaps an increase in cost for the force required to propel the stones?

Seal a watchman’s mouth shut so he cannot shout the alarm.

Set an illusion for a watchman that the PCs are allied soldiers returning from a patrol.

Pass off a brass button as the illusion of a gold coin.

Lift the keys off a sleeping guard.

Unbuckle a weapon’s belt, leaving the former wearer without his sword.

Slam a heavy door in the face of pursuers.

Turn the tumblers of the lock of that door.

Pull the rug out from beneath a foe.

Snuff the candles with a gust of wind. * The moving air does the work, not the spell.

Untie hanging curtains or tapestry so it falls into the torches and catches on fire.

Deflect arrows.

Cause the sensation of being terribly itchy.

Create auditory hallucinations of all kinds: sounds of violence, sounds of mischief, sounds of sexual activity, whatever might catch the interest of the target

Cause the target to believe someone else is the caster.

Appear to be in two places at once.

Appear to look like some hideous monster.

Make target think his food or drink has a nauseating taste.

Animate a corpse to perform a task.

Levitate one volatile substance into contact with another to cause a reaction.

Cause target to become sexually aroused.

Bend tree branches down. * this is iffy, because a bent branch may not spring back up.

Pull stones out of a dam.

Cause a horse or other large animal to hallucinate and panic.

Create a foul odor.

Create the illusion of casting a damaging spell.  Such as the illusion of lightning bolts.

Throw your voice.

Reverse gravity in one small area.

That’s all I can think of for now.

 

 

Skullduggery in The Hundred Acre Wood

I just finished a complete collection of all the Winnie The Pooh stories written by A A Milne.  If you can find a copy (there are several compilations about), I highly encourage you to read it.  There’s some fantastic stories about the friendships and hardships of Christopher Robin’s animal friends.

One story in particular struck me as slightly disturbing (in a good way).  In this story, Kanga and her son Roo arrive in the Hundred Acre Wood.  Rabbit doesn’t think too highly of their intrusion, so hatches a plan with his friends to kidnap Roo and hold him hostage in a hidden place until Kanga agrees to move out of the forest!

Well there’s a humorous twist to their plan, and nobody gets hurt.  In the end, Kanga and Roo stay and everyone becomes friends.  I was so surprised to see such a plot among the animals in this mythical forest.  It was interesting to see how even good-natured, lovable, almost-innocent characters can have a dark side.  It may make for some good creative fodder for later RPG adventures.

There is another story where a prolonged and heavy rain falls for days, and the forest becomes flooded.  Eventually, Christopher Robin and Pooh are on a mission to rescue Piglet before his home gets flooded out.  This is an excellent story revealing Pooh’s creativity.  Not so bad for a bear with little brain.  I’ll spare you the details so you can read it yourself.

The whole series of stories brought forth a mix of emotions: laughter, childish giggling, tears (I wept at the sweet, loving conclusions to some stories), tears again (sadness after the end of the last story), big ear to ear grins of joy.  I suggest this collection for anyone with a love of fairy tales.

Rat Warriors for BOP and P&P

Rat warriors are cunning, crude and brutish creatures.  They make excellent minions for one disposed to evil, provided that there’s plenty of delightfully nasty food for them to eat.

Rat warriors are not overly brave, preferring hit and run raids to prolonged brawls. Their preferred weapons are spears, nets and crude short bows.  Rat bites are particularly nasty.  In melee, if a rat rolls a 12, the victim is bitten and must Save or contract a feverish disease that, over the next 3 days, will cause a permanent loss of 1 Might.

Rat warriors are usually led by a chief who is more clever and ruthless than the rest.  This leader often is armored and has an armored personal guard of his closest cronies.

Rat Warrior: 1 or 2 Might

Chief: 4 Might