Friday, November 20, 2020

Apocalyptic Found Foods 20X Quick chart

 A quick found food generator for Post-Apocalypse campaigns/scenarios. Roll a d20 for in each coloumn to see what scavengers find. Roll a 1d12 for quality or Size if you aren't feeling generous and still want roll.

Apocalyptic Found Foods 20X Quick Chart









Fun Treat (1/2 portion)





Snack-Sized (1 portion)





Snack-Pack (1 portion)





Lunch Buddy (1 portion)





Single-Serve (1-portion)





Single Serve Self Heat (1 portion)





Snacking (1-2 portions)





Sharing (2-3portions)





Meal Size (3 portions)





Large (6 portons)





Family-sized (8 portions)





Party-sized (10 portions)





Value-sized (12 portions)





Super-sized (16 portions)





Double Packed (roll again 2d6)





Party-Pack (20 portions)





Banquette-sized (24 portions)





Short Case (roll again 1d10)





Full Case (roll again 2d8)





Institutional-sized (50 portions)

 Quality is a descriptive scale with best here being Lgendary and worst is Duff.

Size indicates packaging scheme and portions included. When instructed to roll again roll agin in the column but use the new dice range to see what's in that carton. 3 portion are considered enough to avert starvation but for good health and rapid recovery it is recommended for adventurers and laborers to get their Strength score in portions per day.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Of The Lavender Hack [Review. part 2]

 (Oh yes there is a part 2)

Retainers get a modest and useful amount of coverage with the rule of Lavender Hack, a simple chart is provide to get one started and title/role, upkeep costs hitdice and arms are noted.  I like the typical figure of "hiring cost" being given as "upkeep cost" becasue it helps with the mental space of recognizes retainers as an ongoing expense and not simply an inventory item for a player character.

Lavender Hack has been interesting to this point but It begins to shine for me with the procedure and "mini-games" the rules have to handle a host of frequently occurring situatuins within RPG adventures. I can't do them all justice without retyping too much of them here (and that's not happening) but I will endeavor to outline them adequately here  .

As the author states the four pillars of Lavender Hack are exploration, encounters, factions, and downtime. As the games does we will start with Explration and Travel.  The game establishes a few units of time and distance to get an appropriate level of abstraction while still havign some immersion. Outdoor exploration is done in 4 hour long watches, picker delving involves ten minute long exploration turns and long distance travel (for big trips) is broken into legs of variable duration in days. Overland hexes are 3 miles across, ocean hexes 24 miles, and a dungeon room is approximated at 1,000 square feet.  The approximations are tied into the procedures that follow. The Company Sheet provides the means to track the passage of time along with a few other handy bits of detail.

As mentioned above there are a number of sheets provided to track resources and time as they are important to each type of exploration (ocean, wilderness, and dungeon) along with the company sheet. Fast travel is when there's lots of ground to cover quickly and detail isn't as significant to play but this requires resource expenditure nonetheless. 

Exploring the wild is classical hex crawlign tied into the rule style and procedures of this particular set of rules and is proabbly one of the most comprehensive approaches I've seen without bogging into tedium. Wilderness events can be the classic random encounter, a lair, bad weather, discord, or confronting ambition.  Now i can't help but say it I feel adding confronting ambition (of which all PCs shoud have some) is a genius way to keep the role in roleplaying for players into all the scales of roleplaying their character from the vaguely noted role to the meticulously embodied backstory rich character.Goign where you want and not getting lost is covered in more detail than is common in old-school rules but not so much as to annoy; who is leading or guiding the party is important and determines success. A party can be slowed down by encumbrance, split up, search and then they reqoup to heal, reapair gear,forage,hunt, and memorize spells. Each day ends with a camp session.

The section on High Seas exploration gives more coverage to this area than I have seen in most places. Ship crews and who serves as Captain Quartermaster, Bosun, Cook, and Gunners are all important features of ocean travel. Ocean travel is managing resources and condition of the vessel while successfully keeping the crew capable.  Giving each of the roles something to do also means something can happen for each of those roles so Ocean travel always has somehtign more than just random encounters and sea serpents.

Dungeon exploration should be familar to most old-timers but the management of it is a tad different with light and danger playing interesting roles. Managing light is essential ot the dungeon explorer. 

The section on encounters once again provides simple but surrisngly more comprehensive coverage of the old school rules.  Unsurprisingly surprise is covered as is typical and this is possibly impacted by the spotlight player or scout(s) the group is deploying. Communicating leads to the familiar but much more satisfyingly covered  creature reactions where combat isn't the only thing that ever happens when two groups encounter each other. Fleeing is covered for land and sea without bogging the game down in an mini-game that ignores other rules within the game.

Combat is satisfyingly tactical and I enjoy how naval combat is covered. Melee combat covers familiar ground and ties into the equipment rules nicely. There's room using the core rules to add more evocative combat results to the game but I suspect only a skilled DM is going to see that.

Now we come to factions. The interaction with factions is impressive and I must admit I've seen nothing as comprehensive elsewhere that wasn't tied tighter into setting. Faction relations is an important theme in campaign and the way they are covered in these rules allow the same mechanics to be used for factions of any scale in a consistent fashion. When one interacts with a faction they are courting the faction and the rules coverage here blows away most games social encounters rules in my reading of these rules.

After encounters we get Downtime. Downtime is all the non-travel, non-adventure stuff characters can get up to and includes buying and selling, training (you level up in downtime),pursuing ambitions, crafting, recovering, research, and carousing.

Magical items are covered but not in a long catalog but genral rules on their importance and creation, good stuff.

Next we come to the bestiary where a host of mundane and unusual creatures are covered.  The game uses a simple stat block that lists ArmorRating, HitDice, Movement, and Morale of each creature. Colorful descriptions are brief as are notes for special abilities. Some of the entries here are pretty standard others downright silly but a lot of ground is covered and gives enough reference for adapting the thousands of monsters found in other games.

So in conclusion The Lavender Hack Tarantual Wasp Edition provides a comprehensive set of fantasy adventure rules for exploration and interaction with a fantasy worlds as odd as a GM wishes them to be with a set of fairly cohesive procedures to cover areas many games handwave.


Saturday, June 13, 2020

Of The Lavender Hack [Review. part 1]

I had the fortune to recently acquire "Lavender Hack Tarantula Hawk Wasp Edition" A Grand Strategy Fantasy RPG with rules for getting lost, going broke, losing friends, and making questionable assumptions about magic by Phil Lewis from DriveThruRPG. It is an intriguing, quirky, and comprehensive RPG influenced by a host of other games such as Black Hack, Dungeon World and Dungeons and Dragons.

First things first it's a little quirky with delightful public domain art by Francois Rabelais that has a curious marginalia-esque style.  The rules have extensive designer notes that do fine job of explaining the "why" of the rules throughout.  The editing could surely be tighter as the designer admits in the credits but it's not a distraction from the quality within even though it's not all done yet. This game is definitely written to a reader that is familiar with OSR style RPGs.

The Core Rules gives us the standard ability scores rolled on 3d6 with the modifiers in the range of -3 to +3 which are going to come into play with Tests rolled on a d20 that allow for a fair degree of success with results from a fumble to a critical success (Fumble, Miss, Weak Success, Strong Success, and Critical Success). The now familiar advantage/disadvantage mechanic is applied to the tests and saves. There are general procedures to overcome adversity and create advantage  that show how pretty much anything uncertain or interesting can be resolved using the graduated successes mentioned above, I like how the guidelines to create advantage (i.e. aid other characters) is considered a core procedure worth spelling out early in the rules and throughout the rules the cooperative nature of cooperative play by multiple PCs is brought up in situation after situation.

The Usage Die is a general purpose tracking mechanic that gets used extensively in Lavender Hack where the usage die may reflect amount of something or the quality of something from d2(0) to d12. The usage test and shifting values come up a lot in these rules.  The d2(0) is the worst stage of the usage die and is really making a saving throw for the item/score in question.  Some events and rolling low on any usage die roll will cause the usage die to be stepped down. The usage die is essential to track resources within the game. Resources are consumables broadly defined as gear, food, light, and fellowship defined for the entire company (the party) of characters. There are a variety of mini games within the rules that alter when and why to worry about these resources. 

Characters are defined by their ability scores, character class, and aspect. The classes are broadly defined as Strong, Wise, and Deft with each having starting backgrounds, equipment, starting features and advanced features (which become available as a character levels up).  There are 20 spells given in the rules each with results that can vary by how well the test is made when casting the spell and clear guidelines on how to import spells from other OSR games. A characters aspect is essentially their "sign" and each defines domains of influence and curses for the character. A character may add a relevant resource usage die to any test that relates to a character aspect. Each character has a goal at any point in play which offers a strong bonus to a test tied to that goal and relates to a character's ambition track.  Once characters are created it;s time to gather them up in a company and set the company respurce dice to d8's and start exploring.

Valuables and equipment get a decent amount of attention. Valuables in the game is tracked with a value score from 1 to 10 with the lower values being time to a usage die.  There's a clear value in copper and gold given in each of these steps but it's meant to be generally vague with different factions in the campaign putting different emphasis on what is valuable to them. Encumbrance is tracked only for significant items with each character also being assumed to be carrying their share of company resources. These company resources are (as mentioned earlier) Gear, Food, Light, and Fellowship. The gear resource is used tp track all the normal and unusual gear a character may need that isn't particularly valuable or mission specific. Food and light usage are fairly obvious but the Fellowship resource is one not normally paid much attention to in games I've seen and I am impressed by it's presence in these rules. Fellowship determines the social cohesiveness of the company and has serious impact in some parts of the game and certainly influences how retainers/hirelings relate to the rest of the company. Weapons, armor, Land Transport, and Ocean Transport all get needed coverage. Armor can block damage and it wears out as do weapons as per the usage rules ever-present within the game.

(more to come)

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Getting The Gang together for a Heist

You know what adventure model works best for virtually any version of Dungeons & Dragons? 

The Heist.

The more old school your rules, the more the game supports heists too. 

If you are playing the original game, Basic/Expert, and AD&D prior to 2nd edition experience points meant getting gold pieces. Fighting monsters is a 2nd rate means to gain EXP (after the original greyhawk supplement) if playing by the rules the game is best played as a heist game. PC's don't have enough HP to really make combat a good option unless the players are darned careful in deciding when, where, and who to fight.

The very idea of character classes supports the heist as ideal play. Watch a heist movie and there's a team of assembled specialists ... those are characters with different classes.  Even with just 3 or 4 classes there's enough differentiation to support a heist setup. Everyone has a role and everyone gets a chance to shine and best of can split the party and focus on briefly on one or two characters working towards advancing the heist for the whole party.

When adventures are heists and not saving thr world from unending evil it actually adds the chance for depth in play. There's less reason for characters to be murder-hobos. They are encouraged to bribe and trick NPCs into helping out on the heist not just killing everything and everyone while the experience points pop out. This allows for a much wider cast of foils and foes which may be against a successful heist but aren't threatening the lives of everyone in the campaign world.

I'm jumping about here but check out the spells from the 2nd Basic set and how they add to heist play.

First Level MU spells
1.  Charm Person- compromise a guard or foil.
2.  Detect Magic- not just for identifying scrolls and magic items, also good for spottign magical traps and alarms (which should be part of some heists).
3. Floating Disc- got to move that loot after all
4. Hold Portal- getting in and getting out are key features of a heist and those pesky doors are certainly an issue.
5. Light- when it's dark you have to see
6. Magic Missile-  this is a lousy heist spell unless there's some key guardian that must be taken out with magic and is easy to beat that the MU knows about.
7. Protection from Evil- not as big a deal in heist play.
8. Read Languages- research montage
9. Read Magic- to use a high level spell slipped to the PCs by a patron or contact at the wizards guild
10. Shield-  not so useful in heist play unless you want to have someone distract guards and draw a few arrows while the loot goes the other direction.
11. Sleep- Defeat a bunch of guards youhave no actual motivation to kill, they aren't likely to be going on a rampage and slaughtering a village after this and they are probably hired men-at-arms or draftees that have no strong need for revenge.
12. Ventriloquism- the opportunities this spell gives for a heist game give it much more utility than it has in default dungeoncrawling or world saving.

SencondLevel MU Spells
1. Continual Light-  a useful tool and a foil the PCs may have to defeat to sneak away with the loot.
2. Detect Evil- not a real biggie in heist play unless it can be used to detect people who are goign to con you.
3. Detect Invisible- pretty darned useful in a competitive heist or the mark uses invisibility.
4. ESP- very useful for planning, scouting, and look outs.
5. Invisibility- Much more useful to grab loot and scoot than it is to enable a sneak attack, also obviously useful for scouting ahead.
6. Knock- get that door open!
7. Levitate- get in that window or over that wall.
8. Locate Object- surely useful if the goal of a heist is a specific McGuffin.
9. Mirror Image- distraction is the a major part of the art of heist.
10. Phantasmal Forces- as above but even more so.
11. Web- another spell for neutralizing a number of foes without killing them.
12. Wizard Lock- a foil and a useful tool for covering up a theft.

Not a perfect summary but in those 24 spells there are 19 with direct and obvious utility in a heist.

The heist is a much more survivable adventure model for low level play than typical smash and grab dungeoncrawling. The game rules have always supported that style of play really. Just look at the reaction table, it's a little wonky in a dungeon bash but of great utility in a heist adventure. Played RAW a heist adventure works great with the reaction table. If the whole world isn't in the balance and not every NPC is an evil monster it makes sense fights will be rare and NPCs may help out the PCs on a whim.

Another cool thing from the DM point of view is the heist doesn't have to be a level-specific to allow PC to survive. You want a dragon in the heist go for it...defeating the dragon is not the goal. A troll guard on the front door..go for it, the party pulling a heist shouldn't be fighting their way through the front door. It's actually possible to have a campaign with a bit more verisimilitude by not having everything level specific.

The adventure can be quicker too. Want a quick adventure for a session or two? Have a heist where the Players have a map of the place, at least of the areas you want to feature. There's less bumbling around and fights with random monsters to deal with, motivations are clear and the whole campaign isn't over of the heist fails. A failed heist sets up a rescue from a dank cell or before execution.

The heist opens up a wider range of opponents and place for Dungeons and Dragons campaigns where the goal is loot and world-building instead of world saving or murder hobo hijinks.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Quality of Equipment.

I've posted about equipment quality before. I've always liked somehting more than a straight non-magical to magical progression (aside from silver weapons). A while back I had a couple posts on grotty gear and have filled notebooks with a variety of options and still not too sure of where to go.

I have a host of materials, probably keeping all of them (but not worrying too hard about all their real property differences) and I laboring on degrees of quality from total junk to the penultimate but struggling to find a set of descriptive that holds up form worst to best (or even truly how many steps will scratch the itch I have).

My current way too long list of degrees of quality from worst to best:
  1. Duff
  2. Shonky/Shoddy
  3. Bodge
  4. Common
  5. Fit
  6. Brilliant
  7. Ace
  8. Magnificent
  9. Splendorous/Slendiferous/Splendid
  10. Wondrous
  11. Iconic
  12. Legendary
  13. Ultimate 
Three degrees of poor quality is probably too many; 8 degrees of excellent gear may also be a tad too much. I am constantly changing Wondrous and Iconic in status. An Item can be Wondrous without being Iconic and Iconic Items don't even have to be as hmm roll them together?

Could abreviate it to this:
  1. Duff
  2. Common
  3. Brilliant
  4. Ace
  5. Splendorous/Slendiferous/Splendid
  6. Legendary
  7. Ultimate 
Somehow that seem a bit too brief if I'm going to  have degrees of quality.

I have considered also applying degree of ornamentation. But that has issues too.
  1. Ugly
  2. Crude
  3. Simple
  4. Elegant
  5. Decorated
  6. Fancy
  7. Amazing
  8. Oppulent
Part of me would love playing in a campaign where my character could find a Fancy Ace Orachalcum Sword. Another part of me isn't sure if the descriptives work well enough to be backed up with mechanics.

Throwing this out there for any reader's consideration and my own use as a digital notebook. I'd love to see anyone's take on  this.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Coronacation !

Gee lucky me, jut started my coronacation. Hopefully you and yours are well.  I (as has everyone else) have found my gaming aspirations curtailed by the plague of the day but with some free time (at least 10 days currently) I'll be able to get some more fun stuff done and share with folks.  Definitely need a new job-path for real life too, I really haven't enjoyed being one of the essential expendables the past couple of weeks. Again stay well everyone, growing roses from a dung heap (I hope).

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Material components with explicit cash values are bad

So working on my next campaign (as always) and I realized I wanted a fair number of spell casting classes and there's a lot of spells out there and a lot of different versions of spells so I went about marrying spell lists.

Here's what I really don't like about spells all across various versions of the game: material components with an explicit cost in GP.   "This spell requires a 5,000 gp diamond"... is excremental in my opinion. One it ignores economics, two it ignores economics. You want to know what sort of diamond would cost 5,000 gp if diamonds were needed in raise dead spells? All Diamonds would cost at least 5,000 gp.  The explicit cost is an attempt to set a limit on the spell which doesn't really explain the limit or take really take campaign economics into consideration. Explicit costs are also typically are  meaningless limits.

I enjoy material components for spells, I like the flavor and the limit they place on spell casting. Planning is good for a campaign as planning build investment in the campaign for the players.  I also just like the imagery of wizards and witches digging about in their magical kitbags for eyes of newts and a gold tooth from a dead liar.

But you must have 5, 500, or 5000 gp to cast this spell is weak because it typically isn't a limit. The economic burden of coming up with the required amount of cash is usually meaningless. The universality of the price is also annoying. The shorthand of cost also ignores what is special about the component.

If a given spell required "a diamond half the size of a dove's egg or larger" it might be a 5000 gp gem, or 12,000 imperial ringlets, or 3 demon would work in every campaign right out of the box for every DM, it would also be far more evocative. We want our games to be far more evocative. There's a lot more imagery in that diamond half the size of a dove's egg or larger than in most pile of generic gold pieces. The diamond size doesn't say it all , it doesn't explain just what the gem is doing helping out in that spell but it's heading in the right direction.