Thursday, March 9, 2023

D&D PC Kits done right in the forgottern edition.

I think Dragonfist did kits right.  The kits weren't just a package of over-powered crunch but actually provided the tools to fit the character in to the campaign. 

Each PC had to select a kit and this really was necessary because it is what fit the character into the axction.  Fighters (for example) had 3 kits available: The Righteous Fists, The Red Tigers, and The Heavenly Gates each of which provides a place in the campaign, a little history, an organization, a handful of mechanical benefits and a hinderance.

The Righteous Fists are Fighters with a STR and WIs of at least 9, and they like to punch and kick things gaining weapon specialization in unarmed combat and when they are using an Acrobatic Stunt their AC gains twice the bonus it normally would. The Righteous Fists are led by Grandmaster Fei Gan and a select group of masters from the safety of the Jade Mountain Monastery. Couriers for the organization only travel by night carrying messages to the dispersed network of masters to continue their fight against the emperor.  There you go a network of contacts, an allegiance, and a possibility of adventures all together in the kit. 

The Red Tigers are focused on Sword fighting and these once rivals of The Righteous Fists now have some common ground against the emperor. The Heavenly Gates are philosophical archers that seek enlightenment and refuse the emperor as their founder did.

So Punching guy, Hacking Guy, and Shooting Guy with decent historical backgrounds and organizations that help a DM come up with adventures as the organizations the PCs are part of attemopt to fulfil their missions and struggle against the emperor.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Everybody was Kung-Fu fighting!

 In Dragonfist (The Forgotten D&D Editon) there are 4 character classes Fighter, Wizard, Shaman, and Thief (yeah Thief not "Rogue").  Kits are applied to focus characters more on the style of play and setting. Most importantly of all however is everyone PC is trained in the Martial Arts, you can't be sure how an encounter is going to end but there's a fair chance someone is getting kicked.

Every class has access to a martial arts maneuvers in a scheme not at all unfamiliar to D&D players as it resembles how spells were gained by classes. Here's a clipping of the wizards martial arts chart showing the first 7 levels of the Wizard's martial arts maneuvers.

Pretty clear and straight forward. An entirely new sub-system bolted onto the existing framework using a mechanic any experienced player would be familiar with. 

The martial arts maneuvers are split into 5 ranks, which is plenty for this game which covers characters of levels 1 to 10.

1st and 2nd Rank Martial Arts Maneuvers:

The names for the maneuvers are flavorful and evocative but while certainly mechanically effective the descriptions just don't always live up to the cool names. These are the descriptions of the first two maneuvers straight out of the rules: 

Cobra Strike:The character can make a called shot (see the “Combat Considerations”section below) at –2 to hit instead of the usual –4. 

Crane Stance:The character’s AC is increased to 12.

Wow... talk about a missed opportunity. There's a lot of flavor throughout the rules but somehow the descriptions of the maneuvers that the game sort of focuses on are pretty darn dry. They are pretty solid mechanically but...darn those descriptions are dull in comparison to a lot of the rest of Dragonfist.

Oh yeah... did you notice "AC is increased to 12" in Dragonfist AC starts at 10 and goes up. Due to the stunt mechanic and how ability bonuses function a character's Dexterity Bonus is not always applied to AC. One of the chief ways to improve aC beyond using a DEX stunt is to use maneuvers that raise the AC score. Worn armors do not boost this score but are the default when worn, most PCs aren't going to bother much with armor however and generally highly armored combatants will be the goons serving some bad guy.

The list of maneuvers isn't huge but it certainly gets the job done.  Maneuvers are typically general modifiers or specific actions that can be attempted as often as the player wishes.

As mentioned above characters are covered from 1 to 10 and have slightly larger Hit Dice than their analogs would have in most versions of D&D because the CON bonus doesn't always add to HP. PCs also are meant to start at level 3 since this gives them an interesting range of maneuvers and class abilities compared to the fairly frail level 1 which would still work in play but fights would end real darned quick and a martial arts focused game really does need fights that typically last at least 3 or 4 rounds because that's where the excitement comes in. 

Further Mysteries of the Forgotten Edition

 Let's look deeper into DRAGONFIST the forgotten editon of Dungeons and Dragons!

The 1st level Wizard spells


Charm Person

Cobra's Breath

Detect Magic

Elemental Charm

Give Me Face!

Iron Scarf

Light of Yang

Read Magic

Scales of the Lizard

Suppress Magic

c'mon... how cool are some of those names, and those are just 1st level spells ?!

Here's just one of them: 

Give Me Face! (Yang)


Range: touch

Components: V,M

Duration: 1 turn/level

Casting Time: Fa(6)

Area of Effect: Creature touched

Saving Throw: None

"Face" is a very important concept in Tianguo. "Giving face" means showing the proper respect, and denying a powerful figure his or her due is a grave error. This spell surrounds the recipient with an aura of power and prestige. While it is in effect, the recipient receives a +4 bonus to all Charm feats related to social position and power. This is most useful in social situations.

The reverse lose face, makes the recipient appear foolish and ill-mannered and confers a -4 penalty on his or her Charm feats. The material component for either version is a small porcelain mask.


There's some flavor and a lot that should be familiar to D&D players but "+4 bonus to all Charm feats"... excuse me what? That's right just a year before 3e there was a version of D&D where the term "feats" meant something different than it would in 3rd and later editions.

Now here was an editing problem in Dragonfist the rules seem to mention Stunts and Feats interchangeably as the same rule mechanic...some of the time. Stunts are actions you resolve in dramatic ways!  Really they are ability checks vs a Target Number. They are rolled with 1d20+ stunt bonus based on the related ability score. Might Feats... oh I mean Stunts are tied to Strength, Acrobatics to Dexterity, Fortitude to Constitution, Savvy to Intelligence, Insight to Wisdom, and Charm to Charisma.  Now here's what I find curious...why name each stunt type separate as each is tied to an ability and each ability only has one stunt type?   The stunt bonus granted by an ability score isn't a flat score however, it is a die range so a player will never be sure just how effective their bonus genuinely is. 

Oh even cooler you are seemingly supposed to narratively justify getting to use your stunt bonus. It's got to be cool to use it. But... in application it looks like they are pretty constant except of course you can only normally only apply one stunt a round! So it's effectively the Strength Bonus or the Dexterity Bonus during a round of combat depending on what type of Stunt a character is attempting in a round. A player has to work to involve all their ability score they aren't an automatic gimmie. You have to play the role to get the benefit of the numbers in play... c'mon how great is that!

Feats are task resolution of a stunt roll vs a target number... so really the same thing as a stunt.  

A character gets to boost 1 stunt every odd level including 1st level so this is where some of a character's mechanical advancement and customization will be. 

Interestingly enough your Hit Point bonus for high Constitution isn't permanent it only exists on rounds the character decided to tough it out with a fortitude stunt to give them extra HP that round.

Yang... it's up there in parens next to the spell name. That shows if the spell relates to Yin or Yang. Yin is the reactive power of the cosmos, Yang is the active power of the cosmos. The duality of yin/yang is important to the default (and assumed) setting. Surely this will be important at some point.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

The Forgotten Edition

 Once upon a time there was an edition of Dungeons and Dragons released as pdf only.  This was DRAGONFIST.  

Released in 1999 it got eclipsed and generally forgotten with the release of 3rd edition D&D in 2000. The RPG GEEK entry on it is brief:

Dragonfist, "The Roleplaying Game of Martial Arts Action," was a roleplaying game released by Wizards Of The Coast as a series of free PDFs on their website in 1999. The rules were a heavily modified version of the 2nd edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules.

In November 2002, the rights to the game were sold to Green Ronin, who had planned to release a new version in 2003. However, it seems that the new version was never released and remains in development limbo.

It was a kung-fu action D&D with a fairly innovative range of rules changes and additions. There were the standard 6 ability scores, but they didn't have a fixed bonus. Every class had level based maneuvers with a progression not unlike spell progression. There were kits to detail the 4 character classes of Fighter, Wizard, Shaman, and Thief. There were feats but they didn't work like they would in 3e. Everybody was kung-fu fighting and there wasn't a Samurai or Ninja in sight.

Friday, March 3, 2023

Firing-Arc chart... pew pew pew.

A planner/reference graphic for a game project involving spacecraft on a hexgrid.  Not a complete official illustration just a knocked-out sample for my own reference.

Got to work on the descriptive text. These aren't even as pretty as the paint file above.

Firing ARCs.

A- Straight ahead, 1 hex path

B- straight ahead ,  hex forward and then 3 hex path afterward.

C- straight aheas 3 hed wide path.

D- 3 hex arc fron center.

E- 5 hex arc from center

F- all hexes excluding straight backward from center.

G- all hexes.