Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Using the classic stats as skills in Lunchtime Dungeons

More controversial hackery from the Irish frog! Well, I need to think about this, and no one's forcing you to read my internet brain.
Seriously, fuck this guy

The Context

For months now, I've been on the fence about a skill like mechanic in Lunchtime Dungeons. I need to keep the game simple and beginner friendly, following principles like always roll high and no modifiers to rolls, but I cant decently get rid of things like the dwarf's underground lore, the cleric's smite & turn, or (obviously) the thief's skulduggery.

Let me be clear: I don't think skills killed the game back in '75, but I don't want them to go out of hand. And when I find myself writing stuff like 'Gain pastry chef d8' in the haubitz's progression table, it's clearly out of hand.

The Attempt

So I'm going to try and use the six stats as skills. I should mention at this point that LD doesn't use stats at all for the sake of simplicity. But I'm kind of pleased about having these iconic words on the character sheet again.

The system is simple. Skills are a die, from d4 to d12 (with most classes starting with d6), and you need a 4 to succeed. I don't intend to write rules on difficulties and target numbers, but I'm sure I'll ask for a 3 or a 5 here and there. 
Strength to carry, break down, break free
Intelligence to understand, recall, memorise
Wisdom to will, perceive, feel
Dexterity to dodge, sneak, manipulate
Constitution to resist, whether, endure
Charisma to lead, bullshit, persuade
I'm only giving one skill to each human class. Strength to fighters, Intelligence to wizards, Wisdom to clerics, Dexterity to thieves. There is even room for a barbarian and a warlock or bard (but additional places aren't my priority).

The demihumans have two conditional skills: the dwarf gets Wisdom d6 and Intelligence d6 when underground; the haubitz has Constitution d6 to resist fatigue and Dexterity d6 to hide; and for the elf I'll go with Charisma d6 to impress and Intelligence d6 for ancient lore. I know what you're thinking: he's introducing complexity just two minutes after pledging to KISS. Hey, it's a work in progress.

Another thought while I'm at it: these six dice are probably going to be renamed feats. So you roll a feat of Strength to lift that gate, or a feat of Charisma to sway Old Pigface into betraying the goblin enchantress. 
A work in progress, I'm telling you

The Bonus

This is where I think this might end up working somewhat elegantly. As per the master rule in Lunchtime Dungeons, you only roll a skill die if a task doesn't put you at risk. If there is a chance of you or others being harmed, you have to save. Saves are rolled with a d20 plus a skill die against a target number. (This is also how I handle combat - characters have a basic attack skill and can get weapons skills along the line.)

EDIT: Following some useful comments by Brian and Bruno on G+, I thought I should add that the d20 save comes with a range of results that let me describe various degrees of success and failure, offer choices, take away resources, etc. Here is the table I use: 
click to avoid damaging your eyeballs
Until now, characters only had one save die. Well now they have six. But they don't have a fuzzy cloud of skills.

So, win?

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Using the hit die as a soak damage mechanic in Adventure TTRPG

Two of my goal designs for Lunchtime Dungeons are: simple procedures for shorter sessions and deadly combat. With that in mind, I'm going to test the following hack. I'm open to thoughts and suggestions.
Pathetic aesthetic by Jim Holloway
  1. Damage is a fixed number (the max damage of the weapon). A modified 20 on the attack roll doubles it. Monsters (and maybe fighters?) add their HD to that. So a goblin with a club would do 7 damage, and a vampire with a greatsword would do 17.
  2. Characters have 2d6 Stamina* and one hit die**, ranging from d8 (fighters) to nothing (wizards). They get to subtract their HD from each blow, and the remaining damage is deducted from their Stamina. 0 Stamina means a roll on the death & dismemberment table.
  3. Monsters lose hit points as normal. I'm going to use d10s for hit dice so that some goblins can withstand a blow from a long sword.

 * You can use Constitution in your six-stats game.
** I'll probably rename it to Soak Die or something.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

d66 exploration and encounter table for The Lost City

Here's a thing I'm playtesting for Lunchtime Dungeons.
(Click the pic.)

The exploration procedure has been working pretty smoothly for a few months now, but I was inspired by a peek Luka Rejec gave us of his d100 event-slash-encounter table a while ago. Earlier inspiration comes from the Hazard System by Brendan S and some parallel thinking by David Black and Chris McDowall a couple years ago (which had prompted me to work on the same kind of table for Macchiato Monsters).

(Yeah, I made an HTML joke. I'm not feeling well today, okay?)

So for the next while I'll be dropping the 2d6+1d6 random encounter model and try this thing out. The monsters are from level 1 of B4: The Lost City because that's what I'm running this week. In your game, BOD points can be treated as hits or CON/STR, depending on how easy it is to recover HP.

Friday, 12 October 2018

The Neon Marsh is in alpha

It took me a while, but I've completed the text of the first setting for Macchiato Monsters. It's not something I had planned to do from the start, but I hit a snag with the Build-your-own-setting booklets so when Paolo suggested a mini-setting to support the release of MM, I thought I could use the tools I intend to put in said booklets to create something. So here it is:

(quick and dirty homemade cover - proper art will be properly arted by proper artists)
I took some chances with this. It's ten pages, including the cover and three one-page dungeons, so it is very terse. The world material is presented alphabetically, which may not be the best way to communicate it. And there are a lot of holes to fill in, DIY style. We'll see what reviewers say.

In any case,  I had a lot of fun inserting as many 1980s sci-fi references into a pseudo-Arthurian plotline. Here is an extract from the introduction - well it's about half of it. Told you it was terse.
The Neon Marsh lies south of the island of Freetannia, a fragmented kingdom whose folk forgot their past glory. People toil in the service or war dukes and petty kings, while bards still sing the prophecy of the Queen of Future Pasts, who shall unite the land again. People come to the Marsh running from the law, mining for NEON, or looking to understand the weird phenomena called GLITCH.
That's one thing off my plate for a little while. Next up: Ford's Fairies, aka the Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual Project. 

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

How to Make Goon Master Character in Macchiato Monsters

Some time ago,+Samuel Guillon's character managed to convince a tribe of goblins his character should be their new god. He asked about taking a trait like God of the Goblins to have a following of fanatical flunkies. I made this mechanic in a G+ comment, but recently thought about it again, and realised it was a way to emulate +Benjamin Baugh's hilarious class, the Goblin Enchantress. (Follow the link to see +Evlyn M's beautiful illustration in full size.)

Take a trait such as Goblin Enchantress or Zombie Master or Baker of Sentient and Homicidal Cupcakes. This doesn't give you advantage to checks, nor does it grant you outside help like an organisation. All you have is your band of fanatical goblins, crazed cultists, animal automata, etc.

Write down Goons dR8 * on you character sheet. They work as a group just like a follower (roll the dR whenever they attempt something risky). A step down means some of your goons died or were otherwise lost. As suggested by +guillaume jentey  on G+, you can use your Goons dR as armour or as magical components.

If the dR is stepped down to nothing, you have to attracts more goons. Wait d8 days and you'll have your dR8 back - the referee can give you a smaller die in less time if they so choose.

Whenever you roll the maximum result on the dR, step it up. Either your goons get smarter/stronger/better at working together, or more of them just show up.

* In Macchiato Monsters, a risk die (dR) is a die that represents a resource or threat. On a 1-3, it is stepped down to the next lower die type (d12>d10>d8>d6>d4).

Thursday, 28 December 2017

More ways to clear dungeons with gunpowder

Because it's not always about pistols, yanno? I am going to use these in my current campaign when it finally reaches Yoon-Suin. Like China in the Renaissance, my Purple Country is less advanced when it comes to guns, but it makes up for it with clever and cruel designs. All of this is inspired by this Wikipedia article about the Huolongjing. Fore more fiery fun, see the post detailing Twenty Gunpowders.

I have included prices with B/X standards in mind, assuming firearms are commonly used in the setting. In
Macchiato Monsters, these should be paid for in electrum, gold, or even platinum, depending on complexity and legality. 

Fire lances. A short barrel stuck at the end of a spear or polearm. Usually loaded with firethrower powder, supplemented with arrows or pellets. It does continuous damage dR6 in a small area. dR=risk die: step it down on a 1-3, the fire goes out when it's stepped down from d4 or if someone spends their turn dousing it. Hobgoblins are especially fond of these. 15GP.

Barrels 'o' boom. Stick a fuse to it, shoot it from a distance with a magic missile, throw it in a campfire. 3 to 6d6 area damage depending on size, save for half. Add another d6 if stuck in a sack with gravel and nails.
In MM, use the risk die for the gunpowder. Add them together if using several equipment slots, and don't forget to double the damage. A small barrel should be dR12. 100-200GP.

Simple fireworks can be used as signals or to create distractions. Some produce smoke or fire as well. 20 GP for a noise maker, 200 GP for a large poisonous rocket.

War rockets are fired from tubes, and loaded with all manners of unpleasantness: shrapnel, lead pellets, darts, or even smaller rockets or little bombs. Treat like a barrel above with the range of a heavy crossbow, and double the price. Used by many bandits to demoralise their targets and shorten the bloodshed.

Rocket arrows do dR6 continuous (as above) when fired with a tube, or dR8 continuous damage when shot from a crossbow or longbow. Used by any well equipped army, human or otherwise. 20GP.

Firecrackers are ghost repellents. Blessed at temples, these strings of small fireworks make spirits good and evil flee in disgust. They work as a one-use turn undead at level 3, and can obviously attract a lot of attention from nearby threats. 100GP.

Artillery shields. Mounted on wheels for ease of travel around battlefields and dungeon halls, these door sized steel shields are pierced with hole where guns or fire lances are lodged. It is either used as protection for soldiers, or as a battery weapon operated by a single gunner. Kobolds love these. They shape them with all sorts of dragon motifs. 60 GP.

Flamethrowers. Any big enough gun can be loaded with slow burning gunpowder and metal scraps, turning it into a short range, flesh charring nightmare. Damage is not doubled, but the result of the die is the number of potential target. Poisonous substances can be mixed into the powder. 1-5GP a shot (same as normal gunpowder).

Poisonous gunpowder is only useful in bombs, rockets, and flame throwing devices. A lot of goblin tribes make their own varieties using mushrooms and bugbear feces. Step down the damage die by one, but the targets must save to avoid effects such as blindness, disease, confusion, etc. 10-100GP a shot.

Adapt your OS characters to Macchiato Monsters

Here is another post salvaged from my G+ feed. The process I go through when importing characters from other OSA games into Macchiato Monsters.

- Have six D&D-like stats? Keep 'em if they were rolled old school style. Otherwise roll 3d6 in order and arrange the results to make your character look like your character.
- Your traits are your race, your occupation, your origin, etc. Have two on the house.
- Your special powers and abilities will be considered on a case to case basis, but not before they become relevant in play. I may ask you to limit their use to a number of times per day (equal to your level, if you have one), or give them a risk die.
- Your magic spells and incantations work one of two ways: exactly like they're handled in your original system, OR as if they were MM spells. In which case, choose one spell per level (level-less? Use the medium level for this adventure), and rephrase it if you want.
- Money should be converted to a wealth dR according to the table in Extra Shot.
- Gear shouldn't be an issue. I'll give you a dR for some items, and the quantities can be adapted using this handy table that +Whidou  made with his math brain:
Coffee drinking gnolls from the MM Zero book

dR4 = 1,33
dR6 = 3,33
dR8 = 6
dR10 = 9,33
dR12 = 13,33