Thursday, May 31, 2012

One Week Till NTRPGCON!



Gonna try to sneak in some DCC RPG pickup game. Registered for Star Frontiers, OD&Dx2, Urutsk (finally), and of course some S&W Mythrus Tower!  Seeing friends old and new. Spending way too much money.  It's gonna be a blast!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

DCC RPG Opinions Part 3 (Holy Edition)

Clerics

The cleric and patron systems (including wizard bits) are probably my favorite parts of DCC RPG.  The appreciation is no doubt enhanced by my "not completely satisfied with" attempts at creating divine magic / class that is stylistically and mechanically different than arcane magic, is thematically driven by faith / granted divine power, doesn't pigeon hole clerics as walking med kits, and is not dramatically "alien" to D&D. DCC RPG Clerics are very close to this ideal.

First, from the Law / Neut / Chaos alignment system much excellence flows.

Second, DCC RPG Clerics are squarely in the militant servants of Gee-Oh-Dee camp.
"you will persuade, convert, or destroy ... You adventure to find gold or holy relics, destroy abominations and enemies, and convert heathens to the truth. ... wields the weapons of his faith: physical, spiritual, and magical."
I always wondered wtf Paladin?  Clerics are clearly holy warriors, don't need none other, jump back on your fancypants warhorse and go be chivalrous elsewhere.  Paladins led to the wussification of Clerics into "priests".  Priests are the pansy boys and girls blathering sermons in the temple, burning incense and similar namby-pambyness. Clerics bring the holy whoop-ass unto non-believers.  Who, conveniently, may be found clustered together in dungeons.

Decent to-hit progression, crit tables.  Any armor, unclear if this includes shield but I say, yes.  Clerics use the weapons of their god.  Standard stuff.  Blunty things for Law. Sword (others, but everyone will use sword cause it does most damage) and sling for Neutral.  Axes, bows, dart (feeling some poison up in here), and flail.  Deity specific weapon choice is obvious and easy house rule.

Thanks for visiting the Temple of Set, here's a complementary black widow.

Divine Magic

Limited number of spells known... I can find no mention of how these are determined.  I assume randomly same as Wizard's spells.

At it's core DCC RPG Cleric magic is a "fatigue" system.  There's no hard limit (spell slots) to what you can cast.  Rather, the more you cast the harder and/or riskier it becomes.  Systems, like this, that let you "push your luck" lead to the awesome moments people talk about forever.

Spell check; d20 + Stat mod + Cleric level, look roll up on spell chart.  Each spell has it's own chart.  A spell check > (10 + 2x spell level) results in increasing levels of effectiveness, otherwise fail (god too busy to be bothered by your prayers).  Natural '1' is divine disapproval.   Each failure increases range of disapproval by one.  Disapproval means roll on table (of course). The more you fail by the greater the divine discontent.  Sacrifices may be made to reduce disapproval range.  It resets to one each morning.

Dig that very damn much.  Clerics don't generally lose spells when cast.  Way more spells per day than I'm use to, I'm fine with that.  And, as you will see everything "divine" cleric does is keyed off this same disapproval increase for failure, keep pushing your luck mechanic.

It's not explicitly mentioned (that I could find) that Clerics can use Ritualized Magic, multiple casters increasing power (spell check modifier), but they damn well should.

Turn Unholy

Each alignment turns different types of creatures, they way turning should work and how I house rule it.  Turning checks work off same disapproval system as spells.  Turn all you want pious punk, only risking perturbing your patron.

My god will bitch slap you into next week unholy abomination!

Lay on Hands

Healing is not a spell. [this is huge]  Healing works off same disapproval system as spells. Number of "dice" healed based on success of check.  The dice used are same size as target's hit dice, i.e. fighters are shafted for being meat buckets (I house rule this way already).  All other healing effects (disease, poison, broken limbs, etc) are worked in as needed a minimum number of dice to heal.

Flippin elegant. 

One reason Clerics suck to play is that unless all your spells are cure this or that your party bitches.  And spells is what makes Clerics more than just "weak fighters".  Healing not a spell wipes that away.  Now you can be a walking med-kit and wielder of holy vengeance. 

Divine Aid

Is like a scaled wish, that you have to pay back.  Cleric can ask for anything via direct intervention of their deity.  DM ad hocs a DC.  Deity requests a favor in return, table provided. Go raid my rival's temple. Sacrifice me some loot.  That sort of thing.  It is to be used rarely, imparting a +10 to disapproval range.

Sinful use of Divine Power

It's clearly stated and reinforced by flavor and mechanics that the magic a Cleric wields is not his own.  Clerics are conduits for their god's will. The magic granted to them is a privilege, that will be revoked if used without thought to it's grantor's desires.

We all know this is how divine magic should work, it's rarely enforced.  DCC RPG provides a nice, scaled "punishment matches transgression" hammer for DM to beat players with.  And, interestingly it seems, would allow players to make calculated, tactical abuse of divine gifts.  Count me as a HUGE fan of player choice.  Really, a RPG session is nothing more than a series of player choices.  And with choice there can be failure and only with chance of failure does success taste so sweet.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

DCC RPG Opinions part 2 (Hater Edition)

I do like many things in DCC RPG.  But, this post isn't about them.

No Index

Really?  Am I missing it?  The back of the book is filled with stuff (full page art, advertisements, appx, two! sample adventures.  No index blows.

Equipment

Trade goods, awesome idea.  Not listing trade goods in equipment section, annoying, but understandable given their link to occupation and character creation.  Not listing some equivalent unit of value for trade goods, fail.  Does every DM really have to make judgement on how many trowels a sack of nightsoil is worth?  And in general (although it's hard to be sure without a flippin index) the trade goods / we're all medieval peasants is talked about various places.  But, little support is provided, e.g. one, just one treasure table of trade goods.  I suppose the excuse is that's been handled elsewhere.  Still, it seems a fundamental block of "a style of play" / appx N that book is pushing.  And 90% of DMs will just fall back to coinage cause book didn't make trade goods as easy.  Which is a shame.

No one will ever use a flail.  Cause it does 1d6. This is sad, cause flails are awesome. DCC RPG does better than most systems with varying damage. In that most 2-hand do d10 and most 1-hand do d8.  So close, why not just go all the way?  Also, not convinced +1pt of damage is worth not using shield.  either d6 1hand, or d12 2hand, or both.

Bows and Crossbows do pathetically low d6.  Missile weapons should be deadly.  Unless, you're wanting to discourage their use and encourage mixing it up face to face. Which, I rather like. Whoops this was suppose to be whining only post.

Failing to include "chicken" under mounts is fail.

Spell Duels

Holy crap these are complicated.  I mean they seem simple. The rules / explanation are complicated. I'm not sure I understand them after 2nd read through.  Bad.  Other sections (character creation) have really nice, concise listing of steps.  Actual steps are intermingled with commentary (untoward things can occur).   Then there is another list of 9 steps for actually counter spelling (which is part of and how duels start).  

Roll checks, increment momentum, cross reference spell checks on table 4-5, roll die, compare to table 4-6, modified by difference between momentum trackers, there's an exception and OMFG, seriously?  Yeah, I can figure this out.  And, yeah, doing it a few times will make it easier. But, do I want to do this, is it fun?  Is it worth stopping the game to look all this up, roll all these dice, spend all this time with one player while everyone else is confused as to what's going on?  Will have to see.

Pro-tip: using dice, esp rolly d20, as counters doesn't work with table full of books, papers, snacks, thrown notes, shared dice, and players (1/3 in my experience) who can't roll a die without it flying across table knocking into everyone's stuff along the way.

Tables

Really, really should of either;  1) made the spells fit on one or two pages each.  Yeah, wasted space, broken layout, even larger page count.  All of those are worth not having to constantly look up spell charts in this giant, heavy doesn't sit open / flat tome.  2) release a PDF with spells fitting on one or two pages each.  It could have been bad-ass, wizards's actually collecting and creating a real life book of magic spells.

Luck

Hmmmmmmmm.

Not so Bad

I thought I'd find more to dislike.  Play it some, maybe tweak a few things, and it'll be fine.

Monday, May 28, 2012

My Least Favorite Edition of D&D

[Using a broad definition of D&D to include all editions, retro-clones, etc.]

I started with the blue dragon, had the white box LBB, but really grew up on AD&D Efreeti and Gem Eyes.   Played some in highschool and college. Then 2ed splat mania + too many crap products + (in retrospect) the shift in style, structure, and substance of those products as compared to 1ed era drove me from D&D (into other RPGs).

Time passes...

I returned to D&D a little after 3.5 release.  I've since run and played enough of OD&D(Swords & Wizardry), Basic(Labyrinth Lord), AD&D(OSRIC), 3.5, and 4ed to arrive at the following opinion.

AD&D including (and even more so) 2ed is my least favorite edition of D&D to run/play.  This was news to me as it's the edition I've played and run the most.  The DMG is still a good resource and many of the classic modules I'll try to weave into campaigns.  But, I won't be using AD&D rules to run them.

AD&D and it's clones are just so horribly fiddly, filled with wildly inconsistent levels of simulation and detail.  Baroque were simple would suffice, vague or abstract were a little more is needed.  Too many "broken" classes, combos and rules. It's the shored up, chronically patched half-way house between the wild and loose "earlier" systems and the mechanistic edifices to game theory of later editions.

There's a reason we have sayings along the lines of "right tool for the right job", "do one thing and do it well", "don't try to be all things to all people".  It's cause of people like me.

I enjoy the ends of the spectrum. Where games, successful or not at getting there, at least know what they want to be. Sometimes I crave a fine dark chocolate. Sometimes an oily, 100% natural nut butter, the type that requires stirring. But, my desire for a waxy chocolate covered peanut like fudge thing is quite low.

Sorry, dudes.

Cleaned up Blogroll.

Blogger fixed not being able to edit blog roll, or something happened.  I was finally able to clear out old, broken, dumb links.  I am now, finally, able to add new blogs.

In other news 2012 1PDC!

http://campaignwiki.org/wiki/DungeonMaps/One_Page_Dungeon_Contest_2012

Reading all the entries is really gonna side track all my projects...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I Went to Buy Some DCC RPG Dice

And ended up with a bit more.



Probably didn't need the latest edition of Starmada as I have two of previous versions.  But, it is my favorite space combat game and only $16. Which seems very reasonable.  Fast to play, even with big fleets, and tons of dice rolling.  Hence the pack of purple d6 at $5.50.

Coolest Fudge dice I've seen, way too expensive at $10.  Esp. considering I still have half the tons of 16 Fudge dice sets to give away at cons back when I ran Fudge Games.

FLGS only had these clear "DCC RPG" dice set.  Clear dice are one of the stupidest things.  It's much more important to be able to see under the die than to read what you rolled!  But, I'm more stupiderest cause I still bought them at the lofty price of $27.

And, something I really shouldn't have got as I own the original.  But, it was so very pretty and the contender Island of the Unknown failed to impress at all with quick flip through  (well it was also pretty, the content was total meh, a mishmash of unrelated weirdness without plan or reason.  I can do at least that much with random generation.)  $44 and the loftp edition of Carcosa is mine!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Pantaloons of Puissance

DCC RPG Backcover

The Pantaloons of Puissance aka Bellbottoms of Bad-assery

These red and white vertically stripped male lower body garments will only work for humans and dwarves. Elves and halflings lack the requisite firmness of character. No female of any race has survived a donning attempt.

When worn, with pride, the bearer of these mighty man pants may shout out.
"Look, just look at how awesome these are. See how they are tight up top around my package, but down below they flare out at the ankles.  I dare you to imagine a better pant. But, I must caution you, many greater than thou have tried and were rendered sniveling, sobbing,weak things. 
That person behind me, my pants have overcome her and she imagines she is drawing an invisible bow. Or, is it that she dropped her handbow in shock and awe at the sight of my manly legs bedecked in bloodstained stripes? Perhaps both, as my pantaloons prance between all possibilities save those where they aren't outstandingly awesome as that is clearly not possible."
And so on. For as long as he extols his pantaloons (1 round minimum) all intelligent creatures of lessor level and regardless of whether they understand speaker's language will be enthralled as they ponder his pants. If speaker pauses, stutters, misspeaks or his words are simply weak and unworthy of the pantaloons might the mesmerized should be afforded a saving throw, -1d if currently pantless.

Friday, May 25, 2012

DCC RPG Opinions part 1

Omg this game is so awesome I don't mind
being chewed on.
I'm predisposed to like DCC RPG, I'm biased, Troll and Flame was mentioned in Appendix O! [Thanks for that!  I hope my blog has actually been worthy of honor].  As stated in this post's title these are my opinions, not a review and certainly not a fair or balanced one.


I very much like the phrase "Appendix N Gaming".  It will not, but, I wish it would supplant "OSR" as a tagline.  It is narrower in scope and far less vague.  Leaving little space for endless arguments over its meaning and whether this or that blog/game/foo is part of it or not.  Less baggage around "old", "nostalgia", and other connotations rightly or wrongly piled on OSR.


First Bits

The DCC RPG is aimed more or less exactly at me.  That is, at gamers who like a particular type of RPG (they may not know they like it yet and it's probably not the only type they enjoy).  DCC RPG is not universal.  It has style, it oozes atmosphere, it is opinionated.  What I'm trying to get at is, if you don't like dead cow it doesn't matter how awesomely delicious a steak is, you won't enjoy it.  But, if you've never had good beef, you should try it.  At least once.  DCC RPG is Kobe Beef and oh so juicy.
  • Holy 450+zillion pages! I'm firm adherent of the cult of "less rules is better rules".  Any ruleset should be 32-64 pages.  The bulk really put me off. [Although it's amazing and kudos for staying $40, a bargain for such volume and production quality]  I was mollified by; so much art proly adds 50-75 pages, ~175 pages are spell charts, minus other charts, included adventures, appendixes, monsters, magic, and mayhem. Really ~100 pages of PHB rules.  
  • I have a new appreciation of several artists.  Of the many featured in this book, only one has a style that is not to my liking.  But, none of it is even close to bad.  It all works, fits in, and supports the atmosphere of the game.  Overall superlative art direction.
  • Color end sheets are keen.  Proof, above detail.
  • The qualifications, pg 10;  I dig the intent (and need) and I'm a demanding and harsh guy.  Still, for the first text presented to reader this was too (the right word escapes me... harsh/elitist).  The facing artwork of party being incinerated is apt.
    Book be flamewarring the reader.
  • The next page "How is this game different from what I have played before?" is heaps better.  Excellent in fact.
  • When first exposed to DCC RPG (beta or some preview) I thought "Hey, stuff to steal for my own game."  Now, I'm absolutely wanting to play this thing, as itself, in totality.
That defiant guy with the fist, "Damn you, damn you all to hell!"

Chapter 1 Characters

The very first words of chapter are "You're no hero."  Nailed it.  The foundation on which Appx N Gaming is built. It's the core differentitor of this style.  Hopefully avoiding any author aggro, I'll quote the remainder in its entirety, as it's excellent.
You're an adventurer:
a reaver,
a cutpurse,
a heathen slayer,
a tight lipped warlock guarding long-dead secrets.

You seek gold and glory,
winning it with sword and spell,
caked in the blood and filth of the weak, the dark the demons and the vanquished.

There are treasures to be won deep underneath,
and you shall have them...
Bam! you are gonna be this, you are gonna do this, and you are gonna get this.  Who, what, where, and why.  I read (I think at B/X Blackrazor) about how Basic D&D told you what you were suppose to be doing and some other RPG didn't.  Or, maybe other way round.  Whatever.  Point is, this kind of prose mixed with evocative art is far superior to the boring and probably confusing "What is roleplaying?" / "What is an RPG?" drivel so many weaker games start with.  Even when I *am* roleplaying, I give a rats ass about roleplaying.  I'm too busy reaving, man!  Grabbing that sweet EHP headdress before the damn thief gets to it.

Multiple 0-level, classless schmucks. Aka untrained, uneducated peasants.  I can get behind that!  In most my campaigns "untrained and unemployable" is my excuse for not having a "skill system" and why people with little more than a sharp stick go poking around dungeons.  The explanation of how random character generation works and enjoining to try it are good additions.

Dice chain. I dig it. But why, oh why fuck it up and have modifiers too.  Don't be a flip-flopper choose one or the other.  Yes, yes I know there's not enough granularity, who cares!  Does it make game more fun?  Does it make it more Appx N? +1 ain't worth the math.  But, shunt me up to d24, I get to use the funky die and I could roll awesome! You expect me to remember that invisible is +2 to attack, but squeezing through a tight space is -1d, blinded is +2, entangled is -1d, many others.  Or, even worse break game flow to look it up.  A'never gonna happen, Joe.   I play too many different games and have much more interesting things to remember than how their fiddly bits differ.  Bad thing, -1d.  Good thing +1d.  Done.

Renaming abilities, sure, whatever, the old names aren't that clear.  I already use Charisma very much as Luck is described.  Favor of the gods and all that.  Luck is extremely important element of Appx N stories.  B/X style modifiers, the same for all stats.  Logical and consistent.  Not that I care about those they just make it easy to remember ;)

Very keen on Table 1-2 Luck Score which gives players a unique and random bonus/penalty.  This is the kind of detail / rule that adds flavor and fun without bogging down game (as it's only done once, it's not a min-max tool's tool.).  Like Jeff Rients' deck of starting equipment and the various "Some fighters have..." tables.

Burning luck, I'm against it based on experience with similar mechanics, but, will reserve final judgement until after running several games.  The trope, "thieves are lucky", bugs the poop outta me (thieves and halflings renew burnt luck).  This proly only pertains to me. I'm rather down on thieves and halflings.  Firmly of the view that thieving is what all the players do and is not a class, Conan was a non-thief thief.  Do not argue with Conan. And, halflings are just short!

Saving throws: after much running of 3.5, Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC, and homebrew that is closest to Swords and Wizardry I firmly believe that more than one saving throw is superfluous complexity.  Which has been dragged along for nostalgia (the five) or misguided attempts at balance and/or simulation (the trio).  I was outraged at and claimed, possibly on this very blog, I'd never use S&W's one save system, ludicrousness!  Having used it (and the others), all recently, righted me of my wrong ways.  I'm leaning towards running DCC RPG as written, which means using the extraneous trifecta (Fort/Will/Ref).  It will be hard.

Roll for starting equipment and starting equipment is meager.  Both correct.  Fast start, immediate need to go 'venturing, clawing a character up from nothing is the ultimate accomplishment.  Trade goods and the other bits (I've read ahead) reinforce medieval peasantry milieu without straying into historical pedantry.

XP for surviving encounters.  I've not seen this elsewhere.  It is massively elegant.  The optimal reward to guide "smart" and "natural" behavior.  Players have been trained to kill everything that moves (by computer games, ill-conceived rewards (XP for slaying monsters), life).  XP for treasure, I see now, is a half measure.  I'm very curious how well strictly encounter based pass or fail XP will work.  I fear not totally.  Players are very obstinate in their belief that slaughter == XP.

In DCC there is no incentive to stick around until TPK.  Run like the wind as soon as encounter tilts south.  No incentive to slaughter to the last orcling.  Players may still do it but it will be a choice, and a choice as DM I'll feel less douchey applying consequences for.  A (good) reason, same reward for less effort/risk, to figure out how to sneak, fool, non-frontally assault, etc. an encounter.  It cleanly works for tricks, traps, puzzles, even NPC encounter / roleplay if that's your thing.

I can imagine whole series of encounters "at the King's court".  You can, of course, provide "roleplay" awards with other systems. But, it always seems a bit wonky, too arbitrary, hacked on.  Or, like the only choice of someone's precious, pretentious, story telling game.  And always, lurking in the back's of players mind is "Sure if we 'correctly' parley with the King we'll get some xp. OTOH we could just wack the geezer for a ton more."

Chaos, Law, Neutral pick your pleasure.

Chapter 2 Skills

Oh noes! A whole chapter on skills.  I hate skills.  They're never complete and always fiddly.  Only three possibilities exist:  Can do it, it's done.  Can't do it, sorry come up with another idea.  Chance of failure or negative consequence would be interesting, roll and we'll see.  That's called adjudication, don't need no stinkin book telling me how it's done.

Oh snap!  Chapter 2 is all of two pages long.  Not both sides of two pages, just two pages.  Each of which is a third art. No lists of skills. No skill points. No gobs of synergies, and modifiers, and min-maxerisms.  Having noop skill chapter is sly.

DC based, d10 if you haven't a clue, d20 for trained, ability modified.  Meh.

The Difficulty Level descriptions are Appx N appropriate and seem more useful than I remember from elsewhere.  DC 10 tasks are a man's deed, weak and unskilled step aside. DC 15 are feats of derring-do.

I appreciate the section "When not to make a skill check." But, it doesn't go far enough.  Mentioning "Only make a skill check when practical description by the players will not suffice." e.g. MacGuffin behind curtain will be found when player says character is looking behind curtain and not cause some dice got rolled.  Good.  Next "... attempting to sieve the floor [of dirt floored cave] until they find a dropped dagger, a search check may be perfectly appropriate..."  No.  If dagger is there, characters just find it.  Unless they have to find it before the Ogre returns or some otherwise interesting hoodoo.  Then, yeah, roll.  Maybe even taunting the players.  "You hear the Ogre's thumping foot steps, you may have time for one more roll before he sniffs you out."




Ok, I should probably break this up into a few blog posts.

But first, go read this astute article on zero level adventures.. http://ravencrowking.blogspot.ca/2012/04/devising-initial-adventures-for-dungeon.html

Get your own gang of four starting schlubs http://purplesorcerer.com/create.htm

Some DCC RPG resources http://peoplethemwithmonsters.blogspot.com/p/dcc-rpg-resources.html

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

DCC RPG




Picked my pre-order up from FLGS over lunch.  I'm orgasmic with excitement.   My hand was shaking.  It's the art, esp Mullen's.  Totally twiddles my "That's so effing awesome" neurons.  Yes, some part of it is nostalgia.  But, more is it's the kind of adventures I want to have.  With dudes wearing candycane bellbottoms and curly cue armor fighting tenticalonstrocities and big brained floating aliens.  Unique and weird is were it's at.

Anyone in Austin, TX area wanna play this weekend?



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