Tuesday, 28 May 2013

World history table

It's been pretty quiet here, since I've been neckdeep in trying to write Metal Rogue. A game revolving around random tables is hard work, as it turns out.

Here's an excerpt that is totally useful in any OSR game though

World history:
Whether using the Uncharted Lands setting, or a world that is completely new, you may want to establish a history to the world. You don't need to go too in-depth with year by year events, but you'll want to know a general outline of what happened to shape the world. For this reason, we offer a table of Past Events that you can use to flesh out the setting.
Roll up 4-6 events to establish a timeline. The events are pretty broad, and very open to interpretation.
The result you get is the dominant events of that age of history, what it is remembered for today. People may speak of it, it'll have influenced the landscape, social customs or attitudes, it may feature in figures of speech or architecture. Use the details to build up your world.
It is often advantageous to narrate what one event means, before rolling the next. This can easily be done as a group, giving the players a shared sense of investment in the game world.

World past events:
1-4 War
5-8 Age of prosperity
9-12 Cataclysm
13-16 Empire
17-21 Exploration
22-25 Monsters
26-29 Migration
30-35 Golden age
36-40 Arrivals
41-44 Gods among men
45-48 Realignment of land mass
49-52 Invasion
52-56 Barbarism
57-60 Enlightenment
61-64 Trade
65-68 Uprisings
69-72 Encounters
73-76 The dark
77-80 Rebirth
81-84 Prophet
85-88 Great builders
89-92 Rifts in reality
93-96 Power struggles

97-100 Rationality

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Exiled below. A campaign idea

The world above is a place of shining light and harmony. Not much good for you though. For your crimes, whether petty theft or insurrection, you were exiled into the depths. Stripped of your possessions, and sent through the magical gate, you are now in an unknown world below.

This is basically a variation of the "underdark" concept, of the underworld ecology, with the entire campaign taking place in the dungeon. Assuming large enough caves, you can still have "cities" of refugees, underground dwellers and so forth, and they'll still form factions and struggle with each other.

A lot of interesting things that must be addressed:

Are there large scale manufacturing abilities? If so where? Underground mines for iron? If not, good quality equipment will be a rarity and you can enforce a level of scavenging that might make for an interesting campaign.
Maybe the only source of new steel weapons is the orcs? What do the heroes do now?

Where does food come from? Cave fungus? Are there underground animals to hunt? Without reliable farming (or magic), how will a population group support themselves?

What are the effects of long time exposure to the underdark? Maybe those who've been in exile for years slowly get magical abilities? (1 in 6 chance every year of getting a random level 1 spell as an innate ability once a day)

Did the exiles band together or spread out? How do they view newcomers into their realms? Are anyone trying to return to the surface?

How did other dwellers in the depths react to the growing incursion of humans (and demihumans)?

Saturday, 4 May 2013

[Not quite OSR] Some thoughts on not having stats

I have a bunch of notes and ideas for something that will eventually become a coherent game. It won't be a retro-clone specifically, but it'll cover some of the same ideas of rulership and domain play that OSR touches upon, as well as some of the same adventure feel probably. we'll see.

One of the ideas I have been throwing around is a game where you do not have ability scores as such.
The game assumes that everyone is perfectly average in most areas. If you are not, you'll have a specific character trait that shows the specific way you are not average.
A woodsman who is fairly strong might manifest that as an increased carrying capacity. Or it could be a bonus to melee damage. Or maybe he can pick up and hurl an opponent. Maybe its more than one item.

A character that is "intelligent" may have exceptional problem solving abilities, or an excellent eye for details or any of a number of other things.

When creating the character, rather than rolling up numerical values, you'd select a handful of traits that make up your character, and reflect the specific ways he or she is above (or below) average in the world. Two strong characters may not apply their strength in the same way.

Obviously, you'd need a pretty healthy list of traits, and they'd probably be arranged by "ability". So you'd have a list of Strength abilities for example. This would mainly just drive character generation and make it easier to pick things out that work for your specific character type. Of course, there'd be a random option as well.

So an example "ranger" type might have the following:
Persistence (+10% travel distance daily)
Keen eyes (missile range +10%, automatic roll to spot concealed enemies)
Loner (-10% to social rolls, +1 to combat initiative)

Character relationship generator

If you are busy setting up a campaign area, such as a city, you'll have a bunch of characters, some major and some minor.
If you want to go a step further, particularly if urban intrigue and faction struggle is going to be a focus of your game, you can use these charts to generate how they relate to each other.

1: Violent hatred
2: Loathing
3: Plotting
4: Severe dislike
5: Mild dislike
6: Uninterested
7: Distant
8: Ambivalent
9: Business like
10: Friendly
11: Brotherly
12: Devoted

Depending on the character's relations in the campaign, this may suggest some interesting setups. What if the two most powerful characters in a faction loathe each other?
What if there's a friendship between characters that should be enemies?
Have fun with the outcomes and see where it takes you.

If you wish, once you have established one characters relationship to another, you can roll 1D6 to see if the other character reciprocates:
1-2: 1D3 steps worse
3-4: Same
5-6: 1D3 steps better

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Unusual trade goods

Adventurers just reached a new town or village, and want to know what the worthwhile local goods are. Turns out, we have a chart for that!

This can be rolled on to determine what sort of goods the town is known for, with a (slight) lean towards things adventurers might find useful. The DM may determine whether these things have a mechanical benefit. If nothing else springs to mind, any time an item would normally break or spoil, give it a 2 in 6 chance of surviving.

A village or hamlet may have one item on the list, while a larger city could have 2-4 depending on size.

1: Food
2: Ale
3: Rope
4: Horses
5: Travelling clothes
6: Boots
7: Mirrors
8: Tools
9: Thieves gear
10: Paper
11: Lamp oil
12: Arrows
13: Travelling equipment
14: Cakes
15: Jewelry
16: Spices
17: Poetry
18: Trained small animals
19: Herbs
20: Drugs

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

No way back. Foraging in the dungeon

Recently, while playing the excellent Dungeon Crawl roguelike, a thought occured to me:

Let's say the characters have no way back. Maybe they teleported here, maybe they were exiled here, maybe it's all a cosmic game, for whatever reason, once they step into the dungeon, they are there to make it through or die trying.

Below lies countless levels of underground hell, and they must survive through it all.

What sort of changes would be needed:

Obviously training rules would have to go out. When you have enough experience, you level up, learning "as you go" from the harsh environment.

Food and water becomes important. Suitable clerics can of course create this through magic, but we must examine other options as well.

Various lichen and similar underground plants may be edible. Unless there is a reason for such not to grow, any character may search for vegetation, finding a rations worth of cave growths on a 1 in 6 roll. A benign DM may state that searching for anything (traps, doors) will also permit a roll for plants.

These growths are unappealing but fundamentally edible (they form some nutrition for quite a few dungeon inhabitants). With every such ration eaten however, roll 1D6. A roll of 1 indicates the character becomes ill, suffering a -1 penalty to all attack rolls and saving throws. After every 8 hours, a saving throw against poison is made to see if the character shakes it off.
While sick, eating more cave plants will only induce severe nausea.

Keep track whenever a character rolls a 6 on the sickness roll. After 3 instances of rolling a 6, the character is now immune to the sickness.

We've covered turning slain monsters into monster burgers before.

When intelligent creatures are encountered, the DM should factor in the chance of them having edible rations.
If random rolls are desired, an intelligent opponent has a 2 in 6 chance of having 1D3 cave plant rations and a 2 in 6 chance of having 1D3 edible rations.

Of course, a dark, damp environment is not a good place for food to stay unspoiled. Every day, give a 1 in 6 chance for each ration to spoil.