Showing posts from January, 2024

Scratch & Howl: Sketching an Adventure

There's a specific concept that constantly shows up in my game-prep but, by virtue of being just slightly out of the way, has never actually come to fruition: a luper colony being picked off by an imposter, and a group of dryads (tree-nymphs) irritated over the years at being the werewolves' scratching-posts. The original premise was that the party is employed to deliver new furniture to the luper colony because they keep destroying what they have. The initial complication, before the party comes upon the more dire situation in the colony, is that they can't use any pack animals because the werewolves will helplessly and regrettably eat them. This is my attempt to finally flesh out this scenario once and for all! My immediate inspiration is my experience playing Nova (a.k.a. Idle Cartulary)'s adventures Bridewell and Hiss , especially for their mix of social intrigue and exploration. This one I expect to be much less complex, but hopefully good fun for o

Cinco: Combat Examples

I don’t like reading rules examples, but I wrote this to help communicate the potential for improvising combat and hit locations . It’s funny focusing so much on combat after saying I don’t want any combat-specific rules! But this is because people were interested in what combat situations might look like otherwise. Notice that nothing below is really set in stone. The dragon can lose up to 8 hearts, sure, but where or how those hearts are lost are not a concern of the rules. Instead, it’s all about the player negotiating their own fictional positioning to decide what risks they want to take. If it makes sense attacking the dragon’s tail would usually deal 1 damage, that’s what happens. If it makes sense the tail falls off if it takes 2 damage, that’s what happens. Remember in the previous post, I didn’t even mention the dragon having a tail! This is improvisation based on conjecture. Example 1: The Dragon GM: The dragon is sleeping, its wings and tail curled around its soft belly

Abstract Monsters & Hit Locations

My homebrew heartbreaker Cinco is looking right at home with a non-granular " hits-to-kill " measure for opponents in violent encounters. Besides keeping things simple, it also redirects attention away from raw numbers, towards the fiction. Here are what " abstract monsters " look like now: Bracket Hearts Damage Minion (M) 1 ½ Grunt (G) 2 1 Elite (E) 4 2 Boss (B) 8 3 So, let's talk about dragons. A dragon could be one hulking mass with 8 hearts that deals 3 damage on a single landed hit. This definitely keeps it simple, but is that super interesting? Why not split its 8 hearts between 3 parts: its body and two clawed wings? Each wing functions as a "grunt", having 2 hearts and dealing 1 damage—easy enough to stand up against, but not really the brunt of the beast. The dragon's body, however, has 4 hearts and deals 2 damage. This means the dragon will bite and kill anyone who faces it head-on. This is less about de

Converting HD to Hits-To-Kill

I had a suspicion the other day that HD 1 figures are more like HD 2 figures than HD ½ figures in terms of longevity since it will usually take at least 2 hits to defeat both (since HD 1, half the time, will have more hit points than damage dealt by a single attack). Simulated this and it turned out to be more-or-less true! Hit Dice Turns to Defeat Hits to Defeat Relative to HD ½ Relative to HD 1 ½d 2.37 1.16 100% 74% 1d–1 2.75 1.37 118% 87% 1d 3.22 1.58 136% 100% 1d+1 3.71 1.85 159% 117% 2d 5.01 2.51 216% 159% 4d 8.91 4.47 385% 283% 6d 12.9 6.49 559% 411% 8d 16.9 8.47 730% 537% 10d 20.9 10.4 897% 659% 12d 25.0 12.5 1078% 793% This effect is due to the Packing Problem, the effect of which Delta's D&D Hotspot also discusses on sweeping attacks : figures with less hit points "waste" overflow damage, whereas figures with more hit points soak the full force of the attack. This means tha

Cinco: Cut Your Gordian Knots!

my intent has been less to emulate or condense 5e as a formal ruleset than to facilitate the spirit and play style of 5e without the trappings of d&d, basically divorcing 5e from d&d. over time i’ve learned a lot about what is or isn’t necessary for that, and that’s become more pronounced while playing non-d&d games. overall, this is less about adhering to a specific formal design principle than mapping out what i want out of a blorbo-playing engine. what framework accommodates a variety of character concepts, holds players’ hands so they don’t feel overwhelmed, and foregrounds characters over arbitrary rules? that’s what i’ve been trying to figure out! Cinco a.k.a. FMC NEXT a.k.a. FIVEY has seen a lot of changes over the last year while I figure out what exactly it is I want out of it. These last few weeks have been the most radical: removing skills, removing abilities, and now removing the last vestiges of D&D ’s combat system. It’s become a framework for free

Restocking Monsters & Empty Rooms

Had been following a conversation between a couple of my friends ( Alex , Gumbo , Weird Writer ) about the usefulness of empty rooms, especially to speed up session prep. Had two thoughts during the course of this: " i wonder if rooms being empty , straight -up , is part of why they seem to have gone through so many rooms per session in the 70s " The tendency now is to have super fleshed-out, flavorful dungeons (best exemplified by the jewelbox form that goes heavy on quality per quantity of room description). This makes for more engaging individual rooms, but means that you are spending more game-time in each room rather than navigating the whole place. Empty rooms, by being empty, make the overall place feel bigger since the actual points of interest are spaced out. Nothing wrong with either, but they're useful for different kinds of places. " NPCs being in a room just means they 're there now but not necessarily later . good way too to eventually build up roo

Pamela Eisenbaum's Paul Was Not a Christian: Informal Review

This one has been a long time coming! I think I must have read this over a year ago, like two reading sprees ago (next one incoming). It's been on my brain ever since, but only recently have I been convinced by Ènziramire to write a review of it. Without further ado: Paul Was Not a Christian by Dr. Pamela Eisenbaum (herself not a Christian, either). The critical consensus on the Apostle Paul, as an author and historical figure, is that he was an antisemitic Hellenized Jew who appropriated the early Jesus movement from a Judean national organization to a universalized (of course, implicitly, Greco-Roman) religion. This view is shared by Christians who see Paul as the first true thought leader of Christianity, as a Jew liberated from performing 'works of the Law' to guarantee his salvation. They just don't see that as appropriative or antisemitic. That's just how Paul experienced Judaism and why he embraced the Gospel instead. Dr. Eisenbaum cuts the Gordian knot of

Young & Unafraid: The Paperclip Experiment

Even more old DM stuff ; same campaign. Note that the luper colony with the dryads have been a recurring bit. Far away in some wizard’s tower, there was a paper clip factory run by magical automatons. The wizard was an office supplies entrepreneur, and he wanted to research how to maximize the production of paper clips. The automatons had everything they needed from raw materials to smithing tools. Soon, they came across the fastest method to make paper clips inside their small factory. The wizard died, but the automatons remained in their factory still manufacturing piles upon piles of paper clips. Before long, they ran out of the materials they needed to make more paper clips. The wizard was not around anymore to bring them the metal and fuel they needed. Even worse, automatons were not optimized to extract resources from the earth, and splitting their efforts between manufacture and extraction would negatively impact their overall productivity. The automatons could not increase

Monster Math: OD&D Challenge Rating

The rat post was fun ! For my next trick, I will reveal the secret "challenge rating" system inside OD&D . Virtual Hit Points First, let me explain in greater detail some ground I covered in the last post. Hit dice are not the final word on monster longevity because they do not account for the likelihood that they will get hit by an attack. This means we can get a more accurate picture by calculating a figure's "virtual hit points": how much longer they last in combat as a result of their armor class. I did this years ago , but have a more accurate function now because of a simulation I ran. The results are as accurate for 4 hit points as they are for 35 hit points. AC Avg. HP Adj. 9 [10] 100% 8 [11] 111% 7 [12] 125% 6 [13] 142% 5 [14] 168% 4 [15] 198% 3 [16] 251% 2 [17] 334% As an example, an unarmored character with 10 hit points doesn't get anything extra, but if they were wearing plate armor it would be as i

Monster Math: OD&D Giant Rats

How many hit points does a giant rat have? My friend Gus L. posted this fun illustration the other day , proposing that the open-endedness of OD&D implies the possibility of giant rats with 8 hit dice. He takes page 20 of Monsters & Treasure as evidence for this, that giant rats have at least 2 hit dice and hypothetically up to 20 (not just 8!): This category includes giant ants and prehistoric monsters. Armor Class can be anything from 8 to 2. Hit Dice should range from 2 to anywhere near 20, let us say, for a Tyrannasaurus Rex. Also included in this group are the optionally usable “Martian” animals such as Apts, Banths, Thoats, etc. If the referee is not personally familiar with the various monsters included in this category the participants of the campaign can be polled to decide all characteristics. Damage caused by hits should range between 2-4 dice (2-24 points). My initial thought was I disagree because a “giant rat” might not qualify as a large animal even if it’s

FMC Print Statistics

There have been 194 copies of Fantastic Medieval Campaigns printed on Lulu at cost! First, I wanted to thank all y'all for being so supportive and encouraging on this project. I hope everyone who has a copy enjoys it and finds it interesting and/or useful! :) Here's the breakdown for each available version: B&W Hardcover: 5% Color Hardcover: 57% B&W Softcover: 13% Color Softcover: 25% And here's the breakdown for each 'variable': 18% are black & white, 82% are color. 62% are hardcover, 38% are softcover. Going off of this, I think I'd like to "simplify" the offerings. Maybe just offer the color hardcover and the black & white softcover. Part of me also wants to turn the black & white version into a simple 'core' version with the 3 main chapters and Appendix A, to keep the price down and give it its own niche. This will be in addition to separate-volume booklets that I'm still working on (or maybe I'll just do the ha

Downtime Timeticks

This is going to be a kind of strange fragment. Nothing helpful by itself. It's one of those "Towards a Theory of X" posts. You're welcome! Figure it out! When playing Iron Valley in parallel with my friend Lino of Pink Space , I ended up modifying it on the fly because I found the basic procedure and surrounding rules to be so nothing as to be frustrating. Not that I like crunch, but that the text was actively avoiding any obstacle or challenge in the way of play. This is what I came up with. Basic Loop Each day has two time ticks, represented by two diagonal slashes that make an X. When one tick passes, you draw 1 line. When you have a full X, or 2 ticks, that day is over. The trick is that although each action may result in a tick, it also may not necessarily. Ignoring a time tick is a reward for skill or chance. Check out this Farming move, sort of PBTA style on 2d6: (2–6) Make 1 progress and mark 1 time tick; (7–9) Choose to mark 2 progress or to make 1 progres

Oedipus Lives: Socialization & Sexualization

Well, woman, the way the time cold I wanna be keeping you warm I got the right temperature for shelter you from the storm Oh Lord, girl, I got the right tactics to turn you on, and girl I Wanna be the Papa, you can be the Mom, oh-oh! Sean Paul, " Temperature " Content warning for the topic of childhood sexual assault. Thank you to my partner for talking about this with me in the early hours of the AM, for the opportunity to complain about heterosexuals together, and for pushing me to never before seen levels of orthodox Freudianism. Psychoanalysts usually consider the Oedipal Complex from the vantage of the patient-child, the symbolic role that they occupy opposite their opposite-sex parent (most famously the son and his mother, or the daughter and her father). The child’s desire is shaped by their relationship to this parent, modeled after the same-sex parent which they are not and cannot be. Of course, the opposite-sex parent cannot be an appropriate object of des