Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Empress 2.0!

This is a bit out of nowhere.  In short, I just drafted a new set of rules for Empress, my homebrew FRPG.  As the post title suggests, we're going to call this Empress 2.0, for now.

Here she is!

What's different?  In a nutshell: it's much simpler.  I reduced the ability count from seven to five, and that's with adding Luck as a new ability.  Armor is handled simply by increasing the Hit Class, with some rare attacks halving or nullifying the armor contribution.

Also, magic is a lot simpler.  Rather than describe a complex framework for custom spell casting methodologies, I reduced it to two: a semi-Vancian system, with slow-cast spells being stored up in a limited container for fast-casting (sorcery), and a fatigue-based system where casters develop mutations or restrictions as they advance (witchcraft).

I've added a few concepts, mostly stolen from Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC).  There's the aforementioned Luck, of course.  In this case, all characters regain a Luck point per day.  There's also a skill in Cantrips, which can basically be used to apply Luck to other characters (and also as a penalty), and to have it occur based on conditions.  It yields double the bonus of a simple Luck expenditure, as well.  This is an Explorer skill (my renaming of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess' (LotFP) Specialist) rather than a straight-up mage art, and it kind of simulates the mechanics of the DCC Halfling.

I also introduced my own system for feats which is based on Mighty Deeds.  Basically, all characters are encouraged to supplement every attack with some special effect.  The damage will always succeed if the attack hits (assuming the attacker wants to do damage).  The feat will succeed if (1) the attack succeeds by an amount based on the difficulty of the feat, and (2) if the defender fails a saving throw.  Warriors have an advantage, here, since they can take combat specializations that decrease the required margin of success to activate the feat.

The kind of mutations and restrictions that witches accrue, called "marks," are based partly on corruption from DCC, and similar ideas from Crypts and Things. The latter game influenced a number of these mechanics in subtle ways.  They show themselves most clearly in how damage is handled.

Finally, note that this is a work in progress.  Some of the tables are incomplete, and there's plenty of room for things to change.

Latest update: 2/10/2017

Without further ado...

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

More house rules for DCC - swords and crossbows

One of my very few nit-picky issues with DCC is how they categorize swords. They go with the old set of categories established back in the TSR days (I'm told 5e improves on this, which is IMO a good thing).  In those days, there were five swords types (that I can remember): short, broad, long, bastard and two-handed.  DCC does away with broad and bastard.

It was never entirely clear what the difference was between long and broad swords, and some rules (IIRC) permitted bastard swords to be used one- or two-handed, giving slightly different characteristics for each usage.  I could be wrong about that part, or it might just be edition dependent.  But the thing that irks me the most about this is that these names seem completely arbitrary, and create confusion when people talk about actual swords.

See, longswords are held in two hands

On top of that, most FRPG rules I've learned have left me a bit cold where crossbows are concerned.  In this department, DCC is quite the offender.  There is quite a bit of variation in crossbow damage, range and reload speed, and DCC only has one crossbow.  On top of that, somehow it has a range in excess of a longbow!

You aren't loading and firing this in one round!

I made a couple of table rulings on these matters, but they didn't quite sit right with me later, and they weren't properly explained.  So after giving it some thought, I revised my ideas a little and wrote them up for my players in an email.  That's what I'm going to talk about here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

DCC session report - Blackrock Manor #3 and #4

It's been a while since we visited that blasted suburb of Punjar, Blackrock, and its eponymous brothel - although, it should be noted that its owner, mistress Archimedia of...what was the name of her family, anyway?  Anyway, her - she renamed it "Blackrock Manor."  And why not?  It's no less a manor than a brothel.  The reality is neither; it is the rat-infested and rain-sodden guildhouse of a budding adventurer's guild.

That's nothing new, just a bit of a background recap.  Except for the part about the new name.

Anyway, when last we visited our intrepid adventurers, they were emerging into the sun, blinking furiously and too parched to form words.  As they greedily eyed the babbling brook, looking to slake their collective thirst, a peculiar troupe of imps had emerged from the forest path bearing an unconscious priest.  Upon sighting the party, they had laid down their recumbent cleric as a disembodied voice bid them to feast on your flesh.  That's pretty much where we left off.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

DCC supplement review: Hubris

Hubris (full title: Hubris - A World of Visceral Adventure) is a new DCC supplement that I heard mentioned in a couple forum posts just a few days before it popped up in DTRPG.  It's written by Mike Evans on behalf of his own (suitably-named) DIY RPG Productions, and what you're getting in 347 pages is a complete Appendix N setting for DCC.  This includes cultures, creatures, gods, patrons, classes and other bits and bobs that make up a fully gameable world.

Pretty visceral!

The question is, of course, is whether it's a good one.  As usual, I won't keep you in suspense with my overall verdict: it is quite good.  In fact, if you're looking for an out-of-the-box straight-up Appendix N setting for DCC (more Appendix N that Aerth), then this should be near the top of your list of things to consider.  Hubris has one foot firmly planted in the school of Conanesque low fantasy, with bloody swashbuckling against evil priests, and serpent men with their armies of slaves.  The other foot is rooted in science-fantasy, borrowing from the imagery of steampunk, post-apocalyptic mutations and cybernetic body horror.  There are no Clerics or Tolkienesque demi-humans.  Like I said, très Appendix N.

All that being said, it's not my perfect supplement.  Instead, for me, Hubris in an excellent source of ideas, and perhaps a place my players could visit if the party gets sucked through one of those random portals that adventurers seem to run into.  Despite my own misgivings, it may work perfectly for you, so read on to discover what the hell I'm talking about.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Dake the Rake's Guide to Adventuring

I’ve been an adventurer for fourteen years now.  Note that I did not say that I am a “great” and “mighty” adventurer, nor “brave,” nor “clever.”  No, it is enough to say that I have walked this path for fourteen years upon and beneath the face of Aerth, and I am alive to write this.  If that is not meaningful to you, then you should embark upon a life of adventuring, and if you still draw breath one month hence, I believe that you shall read my words with renewed eyes.

What follows is merely advice for one who would also seek to survive long in this profession.  If you observe the wisdom of the verses that follow, you stand a chance of enjoying the wonders and horrors of a life of adventure.  I will add no disclaimers that you have not already heard from mother, father, or friend with sense.