Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Luck and XP Boosts for DCC

I love DCC's simple XP awards.  Easy to tabulate, but they make for slow advancement and the implication is maybe that long, marathon play sessions and extensive campaigns are the norm.  I do a lot of brief games and short campaigns and to go from a funnel-0 to 3rd or 4th level may take a great deal of time at the rate given in RAW, so I am fumbling and groping through these new standards.  For a RP heavy game with a couple of brief combats and some good exploration, which I want to promote in the Barrowmaze, tonight's session gives about 23XP for DCC characters, enough for a 5th adventure character to finally make it to level 2 (this is +Alex Perucchini 's Sr. Juan Pistolero, pragmatic and straight-forward bandito from the southern Mexican territories possibly Chihuahua).  I will probably adopt something like this for the Castle Gargantua games and also for the Purple Planet.  I like to see characters advance, and Doug's come pretty close to dying a couple of times.  I note also, this implies a great deal of me doing Fear checks that I sometimes miss, as well as abusing Ruin from Transylvanian Adventures pretty blatantly.

Luck Awards:

take up a roleplay opportunity, make people laugh +1 Luck
do some bold combat stuff, hilariously: +1 Luck
do a clever solution to a problem with your non-magical gear: +1 Luck
Die in a way that makes recovery impossible during the game - but cook up an answer for off-screen antics that’s better than just death (Adjudicated - possibly a follower or quest)
Acquire a mission from death before being turned over after dying, explain the mission: +1d4 Luck but your Patron is attached and maybe jealous
Use a magic-item without knowing what it does/trying: +1 Luck after
Opting to use a Dungeon World-style resolution (2d6 plus stat) when a mechanic does not otherwise exist:
    Fail +1 XP
    No/AND: +1 XP
    Yes/AND: +1 Luck
Carouse off-screen, and report it - WITHOUT USING LUCK (maybe needs a carousing table) Bonus XP as the table adjudicates

Play Report to a wide audience e.g. DCCRPG group on G+ :+1 Luck for that character

XP awards for a group (this implies Reaction Rolls and Morale, I think)

Per room/area explored: +1
Peacefully negotiate an encounter: Double
Establish trade routes: +1
Trade goods: +1
Communicate with foreign or new people: +1
Learn something about a culture: +1
Spread news: +1
Learn news/rumors: +1
Haggle (in character): +1
Solve a puzzle: +1
Uncover a conspiracy: +1
Per day of land or sea travel: +1 to a limit of 7
Per thousand GP/Equivalent treasure recovered: +1 to a limit of 10 (this has application in Barrowmaze and other OSR type stuff but not in the grand scheme of DCC stuff, mostly)

Use a class skill in an encounter: +1 XP per encounter

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A modest rant/proposal for DCC

One thing that DCC does wicked awesome is the scrubbing away of DM-side accounting; if you are a control freak or a world-builder or one of those minutiae oriented Judges, then I think the swingy-ness of DCC probably won't appeal to you.  Built into the system is a risky way to turn the careening of the narrative in the direction you like as a player, right down to 2 little factors.  Occupational vs. untrained skill rolls and the Luck system.  I have in mind a thing that will somewhat complicate that easy-to-run thing, but maybe it'll work nice.

1) the first part is built in to 3.5 or later D&D, I guess.  I'm not sure since those system are anathema to me.  I had Call of Cthulhu d20 and I never felt good about it - I don't know why.  It was a beautiful book but it was pulpy and action-oriented in a way that I felt did a disservice to the source material and those pages and pages of gun specs... I don't know.  Not my cup of tea.  Great book, but I digress.  The idea behind the occupational rolls is that there are things that you've done before you took up adventuring and you were skilled at it but maybe not GREAT or else you would have kept doing that Gongfarming thing and stayed safe.  So you have a lot of background in certain things, and if you can apply that background to a skill roll then it's a d20 versus a d10 skill check for untrained schmucks.  I try to use this when I can in my games, but for a front-end part of the system it rarely gets much play in most of the DCC games I've been in (running or as a player).

2) The Luck system will correct a great number of problems for players.  It's there as a feature and a lot of people don't like it or the Spellburn thing since it can make things hard for DMs... It's not a bug - it's a feature.  And once you embrace that, you really do get some great games, in my humble opinion.  Sure, as a DM a lot of your nefarious plans will get undone, especially in one-shots - BUT- I think it's a system for people who don't mind winging it.

That said, there is this:

Which says a lot about how certain sub-systems and games fit in some games and not very well in others.  Implicit in most D&D-flavored games is that grinding push to get from nobody to somebody.  To bring your skills from lowly schmuck to world-shaking hero.  I think at the top end that some DCC games must surely fall apart - I tell you I enjoy the funnel on paper but I do a great deal of proselyzation and am growing weary of nervous, shattered cautious wimps.  I chuckle with glee, still, when they get that vibe going around, especially in the Barrowmaze, but I propose it would be better to instill that in some heavier-weight men and women and creatures...  Well, there you need to walk a thin line between the lowly little crumbs and the big meaty adventure tropes.

I usually get a mix of people who enjoy "I press the knob and turn it, and insert my gauntleted fingers into the eye sockets of the altar" and "WHATEVER: I SEARCH - ROLLED A 17".  Which is fine.  But reinforce the stuff you like and people will do it.  One easy way to do this is to award Luck if players are willing to haggle it a little, and another way is to reinforce for stuff they don't do, usually.  Why the preamble?  Well, in DCC, you're going to max out at 4 XP per encounter, RAW.  Everybody is going to get the same XP per session, also, RAW.  So, I propose to throw those 2 little rules away and here's why: it doesn't promote much except LET'S GET THROUGH THIS AS FAST AS POSSIBLE.  A good thing is that most folks I play with don't play this way and it's usually pretty informal.  But, it might drive a certain type of player away from the system entirely!  If you get bogged down in a lot of combat, the game is going to peter out in the middle game and really begin to (ahem) crawl at the top end... I have never played a 4th level or higher DCC character - mainly because I'm not into it, much, and mainly because it would take a very very very long time to get a character that high.

So, award XP or Luck for things you want to see in your game, things to teach your players how to play the game you want.  Want to handwave it?  Fine - use the RAW - but, I bet that you can shape a game by the rewards you give (It is my opinion that as an almost behavioralist I do this practically every day)

More in a couple of hours

Chimney Sweep World - Procedural Anti-Dungeon

Mary Poppins - my kid is obsessed with her.  A tedious early 60's movie with some weird message about family values that strikes us as tin-earred, now, since DUH - you shouldn't neglect your kids or make them miserable.  Which is why I see so much in the way of Poppins these days...  I said something very naughty about the state of her regenerative organs over on DSR a few nights ago.  With a pretty face, simple charm, a venomous tongue, and a vindictive sensibility full of snark and contempt for others, I imagine the reason why she's practically perfect in every way is that underneath the petticoats there's just like snakes and tentacles and eyes.  Snapping dentatas if you follow. At night I toss and turn and the sentiment of the movie invades everything and I find the most honey-dripping displays make me weepy and the spirit of Christmas returns and I have the urge to fly kites all the time...

These are scant notes that will never see the light but I offer them so that someone may redeem them from nihility

Bert the Chimney Sweep/Everyman (his occupation is literally whatever is needed at the time so he always gets a d20 plus 5 on skills rolls)

This suggests a late Victoriana/Edwardian/Georgian or whatever occupations list - I think there was one of these already floating around.  Screever, chimney sweep, horse racer, party band, french waiter, suffragette, kite salesman

Steppin time - a vicious dance-off/gang rumble between Mephits and redcaps in the rooftops of a soot-stained hell

D3x2 by d8, then a linear array/repetition of d8. These are all the same height in terms of stories, and the next set can go up (1-2) down (3-4) or stay the same height (5-8) on a d8. Buildings within a block will be relatively close together, but there may be alleys and parks and long perilous drops back to material reality. You can get sucked up to the Chimney sweep World anytime you investigate chimneys which are literal liminal zones between the prime and the smoke-lands

Related to: Margaret St. Clair's linear dungeon crawl which I never finished because in retrospect the hero of that Shadow People book had a tough slog of it and the principle was sound in terms of mechanics and simulation but maybe UN-fun overall

Smoke Form Spell - not for people but for using smoke to make semi-material objects. See the soot-city of Haon and Ylill in the Purple Planet boxed set. I still haven't played this chunk of the thing out despite my quantum-ogre-ing trying to kidnap, cajole, and seduce the PP party into it...

Smoke Mephits made from ashes and soot. Triple damage from wind and from brushes but nothing else affects them in the slightest. Unflappable and maliciously cheery.

Efreet Prince of Smoke like Yan C'Bin or that other one. A boss monster. Nattily dressed and imperious. Maybe a tophat

Mary has many wiles: charm, suggestion, levitation, animation of objects, extra-dimensional spaces, and planar step into pseudo-realities. She can speak to animals and see the future. BY GUM SHE IS A WITCH

Sunday, December 13, 2015

HHSOLO2 in the works

Greetings, Programs!

In the works I have laid down the frameworks for a post-apocalyptic DCC oriented solo dungeon crawl game book.  It's not a sequel, but something new.  There was going to be an emphasis on thieves and Deep Ones in the next one but I lost momentum and it needs to wait... Meantime, I have stocked my future donjon with gross mutated monstrosities, robots, and cultists to chew through PCs.  It's going to have a real SPACE DUNGEON feel, and if you missed that campaign (still fetid with glimmers of unholy life), then you can take part of the universe around in your bookbag/satchel/mule-droid.  Also, just now, I developed a system for cajoling robots and computers and low-sentience machines into doing your will in the >>REDACTED<<

Here's the system, use it for what you like and keep me in mind on those lonely winter nights when you want to wander a haunted and irradiated giant >>REDACTED<< with the cultists of the >>REDACTED<< in hot pursuit.

R31) Hacking and Security Clearance – Your security clearance is a measure of your responsibility and trustworthiness in the >>REDACTED<<. Most plebes like you start with a range of zero to 3; entry level positions. It is possible to acquire passkeys (colored cards) and to be invested with higher Security Clearance levels but this was relatively rare: clever people were typically shipped away or otherwise disposed of before the Neuroleptic Plague. You may use your Security Clearance to get through some locked doors – just place your palm against the reader. If your SL is high enough, the door or gate will open, or the interface of the machine will activate.  Higher level passkeys will always open lower level doors.

If your clearance is not high enough, fear not! If you have an Interface for that machine (i.e. Robot/Vending Machine/Turret) and a Battery, then you can try to hack it. A hack attempt is usually an Intelligence or Personality test with a DC given for that particular machine or terminal. You cannot burn Luck for this test! However, you CAN add extra points up to your Security Level, BEFORE your roll. If you win the DC test, then the door opens, the machine capitulates, the robot submits itself to you. If you don’t win the test, you lose the total amount of the SL points you risked and must earn them back somehow… Sometimes a sentry will be alerted or the machine will do what it thinks best to take care of you, the intruder. This can include some very harsh punishments, so think about what you’re doing, Lawbreaker! Randomly encountered robots and machines will state in their stat blocks whether they can be hacked and what happens if you're successful.

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