Monday, June 23, 2014

A Mere Pen-Stroke (a list of plans, short term goals, whathaveyou)

I have to sleep tonight, to sleep and dream of greasy, ravenous, treacherous bandit leaders that may or may not be were-animals, and also an encounter with an interdimensional critter trapped in a field of churning magical energy and desperate to get home

These two encounters and the various choices attached to them are all that I require to finish my thing, at least the text part of it.  I guess I can submit the whole to GG maybe this week once I've put it down and edited it and kicked it around the yard some.

The art is going smoothly and some pieces await scanning and sizing to the right dimensions, but I am now (as they say sometimes) in the home stretch.  Being able to do some stuff digitally is a godsend

Gotta review the guidelines for submission to RPGNow for digital version (8.5 x 11) - remind me to figure out how to use the entry numbers as bookmarks in the PDF

Also, the 6x9 format of the printed book will be fun, I hope

To make up space in the front I think I will probably foist up a map up Thrend, where the action of the thing takes place in my own little DCC campaigns

The map of the adventure will go in the standard Judge/Party version of the thing, since now the whole of Halthrag Keep, the Weeping Woods around it, and the nearby minor city of Marbourg lives in my mind's eye as completely as any real place I've been.

Maybe I will release the bestiary soon as a freebie for DCC.  Hmm.

After I finish this beast, I will turn back to the PC classes that were suggested.  Jurgen's sun-worshipping lizard beasts will likely be first.  After that, the occupational list/funnel thing for SPACE DUNGEON

Hopefully, I will be moved across the state at that point and I'll be too busy to do anything relaxed by that point but when I settle in I'll be back into Hangout gaming again.  The lesson I've learned is never ever again to underestimate the work put into a self-published thing, even a small one.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Space Dungeon Living Document

An idea I am kicking around for a Dungeon oriented thing set in space where it can move to and fro from Space Hulk style wrecks to stone work to mines, with Low Gravity and all kinds of oddball traps and strange races. Jungle domes and temples to Precursor space races

The surface of the planetoid is littered with sentient habitant domes, some active and some discarded - many races abound. There are also Old Ones, mining shafts, some indigenous populations, weird energies, Space Tombs, human and alien settlements underground plagued by gangs (a la Necromunda), and precursor technology laying around down deep.

A free for all of races and classes, set in the dim interiors or with parties docking and diving and bringing out hauls of goods and loot

More later but I wanted it influenced by 1st edition Rogue Trader and Star Frontiers rather than the OSR stuff. More M.U.L.E. and Pirates! than Carcosa (good natured etc)

Handy use of Crawljammer and etc.  a hex crawl in 3 dimensions with some simple rules to generate the layout and tone, with very low guidance but just kind of THEMES

All races are welcome and weird back stories encouraged but not needed for play. Parties sink shafts into the core and delve, then bring resources back to purchase star docks, restaurants and establishments to establish races

Like a Gold Rush in space, powered by DCC.  A SPPPPPPPACE DUNGEONNNNNNNN

Entering and exploring the catacomb mines of Nebulmor presents dangers that the sole possession of a plan cannot prevent. Those dangers can prove lethal because of precursor artifacts, pits, falling objects, collapses, and warp incursions.  These hazards and the presence of certain biological entities may leave a very strong impression on the young, mentally infirm, or parasitic co-habitants of level 3B and below.

By entering the catacomb mines, you inevitably risk injuring yourself, possibly experiencing severe complications due to the inaccessibility of rescue officials.  Intervention teams are generally unavailable in high-volume access periods and on official Nebulmorean holidays.  The indigenous people of this planet assume no liability for any risks or injurious consequences that you assume by signing an entry waiver and/or continuing into the Green Zone.

These catacombs are also part of the underground heritage of Nebulmor.  They are a fragile place and contain a high number of historical and geological remnants as well as ancient indications that deserve respect.

Access to forbidden areas entails high fines, Phantom Zone imprisonment, and other sanctions up to and 

including termination of life functions."

Monday, June 16, 2014

O death, where is thy sting? - Alternate Death System for DCC

I mentioned yesterday in the Scrappler post about Return to Oz (I think that's the name) - a reasonably priced and very charming little number, built to run kids through the land of the Dorothy/Toto stories.  A couple of interesting mechanical ideas in it, that hinge on the premises that one can't be killed and that having friends is better than having enemies.  Also, tangentially, chock full of useful Oz information and cannon narrative material about characters, races, etc. and brimming with neat ideas to kludge into other games.

I think maybe the best thing I do is schlep together syntheses of lots of fun little bits into something different - maybe not necessarily new or novel, but taking the best bits from systems and hack em together.  I do it in my work - we call it "technical eclecticism" but it's kind of a slur when it's said that way, like you haven't found a strong formulation.  That may be true.

But I was thinking about Death.  DEATH.  DEATH!  Characters have something of us in them, when we play.  It's been my opinion in the past that losing a character or many characters owing to pseudo-death can be a liberating and healthy thing, and I sort of shat on Flailsnailsers in the past for clinging and grinding XP and selling the boots off of dead goblins to hoard coppers and whatnot.  It was pointed out to me, quite nicely, that I didn't really know what the fuck I was talking about and maybe I should Flailsnails a bit before I spoke of things I didn't have any experience in.  For the record, I've played about 2 games total out of hundreds in which this variety of play was a feature, and I think maybe it was just specific players that turned me off of it.  I'm not afraid of adopting a new character as necessary, and I'd like to think I can change positions on things when convinced or given rational arguments based on clear facts.  The Flailsnails thing doesn't appeal to me on paper, but I can see why people invest a lot of emotional weight into a preferred character.  Believe it or not, we all do it everyday!  Our characters look like us, and the stats aren't usually on paper, but having an alternate and powerful persona for a while can be a release and comforting and fulfills in Flailsnailsers the same function it must fulfill in other RPG players - namely, fun.  I tried to adopt a "don't shit on peoples' fun" approach a while back, and now I'd like to make it somewhat easier for DCC players (since DCC has clearly become my system of choice) to careen about the multiverse by providing interesting alternatives to death.

DCC has two approaches this way that I've come into contact with, the Core Rulebook has the Turn the Body Over check - pretty simple and elegant, and highlights the ultimate risks in spending your finite reserve of Luck. +Scott Mathis ' Transylvanian Adventures supplement has the Ruin score which adds a good bit of complexity and some more chance into the way that Death can be avoided - I guess the idea is that Fear and the associated paralysis can really put a dent in the evening's fun when everybody dies abruptly, and the Ruin score is a way to push things back in the players' favor with a modicum of risk and reward.  I like it, although I haven't yet seen it play out in the way it was likely intended.

So, my take on this new thing for Death doesn't yet have a name or anything.  The Hapless Henchman System of Fun Death Evasion.  No, your character doesn't have to die, if you find you cannot accept this outcome, but now his/ger/its life (or whatever it is) just got intensely more complicated in a way that is good for the narrative and the game overall and will (hopefully) stretch your RP muscles.  Note, this is to promote and reward fun play and not sting for bad dicing.  It will allow for (to me) interesting twists on character development - e.g. in the 1st edition AD&D rules you had hard-coded mechanics for getting turned into a unicorn via reincarnation.  I mean, maybe it doesn't fit my concept but toss off concepts I want to play a Unicorn with a Half-Orc Assassin's soul - wouldn't anybody?

More tomorrow.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Scrappler for DCC - Meaty, Bandity, Brawling PC Class

Let me start with the answer to the perennial question "What is Scrapple, Mr. Dungeonmaestro?"

I hear that there is good scrapple to be had in my area, and for some reason it used to sell like hotcakes at the place I used to cook at.  Scrapple is a bunch of pork byproducts and trimmings - the stuff you wouldn't regularly eat by itself.  You take that stuff, grind it up, throw it in with some porridge of boiled grains, season it, and then make it into a loaf.  Then, chill it, slice it, and fry it.  Simple enough.  It's originally a thing that the Pennsylvania Deutsch (not Dutch but German-speaking immigrants) did, but the idea is likely as old as eating pigs and farming grains.  They called it pan haas - or pan rabbit, maybe 'cause it's like poor man's food.  I hear that it can be good, but most of the times I've tried it, it's been rather flat and gray/grey and it smells like a pig's armpit.  Essentially, the commercially available kinds are two of my favorite breakfast things - sausage and grits - combined and fried in easy-to-eat slices.  Haven't found anybody around these parts that does it well.

As a follow up to my long-dead post about Iron Rations, and the one about desperation in Low Fantasy games, I was thinking about what kinds of things adventurers usually eat around the fire.  Probably crummy rations and scrapple, if they are lucky.  They fight a lot, and need healing.

The premise is that the Scrappler (and a vegetarian/vegan alternative the Tofukin) are walking, brawling, thinking meat golems that have the ability to give of themselves to help their comrades with tasty, healing protein.  Yes, that's right.  You see, I've been reading a lot of L. Frank Baum lately and I picked up this charming RPG system called Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road.  One of the central premises is that death and permanent injury are no-nos in Oz (I guess the thing is geared toward children, although in the Wizard of Oz there seems to be a good deal of brutal murderhobo-ery).  The "coming up with scenarios" portion of the thing mentions that situations ought to be funny and non-threatening and unique, and that fights ought to resolve into friendships and friends added to your list are a tangible asset to be used later to change the course of the narrative.  Fun ideas to consider as alternatives to wanton slaughter, even if when I think of possible games of this I try to turn it into Dark, Low Fantasy.

Brah, do you even lift?
When +Doug Kovacs prompted me to write up a "Meat Bandit" class the other day, I visualized the thing from uh - John Dies at The End.  Loopy but fun.  Others have proposed Meat Golems in the past.  But then I saw some Scrapple in the store and remembered how desperately hungry I would need to be to eat it again.

So, you encounter a Sentient Golem of Meat, go round for a bit (insert wet slapping sounds like in Fight Club), become friends, and then Mr. Meat never leaves your side.  In the course of your travels, you are often starving and of course, you agree you'll just take a little off here and there, and by the end of the adventure he's a little dirty and piqued and smells a little off, but hey, he's your pal Mr. Meat Golem and he'd kill and die for you if it were possible in this horrible place. Stupid faeries and their ridiculous banishment of Death!

I'm not clear if I will do a write-up of this one all sparkly like the last couple.  Maybe I will.  It's a fun exercise.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Moon Dweller Psionicist (inspired by David Brawley and Daniel Bishop)

Okay, here goes.  A PDF of the first of several new classes for DCC, based on prompts from friends and passers-by.  Congrats to +David Brawley and with special thanks to +Daniel Bishop.  Daniel's method of generation for Lunar People is included within, from The Revelation of Mulmo, which is surely the most hateful swindle of a group of PCs a power mad minor entity could ever hope to commit.  It is sure to provoke some gnashing of teeth in a too-trusting party, that's for certain.

This is the Moon Dweller Psionicist, a Selenite Refugee stranded on Aereth by his own mental tinkerings with space-time, forever wishing only to return home and/or to violate the known laws of physics and existential norms.  Possibly to lay waste to the masses, and find bliss in the arms of a delicate or burly alien.

Possibly a little over-power'd, maybe, but certainly less so than the normal Wizard.  Also, the presence of these timid and delicate power-vortexes is very likely bring about an inevitable Phlogiston Disturbance - to my mind shamefully underused.  At least, underused in my own games.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

List of New DCC Project Races etc

Scrappler/Tofukin - give of yourself to heal the other party members!  Find a charcuterie or sous chef to heal - watch out for spoilage in this damnable heat (Doug's prompt)

80s Metal Kid - epic Tunes and Air Guitar saves the day. Law/Chaos/Balance is really on your side and this has some drawbacks (also Doug's prompt)

Antiquated Sword - a conceptual leftover of my participation in Stoutfellas, and the worship of slimy and unwholesome gods (I owe a debt of gratitude to Wayne, Doug, James, and the other Stoutfellas)

Sun Worshipping Reptiloids - environmentally affected dangerous/sleepy/poisonous/scaly (Jurgen's prompt)

Verminous Mass (there's a Cif- something or other in the Fiend Folio 1e) edit: CIFAL (Daniel's prompt)

Phlogiston-Displaced Moon Dweller - nice suggestion, David

Ape-Man Mind-Bender - thanks to James

Maybe a Thark - but I don't want to get torn to legal shreds. Martian Nomad?  Green Tusker? (Daniel's Prompt, I realize that my friend and co-conspirator +Darien Mason posted this already)

These prior are inspired by the good folks listed, namely +James V West , +J├╝rgen Mayer , +David Brawley , and my own personal Illuminati of DCC +Daniel Bishop and +Doug Kovacs.  All of these guys what whom are winners of semi-tangible things (Edit: Crawljammer #3 when it arrives unless you guys already do that thing in which case let me know) and also my esteem for inspiring me when I need a break from something else.  Maybe I can get you in touch with my man +Sam Schultz who can work on some printable paper minis for us to honor this meeting of minds

Also on the Docket:

Cloud Shoggoth - sort of a vaporous Dralasite - impervious to most damage but only solid for short times, prone to adopt the forms of nearby objects

Crafted Sentience/Golem - finite hit points, compelled to save the meek as long as possible (alternately highly limited functioning in some areas but impervious to some kinds of damage entirely)

'Loon (Oz thing) - patch up those leaks with string/bubble gum/innertubes - float/levitate, malleable, no damage from blunt attacks but highly susceptible to blades/piercing

Daniel beat me to sentient semi -anthropomorphic animal so that's good. The idea for all of these is to work within the spirit of DCC and tweak mechanics slightly but in a balanced fashion so as to get away from the old elf/dwarf/hobbit thing which to my mind has a certain charm but really strangles possibility in the crib, if you get my bad but to my mind apt metaphor

The spirit of the things I have been reading suggests the need for a variant of the Rolled-Over/Ruin rules, in which horrible consequences to the integrity of the character BESIDES death are heaped on for dropping to 0 HP, but with the perk that the same character can develop the narrative with the party after a rest and rotation back in. Death - permanent stat loss of varying types, madness, corruption , compulsions, quests, added mechanics, dubiously beneficial patronage, acquisition of terrible artefacts, doppleganger-age

Of course you may prefer death

I'm stalled on progress of the Big Project - partly legitimate and partly procrastinating. I figure GenCon is gonna keep GG busybusy until after the summer so I can coast through, refine, give early drafts to friends for edits and then submit a highly polished thing at the end of summer

I'm going to be a wreck at work in a couple of hours

(I just wrote this for the sake of getting it out of my noggin - names and identities filled in tomorrow)

After the Mower Living Document

Not so much a game or system as a framework for narrative, inspired by Nimh and Watership Down and Oz and Peter Rabbit and some other things I've been thinking and pondering on, and reading to my kid

A progression from orderly idyllic light hearted exploration downward into dangerous and consecutively more harrowing escapes/problems, culminating with a cataclysm and rebirth. Like Akira but with Mice or something.

Set it human suburbia, with PCs as cute little animals, menaced by one or more predators. As the game/campaign progresses, more playable races 'unlock' depending upon making friends and doing favors, whereas negative actions add to predators list. Faeries and magic as an optional plug-in, and the alternating corrupting and purifying effects of the humans decided upon by group consent. Does it look like a dry summer?  Is there a hurricane?  Is Mr McGregor having a hard time with his wife and so disposed to be cruel, or is he playing too much WoW and awaiting DnD 5e so the garden is unguarded or going to seed?

Rules light, 2d6 best-of for resolutions

Birds, bees, mice, rats, praying mantises, butterflies as PCs

snakes, dogs, foxes, coyotes, etc. for antagonists

Pixies, Nimh Rats, Goblins, Faeries, for the optional plug ins.

Maybe each turn two players nominated to act out human aspects of the story. Truck broke down in the field?  It's an obstacle for the plow so Ms Brisby can move the kids across the way with a rattlesnake in pursuit. Why did the truck break down?  The faeries sabotaged the distributor after Ms Brisby got them a set of keys from McGregor's house so they can doppelgang the new baby...

Anyway, just a placeholder since I can't sleep. What are the effects of the relentless hacking back of the wilderness upon the characters of the characters?

More later.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

New Races for DCC Prompts - I Double Dungeon Crawl Dare You

In a last-ditch effort to procrastinate on my own publishable project, I hereby call you out, reader.  You have a twinklin' of an idea for a playable race?  Fingers too tied up with legerdemain, or possibly you already build dangerous wooden and brass Lamentation Configurations in your spare time?  Engaged in high treason, or listlessly wooing a stunning enchantress from the time in Earth's future right before the Beetle People arise?

Spellvexitus knows the Vancian Operation of Clone Vats - at Skill Level 7, and how to paste an image URL
Well, worry no longer!  We here at The Hapless Henchman can take those unused and abused alpha- and beta-waves and put them into our cogitators on site, giving you real, 3rd dimensional (possibly plus or minus a dimension with a 22 percent alpha) access to your own idea, on paper, and in-game.

Submit in the comments your own feeble whispers of an idea for a NEW PLAYER CHARACTER RACE OR CLASS, and me and my own shoulder imp Spellvexitus can do the hard thinkin' for you!  He's mildly dyslexic, but he knows the Dewey Decimal System inside and out, so he's good for helping in library research when we're jaunting around in the early 1990's before they pulled all the skin-bound codices from the Widener...

As a gesture of goodwill, I offer the first 5.75 people or entities who/that post an idea for a new class or race in the comments here a copy of my very own thing when it comes out.  That would be the DCC Solo Module THE HOUNDS OF HALTHRAG KEEP - shooting for late summer, still.  The first three (3 - an integer) people to post a thing, I'll get them a copy of either Crawljammer #1, or Crawling Under a Broken Moon #1 as a downloadable PDF from RPGNow and we can compare notes.  If you already have it, then good - but maybe we can figure something out.  Don't try to canoodle me, either.  I've got a thousand wyrd spirits imbued in my fridge, just waiting to be set plaintively loose to spite someone/something

BE WARY!  For those who post a thing that exists ALREADY will be harshly dealt with and derided, and Spellvexitus will have first crack at your plainly withered soul when you're done with it, soon.  How will you know? Well, look at the sidebar on your right and it'll show you a way to see what's been elucidated and illuminated before you, you conniving gong-farmer, you...

Take that interwebs!  Spellvexitus, get your Mystical Third Eye and crowquill all revved up!

Don't let me down, you malicious little hobgoblins!  Maybe when I'm done I can make it into a sweet little PDF and give it freely to the cold and unfeeling universe to stave off inevitable heat death.  If more than I can use at the start arrive, then I will do my best to trickle them out as I can - absolutely no promises implied, BTW

Psionic Moon Man - received!

Buy 'The Hounds' - Click Here