Monday, December 30, 2019

Talents: Survivalist and Arcane

In my last post riffing off of Knave and the idea of expanding the class-less structure to something akin to a talent tree or loose categories of "adventuring" perks, I looked at martial and specialist talents, roughly mapping to "fighter" and "rogue" archetypes. Today, I'm looking at survivalist and arcane talents, which are sorta-kinda like "rangers" and "wizards" except that my intent, overall, is to lean towards flavor and utility without rehashing tropes.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

The Lounge Temple of Asavraki

One of the reasons I started this blog was for ease of use regarding the OSR Discord's Secret Santicorn exchange. I, myself, received a fantastic d66 table of utility spells from Isaak at Fallen Empires, and look forward to implementing it in my games! I received a request from Shoe Skogen -- "temple dungeon, etc etc for a tropical archipelago, with fun adventures, monsters, maybe a factional dispute?" I wracked my brain on this one for a bit, but inspiration came to me in a torrent and I began to realize a small reinvigorated temple in the depths of the jungle wilds with an unusual twist.

What if an old goddess fell out of favor with broad worship, but was rediscovered by a cadre of opportunistic goblins? What if that goddess, Asavraki, was the minor deity of fragrance and leisure? What if that means she is basically the goddess of midnight toking? What if the goblins are not exactly aligned on goals, with some being sincere followers, and others being money-grubbing dogs about the whole affair? What if there are kobolds? And paladins? And old priests locked in stasis?

Well, all of that, and more, awaits you in...

I went back and polished it up and released it for a buck on DTRPG and If you ask kindly, I'll give you the drive link for freebies, otherwise you can nab it in the links above.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Inventory, Exploration, and Resting

Before digging into more talents, let's recap and expand upon some basic mechanics of the little ruleset I'm putting together by clarifying two central ideas: inventory and the encounter die.

At present, all PCs start with fourteen inventory slots. Additional slots are awarded if their strength, constitution, or intelligence scores exceed 15. This can happen three times as a result. If all three of these scores are above 18 (which takes a while to accrue in any campaign), they're awarded with another bonus trio of slots. That is to say that any PC will only ever have between fourteen and twenty slots. No less, no more (well, unless some wonky magic item or godling's blessing shows up, of course). In this framework, most things take up one slot (like a mace, spellbook, or small golden idol), while a handful of other items can be bundled together to conserve space (such as pitons, ball bearings, or coins), and many others require anywhere from two to four slots apiece (including platemail, a big shield, or an impressionist masterpiece). If PCs fail to eat/drink/rest they gain fatigue, which eats up inventory slots until resting for a while in a haven location (ie, not the wilderness). Inventory is cramped, basically. It's meant to be.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Goblin Mung, A Neural Net Expose

I recently listened to the excellent 99% Invisible podcast, wherein the discussion centered on modern conversational AI, its 20th century origins, and its evolution into contemporary neural networks. One of the top-performing "most human" neural nets today is GPT2, which famously made a very convincing news-story-style write-up about the discovery of unicorns in the Andes (scroll to the bottom). I decided to spin up a test of the open-source coding for this model available at Talk to Transformer, focusing on my favorite fantasy RPG McGuffin, goblin mung. Here's the prompt: Goblin mung is one of the most hotly sought-after hallucinogens available today.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Talents: Martial and Specialist

Knave is fantastic. Everyone go buy it and enjoy. It's the post-retroclone retroclone, insofar as it's aim is to fundamentally streamline the B/X-era D&D formula into the most basic and accessible format possible. Ben Milton, the author, also notes that it thus assumes the position of ideal hack-able skellington for all manner of rules-light OSR frameworks. Knave assumes that no classes exist. Like Maze Rats before it, all adventurers are simply that, adventurers. Not everyone has to be trained up as a cleric or fighter or magic-user etc, you're just folks who have no better option than to delve for a living.

As a result, the immediate oh, let's hack this element to Knave is formatting some sort of class-analogue structure to the otherwise-class-less rules system. Among the various Discord channels this structure has come to be known as Knacks, mainly because Knack and Knave sound so canny together. Check out Laughing Leviathan's excellent Knave-Knacks and A Man With A Hammer's Knacks for Knaves for other posted variables on the formula. More are floating around, currently unpublished in various ways and means, and I highly recommend you check them out as you find them.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Scrapping To-Hit with Modded Weapon Tables

Two years ago, I read Troika!, and besides the surreal whimsy of the implied setting by way of the many (d66, no less) backgrounds stocked within the strange pages of the book, I was smitten with the mechanics of the thing. A riff on Fighting Fantasy, the game supposes a robust advanced skill system which, unlike modern game-mechanism-forward iterations of "perception" or "arcana," presents us with treats such as "etiquette," "golden barge pilot," and "mathmology."

But seriously, look at how golden this barge is. See how it shines.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Blog 1.0


I've blogged, say, twice over a decade ago through Wordpress. The first instance was a repository for poetry I wrote previously in college, and nothing more. So perhaps it doesn't count. The second was a few posts about homebrewing on a shared blog with friends. It was hot garbage, really. Regardless, I never saw myself as a blogger, and I am quite late to the RPG/thoughts-on-games blogosphere, but, welp.

My reasons coming here now are three-fold, and related by context, if not directly by content. Firstly, I want to take part in the Secret Santicorn exchange on the OSR Discord, and that's more easily handled via blog post than other media. Secondly, I've had ideas in my head for penning my own small rules-light adventure game, which is probably beyond trope at this point and eye-rolling to many, but deal with it. Thirdly, I am a very disorganized and aloof person--I have plenty of big dreams and objectives, but total bankruptcy when it comes to handling the minutia and logistics necessary to make said dreams and objectives become a reality. My mind is a steel-trap for inane trivia, but as soon as I decide that any of that trivia is, in fact, worthwhile to my pursuits in some manner, it quickly sails out of mind for other climes, seemingly lost forever.

Growing up I was surrounded by board  games. Everyone in my family played something. We still do (I have a creaking shelf chock-full of modern board games in my living room). Additionally, my older brother had stacks of Battletech, Shadowrun, and Star Wars RPGs at his disposal, but being twelve years my senior, I never participated in any roleplaying in the house, and he mostly took it elsewhere, anyway. It wasn't until 2015 that I ever played a pen-and-paper RPG, and that was D&D 5e. I played quite a bit online since then, having no local group of my own. For years I've since run various one-shots and campaigns using that big rules system, and even helped co-author a published adventure based on Aliens, if said film was translated using mindflayers. Buy it, if you want. Or don't.

However, in the last five years I've played and run a great number of other games, from simple story games like Cheat Your Own Adventure and Atop A Lonely Tower, to PbtA fare like Monster of the Week and Apocalypse World, and then, oh, and then a vast array of delicious OSR games and modules... that's where, after years of other content, I really fell in love with RPGs: Sandbox adventure and unhinged agency; creativity and cunning over numbers and mechanical hall passes; no metaplot or guardrails or must-happens; bizarre ruins and wasted post-apocalyptic far futures and snake people making fell bargains... Yeah, that's the stuff. That's the stuff right there. As a result, it's really since I've fallen for old school games that I've begun to fill my head with design ideas and ways to better run the stuff I enjoy. That's much of what this blog will end up being about, I think.

I don't pretend to assume that anything I contribute here will be earth-shattering or revolutionary. It may actually come across as panned or derivative, or something not worth anyone's time. Regardless, it's at least worth my time to remove by digital suction the wild thoughts in my mind and trap them in one place for posterity and ease of access, so here we are.

Things I admire:

- Immovable rods
- Jars of grease
- People named Chet
- d66 tables
- d66 tables in 6x6 format (thanks, Maze Rats!)
- Kobolds
- Gnolls
- The Mighty Boosh
- Seltzer water

Some might say that not all of those things are related to RPGs. I'd argue otherwise. Anyhoo.

I happen to believe that The Mighty Boosh takes place in the Troika! universe.