Monday, December 23, 2013

White wine in the sun animated short.

I am a huge Tim Minchin, and I love his Christmas song, "White Wine in the Sun." I have shared the song these past few years at Christmas time, but this year I found this wonderful fan made animated short set to Tim's song. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas.




Regards,

Jeff

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fief by Fief


My previous post of a very compact 1 page Five by Five takes the game in a direction that I really want it to go. Five by Five is about Narration over Simulation. It's supposed to be quick and simple. Too much detail gets in the way. I had been struggling with Weapons and Armor for Five by Five and how to make them more effective. In Fantasy RPG's especially, weapons and armor seem to be of paramount importance.

But, my solution in the Fast Play Five by Five that I just posted was to pull away from the problem entirely. If weapons and armor are important to the narration that can come out during play, but I have decided that for the most part, quantifying such things does not serve the narrative.

In the Five by Five game that I am running on Tuesday nights, one player has managed to obtain a bazooka. Now, I could quantify the bazooka using one of the weapon and armor systems that I have discussed here. But, the truth is ... if you shoot a man with a bazooka ... the man dies. That should be the result of the simulation ... right?

But what if I don't try to quantify the bazooka as a simulation and only deal with it as an aspect of the narrative? If in the story we are telling, the player shoots the bazooka at a brick wall, the wall is going to shatter into a pile of rubble and the players can pass through the hole they made to get to whatever might be behind the wall. This makes sense to me. It serves the narrative and makes the bazooka an effective element in the story.

Now, if later that same player shoots his bazooka at the big-bad, the main villain of the story, using the combat rules of the Five by Five fast play this attack (if successful) will only inflict 1 or 2 points of stress towards defeating the villain. Now, shouldn't the bazooka blow the big-bad to smithereens like it did the wall? Sure. But how does this serve the narrative? It doesn't. It cuts the conflict short, and makes the big-bad no more of a threat than one of his henchmen.

But, if I stick with the rules as written, I can describe how the successful use of the bazooka resulted in the bazooka shell impacting a point directly behind the big-bad, throwing up all manner of debris which injure the big-bad and several of his cronies. The big-bad isn't out for the count in a single shot, and the integrity of the bazooka within the fiction of the story is maintained. I just had to adjust what a successful test meant within the context of the current situation. The use of the bazooka was not cut-and-dried. It was more than a static number +X to damage. That's what Five by Five is supposed to do.

All that said, it has been brought to my attention that some players are playing a version of Five by Five that borrows from each of the differing versions that I have written and there seems to be a preference for the Weapon and Armor rules from the first version of the game. I get that sometimes RPG combat is meant to be a tactical mini-wargame within a game separated from the narrative, and that many people like that. That's cool. In the interest of appealing to that audience I have produced a second 1 page RPG document. This one is meant to serve as a fantasy expansion for the first one.

I like writing the concise "1 page" RPG. I can get my ideas distilled down and share them very quickly and effectively. I think that if I were running a super-hero game or other similar type genre where things like weapons and armor aren't so much treasures to acquire as they are extensions of the character that my Five by Five Fast Play rules really have everything you need. But, I also recognize that sometimes players want "treasures" and things like weapons and armor have to have some real impact on the mechanical nature of a character for many players to feel a tangible accomplishment at acquiring them. For that. the consensus seems to be that version 1 of Five by Five had gotten it right, so maybe this new 1 page expansion will hit that sweet spot. Let me know.

Thanks!


Jeff

Monday, November 18, 2013

Five by Five Back to Basics


First a big thanks to Rob Lang for the Re-Review of Five by Five on the Free RPG Blog. Thanks for the love Rob!

Rob and I have had many discussions (via email ... e-scussions? Is that a thing?) about generic systems versus systems designed for and focused on a specific genre/setting/world. Rob being pro-non-generic, advocating the strengths of targeting a specific world, genre, etc. when working on design.

I have always argued that generic systems have their place, but as I have been struggling with creating a "Fantasy Version" of Five by Five, I begin to realize just how right Rob is. Fantasy Five by Five has become a struggle with weapons and armor and magic. Trappings exclusive to the Fantasy RPG's that Five by Five was never designed for. I have been fighting with a way to shoe-horn something in without sacrificing the exclusive use of the 5x5 Roll in the process. And, I have been losing.

What I realize is that Five by Five works best when it embraces it's generic nature. And in a weird way this realization makes Rob's point in that, the Five by Five system isn't so much a generic system as Five by Five is "Five by Five" and it only works when it is allowed to be itself.

There is a reason why the current fantasy campaign I am running for my friends uses the 13th Age rules. 13th Age was designed from the ground up to be a specific thing and create a specific kind of game play. The Fantasy campaign that I am running needs that.

Five by Five is designed to be a specific thing and to create a specific kind of game play, too ... and what 13th Age is designed to do and what Five by Five is designed to do are two very different things.

Five by Five is meant to be a "Jack of All Trades - Master of None" RPG. It's meant to allow players to create anything they want quickly and easily. Detail is intentionally kept nondescript to make room for fast free form play. It's not meant to be tactical. It's not a simulation. It's meant to be easy and tether free. It's not so much a "setting" as it is a statement of intent. But, the game only works when the players are playing "that" game. Five by Five doesn't work to play "D&D" ... and it shouldn't.

I was working on a sort of Five by Five "cheat sheet" to allow me to fit all the rules for Five by Five on a single sheet of paper. I was going to use this a summary in the Fantasy Five by Five supplement as a sort of "recap." But, I couldn't get everything to fit. Combat ... even the basic combat of the current core rules was just too complex.

I found a solution: "Stop trying to make Five by Five work like other more tactically based RPG's." With that realization, I was able to streamline combat and at the same time take Five by Five a step in the "Storytelling Game" direction. It's a good direction for the "freedom" that Five by Five is designed to provide.

Take a look at these Five by Five Fast Play Rules. They are the same rules but with streamlined simplified combat/conflict resolution. What do you think? Is this the right direction for Five by Five in the future?

Regards,


Jeff

Saturday, November 02, 2013

How's this look? (Possible Weapon/Armor Alternative for Five by Five)

Rolling Damage
A Damage Roll tells a player how much potential injury their attack can inflict.
Weapons have a Rank and Target Number that a player tests when doing damage.
Damage works like this:
Roll Target Number Exactly (Critical Success) Inflict 4 damage.
Roll Under Target Number (Weapon passes the Damage test.) Inflict 3 damage.
Roll Over Target Number (Weapon fails the Damage test.) Inflict 2 damage.
Roll Doubles (Automatic Fail / Fumble) Inflict 1 damage.

Soak Rolls
A Soak Roll is a roll to absorb damage enabling your character to ignore some of its effect. Armor has a Rank and Target Number that a player tests to "soak" damage.
Armor works like this:
Roll Target Number Exactly (Critical Success) stop 3 damage.
Roll Under Target Number (Armor passes the Soak test.) stop 2 damage.
Roll Over Target Number (Armor fails the Soak test.) stop 1 damage.
Roll Doubles (Automatic Fail / Fumble) stop 0 damage.

Notice that the soak range for armor is one point weaker across the board than the damage range for weapons. This is because once a character has successfully passed their attack test to hit the target, I want them to be able to do some damage.

***
A general rule to cover both Weapons and Armor equally could look like this.

Resolving a Successful Attack

If you successfully Hit with an Attack Test, your attack inflicts 1 Wound + the result of your DAMAGE TEST.

If you are the target of a successful attack that you did not eliminate with a Dodge Action, your Armor will absorb damage equal to the result of your SOAK TEST.

Damage and Soak Tests

Damage Tests are made to inflict wounds based on the TN of the Weapon used.

Soak Tests are made to stop (soak) wounds based on the TN of the Armor worn by the target of the attack.

A successful test (based on the TN of the associated Weapon or Armor) inflicts/soaks 2 wounds.
A failed test (based on the TN of the associated Weapon or Armor) inflicts/soaks 1 wound.

If the test is a critical success (TN is rolled exactly) add +1 to this result.
If the test is a fumble (player rolled doubles) subtract -1 from this result.

***

The weapon and armor ranks from THIS POST work just fine here. I have eliminated the clunky process of comparing weapons and armor by adding the Soak Roll.

Thoughts?

Regards,


Jeff


Friday, November 01, 2013

Character Points in Five by Five

I have been playing Five by Five every week with my play group. The updated combat rules work well and the mechanics for Weapons and Armor achieve what I wanted with regards to damage out-comes, but using the rules is cumbersome. They are clunky. They fit the combat flow specific to Five by Five, but they just aren't smooth to implement.

Zimzerveran asked in a comment to the previous post if these combat rules would become part of the core rules for the Five by Five system. For now, I am going to have to say, "Absolutely, not." Not until I figure out how to fix the cumbersome nature of weapons and armor usage. For now consider all of this stuff experimental and optional.

In the meantime, consider this optional method for character creation using character points. Future additions of Five by Five will use "Character Points" instead of "Session Points" ... but they are basically the same thing.

Character Points

Character Points are the "currency" that you use to create and improve your character.

It costs 1 character point to add a Trait to your character record with a product of 2, or to improve an existing Trait with a product of 2 to a product of 3.

It costs 2 character points to improve a Trait with a product of 3 to a product of 4, or to improve a Trait with a product of 4 to a product of 5.

It costs 3 character points to improve a Trait with a product of 5 to a product of 6, or to improve a Trait with a product of 6 to a product of 8.

It costs 4 character points to improve a Trait with a product of 8 to a product of 10, or to improve a Trait with a product of 10 to a product of 12.

It costs 5 character points to improve a Trait with a product of 12 to a product of 15, or to improve a Trait with a product of 15 to a product of 20.

No Trait will ever have a product greater than 20.

Character Creation

Players have 22 Character Points to create their character. The cost to obtain a Trait with a specific product is shown below. Every beginning character must start with at least 3 Traits.

2    =  1 ... for a total of 1 character point.
3    =  1 + 1 ... for a total of 2 character points.
4    =  1 + 1 + 2 ... for a total of 4 character points.
5    =  1 + 1 + 2 + 2 ... for a total of 6 character points.
6    =  1 + 1 + 2 + 2 + 3 ... for a total of 9 character points.
8    =  1 + 1 + 2 + 2 + 3 + 3 ... for a total of 12 character points.
10  =  1 + 1 + 2 + 2 + 3 + 3 + 4 ... for a total of 16 character points.
12  =  1 + 1 + 2 + 2 + 3 + 3 + 4 + 4 ... for a total of 20 character points.
15  =  1 + 1 + 2 + 2 + 3 + 3 + 4 + 4 + 5 ... for a total of 25 character points.
20  =  1 + 1 + 2 + 2 + 3 + 3 + 4 + 4 + 5 + 5 ... for a total of 30 character points.

Notice that products of 15 or 20 are not possible during character creation.

Easy Character Creation method: Define 5 Traits for your character. Assign each Trait a product from the array of 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. This creates a character that costs 22 character points.

Any feedback is welcome as always. If you have an idea that can "fix" the clunky nature of comparing Weapons and Armor, I'd love to hear from you.

Regards,


Jeff

Monday, October 07, 2013

Another Look at the Five by Five Combat Rules

I am playing a lot of Five by Five right now, and as I play I have been learning more and more about what I want from the game. These changes are of course all optional. If they interest you, try them out.

Some of this is repeated from the previous post, but this post organizes my thoughts better and introduces a few new ideas. I really like the "Critical Success" task roll idea, but in applying this across the board I found that I needed to change the specifics of combat a bit to facilitate it. I believe that the end result produces a much better definition of the Combat Styles (now called Specialties) and makes everything a bit more balanced over all.

Critical Success

If a player rolls exactly what they need (without using Karma) when attempting an action and their target number is greater than zero, the character has achieved critical success.

The GM should give a player much more than they were expecting with a critical success. An attempt to gather information might provide far more detail than expected, or a repair on a broken piece of machinery might require half the time or resources, or make the machine better than new.

Complications

When a player rolls “doubles” in attempting to complete a task that attempt is an automatic failure and the player earns a Karma point. In addition this is a good opportunity to introduce an additional complication or set back into the mix. Maybe the character stumbles or another enemy appears that the character didn't see before.

The GM is encouraged to introduce new complications any time a player rolls double to keep tensions high and to keep things from becoming too static. By the same token if the GM rolls doubles when opposing the players, then the players should gain some small advantage or discover that an obstacle that they were facing is less of a hindrance than was originally thought.

One Combat Trait

Each player should define a single trait as their COMBAT TRAIT. This trait is used to accomplish the tasks specifically tied to the “combat mini-game.” The three tasks encompassed by your combat trait are:
Roll To-Interrupt, Roll To-Hit, and Roll To-Evade.

Roll To-Interrupt – Normally NPC's act before PC's. This is the standard flow of combat. However, at the beginning of each round of combat the GM calls for a Roll To-Interrupt. A To-Interrupt roll is a standard 5x5 combat test based on your character's combat trait. If your character passes this test then they are able to act before the NPC's in what is referred to as the Interrupt round.

Critical Success with Roll To-Interrupt – If your character rolls exactly what they need to pass their To-Interrupt combat test (without using Karma) and their target number is greater than zero, then the character has achieved a critical success with their To-Interrupt task. Normally, if your character acts in the Interrupt round, this replaces their action in the standard PC round. If your character scores a critical success with their Roll To-Interrupt, then they are able to act in the Interrupt round, and still take action in the PC round, gaining two actions for the round!!

Roll To-Hit – When it comes time to target an opponent with an attack, your character will be called upon to “Roll To-Hit.” This is a standard 5x5 combat test based on your character's combat trait.

Critical Success with Roll To-Hit – If your character rolls exactly what they need to pass their To-Hit combat test (without using Karma) and their target number is greater than zero, then the character has achieved a critical success with their To-Hit task. If your character scores a critical success with their Roll To-Hit, then they inflict +1 wound level of damage upon the target of the attack. This is in addition to any wounds inflicted by the “To-Damage” combat test.

Roll To-Evade – If you are the target of a successful attack and you have not already acted in the Interrupt round, your character can make a Roll To-Evade standard combat test. You must give up your action in the PC round to do this, but if you make your Roll To-Evade standard combat test successfully, then you have turned the attack against you from a success into a failure preventing the damage done to your character entirely.

Critical Success with Roll To-Evade – If your character rolls exactly what they need to pass their Roll To-Evade combat test (without using Karma) and their target number is greater than zero, then the character has achieved Critical Success with their To-Evade task. If your character scores a critical success with their Roll To-Evade, then they do not give up their action in the PC round. This means that they can act in the PC round normally, or even sacrifice this action yet again to attempt another To-Evade test should an additional attack successfully target them this round.

Combat Specialties

With all combat actions tied to a single trait, it might seem that players are limited in their combat options. What if a player wants to play a savage barbarian who concentrates all her strength on doing the most damage possible? Or maybe a player wants to play a defensive tank who tows-the-line and endures the onslaught of the oncoming hoard?

This is where “Combat Specialties” come into play. Combat specialties are optional and allow players to focus their character on a specific style of combat. A player can invoke no more than one combat specialty at a time.

Interrupt Specialty – Your character specializes on acting before the enemy. Note that players who arm themselves with reach weapons like pole-arms or those who choose to “Dual Wield for Offense” invoke this Combat Specialty automatically.

What you gain – If your Roll To-Interrupt is successful, it is treated as an automatic Critical Success.

What you lose – Your focus on attacking first and fastest means that your defenses suffer. You cannot Roll To-Evade when using the Interrupt Specialty.

Attack Specialty – Your character specializes in doing the most damage they can. Note that players who arm themselves with two-handed melee weapons such as Claymores or Battle Axes invoke this Combat Specialty automatically.

What you gain – If your Roll To-Hit is successful, it is treated as an automatic Critical Success.

What you lose – Your focus on doing the most damage possible means that your defenses suffer. You cannot Roll To-Evade when using the Attack Specialty.

Defense Specialty – Your character specializes in evading attacks and avoiding damage. Note that players who carry a shield or a staff or who choose to “Dual Wield for Defense” invoke this Combat Specialty automatically.

What you gain – If your first Roll To-Evade is successful, it is treated as an automatic Critical Success. Subsequent attempts to Roll To-Evade are resolved normally.

What you lose – Fighting defensively means holding back and preparing to react to the actions of your opponent. If you are using the Defensive Specialty your character cannot Roll To-Interrupt.

Roll To-Damage

Roll To-Damage – After successfully landing an attack with a To-Hit combat test, your character then makes a “Roll To-Damage” combat test. This test is special in that it is not dependent upon your character's combat trait value, but is instead based upon the weapon your character is using and the armor protection worn by your target.

Critical Success with Roll To-Damage – As the Roll To-Damage test is based on the weapon that you are using and not based on any personal trait or skill, there is no way to roll Critical Success with a Roll To-Damage test. (You can score extra damage with a Critical Success on your Roll To-Hit combat test … see above.)

To resolve your Roll To-Damage test, compare your Weapon Rank to the Armor Rank of your target.

WEAPON RANK IS EQUAL TO ARMOR RANK
If your Weapon Rank is equal to the Armor Rank of your opponent you inflict 1 Wound Level of damage. Make a Roll To-Damage test. If you roll 0, you inflict an additional Wound Level of damage.

WEAPON RANK IS LESSER THAN ARMOR RANK
If your Weapon Rank is lesser than the Armor Rank of your opponent, you inflict 0 Wound Levels of damage. For each step your opponent's Armor Rank is greater than your Weapon Rank, find 0 on the Target Number Table and move one step to the left. (The first step to the left of 0 is 20.) This shows the Target number that you will need to roll with a standard Roll To-Damage test to inflict 1 Wound Level of damage.

WEAPON RANK IS GREATER THAN ARMOR RANK
If your Weapon Rank is greater than the Armor Rank of your opponent, you inflict 1 Wound Level of damage. For each step that your Weapon Rank is greater than your opponent's Armor Rank, find 0 on the Target Number Table and move one step to the right. (The first step to the right of 0 is 2.) This shows the Target number that you will need to roll with a standard Roll To-Damage test to inflict +1 additional Wound Level of damage.

Roll To-Resist

Roll To-Resist – Upon suffering damage from a successful attack, your character can attempt to shrug off the effects of that damage to stay on their feet and keep fighting. A To-Resist roll is a standard 5x5 test. You must use your action for the round in order to Roll To-Resist.

The To-Resist test is not included in the “one combat trait” general rule. A roll To-Resist trait can include any general character trait encompassing exceptional strength, endurance, determination or willpower.

Critical Success with Roll To-Resist – If your character rolls exactly what they need to pass their Roll To-Resist standard test (without using Karma) and their target number is greater than zero, then the character has achieved Critical Success with their To-Resist task. If your character scores a critical success with their Roll To-Resist, then they are able to recover up to two wound levels of damage instead of just one. Or if the character is “locked in” at a wound level greater than “Unharmed” a critical success will allow the character to break through that lock and begin recovering fully again.

Weapon and Armor Ranks

For the sake of simplicity Armor and Weapons use the same Rank Descriptors as any other Character Trait. Although it might sound silly to say, "I hit the Orc with my Apprentice Billy Club." So we just use the Rank Abbreviation.

In addition, the text follows the abbreviation with an "A" for Armor or a "W" for Weapon. So, if you see the text: Billy Club (ApW) ... you know that the Billy Club has a Weapon Rank of Apprentice.

Weapon Ranks

UnW – “Unskilled” Rank Weapons – no specific unarmed combat skill or experience, no weapons.

NoW – “Novice” Rank Weapons – table leg, broken bottle.

ApW – “Apprentice” Rank Weapons – daggers and knives, club, dart, shiriken, bola.

JoW – “Journeyman” Rank Weapons – short sword, whip, derringer, tomahawk, throwing axe, hatchet, martial arts.*

AdW – “Adept” Rank Weapons – rapier, saber, javelin, flintlock pistol, all light pistols, crossbow, quarterstaff, short bow, light submachine gun.

ExW – “Expert” Rank Weapons – longsword, longbow, musket, flintlock rifle, all medium pistols, all light rifles, light blaster (light energy pistol), all spears, medium submachine gun.

MaW – “Master” Rank Weapons – halberd, all medium rifles, medium blaster (medium energy pistol), light energy rifle, energy s word, all heavy pistols, battle axe, broadsword, heavy submachine gun.

GrW – “Grand Master” Rank Weapons – shotgun, all heavy rifles, heavy blaster (heavy energy pistol), medium energy rifle, ballista, Gatling gun, flamethrower, claymore or great sword, autocannon or any light cannon, machine gun.

ElW – “Elite” Rank Weapons – medium cannons, heavy energy rifles, grenades, mines.

WoW – “World Class” Rank Weapons – heavy cannons, energy cannon, bomb, TNT.

LeW – “Legendary” Rank Weapons – cosmic energy cannon, photon torpedo, nuclear weapon.

* Martial Artists have a Weapon Rank of JoW or two ranks lower than their Martial Arts skill, whichever is better.

Armor Ranks

UnA – “Unskilled” Rank Armor – scant clothing, lingerie.

NoA – “Novice” Rank Armor – normal clothing, street ware, fur, light cloth, any UnA + shield.*

ApA – “Apprentice” Rank Armor – soft leather or hide armor, heavy cloth, robes, any NoA + shield.*

JoA – “Journeyman” Rank Armor – padded or quilted armor, hard leather armor, heavy hide, any ApA + shield.*

AdA – “Adept” Rank Armor – studded leather armor, ring mail, any JoA + shield.*

ExA – “Expert” Rank Armor – scale mail, breast plate, chain mail, any AdA + shield.*

MaA – “Master” Rank Armor – splint mail, light body armor, Kevlar, space suit, any ExA + shield.*

GrA – “Grand Master” Rank Armor – plate mail, medium body armor, light vehicle armor, any MaA + shield.

ElA – “Elite” Rank Armor – heavy body armor, personal forcefield, medium vehicle armor, any GrA + shield.*

WoA – “World Class” Rank Armor – heavy vehicle armor, vehicle forcefield, powered space combat armor.

LeA – “Legendary” Rank Armor – cosmic vehicle armor, heavy vehicle forcefield, starship “shields.”

* Use of a shield can increase Armor Rank by one step up to a maximum of ElA.



As always, thoughts and feedback welcome.


Regards,


Jeff

Monday, September 30, 2013

Five by Five Weapons, Armor and Damage Alternate Rules

I am working on a Fantasy Supplement for Five by Five. In working on this I have decided that I would like a broader range of variables for weapons and armor than those given in the standard rules.

Here are my:

Five by Five Weapons, Armor and Damage Alternate Rules

The "Roll for Critical" rule for inflicting damage doesn't reward players who wish to focus on their weapons and armor. Below is an experimental new Weapon / Armor chart. Now instead of rolling for "Critcal" you roll for Damage to see if your attack penetrated the target's Armor.

It is possible with this new system to successfully hit but to fail to do any damage. If your weapon is not strong enough it may not penetrate your target's armor. To offset this, I have added a new Critical Success rule.

CRITICAL SUCCESS RULE
When you are using a Trait to perform an action and your Trait Rank Target Number is greater than 0, if you roll exactly what you need to succeed (without using Karma,) you have achieved critcal success!

CRITICAL SUCCESS IN COMBAT
If you score Critical Success with your Attack Roll or your Damage Roll, your attack inflicts +1 Wound of Damage. It is possible (but unlikely) to roll Critical Success on both your Attack and Damage Rolls earning a total +2 Wound bonus.

Using this optional expanded weapons/armor/damage system, attacks have a damage potential from 0 wounds to 4 wounds depending on the weapon and armor involved, and including the possibility of rolling critical success on attack and damage rolls.

If you score Critical Success with your Defense Roll, you are able to act during your turn just as if you were using the Sword and Board Combat Style option.

If your character is already using the Sword and Board option, then you gain a free Defense Roll for this turn. (Usually characters can only defend against one attack each turn, but if your character is using the Sword and Board combat option and they roll a critical Success with their Defense Roll they gain a free Defense Roll enabling them to defend against an additional attack that turn.) It is possible (but unlikely) to roll Critical Success on multiple Defense Rolls in the same turn, each time gaining the ability to Defend against another attack.


NEW WEAPON AND ARMOR RULES

Weapons and Armor are now measured using the same scale as any other Trait. It is no longer necessary to keep track of special numeric values for Weapons or Armor (no special TN's for Weapons or Rank Penalties for Armor.) From now on all we care about is the Armor or Weapon's Rank Descriptor.

For the sake of simplicity Armor and Weapons use the same Rank Descriptors as any other Character Trait. Although it might sound silly to say, "I hit the Orc with my Apprentice Billy Club."  So we just use the Rank Abbreviation. 

In addition, the text follows the abbreviation with an "A" for Armor or a "W" for Weapon. So, if you see the text: Billy Club (ApW) ... you know that the Billy Club has a Weapon Rank of Apprentice.  


Weapon vs. Armor – Roll for Damage!
( XxW = Weapon Rank / XxA = Armor Rank )


UnA
NoA
ApA
JoA
AdA
ExA
MaA
GrA
ElA
WoA
LeA
UnW
0*
20
15
12
10
8
6
5
4
3
2
NoW
2*
0*
20
15
12
10
8
6
5
4
3
ApW
3*
2*
0*
20
15
12
10
8
6
5
4
JoW
4*
3*
2*
0*
20
15
12
10
8
6
5
AdW
5*
4*
3*
2*
0*
20
15
12
10
8
6
ExW
6*
5*
4*
3*
2*
0*
20
15
12
10
8
MaW
8*
6*
5*
4*
3*
2*
0*
20
15
12
10
GrW
10*
8*
6*
5*
4*
3*
2*
0*
20
15
12
ElW
12*
10*
8*
6*
5*
4*
3*
2*
0*
20
15
WoW
15*
12*
10*
8*
6*
5*
4*
3*
2*
0*
20
LeW
20*
15*
12*
10*
8*
6*
5*
4*
3*
2*
0*

* Powerful weapons automatically penetrate weaker armor. The Target of this attack suffers One Wound automatically. Roll this number or less to inflict a Second Wound with your Roll for Damage!  

The chart above shows the Roll for Damage! needed in order for a weapon to successfully penetrate Armor and inflict One Wound of Damage on the Target. This information can be included for each weapon on the character sheet with a 13 column Weapon chart replacing the 8 column chart currently on the character sheet. 

In the Five by Five core book on page 24 I talk about Using Weapons and Armor. I show you how to find your "Critical" target by using the Target Number Table. Under the new system, the text would look something like this:

***

Simple Damage Rule

If you are playing in a setting where you don't care to keep track of the different weapons and armor in the game, use the Simple Damage rule:

Your Attack inflicts 1 Wound Level of Damage. Make a Damage Roll. If you roll 0, you inflict an additional Wound Level of Damage.

***

Advanced Damage Rules

If you want to use Weapon and Armor rules that recognize the impact that this equipment has on combat use the Advanced Damage rules:

WEAPON RANK IS EQUAL TO ARMOR RANK
If your Weapon Rank is equal to the Armor Rank of your opponent you inflict 1 Wound Level of damage. Make a Damage Roll. If you roll 0, you inflict an additional Wound Level of damage. (Notice that this is the same as the Simple Damage Rule.)

WEAPON RANK IS LESSER THAN ARMOR RANK
If your Weapon Rank is lesser than the Armor Rank of your opponent, you inflict 0 Wound Levels of damage. For each step your Weapon Rank is lesser than < your opponent's Armor Rank, find 0 on the Target Number Table and move one step to the left. (The first step to the left of 0 is 20.) This shows the Target number that you will need to inflict 1 Wound Level of damage.

WEAPON RANK IS GREATER THAN ARMOR RANK
If your Weapon Rank is greater than the Armor Rank of your opponent, you inflict 1 Wound Level of damage. For each step that your Weapon Rank is greater than > your opponent's Armor Rank, find 0 on the Target Number Table and move one step to the right. (The first step to the right of 0 is 2.) This shows the Target number that you will need to inflict +1 additional Wound Level of damage.

***

At first glance this might look more complicated than the existing Weapons/Armor/Damage rules, but I believe that in practice these rules will prove to be easier to work with.

With these rules you begin by asking if Weapon Rank and Armor Rank are equal and always begin from the origin point of "0." That's going to be much easier to remember and it eliminates the need for tracking special target numbers and penalty numbers for Weapons and Armor.


Jeff

Thursday, September 26, 2013

13th Age


Dungeons and Dragons 4E really didn't sit well with me. My first RPG experience was AD&D it was first edition, but for us it was just AD&D which distinguished it from Basic D&D which was somehow to our high-school aged minds inferior. I have watched the RPG evolve and I have been along for the ride. And through most of it, after AD&D and high-school I was the GM or referee. I have run so many different games and game systems ... Traveller, Villains and Vigilantes, Champions, Time Master, Star Wars, Ghost Busters, Doctor Who, Mekton, Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play, Dream Park, Toon, High Colonies, Justifiers, Fantasy Hero, Star Hero, Chill, Top Secret, Gamma World, Serenity, Marvel Superhero Adventure Game, Savage Worlds ... I am sure that I have missed a few ...

And there is Dungeons and Dragons, I've run original D&D and AD&D first and second edition and 3rd and 4th Edition, and even some D&D clones Labyrinth Lord, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Castles and Crusades. I have enjoyed all of them. All of the games that I ran were fun to play. But the list of games you see here is so massive because all of them eventually lost their luster and me and my players decide it's time to try something else. The thing is, of all the games I have ever run, 4E probably lost it's luster the quickest.

I know the game system gets it's share of grief. I believe that in some circles in the community the game is considered a failure. I am not sure what it is about the game that ruined it. But, here are my 2 cents ... such as they are ... there are many many mechanics and fiddly bits infused in the name of "game balance" that seem to restrict choice. Role Play felt somehow strangled by this restriction ... I am not sure why, but it was there. The game wasn't friendly enough. It didn't invite you as a play group to "make it your own" to "house rule" and pick and choose. In the name of game balance the whole thing seemed like a very delicate house of cards. We were "afraid" to mess with it ... to "play" with it. So, we didn't. And in a few months we moved on. That's the fairest evaluation I can give.

So ... 13th Age. My brother Chris (who has edited a few of my RPGs for me) is in LOVE with 13th Age. I have been looking it over, and ... it has mechanics and bits that make it so much like 4E it's scary, one of the game's two key designers is Rob Heinsoo who was the lead developer for 4E. Don't take my word for it, there are plenty of reviews of 13th Age out there. I won't get into too much detail here about the game or it's mechanics. I just want to share my "gut" feeling.

If what I speak of above regarding my impressions of 4E are on the mark, then 13th Age speaks to those. Many 4E design mechanics are present, but they are presented in an accessible and modular fashion that invites you to use what you want, change what you want ... to make the game your own. Perhaps there's something to my criticisms of 4E. Perhaps I am not the only one who had this impression of the rules.

So, 13 Age gives the appearance of being more user friendly ... but what really sold me, was USING the rules. I made a few characters, and it was SO MUCH FUN. At first the 4E-ness of it intimidated me and I was a little reluctant to start, but once I made my first character, I was all in. And I went to bed that night thinking about character creation. The next day, I made another character. The picture at top is my second 13th Age character. Both characters were so much fun to make. I find that I want to make more.

My other major concern with 4E was the way that the inaccessible structure seemed to limit role-play by tying everything so tightly up in rules (it really felt like playing a board game.) Well, I already mentioned that 13th Age has loosened up the 4E rules stranglehold. But, as if that weren't enough, the game also is loaded to bare with tools designed to give players all manner of role-play handles. It seems like 13th Age has addressed every concern about 4E that I had, and made the best of corrections.

D&D Next (based on play-test materials only) seems to have removed itself from much of what 4E was in the interest or reclaiming it's audience. It's a very different approach to the problem that was 4E. And, it too makes choices in both making the game that we play more accessible while attempting to retain some of what 4E had so as not to alienate those people who did play and enjoy 4E (they are out there.)

The D&D Next choices are very different, and I don't feel like it's an evolution of the previous edition so much as a reboot. 13th Age seems more like evolution. So, if you were a fan of 4E, then you really owe it to yourself to give 13th Age a look. If not ... well, if what I say above about my impressions of 4E resonate with you at all, then maybe you should look at 13th Age too.

There are some wonky, fiddly gamey-wamey bits that concern me ... but, I am reserving judgement until I have a chance to play. Because there is so much potential good here, it just can't be ignored. And as an aside this is one of the most beautiful game books I have ever bought. I don't mean the illustration or layout necessarily (which are pretty nice) but, rather the actual book. The weight of the paper, the quality of the binding. This is a really fantastically produced piece of hardware. It deserves a spot on your gaming bookshelf for sure.



Jeff

Monday, September 23, 2013

Mouse Puke



This is my character for my brother Chris's upcoming 13th Age campaign.



Jeff

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hero Quest Board Artwork


For the Quests in my Diablo version of HeroQuest I am using a nifty program called, The HeroQuest Game Maker. This little tool is awesome for the designing of my quest maps, but I have decided that I'd like to have a final map image that shaded the inaccessible areas of the map and used icons that were more like the ones shown in the original quest book. So, I made my own tool for that.

This is just a layered graphic file that I created in GiMP. GiMP is an opensource graphic program available for free. I am making the final graphic versions of my dungeon maps using this as my foundation. I am really happy with the way that it's turning out.

Feel free to use these in your own HeroQuest projects if you'd like.

Regards,


Jeff

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Hero Quest - Diablo Style





My roomies and I are getting ready to embark on a campaign of Milton Bradley's HeroQuest board game. Out of print since around 1993. It is in my opinion the very best implementation of a dungeon crawl board game ever made. If it has one weakness it is (in my opinion) the limited advancement options for the Wizard when compared to the Barbarian, Elf and Dwarf who are able to buy upgrades in the Armory.

The item based advancement system is easily expandable and house ruled and the whole game has received a lot of online support despite its age. This site has an revised version of the game that has been authorized by Hasbro (who owns the Milton Bradley brand.) But it's in French! I don't see any sign of the game being translated to English although I am seriously considering attempting to facilitate the move myself. Any French language speakers interested in helping me out?

My idea for correcting the Wizard advancement problem is simply to remove the "not usable by Wizard" limitation. Of course I needed to have some means to keep the archtypes in place. I decided to make item use based on BODY and MIND. It didn't take me long to realize what I was working on was an item based advancement system that mirrored the original Diablo computer game by Blizzard almost exactly.

And that was that! A HeroQuest Adventure Pack based on the Diablo computer game seemed like the only thing to do! My roomies and I are really looking forward to playing this!

If you want to have a look at what I've done so far, download the PDF of the DiabloQuest pack for HeroQuest and have a look!

Regards,


Jeff Moore






Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Doom Patrol on DC Nation

This clip of the DC Nation Doom Patrol short looks pretty cool.



I think Doom Patrol would make a great cartoon feature or movie. They are a really interesting mix of characters and they a lesser known than some others which I think would be a bonus in bringing them to the screen.

Regards,

Jeff

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fall Premieres



I don't really consider myself a big "TV watcher," but man there seems to be a lot of things coming up that are going to see me sitting my bum in front of the TV. Here's what I look forward to watching ... how about you?

Sons of Anarchy - Season 6 - Tues, Sept 10
Legend of Korra - Season 2 -  Fri, Sept 13
How I Met Your Mother - Season 9 - Mon, Sept 23
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 1 - Tue, Sept 24
Arrow - Season 2 - Wed, Oct 9
Walking Dead - Season 4 - Sun, Oct 13
Lost Girl - Season 4 - Sun, Nov 10
Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special - Sat, Nov 23
Doctor Who Christmas Special 2013 - Wed, Dec 25

Not sure on the Christmas Special date. It usually broadcasts on or around Christmas, but I don't think an exact date has actually been announced.

Let me know what you're looking forward to this fall season.

Regards,


Jeff

Friday, August 23, 2013

Lost in the Temple


So ... I don't think the game that I thought that I remembered buying and playing way back when was Temple of Elemental Evil at all ... I think it was actually, "Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor" and that game sucked and is universally despised. And, I think that it's the game that I was thinking of when I stumbled onto ToEE.

So, ToEE is awesome ... but, bad news it was $3.59 when I bought it, and now it's $5.99 ... not sure why I got so lucky to catch it on sale by accident, but $6.00 still isn't sucky for a computer game.

And yes, I said, ToEE is awesome. It's tough. But, I think the designers know that players will use every advantage. And you will want to save often (and in multiple slots) so you can go back if you need to. It's tough but rewarding. The story hasn't really grabbed me at all, but it doesn't matter ... the magic of the game is in the 3.5 character progression and turn based combat.

I was lost in the Temple of Elemental Evil. I spoke to a guard who said he would take me inside, but that he had to blind fold me first. Like a bozo, I went for it. And I couldn't find my way out. I couldn't rest because of wandering encounters. But everyone was hurt and I kept fighting and running and trying to find my way, and the deeper I got and the more combats I won, the less I wanted to load a save of the game that was prior to my going in.

I managed to rest once. My characters just hit 6th level and I managed to rest. I had my druid heal everyone as much as she could ... it was a help ... but not much ... we were in bad shape. Then I walked right into it ... the biggest damned encounter I had found yet. A guard barracks filled to the gills with elite guards.

I was in a panic ... I was F'ing screwed ... then I remembered ... My sorceress had just learned (and managed that one rest) FIREBALL. Oh, my F'ing Lord that was a sweet battle. I fire-balled that room full of guards twice before my weary little troop of adventurers entered the melee, and let me tell you, when it was all over, that was a sweet victory.

I did manage to make it out, and my party is 7th level now. The game is tough ... but it's worth it ... even at the inflated price of $6.00 should you decide to check it out.


Regards,


Jeff

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ambition and Avarice



Christmas, 1981. I am 16 years old. I have been playing Dungeons and Dragons since the school year began, but I don't own any of the books. Under the Christmas tree is the Red boxed Basic Rules by Moldvay. I remember vividly the feeling of opening that book for the first time. It was the only connection to this new found passion that I could call upon when not actually playing. I read and re-read those pages hundreds and hundreds of times.

If you are like me and you can remember that special magical feeling you got from reading your first RPG book, then you will know that it is no small amount of praise that I heap upon Ambition and Avarice 1st Edition by Greg Christopher, when I say, "It felt like reading Dungeons and Dragons again for the first time."

Ambition and Avarice is but one of many, many second-generation OSR RPG's produced in recent years. I use "second-generation" to refer to a game that draws as much inspiration from other OSR products as it does original Dungeons and Dragons, as well as a game that is not meant to be a clone of Dungeons and Dragons but rather something new that still feels familiar and reasonably old-school.

Ambition and Avarice scores high on all counts. It manages to feel like the Dungeons and Dragons that I grew up with and remember fondly from my youth, and yet it manages to do just about everything just a little bit differently. I find myself reading my favorite game again for the first time, and scouring over every page. It's not sufficient just to "browse" certain sections. Every word has value and every little change serves to make a better game.

This is the Dungeons and Dragons of my youth and yet it is nothing like the Dungeons and Dragons of my youth. The fact that Christopher can somehow solicit both reactions from my brain is testament to his skill as a game author. His text is comfortable and familiar but the content is evolved. This game is the perfect example of what the OSR should be doing. Blending the "old" and the "new" to produce something that is only the best of both.

I purchased both the color print and PDF copies of Ambition and Avarice from RPG Now and I would encourage anyone else to do the same. The use of color text throughout the book adds more to its presentation than I would have thought possible. The printed book is just beautiful.

The whole thing is just under 100 pages. This, for me is a boon. I tend to resist RPG books that are much bigger than this. For me, ultimately I want to "play" these games. And for the sake of play I believe in a concise presentation of information. Ambition and Avarice hits that "sweet spot" for me.

As I said, I found myself reading every word of this as if I were learning about RPG's again for the first time. The INTRODUCTION contains some of the best, most usable advice for both players and referees that I have read. The analogy to role-playing as "sport" rather than as a "game" was refreshing and useful. Christopher pretty much had me hooked from the first page.

CHARACTER CREATION begins with the expected six attributes, these can be generated a number of ways. The attributes themselves are well presented and everything is explained well. There are a few new things here. Under Constitution we are introduced to the "Rest Die" which is the die you roll to determine how many lost hit-points you are able to recover after a night's sleep. I also liked the explanations of language and literacy and their connection to the Intelligence attribute.

Next we have character RACES. The standards are here, and more. The way Race impacts your character and the way you play the game, much of this is new, and for me every change made perfect sense. Saving throws for example are based on Race, not Class. As is your character's Hit Die.

There are 10 Races total, 5 civilized and 5 barbaric. The referee can opt to limit a campaign to one Race subgroup or the other, or melt them all together. The variety of choices is something that OSR products of the past have often shied away from. Here, variety is abundant, without increasing complexity. The division of the Races reminds me of the "Hoard" versus "Alliance" division in World of Warcraft. I could see a group playing an Ambition and Avarice campaign set in the world of Azeroth quite easily.

There are also 10 CLASSES to choose from, 5 mundane and 5 magical. There is no limitation of Race / Class combination so 100 different possibilities exist. Magical classes can cast spells, Mundane classes cannot, but have a small number of "character points" to spend on DUNGEON THROWS. Each class has an "Expertise" a special task that defines your class, the ability to "Identify" some specific thing unique to each class, "Proficiencies" which define combat training, and "Companions" which specify a type of NPC follower that your class can acquire.

Dungeon Throws are like skills that are defined in the same way as Saving Throws are in other OSR systems. Everyone has the same set of six of these: climb, force, locks, notice, sneak and traps. But each of varying ability based on the character's class.

Spells are defined by level and use the old-school method of Vancian spellcasting, but interestingly the spells like the Dungeon Throws are not defined by class. Each magical class gives you a set of "starting spells" to choose from, just as the mundane classes give starting scores for Dungeon Throws, but beyond initial character creation, the selection of spells, or development of Dungeon Throws is left entirely to the player without restriction.

Proficiencies define the weapons you are skilled at using and anyone has the option to learn more by either spending character points or through play by using the weapon (and suffering the unskilled penalty) for a period of time in actual combat. Any armor can be worn by any class. There are no "armor proficiencies." But, armor can negatively effect Dungeon Throws, and cause spell failure.

The spell descriptions themselves are another highlight of the game. It seems like every spell is new and unique, yet familiar. Like everything about Ambition and Avarice, it felt like reading Dungeons and Dragons for the first time. Spells are different and new, but they feel familiar and right. Nothing here had me scratching my head or questioning the logic of the choice.

Armor class is ascending, so attacks are roll d20+ vs. AC. Other rolls work the same whether they are Saving Throws, or Dungeon Throws. Some Racial Abilities use an X in 6 roll, which works for me in making them distinct from the other types of throws. I found all of it very easy to grasp and comfortable. I wonder how much of this is my old-school background, and how someone who's first experience with Dungeons and Dragons was 4th edition might view the game.

There's some new rules on drugs and toxins here that I really liked. There are rules for creating and reskinning monsters, but no monster lists within the game. As an OSR compatible product, I don't see this as a problem. There are plenty of monster books available to steal ideas from and good advice here for keeping things fresh. Magic Items are also lacking here, but again I don't see this as a problem as numerous sources for these things already exist and these omissions have helped to keep the page count of the game down.

All in all, Ambition and Avarice may be the best OSR product I have bought. It combines diversity and simplicity with a Dungeons and Dragons "steak and potatoes" like flavor that's unmatched by any other RPG that I've read ... And, I can't stop reading it! It's made my old familiar game feel new again and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Regards,


Jeff


Friday, August 16, 2013

Temple of Elemental Evil



I could have sworn that I bought this game ... Temple of Elemental Evil.

It remains one of the only games to use the D&D 3.5 rules set. And if you like those rules (and I know that you do) the implementation was supposed to be pretty darn good.

Problem was the game was "buggy" as hell.

Interestingly, I decided to look into the game again ... (has to do with work I am trying to do for the game design project I am involved with right now.) And what did I find?

Apparently an aggressive modding community surrounding the game.

Never underestimate D&D fans with computer savvy.

Since it is in fact the only computer game implementation of the 3.5 rules (and as I said, according to what I have read, a very good one) D&D fans have decided that it's up to them to make the damn game work.

There are fan patches to fix almost all the bugs and in fact new content that takes the game from it's level 10 cap all the way up to level 20. I even saw a "Keep on the Borderlands" module patch.

The "modding" community is a crazy concept to me ... awesome.

Anyway, the game seems like it might be an entirely new experience if a person would care to give it a fresh look (10 years after it's initial release.)

And like I said ... I know that I bought this game ... but darned if I can't find it.

So, I looked and GoG (Good Old Games) has it on downloadable install for less than $4. Less than $4?  Less than coffee and a doughnut?  I just went ahead and bought it again ... what the heck.

So, just thought you might be interested to know ... I am playing Temple of Elemental Evil.

I will let you know if my second experience with the game is any better than my first.


Regards,


Jeff

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

DC Nation Wonder Woman Complete

So DC Comics released the full run of Wonder Woman shorts on You Tube. There is only the three, but the clips I shared earlier were incomplete and it was pretty obvious if you watched them back to back that there were holes. Well the "holes" have been plugged, and these complete "shorts" fit together nicely. Well worth a second look.

DC Nation - Wonder Woman - Part 1 (full)





DC Nation - Wonder Woman - Part 2 (full)





DC Nation - Wonder Woman - Part 3 (full)




Very excited about these. I feel like although DC comics have not shown too well in the live action arena, that it's animation work continues to be innovative and fun!


Regards,


Jeff



Friday, August 09, 2013

September ...

Keiko Tatsu - Sample Five by Five Charater



This is my friend Starbuck's write up for his character for an upcoming Five by Five campaign ...

Keiko Tatsu (means Shining Dragon)
Attack: Journeyman - Daisho (4)
Weapon: Katana and Wakisashi (10)
Armor: Light - Studded Leather riding jacket, gloves, helmet, boots (1)
Preferred Combat Style: Dual Wielding.
(Keiko uses a katana in her left hand and a Wakisashi in her right hand)

Traits:
Expert Lead Guitar/Music (6)
Adept Resilient, resist (5)
Journeyman Daisho, Attack (4)
Apprentice Japanese sword making/metal smith  (3)
Novice Computers (2)
Trouble Speaking (Doubles) ... Keiko has Selective Mutism

Keiko was born in Japan to a traditional family. Her father is a grand master in Daisho and Japanese sword smithing.  At an early age Keiko lost her mother and her younger brother in a massive earthquake that she and her father barely survived. Since then she has been almost totally unable to speak a word.

In his grief and as a way to protect his last remaining daughter, her father migrated with her to the United States. There he continued his practice and began teaching his young daughter his trade. Keiko grew up isolated and persecuted in this strange land because of her affliction. Keiko is not naturally aggressive but often having to defend herself from bullies caused her to become fiercely independent and very resilient.

In the U.S. Keiko’s father was able to get her help in the form of therapy. Although it took many years for her to open up at all again, she finally began speaking in small amounts to her father. Later on she befriended a girl in her music class named Lacy and began speaking to her. However she still cannot talk to most others beyond the rare occasion where she has utters a single word or sometimes a growl if she is surprised, irritated or upset.

She just barely managed to make it through high school with one exception. She has an affinity for music and easily picks up new instruments and writes amazing songs. Since leaving school and with the help of her best friend Lacy, Keiko has formed, and become the lead guitarist, in a rock band she named in tribute to her ancestors called Dragonborne. Lacy, whom Keiko met in a music class, is lead singer. They play almost nightly and have a small but growing following, mostly because of Keiko’s amazing guitar talent.

By day she works for her father in a small knife shop he owns. She also trains with him in the art of Daisho (The Japanese art of two handed sword fighting) and is his apprentice in the art of Japanese sword making. Her father has been her greatest supporter but she knows he will not be around forever so she has also recently picked up some computer skills as a means to help her communicate better.



Keiko has just turned 20 and is heavily tattoo'ed with long shocking black hair and exotic green almond shaped eyes. Her rare eye color is the one remaining thing she has to remember her mother by, a gift of DNA from her Icelandic born parent. Keiko stands just over 5 feet tall, is 105 pounds, wears deep burgundy biker’s leathers and rides a Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Motorcycle.

***

In searching for an image of a Japanese Schoolgirl with a guitar to top this post, I discovered the anime character Nakano Azusa ... Including some awesome COS Play pics.



Not sure what Starbuck had imagined, but I think she fits the above character descriptions nicely. Hmm... except the absence of tattoos ... she must have added those after high-school when she bought the motorcycle.











Regards,


Jeff