Category: Finalized

Road Trip! – solo dice placement game

The open road calls…the luggage is packed, the car is (mostly) fuelled up, the kids have scribbled on
the road maps, and the theme park, scenic canyon, party town, museum, or whatever destination

Get the Road Trip! rules (1 page rules, 1 page example, and a game sheet)

I’ve never made a solo game until now, so this was a neat new experience. I have also wanted to work with dice placement some more after playing Dicey Dungeons (computer game) and Sagrada (board game). This is a quick (~10-15 minutes…even less if you lose!) casual game meant to be played when you have some time to kill. I think you can really imagine the journey based on what happens each turn (like losing Fuel from getting lost, and everyone being hungry, but you have a terrific CD playing and the music cheers everyone up). I would have liked to fit Weather in as some kind of mechanic, but I just couldn’t squeeze that in there.

I could see making an extended version of the game for multiple players, perhaps with everyone being someone in the car, and trying to juggle all the needs of the passengers and relationships, just like a real road trip.



Fickle RPG online dice roller

During my last remote session of Fickle RPG I realized maybe half my friends who played don’t actually have enough D6s on hand, and had to resort to online dice rollers. Most of which aren’t designed in the least for the style of dice rolling that you do in the game. So I figured I’d make a simple Fickle RPG dice roller that everyone can use next time!

Fickle RPG Dice Roller:

I think I’ll use that as the main link. But it’s a redirect that some places (like Facebook messenger) have problems with. So I’ll likely pass around the alternate link of

The roller is made with plain HTML and Javascript and is totally enclosed in a single file. You can use it offline by just opening the HTML file in a web browser. Which is super handy as it’s braindead simple to setup, no install needed or whatever, and in case my hosting plan ever goes away or is down. You can download a ZIP of the dice roller.

Anyway suggestions are more than welcome! I primarily meant the process to be done with hotkeys, so you just press the number of dice you want, how many go to Fickle, and answer Y/N to Luck Dice going to Fickle or Flat, then it rolls and you get your total success right away. People might use the dropdowns and buttons though still.

Setting: Spaceship crash in Fickle RPG

With Covid-19 keeping all the fun RPGing remote, I ran a pair of sessions recently for Fickle RPG. We used Discord for audio/video and people scrounged whatever sheets they had lying around or could print, as well as a mish mash of D6s (I never realized how few of my friends had dice collections haha). The game is really meant to be played in person, as allocating the dice loses a lot of the bluff/guessing element when there’s an audio delay and people can’t be face to face. We also didn’t use the Underdog Bonus as it was easier remotely for people to just allocate/roll/total successes and tell me what they got.

The same theme was used both nights (was back to back Fri and Sat, super fun but mentally tiring). The first night had 4 players but unfortunately one had connection/internet problems so they bailed halfway through. The second night had 5-7 people that fluctuated as some people had to leave a bit earlier than others, or arrived late. I was somewhat rusty for the first night, and took what I learned and tried to correct the mistakes I made for the second night. Fun all around and I’m glad to play again.

Anyway here is the Spaceship Crash setting document.

Basically in the year 2285 Earth is a mess, as are a few settled/colonized planets in our solar system. The United Patrol and Colonization (UPAC) corp who manages it all wants to send out giant Worldships to look for new planets to exploit colonize. This plan fails and the ships lose communication just past Pluto. Which of course fires up a protest group of neo-Luddites led by Jeremiah Penwrick. UPAC tries a last ditch effort of just sending out any ship they can. The players are on one such ship, the UPAC Lentana, and the session starts with them rudely being awoken from cryosleep to the ship tearing itself apart in atmosphere. A sabotaged gyroscope is the culprit!

A few “a-ha” moments were that one player was a Penwrick traitor who was trying to sabotage the mission. The other is because the crew were in cryosleep for 93 years, UPAC actually advanced their technology well enough to get FTL travel, and had arrived on the same planet earlier.

Here’s a recap I sent to the gaming crew, and I’ll paste again here to get an idea of how it played:

Second Night: 15 person converted mail carrier. 1 meal of food after crashing. Radar was split into two. One other survivor who was wounded but was saved (was a female doctor). Found the advanced fuel rod buried under a rock. Found an intact cryosleep chamber of Almon Garcia, looked like he was in a coma, so they opened it up then jacked him full of post-cryo stims, which overloaded his body and killed him. Scavenged various food (superheated snakes, space potatoes, etc.). Storm was incoming, and on the way to the second radar piece it hit. Over the next day the water flooded and rose to 150 feet. They used the inflatable habitat as a floating thing with a crude paddle to try to get back to the ship. Dove to their ship, recovered Picard and the other radar, which ACCIDENTALLY had the safety rope cut from basically right at the raft. Player had an encounter with a merfolk/mermaid type creature with purple stones in it’s head that shut down nearby electronics. Eventually made another dive for the radar and got it. Climbed a mountain, with the help of a zero-G zone, and setup the radar at the top. It found a UPAC vehicle near a settlement. Went to the settlement, which was primitive, and the people there kept chanting “they’re back”. Finally the party asked how long they were in cryosleep (same 93 years), then it dawned on them that UPAC discovered FTL and made it to the planet 10 years ago. That crew fought and killed each other. The super advanced ship was still there and accessible. Everyone got on, and just as they were going to put the expended fuel rod in the traitor player smashed it. The traitor had saved another player’s life, so they sided together him. Then THAT player had saved another player’s life, so he sided with the traitors too. This left two loyal UPAC players who had a shootout/scuffle to the death with the other three. At one point the traitor’s buddy pointed the ship at a mountain to suicide. Turns out in the heat of the battle we literally ALL forgot about that, until 2 or 3 turns later when they asked what happened with the flying, so everyone smashed into a mountain and died.

First Night: Bigger ship (25 people), less food concerns, had a “Mule” (open topped ATV type vehicle) since one of the players had chosen to be a pilot so needed something to do on planet. The 7 foot long radar also was intact. Found the advanced fuel rod buried in a field of snow. A few of the less Intellect-y folks failed a roll and saw a glowing white light, when touched they had a vision of a massive flood. Oh and the fuel rod when hooked to the Mule sent it into FTL across the planet. Found a swamp, blew up the explosive gas there, found lumps of “membrane” wrapped creatures. Tried to seal up part of the spaceship as a life raft in case the incoming storm was the apocalyptic flood from the vision. Had a run in with some local savages. Once the radar was setup it kept randomly breaking, WEIRD. Eventually jury rigged the Mule with the advanced fuel rod onto the spaceship/liferaft, and went to blast into space. Turns out the obviously sabotaged radar was done by a player, who was the pilot, who flew the ship straight up, then lol straight back into the planet

White Line Fever 1.0 released!!!

White Line Fever 1.0 released!!!

Well it’s been almost a year (to the day) since my post about reworking White Line Fever to push-your-luck, and from there I’ve slowly been trimming, refining, and playtesting the game. In a recent push of motivation I finally took all the interior pictures necessary to replace the placeholders. And I’ve spent a few hours putting it all together into a finished v1.0! Hooray for a release!! Best feeling!!!

 White Line Fever v1.0 PDF rulebook

I might add a title page similar to the one above (with a bit more polish) or maybe even with an entirely new picture, but we’ll see when that happens. Otherwise I do want to come back to the system (after a bit of a break to work on other projects) to continue my work on the campaign system I started brainstorming.
You can see the rough notes on that called Open Road brainstorm.

But for now it’s celebration time, maybe I’ll buy a few new Hot Wheels and watch the new Hobbs & Shaw or something.

Tiny but important Party of Light tweaks (and even more art)

So as if that isn’t the most lovably old school medieval fantasy image ever, right? I can’t wait to use a similar style in Glowquest when I get around to adding art. But for now this beauty is going straight into the Party of Light rulebook, now v2.6 (a 0.1 increase since last week! 🙂 )

Download the new Party of Light v2.6 PDF rulebook.

Now a bit of a look at what’s changed…

Problems from Yesterday’s Session
I had another game session with my sister and nieces yesterday so I have a few takeaways from my recent changes, as well as some tweaks I want to do. First of all:

  • The kids didn’t really use the Action Ideas list. Was super handy for me as thinking up mechanic effects on the fly is hard when organizing and managing the rest of the game.
  • We had 3 failed Heroic Moments, which is rare, but also feels like kind of a bummer, almost like the old Fickle RPG approach where you use your big moment, fail, and feel deflated. So I reworded the rules a bit to say it should equal ~5 outcomes AND always do SOMETHING even on failure.
  • Base Speed 3 feels a tiny bit too slow on the old Dragonstrike boards, so I bumped it up to 4 and made the choosable bonus +2 instead of +1.

We also had an on-paper interesting engagement. The heroes were in a blizzard, approaching an unknown camp situated along a popular trade route. I setup the board and put figures on. And one player suggested trying to solve it in a non-combat way (which is rare in a traditional RPG once the figures come out). Now I’ve intentionally written Party of Light to be a bit like Fickle RPG where “Stamina” is used instead of Hitpoints/Health/Life, to subtly hint that you can damage it in other ways than pure combat. Which is all well and good. Until the hero and enemy started trying to talk down the other one, intimidate them, etc. for what felt like an eternity because of failed rolls.

Looking at Dice Odds (Again…)
Which made me revisit my dice odds. When I made the change from flat Stamina damage to D4 damage I changed the odds a bit and Easy became a bit harder. But with the new Action Ideas list I was using a ton more Normal actions, and dang does 50/50 ever flip. I read a bit more about the topic, and learned that in blind studies (mostly related to gambling, so you know they’re serious) people were told they had a 50% chance to win but the consensus was it only FELT that way to a person if they ACTUALLY won 66% of the time. Wizards of the Coast also looked at this type of problem with D&D 4th and 5th edition and found 60-80% success is a good starting point. Anything above is actually MORE frustrating to fail (like a 90% or 95% chance to hit) because it feels “cheap” or like you deserved the success. I’m sure all the X-COM computer players out there can relate to missing a 95% chance shot and wanting to throw their keyboard out the window.

While researching I also found some good quotes on the topic, so I thought I’d share those:

Failing at trivial things only makes your story into a farce.

Definitely felt that one before (…flashbacks to Fickle RPG when players tried to get their ally to throw up the zombie infected ticks inside them), and it’s steered me to only roll for important stuff. Because sometimes I’ll ask for a check/roll, then if the players fail it I realize, whoops, that wasn’t worth doing a check for, and now it’s lame.

Combat should advance at a snappy pace. Whiff-fests are boring, and if you have a round go by in which nothing really happens, you’ve just wasted everyone’s time.

This describes about 2 entire rounds for the camp negotiations above. Sure we could have switched to “safer” action options that gave bonuses or guaranteed at least a bit of success, but since no one did the situation sort of dragged out and ground to a halt. I find a lot of talk=damage situations can end up this way. For some reason saying “I swing my sword” three times in a row isn’t as…weird? feeling as saying “I argue with the bandit to let us pass” three times in a row. Maybe because players have a lifetime of experience talking and negotiating but haven’t exactly lived the life of a medieval adventurer.

100% are the most fun odds. Something should happen, 100% of the time, when you roll the dice.
Whether that’s success, a complication, or whatever, the end result of a roll of the dice should never be “nothing happens”.
EVERY roll of the dice should move the story forward in some way. That’s good game design.

This last quote is around the more modern idea of non-binary dice systems, where even on failure SOMETHING happens. Binary resolution is “you hit, or you miss, the end.” Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars and Genesys gets around this with Advantages/Disadvantages. Those have their own downsides, but yeah. In the case of Party of Light, with the target audience being younger, I think I’m going to stick to binary resolution. Mainly because “you miss, BUT…” drags the turn out.

Solutions and Changes
Another possible solution I thought of are opposed rolls, or defense rolls. Much like Fickle RPG where SOMETHING always happens because if you fail the enemy has succeeded, so they get to do their thing. Again downsides: the kids sometimes take a while thinking of what they want to do on their OWN turn, if they ALSO had to think of a reaction everytime they are attacked it’d bog down even more. Overall the combat might be faster (since someone is probably losing Stamina every action), but I don’t think it’s worth the tradeoff for the flow of each individual turn. Again this is just for Party of Light, because as I mentioned Fickle RPG does action/reaction for each turn, but that’s a different beast and different target audience.

Or I could give a player who fails their action a bonus for their NEXT turn. Like a poker chip or something called “focus” or whatever. Maybe even lets them reroll their next action. It could end up hecka game-y as people could intentionally fail a Hard action (but what a bonus if they succeed!) just to get a focus token for the next turn. Plus it’s just one more thing to track and manage. I had a phase of loving re-rolls, but now I find they are often tacked on in a lot of cases, unless they are entirely core to a game (like Blood Bowl).

In the end the simplest and easiest solution is to just tweak the basic dice odds of success. I considered swapping a D10 somewhere in there (maybe for Normal). Some info:

Success on 5+:
D6 = 33%
D8 = 50%
D10 = 60%
D12 = 66%

Success on 4+:
D6 = 50%
D8 = 62.5%
D10 = 70%
D12 = 75%

If I put Success back to a 4+ then Easy gets a +9% buff for chance to succeed, but most importantly Normal gets +12.5% buff, and Hard becomes more usable with +17%. Because honestly that 50/50 doesn’t feel great on Normal once you’ve had a bad streak of failing it three or four times in a row, but would be acceptable on Hard. And I don’t have to get the crummy non-platonic-solid D10 involved (I hate that stupid dice).

So yeah, all said and done in Party of Light v2.6 I switched Success from 5+ to 4+ to encourage more Normal usage and make Easy checks succeed more often (although I’d prefer 5% less of the time for Easy BUT the game is aimed at kids after all and failing at that age isn’t super fun). I also added two more pieces of art (both featured in this post) and reorganized Making a Hero to the bottom of the rulebook, and a few other minor tweaks.

White Line Fever – rulebook pictures (FINALLY)

I’ve been meaning to take staged pictures for the rulebook diagrams since summer. Part of the delay was ensuring the rules were fully done (such as Droppable size) and so on. But last night I FINALLY sat down with my movable lamps and camera tripod and took them all. I still need to do some retouching (such as adding lines showing measurements/angles/moving). I also found a bunch of art and icons to put on the Droppables, as that’s outstanding as well. But the rulebook is supa dupa close now!

A lot of these are pretty functional, but I particularly like the first and last shot. The component shot (reminds me of Dinosaur Cowboys a bit) and the desert “Dune Daddy” one (especially the shadows).

And yes, I DID buy a duplicate Hot Wheels car to easily show the “before and after” of movement and turning. I still think I might eventually do a computer generated diagram (almost like the style of a traffic/learner’s permit driving book) just because the real cars don’t add a ton, but that won’t be anytime soon (if ever).

White Line Fever progress – droppables and weapon tweaks

Really, really close on a finished version of White Line Fever now. My last chunk was testing Droppables and finishing their art and printable sheets. And then once everything is done I just need to take a bunch of in-game pictures for the diagrams in the rulebook.

There have been a few minor rule tweaks to clarify and simplify the rules (no more Reverse driving, for example). I clarified some line of sight/arc measuring, updated and renamed Outnumbered for multiple players, etc.

As for Droppables I went back and forth on the size of them, and ended up with a 3″x3″ square. So same length as a standard Hot Wheels, but wider. The original idea of 2″x2″ was too small and ineffective in practice, especially compared to shooting your main gun. 3″x3″ seems like a good compromise.

Testing Droppables, including the idea of placing up to three 2″ squares per use, which was hard to manage

I also tweaked the Droppable options themselves. I removed Barricade (which causes a Crash) because it was a bit boring, and why would you ever choose Oil (Spin Out) over it? I also changed almost every Droppable to do at least 2 damage as well as their effect. And what I’m most excited about is I added a “Gateway” which is a semi-positive Droppable as it lets you instantly move to ANOTHER Gateway droppable anywhere on the table. Could be pretty cool with a semi-organized team or a semi-joke match where everyone uses Gateways. Oh and I reworded Springboard to 5″ back, and a new Speedboost to go 5″ forward.

Speaking of weapons I tweaked some of the others, namely the Tank Cannon damages you after firing instead of pushing you back. Because it turns out being pushed back when trying to line up a bunch of shots isn’t a bad thing, haha. I changed the Push/Pull weapons to ignore line of sight as well, and removed the Shadowblaster, and added an Enforcer (the only 2 damage Secondary weapon).

On the campaign front I’ve had some luck figuring out a series of systems I like for it. Just need to firm everything up and then eventually I’ll put some “Open Road” rules up here.

Anyway should have White Line Fever all wrapped up before Christmas. In fact I’m going to play it tonight, woot!