Category: Old

Productive night and a first rulebook of The Grand Adventure

What’s that? A new rulebook in the span of a day? That’s right, it was a productive time but I’ve put together a (probably over-ambitiously versioned) v0.9 of The Grand Adventure. It’s still missing Jobs (classes) and a character sheet, but that’s okay. The new dedicated listing page has some more info.

And here is The Grand Adventure rulebook (v0.9 PDF).

But basically I needed a more narrative, grid-less/board-less, kid friendly RPG for my nieces and nephews on my wife’s side. After a quick playtest and further refinements, The Grand Adventure is the result.

I can’t wait to play it all weekend with my own kids! And probably it and some Santorini next week with my nieces (because everyone seems to really love Santorini, enough so that we bought our own copy after giving it as a gift at Christmas).

At some point I’ll get back to games aimed at grown adults, since I’d like to finish up Glowquest. But I’m not in a huge rush, it’s nice to just be productive when I feel like it, and not try to force game design until it becomes a chore.


The Grand Adventure – brainstorm and images

Well that was a nice Christmas and New Year for me. We played a lot of Santorini (my oldest daughter loved it) and some Quest for El Dorado and so on. With my other nieces and nephews (who aren’t as avid of game players) I had bought one of them some D&D stuff, but it was clearly a bit too much for them, so we tried Party of Light, and even that was a bit too much and not what they were after (they wanted less grid combat and more adventure-y stuff). So I off-the-cuff threw some rules together on vacation, and now wanted to refine them into yet another RPG for kids. I mean adults will find something fun in it too, obviously. So The Grand Adventure (working title) is roughly the result so far, which has no board/grid, so it’s easier to prepare (helps me a lot!), and has a focus on fast combat where you still get to have something fun happen on a miss, and other stuff kids tend to like (such as re-rolls and no dying – just losing overall as a party). So taking some elements from Glowquest a bit.

Anyway I’ve been looking around a bit for some title page art (premature much?!) and wanted to share some cool images. These would be recolored, touched up, and overlayed with the title.

So far I’m tending towards the colorful plant/jungle, the waterfall, and the fantastical house or airship thing. I think some simple line art of explorers could work for the inside like the series called Middle Earth Traveller by Evankart.

And here is a dump of the brainstorm document I have:

– Overall game uses no board, but has relative positioning so we can still use minis

– Body
— Strong
— Swift
– Mind
— Smart
— Social
– Soul
— Tough
— Tricky

– Above attributes are assigned Best (+3), Good (+1), Bad (-1), and Worst (-2) and two 0s.
– Stats are assigned secretly during creation
– Skill checks are D10+attr >= DC = success
— Could have a couple of named Skills that give +1
— Would be more interesting if Skill did something else, like roll 2D10 choose highest?
—- Reason being a +1 doesn’t feel hugely impactful, results in more math for mods, etc.
– Basic check should be around DC 5, which results in 60% chance of success

– Character sheet should be a half page, with instructions on what to do right on the sheet
– Then your class is another half a sheet you put below. So you have attributes/stamina/name/etc. and your spendable abilities

– Combat/attack is 3D6, do 1 damage per 5 or 6 rolled
– Most monsters have 1-2 Stamina so they die quickly
– Also gain 1 Power counter (likely just glass beads) per: miss, roll of 6, and doubles
— For example rolling 1, 3, 5 would be 1 damage, no Power
— Rolling 3, 3, 5 would be 1 damage, 1 Power (from doubles)
— Rolling 1, 2, 4 would be 0 damage, 1 Power (from miss)
— etc
– Only have a set amount of Power available from the glass bead pool, so players are encouraged to spend and not horde
– Power is spent on class features, like a whirlwind attack for a Berserker or a Double Shot for a Ranger or a Healing Word for a Healer, etc.
— Almost like Surges from Glowquest
— Try to avoid a generic list of spendables (at first?) for heroes. DM would only have a generic list most likely, to save on monster creation time
– Max spendable Power cost is 4
– Power is reset to 0 at the end of the battle
– Every hero gets 1 re-roll per encounter, as kids like re-rolls
– Math odds for attack

– Heroes have 5 (?) Stamina total, and take Damage (counting up from 0). If they reach their max Stamina, they are placed face down and the party loses 1 Resolve
— At the end of a turn face down they stand back up with 0 Damage (fully healed). So basically miss a turn by dying
– Resolve is set at the start of each session, likely 4. Lose the game or have dire, critical consequences if 0 Resolve remains
– Magic used outside of combat costs 1 Stamina
— Help balances when to use it. Magic doesn’t boost Skill check, just gives more options/tools
— Maybe non-Magic classes have better base stats like more Stamina or damage per hit or something

– Classes can level up and choose new bonuses and power spenders (need a name – Ability most likely)
— For example a lvl 2 Berserker could choose a Blood Rage skill or a Deadly Chop or +1 max Stamina or a new Skill or some combination of all
Knight (sword+shield defender), Healer (duh), Savage (offensive melee), Archer (ranger type), Shapeshifter, Wizard (uses fire/ice/earth/wind elements), Shaman (uses summons?)

– Races eventually, which give a Power spendable ability, such as Elf having “1: Keen Sight”
— Could also provide a +/- to attributes like +1 Strong
– Initiative is just whoever wants to go first, then DM acts after each player, as usual. A turn order token to pass to the next person seemed to help a lot
– Choose only 1 Item at the start. No Party of Light style split between normal/magic items to begin with
– Make a list of magic items (by name only) for ease of handing out
– Currency? Gold coins makes the most sense, very basic though? 10 Gold = 1 Item?
– Need a broad world map for where they are going, seemed to help a lot

Topics of interest: world cities, cyborgs, genetics, cloning

cyborgDigging through my old Fallen City rules from 20+ years ago makes me want to revisit the genre and theme described in that game. The concept of a massive world city that is churning with overpopulation and crime. Judge Dredd is similar with their “megacities”, especially the recent Karl Urban movie Dredd (2012) which opens with:

America is an irradiated wasteland. Within it lies a city. Outside the boundary walls, a desert. A cursed earth. Inside the walls, a cursed city, stretching from Boston to Washington D.C. An unbroken concrete landscape. 800 million people living in the ruin of the old world and the mega structures of the new one. Mega blocks. Mega highways. Mega City One. Convulsing. Choking. Breaking under its own weight. Citizens in fear of the street. The gun. The gang. Only one thing fighting for order in the chaos: the men and women of the Hall of Justice. Juries. Executioners. Judges.

In addition to that element I really want to explore the trio of transhumanism paths: cyborgs, genetics, and cloning. I remember finding a rulebook about 3 or 4 years ago called Transhuman Space that dealt with some of those topics, and I found it fascinating. So maybe throw in a bit of Bladerunner and the recent Westworld TV show.

Now I have a few options for this. I’d like to try Fickle RPG to see how truly flexible the rules are. So instead of my current/default theme of parasitic zombies, I’d go to a sci-fi theme.

The other option of course is to make a completely new RPG game. Or maybe not even an RPG. Because what I think my focus and main interest would be asymmetrical rules, specifically having cyborgs, genetics, and clones play and function differently. All three are a path for human improvement, and have a lot of depth and brain bending concepts associated.

I could see Clones as being cannon fodder, with a numbers advantage but less skill and personality. Cyborgs would be the opposite: powerful, expensive, and outnumbered. Genetics would likely fall in the middle, and be more about modifying existing humans.

I have no idea how I’d make each type (faction?) feel different, or if a skirmish game, RPG, boardgame, or other rules approach would work best. I honestly just like the idea overall, and thought I’d write it down here to collect my thoughts.


Session report from Drylands

Again this is pulled from notes years and years ago, specifically 2007-10-22, and captures some details of one of my early Drylands sessions with a friend. I’m always grateful to my various dedicated friends who will try my games. We played this campaign off-and-on for about 3 months before it sort of faded away.

Session Report

His character, who tended towards melee, had been graduated from medical school in Rapid City, SD, and worked at a lucrative job there for a few years (his age was 30-something). When the economy started to fail and the fabric of the USA unravel, he decided to try to meet up with his parents, who had moved to Canada. So the short term goal is to trek to Sioux Falls, SD, and hopefully catch a train northwards, to a larger city that may even have planes still flying.

Right now I started him outside of Rapid City, in a little town called Scenic, SD. I just sketched up a map for the location, but now that I looked it up I realize I wasn’t far off in the size and layout of the place. I put in a home area, a parking lot with a few horses and one or two cars, a Walmart that had been converted into the mayor’s office, a hovel tent camp in another parking lot, a strip mall and boat store.

He started in the hovel camp, the idea being he took shelter when a huge duststorm rolled in. He had been taking subhighway 44, since I90 heading west out of Rapid City was still jammed with cars trying to flee during the initial days. A younger doctor aid who had assisted him in his old job came along too (named Ed Downs), safety in numbers and all that. I started his character (named Thaddeus) off with a bolt action pistol, a crossbow, a spear, and a dagger. Then the usual mix of armor, a few tins of beef stew, and we were set to roleplay the future.

After making a little money and talking to the locals by healing up folks inside the “sick tent” of the hovel camp, he was set to head out of the city. One of the people he healed (a one armed war vet who’s head had been hit with an axe) was named Wyatt, and said having a doctor along his next trip would be handy.
apocalypse-kitWith some deliberation and negotiation, Thaddeus decided it was worth the slight detour to be able to get ahead quickly (Wyatt had an old van). The plan was to all drive down to Rockyford, inside the Indian reserve (which had violently expanded it’s territory). Wyatt was running a few things down there (his previous “paycheck” came from 80 pounds of cigarettes delivered to Rapid City), and after Thaddeus helped any wounded, Wyatt agreed to drive him to Cedar Butte, a town west of the Indian reserve.

Wyatt is in good standing with the Indians, and as I mentioned has a vehicle, so the detour should speed things up. I believe my player had plans to cut back onto the Interstate at that point.

The van Wyatt drives had taken some damage when it was rolled by a roadblock (and ended in his ear being cut off by the axe, a wound which Thaddeus healed). So they waited until a friend showed up with a new tire, a few engine parts, and tools to punch the roof back out. His vehicle is converted pretty heavily for the road, with a cargo area, slit windows in a few key locations, a gunner chair, a fold down bunk, etc.

Continue reading “Session report from Drylands”

Campaign maps for Drylands

By 2007+ I was keeping more electronic notes and being organized with my files. I actually set up my first home Subversion version control system just to check Drylands documents in, which by then I had been writing for a year. I also was keeping a somewhat steady journal of notes around the development, before I even considered making a blog.

So my main Drylands campaign from that era is actually pretty well documented.

First of all I made some fun maps for the main campaign I ran for the game. Basically took Google Maps screenshots and aged them with sepia tones and grainy effects. Speaking of memories that campaign had plenty, like driving a beaten up Minivan (with the door carved off to easily shoot out of) across the savage highways, being raided by amerinds, and desperately scrounging for food in every small Dakota Belt town before reaching Sioux Falls and realizing it’s overrun entirely by warring gangs.

Let me provide a fun “gang legend” for the Sioux Falls map above (with all the color patches):

Red (North) = Dakota Belt Centaurs
Light Green (Center North) = Mishima Corporation (japanese gang, started out corporate now degrading to violent youth gang)
Gray (Center South) = Citibank Ravagers (professionals in suits)
Teal (West) = The Shield Zone, Shield Militia (safe neutral zone, commercial sector)
Green (North East) = Scalpers (indian gang, members called “scalps”, reinforced from grassland patrols)
Blue (East) = Girl Scout Troop #29 (all female gang, members called “scouts”)
Purple (South East) = Forty Thieves (irish gang from 1826 New York)
Orange (South) = Vice Lords (black gang, members called “VLs”)
Dark Green (South) = First Church of Purity (religious nuts, members called “churchees”)
Other = Dust Pirates (mercenaries with no turf, hire out to anyone)

Mood images for Drylands

I figured I’d upload the entire “mood” folder for Drylands that I used for theme. Like I mentioned before, I didn’t actually make the jump to insert these into the rulebook itself. But the concept was there at least. Hopefully these give you a good post apocalyptic vibe.

Also no idea the licensing on any of these. They have literally been sitting on my computer for 10 years.

Continue reading “Mood images for Drylands”

Aborted Drylands web app

Speaking of the great experience creating Drylands was, I actually tried to do an online character editor (with the vague hope of even a game) at one point. Ring a few bells for the eventual Saloon for Dinosaur Cowboys? Like I said, incremental improvements as a designer, and you can really see inspiration in my early works.

Here’s the one surviving screenshot of the attempt, from early 2006 (as if you couldn’t tell from that stylish browser):