Kill the Party, Kill the World

Every time you manage to kill the whole party you now rub it in more by progressing time. Lots of it.

Get your campaign map up to this point and prepare to wreck it. Do the following for each element or hex or grid or whatever you have pinned down. Alternatively, just make it up as you go.

1-2 more
3-4 less
5 same
6 gone

Pull it in or push it out. Coastal towns will probably turn into villages, create outrageous canal systems, or just disappear. If it's gone then push it right off your map. It's out there but something weird happened.

If it shrivelled up then everyone on the river is worse off. Rich towns aren't any more. The bottom of the rung remain largely the same.

Swelled rivers will have new lakes and be more of a nuisance to traverse. Possibly new branches have split off

Dried rivers will have gone entirely. Possible reasons include sinkholes, erosion, ice, act of gods etc.

If there's water nearby, just smash them down if they shrink. Otherwise turn them into hills.

If they grow add some mountains along the general line of them.

If they're gone then consider volcanoes or more outlandish excuses. They could now be craters, or lakes.

Use this roll to get an idea of how much time has passed. If you roll lots of weird stuff for mountains then it's likely a lot of time has flown by since the players got themselves killed.

Growing and shrinking is obvious. Come up with a sentence to explain what happened in the missing time.

If a town is gone entirely 50% chance it's a creepy ruin inhabited by something awful. Or just bandits.

Things got weird while you were dead

Tidy Up
Now, add some new towns in places that are begging for it. If in doubt, add 1d6 worth.

Now roll a some random events for the map area

  1. A bunch of foreigners conquered it and ... 1. left it in a right state. Roll for all the towns. 1-3 they were levelled 4-6 stick with the old roll 2.became natives. Add some exotic flavour 3. improved the general state of things. Aqueducts, roads, less wandering killers for hire etc. 4. are now the ruling caste
  2. Meteor. Split your map into a 6x6 grid, then roll 2d6 to figure out where it smacked down. If anything breakable is in the rolled grid, it hit that.
  3. New overlord moved in. 50% he's in charge now/in an advanced state of working on it
  4. It got colder. Add some snow
  5. It got hotter. Dry up those lush fields
  6. A new religion swept through. Roll a D6 for each old religion: 1: no one remembers it 2: its a secret cult that you wouldn't recognise 3-4: it's been absorbed by the new religion 5: its an unpopular minority 6: it coexists (50% happy/hostile)
  7. A significant monster has moved in. A dragon-esque thing. Everyone on the map will know about it and have opinions on it.
  8. There is a mysterious (or not so mysterious) plague afflicting the area nowadays.
  9. Technology has moved... 1-3 backwards. Think, medieval to bronze age 4-6 forwards. Medieval to renaissance. Don't think too literally, take a minute to imagine what "technology" means in your situation. Discovering lost knowledge? Or maybe losing that knowledge. It does not necessarily mean things are better.
  10. Anarchy! The largest governmental body is local. If it was that before, then pull it down to familial.
  11. Pick an omen or prophecy you've mentioned in your games. That came true.
  12. A totally new motif has taken over. If your people were scrapping in the dirt, now they're rich and fat. If they were a magocrcy now they're a totalitarian republic. If they were Byzantium now they're Turkey. Pick a fundamental change and roll with it.

Once all that's done, look at the map and tell yourself stories about what happened. Look at all the old points of interest and think how the changing world messed with them. Did a secret cult become that new religion that everyone loves now? Did that necromancer become the overlord? 

Really mess with it. The players will visit familiar places and see how they've changed. They'll have insight into history that you haven't had to feed them. They know'cos they were there.

Patreon Subscription Report

Oh yea, that Patreon thing.

I would have written about it sooner but it was almost disappointingly smooth. It worked exactly as I had hoped it would, so it faded into the list of things I don't have to worry about.

For those not aware, I started a Patreon page to enable me to make some kind of subscription system. It's something I wish every zine had, considering they traditionally have pretty arbitrary release times. I don't always remember to shower my favourites with money, and some people are very shy when it comes to promotion.

For anyone looking to do similar with their own work (I recommend you do, there's really nothing to lose) I have put all my thoughts in bullet form:

  • It's all in dollars. This is a big pain in the arse. Exchange rates mean I can't be 100% sure what this funnymoney is actually worth until it hits my bank account.
  • Do not make plans based on the assumption that everything pledged will actually clear. Credit cards and things can get in the way. It's an estimate.
  • Trigger the payment a few days before the end of the month or else you'll be sitting around for another month to get paid, and sending physical objects out before you have their cold hard cash is just risky.
  • Patreon and PayPal take a cut! Account for this. Assume something in the region of 10%, but take the time to work it out properly or else you'll come up short.
  • Patreon's website is awful. Extracting information from it is obtuse and irritating. I'm looking at you, address entry that always closes when clicked on. Not like I want to cut & paste it or anything. Hnnngh!
  • I have no idea how I'm ever going to change prices. I assume I have to pretty much just delete an entry and shake the patrons off like sleeping cats. This will be a problem one day, but that's something for Future Dan to deal with, screw that guy.

That's about it. I can't think of any actual issues with it. It's simply a convenient way to arrange an exchange of cash for goods on an unpredictable schedule. 

If anyone wants to know more just ask and I'll sort you out.

As an aside, this is yet another barrier taken down for those considering publishing their work. Unless you're a complete cock-nozzle there are bunches of people who would be more than happy to help, the materials needed are either cheap or free, and there is a small but enthusiastic market ready to jump on you.

Really, if you've ever considered it just dive in and get to it. You are all that's standing in your way.

The Lovers

Did you know there are 22 Major Arcana? That's a lot! One down though.

I think it's ok to share this map, which I thoroughly enjoyed making. The players and anyone else who may go on to play it can look at it all they like IT WON'T HELP YOU.

Since adopting the 12-year-old me mapping system things have been going a lot smoother. Top down is not how I experience the environment, and is extremely boring to use for making lots of tall buildings. So fuck it, cutaways.

More ways to kill a man AKA Ripping off WFRPG1

If the basic blocks of combat remain in place then they are easily swapped about. So here we've got rolls to hit, rolls for damage, armour etc. making it simple to slot into the typical OSR style game. It needs testing and adjusting, but I like the sound of it so far.

Assumptions made: HP = Constitution score, criticals and fumbles, damage past 0 is an injury (adjust table to read "1- Flesh wound 2- Serious injury 3+- Mortal blow" maybe)

  1. Roll 2d8 to hit, both differently coloured (pick one as special), adding your base attack bonus and weapon modifier*
  2. If you score 10 or more, you hit
  3. Double 1 is a fumble, double 8 is a critical hit.
  4. Use the highest D8 for damage, add your Strength modifier, deduct their Constitution modifier (ignore negatives)
  5. Determine hit location by reading special die of the 2d8 rolled:
    1    Head
    2    Right leg
    3    Left leg
    4    Right arm
    5    Left arm
    6-8 Body

    Fighters can switch the die used

    For non-human shaped creatures, make up something else. Just start at the hardest shot and work down.
  6. Deduct the **armour of that location from the damage caused
  7. Reduce HP and resolve any critical wounds

If you strike an opponent consecutively without him striking you, +1 to hit 'cos you're Winning! This is mostly your job to remember.

*Weapon modifiers
Normal weapons, +2Str +0AtkB
Unarmed 0Str -0AtkB
Big weapons +4Str -1AtkB
Small weapons +1Str +0AtkB
Long weapons +2Str +1AtkB (while unengaged or Winning, otherwise +1/+0)

Roll 2d8. If you match a number rolled by the opponent, ignore that much damage. If you match no numbers, no more parrys and lose your next attack as you overextend yourself.

If you match both numbers, immediately attack him.

Shields give 1 armour to all body parts
Armour works in layers. Light (buffcoat, arming jacket) medium (chain, scale) and heavy (plate). All offer 1 armour for whatever body parts are covered. To use medium you must wear light under it. To use plate you must wear medium.

Each body location covered counts as an item for encumbrance. E.g. A leather jacket covering your torso and both arms is 3 items worthy of heavy.

So a knight in full plate would have 3 armour on all spots and have 18 items worth of encumbering stuff. There's a reason knight have people carry their stuff for them.

Postulants of the New Sun

An offshoot of the Empire's sun cults, the Postulants of the New Sun's most obvious distinction is that they shun both violence and politics. Because of these radical views and its loose and open teachings it is growing in popularity amongst those losing patience with the constant upheaval of the area. Opinion amongst the orthodox priesthood is that they aren't very patriotic, but largely harmless. When the details of their faith are more widely understood this is likely to change, however.

Their belief is rather simple, at least for the lay person. Goodliness is equal to heat and light. Naturally, with it being the hottest and brightest thing around, the sun is extremely Good, fire is cleansing and pure, fireflys are messengers of the sun, fevers are numinous events. Heat + light = good. Peasants only need to start a fire and take a moment to think about the goodness they are inviting to get the benefits of this faith, in stark contrast to the elaborate sun temples that dominate the Empires, demanding service and taxes.

Their founder, Pyre-Papa Maeonius I, said, "We are the kindling", and it still echoes on down the line, fresh from the mouth of every postulant at every burning or sweat lodge. It has been interpreted as a statement of humility, of oneness, but what most don't realise is that Maeonius was speaking utterly literally. They believe that through the spreading of heat and light they can ignite a new sun (the New Sun) and bring about a state of Utter Goodness. This state, though for the most part vaguely defined, includes a universal saturation of light, the end of rational thought and the ignition of all matter.

This is all just an end goal though.

They do not believe in the existence of evil. They believe that evil is merely the lack of good, much as dark is a lack of light, or sadness a lack of joy. They bring light wherever they go (again, very literally), and they go far, travelling all over to spread their sweet heat. They are adamant that nothing is evil. Maeonius I had much to say on the matter, declaring an end to evil: "To man the serpent is evil, to the serpent the hawk is evil, to me none are evil. Thus evil was consumed". Nothing is evil, nothing is unnatural, everyone is just waiting to be enlightened (literal!).

They're not delusional though. They recognise that their beliefs are hard to swallow, and somewhat painful at times. But they sincerely believe that if appropriate heat and light (=goodness) is applied, they will finally achieve a saturation of goodness which will spontaneously ignite the New Sun and bathe the world in its Good Rays, ushering in a time of perfect peace and burning tranquillity. Most would struggle with their earnest hope that the world is consumed in flames, but otherwise they are pretty decent people.

Postulants wander quite a bit. They maintain regular routes and perform services for the faithful, but hold no real authority over anything. Anyone can declare themselves a postulant and take up the torch (always literally, they are very literal people) without ever having met the current Pyre-Papa at his temple. If you are a good worshipper your strong morals and terrible burns should be evidence enough of your piety.

The Favoured Priesthood:

Chance to gain favour every time one takes damage from heat or flames (=dmg%) with the knowledge that is is Goodliness that fills them and not pain (remembering to ask for this roll is proof of that). Also, significant acts of mass burnings or illuminations may result in reward.

If a result is rolled twice, you may pick one instead.

  1. You can ignite combustible material at a touch. This takes a few seconds of intense effort and concentration. Not useful in the midst of battle.
  2. You are filled with Goodness. As a result your blood runs hot and heavy, any wounds done to you have a decent chance of showering your aggressor with high-pressured super-heated blood (save vs. breath or take d4 damage)
  3. Postulants with enough goodliness to gain favour often attract followers, sometimes to the point of acquiring trains of disciples following them from town to town. D3 dedicated but generally ineffective (but free) people choose to follow you and learn your teachings. Their numbers eventually get replenished if reduced. Each further favour earned gains D3 more followers.
  4. The Pyre-Papa senses your climbing thermogenesis and assigns a Columbariun Guard to see to your care. He will ensure your remains are secured and added to the Great Flame. Will be replaced after a time if killed.
  5. You're very hard to dislike. Re-roll people's attitudes when appropriate and pick the better result.
  6. Fire still causes injury, but no longer hurts the postulant. Those possessing this gift often demonstrate it to eager crowds.

Columbariun guard and his charge

A Ramble and a Fumble

The thing about blogs is that they're the third tier of mental effluence, some way down after respectable book worthy things and shorter zine-flavoured items. Third tier. Still a good tier though. Still better than screaming at pigeons from a park bench or social media. I'm not saying you should thank me, but you might want to consider it next time.

So today's work is more MECHANICS*. Specifically a response to my earlier work on being stabbed.

Originally I had split armours into three categories, each absorbing damage according to the roll of the dice. 1d6 2d6 3d6. I have since gone back and changed it to 1d6 1d8 1d10, since the original numbers were imitating the effects of the old AC system too well, being almost as slow. Combine this slow decline of HP with how I'm managing that kind of thing and it leads to slow fights.

So, the related changes and amendments in my home games as they stand:

  • Armour comes in three types — light, medium and heavy —and absorb 1d6, 1d8 or 1d10 damage.
  • Shields bump the die size up one. d6 on their own, d12 with heavy armour.
  • HP are equal to Con, unless you are a fighter. In which case double it. These can only be raised/lowered by a shift in Con score.
  • Criticals and fumbles are a thing (1s and 20s)
  • You heal fully — excluding any permanent injuries — with 8 hours rest (or whatever a magic user needs to get their spells back. Symmetry!)

The only significantly interesting change is fumbles and criticals. These are both enjoyable little things that have been missed, taking with them the little dramas that play out when the dice clatter about.

20s always hit, always ignore armour (stab 'um in the eye), and get a roll on the Serious Injury Table regardless of actual HP loss
1s always miss, and must roll on the Fumble table below.

  1. You dropped your weapon you nelly. Go fetch it.
  2. What cowboy made this weapon? The damn thing just snapped!
  3. There was a tussle, limbs and moves getting thrown about, and your enemy somehow ended up in possession of your weapon. Nice going Errol.
  4. You were over enthusiastic and managed to twat one of your allies with your misplaced attack. Deal damage as normal to them, they may roll armour. If you try to weasel out of it by claiming no one is near enough, assume it flew out of your hand and across the room. If there is still any doubt feel free to brutally stab yourself in the gut, you clumsy sausage.
  5. Shoddy footwork. Save vs. paralyse or fall prone and feel rather embarrassed and possibly dead.
  6. An energetic lunge causes you to rip your trousers, distracting you at the last minute. Miss your attack but otherwise suffer no more than needing to find a needle and thread.
  7. There's something in your eye. You miss and get -1 on all attacks until you take a turn to dig it out.
  8. A serious case of deja vu sets in and discombobulates you. Miss and everyone gets +1 to hit you until your next turn.
  9. You bowl into your opponent, forming a complicated tangle of limbs. You're now wrestling and they count as having pinned you already. Tap out!
  10. You turn what was looking to be a comical pratfall into a devastating blow, just as if you meant it all along. Roll for a serious wound on your opponent, but get showered in their blood or equivalent vital fluids. -1d6 to hit for the remainder of the fight as it gets in your eyes and ears and nose and eeuw. 
  11. OH SHIT HE STABBED YOU. Free hit, no armour. Ouch.
  12. OH GODDAMNIT, NOT AGAIN. Your opponent takes this opportunity to stab you good and proper, plus you should probably roll on here again.

*On a number of occasion people have told me that it's properly called mechanisms. Feels ugly in the mouth.

I Ate'nt Dead

I can assure you that the relative quiet is a good thing. It means work is getting done.

Firstly and most tangibly: The Undercroft #5 is finished. This issue was hijacked by a flood of what people have questionably named "Raggi's Rejects", a term you will find is entirely unjustified in all but the most literal sense. 100% grade A items, cover to cover, accompanied by the prettiest of pictures. They were so good and so many that I had to add more pages to the issue. It'll likely be available on RPGNow at some point, but that's in their hands now. EDIT: Here it is

Secondly, the City of the Dead has just passed the half way mark on first draft completion. After a month of frustration — and with some help from the relentless Matthew Adams — the way forwards was found and the kind-of-mega-dungeon bounds along happily once again. All that's left is for me to do is to get over my fear of gimmicks and people shouting at me for not including trigger warnings. After that it's a clear run to the finish line and palming it off on another play-test group.

Thirdly, the Patreon subscription experiment has gone smoothly. It works as a functional subscription system and takes a lot of the paperwork out of my hands. I'll do a proper report on this for those considering doing similar once everything is sent out and settled.