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Monday, March 30, 2009

[RPG] Character Unveil (Work in Progress)-

(c) Copyright 2009 Kyrinn S. Eis All Rights Reserved

Here is a sample character:

Rhuvela Kithorn
Vrun Female 23

XP: 4725 1st | 2nd 4813

CON: 13 |+1 Robust
STR: 11B |-- Fit
DEX: 16B.|+2 Masterful
INT: 16 |+2 Keen
WIS: 13B |+1 Heeded
CHA: 10 |-- Aloof

Lifeforce : Cha (+8)
Health : Con (+9)
Vigilance : Wis (+8)
Concentration : Str (+8) Vrun
Experience:(.5 L)(+7)
Reflexes : Dex (+7) Vrun
Control : Int (+7) Vrun

* Glass
+01 Str |+01 to Dex |+01 to Wis

* Friends with Insects (Radiance)
* Profession: Psychic Healer

Attribute Increase-
* +1 Dex (600)

Fight Dice-
* Md8: 8 + rd10: 7 + Con x2 = [17] Dodge Points
* Cost: 360 + 440 = (800)

* Light Armour (100)
* Simple Arms + Short Sword (120)

Attack Bonus-
* +2 (900)

Critical Tests-
* +3 (700)
* +1 each Lifeforce, Vigilance, Control

* +3 (900)

Technical Skills-
* Move Silently +25 (350)
* Listen +15 (255)

[RPG] Elemental Bloods-

(c) Copyright 2008 Kyrinn S. Eis All Rights Reserved

[RPG] & [General] Did you miss me?-

A corrupt file in my browser kept me out of the site for a few days.

I posted an account of Friday's game and a few mechanics musings, here.

I have some re-reading on my grog-blogs, since I was locked out of commenting, too.
I'm happy to be back.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

[General] (25 words or less)-

Monsters & Manuals, one of the blogs I follow, has an impromptu contest to describe one's campaign setting in 25 words or less:

Multiple catastrophes temper survivors into flinty men and women who distrust others, and struggle to survive ancient horrors, faltering reality and decaying time, with glory.

[RPG] Talents (OGL)-

Inspired by The Society of Torch, Pole and Rope articles.

This post of Talents is designated Open Gaming Content under the Open Gaming License version 1.0a.

Character Talents-

Determine at Character Generation:
* Choose One Table to roll upon (or choose an ability with the Referee's permission), and the second Talent Table is randomly determined. Roll (or choose) within each table.
Each provides a single +1 to all Tests or Saves or other rolls, as the Referee deems appropriate.

Random Table Determination-
01 - Ability
02-17 - Friend
18-25 - Knack
26-33 - Friend
34-50 - Knack
51-67 - Friend
68-90 - Knack
91-99 - Friend
00 - Ability


The Ability benefited by this result adds in the +1 for any pertinent rolls, such as Tests, Critical Tests, and things such as forcing open a stuck door, etc.

01 - Choice of 1
02-17 - Feats of Strength (Str)
18-33 - Nimbleness (Dex)
34-50 - Survival (Con)
51-66 - Knowledge (Int)
67-83 - Sagacity (Wis)
84-99 - Presence (Cha)
00 - Choice of 1


Friends with... provides not only better relations with said creature (etc.), but also connotes knowledge of, uses for, and all manner of traits which are native to the creature in question.
Thus, a Friend of Muses PC can attempt to receive a +1 on Spur of the Moment or other Inspirational, Do-or-Die, etc. rolls. Likewise, Friend of Dogs would confer knowledge of bare survival, street fighting or brawling, limited tracking, etc. All at the Referee's approval.

The table was previously unusable due to a faulty math-chip. This is the revised table.

01-06 - Friends with Muses (+ Lightning)
07-12 - Friends with Fey (Aether)
13-18 - Friends with Cats (Shadow)
19-25 - Friends with Birds (Air)
26-31 - Friends with Reptiles (Smoke)
32-37 - Friends with Bears (Frost)
38-44 - Friends with Fish (Water)
45-50 - Friends with Machines (Steam)
51-57 - Friends with Vermin (Fire)
58-63 - Friends with Mythics (Glass)
64-69 - Friends with Amphibians (Silt)
70-76 - Friends with Dogs (Earth)
77-82 - Friends with Snakes (Dust)
83-88 - Friends with Insects (Radiance)
89-94 - Friends with Sharks (Void)
95-00 - Friends with Undead (- Lightning)


Knacks, like Friend, above, confers a +1 on all actions subsumed under the heading, as governed by the Referee.

* Cantrip, and Orison allow for a single 0-Level Spell useable at will; only affects one creature or object, once per effect. Choice by Referee's permission.
* Native indicates all things subsumed under living in a given sort of environment (Urban, Suburban, Rural, Wilderness), including all area-specific survival skills/behaviours.
* Profession includes Ganger, Sycophant, Barrister, Soldier, etc., which provide specific knowledges as well as general craft of the specific trade in question (for instance, Soldier may provide a +1 to any one of the following: Hit, Damage, or Defence, as well as other particulars as the Referee rules).

01 - Cantrip
02-17 - Athlete
18-25 - Carouser
26-33 - Crafter
34-50 - Native
51-67 - Crafter
68-75 - Diplomat
76-90 - Profession
91-99 - Healer
00 - Orison

All of the above Talents may, with the Referee's permission, be enhanced by either general Focus, or Dedicated Focus points, up to and including as the Referee determines.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

[RPG] Creatures 2 (Limited OGC)-

(c) Copyright 2009 Kyrinn S. Eis

I have updated the XP values of the first Creatures post.

Here is my latest batch, expanded/updated.

Only the text marked within the ]OGC[ header and footer is Open Gaming Content, as governed by the Open Gaming License version 1.0a. The names and descriptive text are reserved as Product Identity.

Ourden (Tangle-Lurks, Bush-Hounds)-
Fight Dice: 3*
Resolve: +14
Defence/Armour: +1/1d4
AB: +2
# Attacks: 2 Claws/Entangle/1 Rake
Damage: 1d4+1/1d4+1/Str @ 14/4d4+4
Move: 30'
Organisation: 1d8 per Zone
CT: +7
Loot: None
XP: 175
These quadrupedal plants are best likened to Sundews, and use the sticky glands that cover their body to ensnare their prey, while their dagger-like 'paws' are used to defend themselves as well as take some of the fight out of the creatures they have engaged.
Thought to have been created in the distant past to act as estate guards by the Ancients, these creatures are rarely encountered outside of ruin-grounds and still intact complexes and other sites of that long ago time.
Non-human, bipedal creatures are the first targets chosen by these guardians, then dangerous quadrupeds and other more truly alien creatures, and lastly humans -- if given a variety of interlopers to engage. This tactic appears to operate on a territorial level, and is never applied to others of its kind.

Qobryn (The Yellow-Ones, Blademasters)-
Fight Dice: 1+3
Resolve: +1
/+8 if Young are harmed or family killed
Defence/Armour: +4/1d4
AB: +2
# Attacks: 2 Hand/2 By Weapon/Bash*
Damage: 1d4/1d4/1d8
Move: Walk 25' Run 50'
Organisation: Clans of 50, 25% Young; Females 75% chance as listed
CT: +1/+5 if Young are harmed or held hostage/+10 if family killed
Loot: Aver. civilised gear, above-average/Fine blades, Good shields
XP: 70
The Qobryn <'Unwise' in Vrun> are a very Patriarchal culture of shorter, near-humans (Humanoid) which breeds two sorts of females: Domestics and Workers, and practises intraclan breeding. Workers may join the fighting without question or notice of difference within the warbands. Domestics usually only join the fighting after a child or children have died. However, even in these cases, captive males are often presented with breeding with their females (which foes produce viable offspring) to invigorate the clan-blood, or death. Generally this is only open to especially difficult foes, but in many smaller clans, any male captive will do. Many are 'studded-out' to cousin-clans, or presented as gifts to more powerful warlords along with daughters and wives.
The Qobryn are expert if utilitarian bladesmiths and possess a secret alloy and firing technique that produces an orange 'steel' Nqarii <'Aetheric'> which ignores an Armour die equal to or lower than it (a d8 blade, such as the Qobryn employ, ignores 1d8 through 1d4 Armour, whereas a d4 dagger would only ignore 1d4 or less Armour).
As outlined in the Characteristics, the clan is the essential life of the Qobryn, and one might better regard it as a poly-intelligent organism. Losses are so profoundly felt by the survivors, that the protection of the clan can easily lead to avenging the clan. The eldest patriarch serves as spiritual leader, but they are almost invariably Animists, along Taoist or Druidic lines of thought, but on an instinctive level. Moreover, all half-breeds scores are rounded in the favour of the father's traits, should a Qobryn character be desired and approved by the Referee. No other modifiers to scores, as the Qobryn are extremely Human-like (Demi-human).

Yrmohved* (Shadow Steeds)-
Fight Dice: 4+22 (*6)
Resolve: +5
Defence/Armour: +2/By Armour Type
AB: +4
# Attacks: 2 Hooves Front/By Weapon Front & Rear/2 Hooves Rear
Damage: Hoof 1d8 each/By Weapon/2-Hoof Kick 2d10
Move: Walk 40' Run 160'
Organisation: 1d4; Rarely (10%) with rider
CT: +3
Loot: Weapons, victim's possessions [33%](1d12x55)
XP: 1,525
A large headless quadruped with two pairs of arms, one set forward, one set rearward. It appears mammalian and vaguely equine in body, save the extra limbs and lack of head.
As disturbing as these features are, the Yrmohved is capable of leaving three-dimensional space, only appearing as a shadow. During this phase, it is immune to all mundane attempts to interact with it, including strong light. Beyond whatever senses this creatures possesses, it can 'see' perfectly in the dark, and is unhindered by the invisibility effect of creatures, persons, or objects. Sages are of many different minds as regards the awesome shadow-form ability, with most conjecturing that the creature is actually made of shadow-stuff. A counter hypothesis is that instead of being a flat and lesser sort of life, the Yrmohved is rather in the Empyrean, and only its shadow can be witnessed by mortal eyes. Regardless, while in this phase, the Yrmohved is also incapable of interacting with the mundane realm.
The Yrmohved exhibit at least average-Human intelligence, but their motives as well as most other aspects of these terrifying creatures, are entirely unknown. Very rarely will one be seen with a humanoid rider, and this is almost invariably female.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

[RPG] Exploration and Adventuring (Part I)-

(c) Copyright 2009 Kyrinn S. Eis All Rights Reserved

Opening Doors, Bending Bars, and other Feats of Strength-

While the quickest manner to determine any given feat of strength is to simply assign it to a Strength Test, some groups may desire a more precise chance, as outlined below.

* A Stuck Door may be opened on d% with a Target of 100. The character has a base 15% chance, and an additional +15% per +1 bonus due to high Strength.

* A Locked Door may be opened as above, but with a base of only 10%, with an additional 10% per +1 due to high Strength.

* Metal Bars (such as in a cell, or those protecting windows) may be bent enough to allow egress by rolling d% as above, but with only a 5% base, and an additional 5% per +1 due to high strength.

A Referee may determine other, intermediary, percentages for success, as better fits their play style.
As with everything in UWoM, I have presented my take on these issues, as informed by other Old School games, and often back-engineered them to fit with my like of d%.
If your group prefers n in d6 dice mechanics (or anything else), then adjust as you see fit.

Secret Doors, Traps, and other Architectural Features-

The fastest method for determining whether any given character notices something awry is for the Referee to secretly attempt their Wisdom Test. If the roll succeeds, then they may be informed, perhaps by written note, or if it is in your play style, openly.

However, other methods include granting everyone an active 33% chance, and adjusting upwards by 15% per +1 of the character's Int or Wis modifier.
Likewise, Yirinn and Western Isles Vrun both have hereditary and cultural familiarity with such intriguing features of their peoples' buildings, and receive an additional +15% over and above any other modifiers to such things.
Additionally, professional or practical experience with traps and secret doors, etc., such as Technical Skills, add their percentages directly to their odds before rolling.

In all cases, the target is 100. However, circumstances, such as draughts or seeping mists, may very well modify the outcome in favour of those searching, either by reducing the Target, or secretly adding to the character's percent chance, as determined by the Referee.
In general, it is easier for a Referee to lower the Target number than to hide the fact of a bonus from the player rolling the dice.

Lastly, it must be mentioned that finding an architectural feature (secret door, trap, chute, etc.) does not grant understanding of how it works. The Referee may require of the players additional rolls or other character actions to be taken before the feature can be properly dealt-with (egress, avoidance, use without harm, etc.).

Monday, March 23, 2009

[RPG] Creatures (Limited OGC)-

(c) Copyright 2009 Kyrinn S. Eis

Only the text marked within the ]OGC[ header and footer is Open Gaming Content, as governed by the Open Gaming License version 1.0a. The names and descriptive text are reserved as Product Identity.

Explanation of Headings-

Fight Dice: The number of d8 used to determine Dodge Points for the creature
Resolve: The bonus on d20 toward '20' to continue fighting under poor circumstance
Defence/Armour: Defence is added to the creature's d20 roll to determine difficulty 'to-hit', while Armour is the die-type subtracted from damage scored on a 'hit'
AB: The creature's Attack Bonus on d20
# Attacks: Number and Type listed
Damage: The amount of each listed attack
Move: This refers to the creature's Speed in feet per Round
Organisation: The numbers appearing and special circumstances for greater numbers
CT: The bonus to d20 versus the number '20' to make any given Critical Test (Save)
Loot: If any, this is the Loot Type to be found on the creature (rare) or in its lair
XP: The number of eXperience Points gained in reward for defeating or capturing/outwitting an individual creature

Aurubin (Cave Maulers)-
Fight Dice: 4+9* (1+5* FD cubs)
Resolve: +10
Defence/Armour: +3/1d6
AB: +3
# Attacks: 2 claws/1 bite/1 snare
Damage: 1d6/1d6/1d8/-*
Move: 60'
Organisation: 1 Adult female, 1 or 2 cubs
CT: +5
Loot: Random gear in Lair
XP: 555
Large (6-8' long) quadrupedal furred creatures with long tapered heads and almost beak-like bony snouts sporting long prehensile tongues. Their four paws are all equipped with large, sharp and tough claws, capable of digging through stone-choked compacted earth with relative ease. They will frequently lash with their prehensile tongues (3') once a victim is already drawn into their tunnel, and if it strikes, their bite is automatic.
Aurubin are exclusively subterranean dwellers, although a separate variety has been observed in dark forests dwelling beneath log lodges of their own construction.
These creatures are of above-average intelligence for animals, but show little interest in human artifice or activities, save when a human walks too near one of their many cave or warren entrances. There may be as many as 1-4+1 such tunnels leading to the same lair. If the young are disturbed, the Aurubin will likely (73%) emerge from its lair in a fury which effectively doubles its FD and adds +4 to its Resolve and CT until its young are recovered, or the attackers are slain.

Biinderhaas (Buzzing Lancers, Fire Snipers)-
Fight Dice: 1+5*
Resolve: +13
Defence/Armour: +5/1d8
AB: +1
# Attacks: 1 bite + special
Damage: 1d4 + special
Movement: Land 10' Fly 40'
Organisation: 1d4+1 'Pod'; 2d6 Pods during mating
CT: +5
Loot: None
XP: 100
These large insectoids measure roughly 18" in length and are capable of quick if ungainly flight (rarely higher than 30' elevation). They are one of several varieties of furred beetles, prized by hunters for their easily removed pelts. To guard themselves as well as to take prey, the Biinderhaas fires pellets of a secreted resin that combust upon contact with the air. These fiery pellets are capable of igniting clothing, hair, etc. This attack has an effective range of 30' and does 1d4 fire damage each Round for 1d4+1 Rounds. Each creature is capable of firing no more than 5d4 of such pellets before needing to feed.
The bite is normally reserved for a distracted or fallen victim, and is a repeated process as pieces of the victim are digested as it feeds. Even the bones of victims are consumed, and it is supposed that a variety of components of a victim are necessary to concoct the resin.

Donhax (Shore Shears)-
Fight Dice: 2+4
Resolve: +11
Defence/Armour: +7/1d6
AB: +2
# Attacks: 2 Pincers
Damage: 3d4/3d4
Move: Land 10' Swim 60'
Organisation: 1d4 or 4d12 during Spawning season
CT: +4
Loot: None
XP: 150
The Donhax are usually 20-36' in length, and are shaped like long tapered cylinders with two powerful pincers, and four foot-like fins. They possess a cluster of six independent eye-stalks which provide them with good movement-sense, but poor focus.
Aggressive hunters of small-prey, they have been known to attack humans who tread through their feeding and spawning grounds -- likely as a mere reflex action in response to the movement of feet.
Out of water these fish-like creatures are clumsy and slow, but in the water, they dart at their prey (sometimes even attacking and killing water birds) with startling speed and accuracy. They use the carcasses of their prey as spawning beds for their hundreds of eggs.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

[RPG] Miscellaneous Details-

(c) Copyright 2009 Kyrinn S. Eis All Rights Reserved

The interesting side effect of a Point-Design system is that a lot of the rules and charts/tables usually found in an RPG are done away with, or at least simplified and consolidated into Character Generation. Without a need for individual XP Advancements, there's no need to list Fight Die, Attack Bonus, or even Spell Level progressions. Gone, too, are Thieving %, and Undead Turning tables. That's a noticeable amount of saved space.
Granted, there are still Spell listings and descriptions, Gear and Weapons, Creatures, and Loot, but that, as Micro20 and Micro74 have demonstrated, that can be condensed to a degree, as well.

My next 'big picture' task on the list is dealing with Environmental Issues: Illumination and Vision, Terrain and Movement Rates, Weather and Temperature Effects, Deprivations, Natural Healing, and Architecture Issues (Secret Doors, Lift Shafts, Vaults, etc.). I will be culling my bibliographical sources, including my major gaming influences (GW and EPT), to get the most concise, least fiddly descriptions and game implications-rules. If you have any suggestions on either sources or pet peeves regarding these sorts of things, please let me know via a Comment. Thanks.

After that, I intend on discussing How Much and What to detail as regards the setting. Clearly, I have more setting than I can fit in the first instalment, and will need to choose the contents carefully to provide a good balance and mix of locales and environs, timeline events and adventure seeds.
I have already received some wonderful feedback on what at least one other gamer would like to see, so if you have an interest in the inspirational materials I have previously listed, please let me know what you would like to see accented in the write-up.

I will say one thing about the setting, and its game implications: There isn't much in the way of rapid healing in this early period of the Autumn Era, which means that the monstrous and mundane dangers that characters will face must be seen for what they are, namely, potential killers.
While magical healing does exist, including alchemical concoctions, there isn't anything like a local good-aligned cleric first-aid station to run to when the tomb-raiders come back mauled and maimed. If that requires of the explorers to bring along healers as part of their specialist contingent, it is important that the players understand this before they set off on their adventures. Likewise, while Undead are perhaps a bit less prevalent on Urutsk, so are those who can affect them, let alone restore the essence-siphoning powers of the Greater variety.

Another thing: Loot will more often be of the sort one finds in Gamma World 1st Edition tables, and by that, I mean random stuff, and most of that is either junk, or only of interest to collectors or sages. Imperial-era 'magic' swords border on the legendary, power weapons rare and their power sources far rarer, and piles of coins...rare enough so as to make finding them, worth the risk involved in bringing them out of the ground or ruins.

Urutsk is not a place where Pegasi dot the sky, nor where brownies, pixies, and sprites are a welcomed sight in forests. The truly monstrous creatures on the world, if encountered by chance, will give your characters a terrible fight, and few of them leave much of their victims to root through in their lairs. Leaving civilised areas, crossing large bodies of water, trekking across the wastes -- these are sure ways to attract an unpleasant death.
Heroism and social advancement are often at odds with each other, as the civilised lands are places of authoritarian customs meant to help insure the continued well-being of their constituents. Reckless and wanton violence within towns and cities is as likely to win death by constabulary and militia, as it is to distinguish the characters as good candidates to dispatch to even more dangerous locales on do-or-die missions. "The wise man conceals his blade in good company and the presence of brigands, alike."

When devices of the Ancients are found, their flashy display will almost certainly attract attention, almost all of it unwanted. It may be prudent to gift them to local officials, as that will certify the intention of working within the system, as well as honouring the Right of rule. "If every man were a king, the fields would run riot with beasts, and the cities turn into mausoleums. Abide the lash of fools lest your turn to wield it is lost."

Honour is not only holding to one's word or oath, but of noble action in emulation of the Ancient legends. It is the sure-fast method to gaining glory. The other method usually involves a lot of blood and gore, often one's own. Götterdämmerung is a cultural feature, and if the gods have the good sense to fight the good fight unto death, you can be assured it is expected of real heroes.
Isn't it much easier to just be a keen-witted, quick-bladed scoundrel? Yes, until you are finally caught by the posse. "The just man differentiates between friend and foe with equity, the rest hide a dagger in their boot."

Saturday, March 21, 2009

[RPG] & [MISC.] UWoM and Old School-

(c) Copyright 2009 Kyrinn S. Eis All Rights Reserved

In today's post on the Worshop thread, I describe last night's thrilling adventure.

One item of character creation that had completely slipped my mind whilst working on the Point-Design system was a method employed in Basic Fantasy RPG's 2008 Almanack for variant classes, such as the Barbarian's 'double Str mod to hit and damage' and 'double Dex mod to AC while unburdened with armor'.
Fortunately, in UWoM, this is easily rectified through the use of dedicated Focus points, purchased at a 25% discount, to accomplish the same effect. Likewise the Ranger's 'double Dex mod to hit with a Longbow.', etc.

Ironically, I find myself using an unorthodox method of determining an encounter's severity: rolling 1d12. Why a d12? I imagine it is a clock-based meme, and I also use it to determine more precise direction, as was used in last night's adventure when Tybalt made a leaping attack onto a giant flightless bird.
I told his player that on an 11-1, he would be facing it head on, and that it would get an 'attack of opportunity' > shudder at the TETSNBN reference <. The player, Mike, looked at me in puzzlement, "On an 11 through 1? That means only on a 12 I'll get by without an attack?" I laughed and clarified, and all was laughs until he rolled a 12 on the die. Fortunately, the thing rolled a 1 on its d20, and Tybalt rolled a critical on his 3x Stealth Attack. Snap!
So, for all of my standardisation in getting rid of the quirky n in d6 mechanics, I use clock-memed d12s to determine both intensiy and direction. Along similar lines, I think a limited d6 mechanic may show-up in the system. One keyed to the Blood/Nature of the character, as is present in its sister (non-OS) system.
I realise folks like James Maliszewski of Grognardia may not feel that UWoM is mechanically Old School, if only for the Point-Design system, but I think that is perhaps misplaced pre-judgment not talking everything else into account -- and for good reason, given how little has been unveiled. I do wonder, though, if he extends Old School appelation to Skyrealms of Jorune. My guess is, 'no.' If that is the case, I can certainly understand 'grogs' not feeling that UWoM is OS.

I am saddened to think that World of Thool, with its marsupial gnomes, may be on an extended, or dare I write, permanent hiatus. That is one blog I would really lament the death of.
Please come back! The linguo-spores need a voice!

In other, semi-Old School news, I purchased Dennis 'Chariot of the' Sustare's SWORDBEARER for the third-time (the other two having been lost to time), but only got the two books (better them than nothing, although the box art was pretty cool, too).
There is just something about that game that I am mystified by and attracted to...

Friday, March 20, 2009

[RPG] Workshop Post & Alignment Variant data-

(c) Copyright 2009 Kyrinn S. Eis All Rights Reserved

In today's Workshop post, I give an overview of the Universal XP table, culled from the mean (average) of the four iconic classes.

I also mentioned my Alignment variant, which is a slight variation on the sub-system I have been using in a different (non-Old School) version of the RPG system.

At its core, 16 Elemental Bloods provide one-half of an Outlook, while the character's Nature determines the other half. Both provide some degree of Ability Score bonus (and given the hard-luck 3d6 score-generation method I employ), provide a touch of 'free' customisation to that area of the character.
In the other version of the game, a character's Attribute scores are built from Ethnicity/Species, Body Type, Blood, and Nature, with no rolling involved. It is fast once players know what sort of character they want to play, but it doesn't provide a lot of variation in the scores on a technical level.
By incorporating the 'hard-luck' of rolling, plus the Blood and Nature, meshed with the Ethnic (and later in the setting, Species) Minima of 'D&D', there is much more of a diffuse/organic distribution of scores.

I may post more before I head out to the game at FLGS.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

[RPG] 'n in d6' nixed; More on the feel of the milieu-

(c) Copyright 2009 Kyrinn S. Eis All Rights Reserved

In the Dragonsfoot Workshop thread today, I presented the deciding factor in my abandoning the 'n in d6' roll-mechanic.

I then went on to describe what makes UWoM more of a love-child of Ward's Gamma World and Barker's Tekumel, than D&D.

"Opting to let everyone commingle a bit of Fieldcraft or Legerdemain, etc. into their character may, in some Grogs' minds, break down the differences between the iconic 'classes', but I'm building upon more of a Gamma World base than D&D, and a culture that reveres self-sufficiency and artifice.

Its Empire of the Petal Throne patrimony is derived from its faded, glorious Imperial past (future), and the mysteries of rediscovered complexes, tombs, observatories, and devices of the Ancients. Bizarre and inimical species of creatures that are clearly reasoning, tool and weapon users, with a long-held grudge against Humanity's past wrongs. Groups of Humanoids that aren't quite Human, but often ally themselves with Humanity against the monstrous things out in the wilds. Degenerate and insane, warped human-things living in the ruins and under the oldest cities. Terrible things that stalk the bleak lands and drive even blood-enemies to briefly band together to fight.

Oh, and honour and glory."
I was that young gamer that longed to own a copy of Metamorphosis Alpha after it had gone out of print; who had marvelled at the weird Empire of the Petal Throne ads in The Dragon; the first one in our group to find Sky Realms of Jorune irresistible through its serialised adverts in Dragon Magazine; and, the GM who always wanted to run Gamma World rather than play in AD&D if we weren't going to mix genres like the Sixguns & Sorcery section of the DMG1. Once I found Ken St. Andre's Tunnels & Trolls, I left D&D for well over fifteen years and had very little good to say about it until I re-discovered it through the Old School resurgence.

Before gaming, I had the influence of my older sister's boxes of comic books, from Green Arrow to John Carter Warlord of Mars, to the most influential one of the lot: Killraven Warrior of the Worlds. I cannot adequately describe my love and feelings for that single title and its effects on me. Throw in a little The Rook from EC comics large format publications, Heavy Metal, Gasm, 1984/1994 (especially Mutant World), and a fanzine whose name is lost to the sands of my memory that had a single issue where in a wordless or unintelligible word-bubble illustrated story featured blond horsemen who battled black-haired and bearded horsemen with remnant rifles and other tech. It wasn't until the last page and final panels that the reader realises that they are far-future post-apocalyptic survivors of earth.

Then there were Star Trek, Space 1999, The Tomorrow People, Dr. Who, the Third Eye, the Night Gallery, the Twilight Zone, the Outer Limits, the prisoner, the Rat Patrol...

I mention all of this to illustrate, in a sort of iconic shorthand, what has gone into the creation of Urutsk over these 25 years, and what one will find traces of throughout its seven millennia of history.

While my first planned volume deals with the time period roughly analagous to the Fall of Rome through to the early Renaissance, there is so much that has come before the Autumn Era of Urutsk, and much of that can only be hinted at until those volumes are published.
Suffice it that Urutsk's history has something for every sort of gamer, and that is perhaps why I am so concerned with getting a solid set of mechancal guidelines -- a chasis -- for gaming groups to use (or discard) to explore the milieu.

If any or all of these influences appeal to you, I think you just may enjoy Urutsk: World of Mystery.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

[Setting] Kynkrea's Overview of Urutsk-

(c) Copyright 1985, 2002, 2009 Kyrinn S. Eis All Rights Reserved

IN An alternate reality, the star system in which the planet known by many as, URUTSK <'Crash Landing'>, encircles a brighter, slightly hotter yellow-orange star than your sun. URUTSK has many neighbours, all somewhat similar, yet very divergent those of your Solar system.

It is slightly smaller than your earth, and now, composed of far fewer heavy metals, and more simple crystalline structures. It has roughly 10% more water, in addition to its smaller size. This means that much of the world is at least somewhat flooded, or frigid, depending on local weather patterns.

The humans, yes, almost identical to you, have their own ethnicities, but most reflect blends of existing or former ethnicities found on your world, Earth.

URUTSK has a rich and radical history of major disasters befalling mankind roughly every thousand years, many brought upon the world due to the tragically-flawed efforts of the first human, Xoen. All native humans are his offspring.

Resultantly, most languages follow a similar alphabet, a central concept that has affected every endeavour of mankind, since the knowledge arrived in the 'War in Heaven'. That was when the First Parents descended from the great conflagration in the heavens, and came to commingle with the natives.

At that point, there were only a handful of ethnicities:

* Yirinn Ak <'Powerful People of the Black Ice'>

* Durn <'Unwavering Generation'>

* Kaukara <'World-wise Ones'>

Afterward, through their mating with the Imperial bloodline of the First Parents, all the ethnicities came to light in the next millennium or thereabouts.

Different 'eras', generally deliniated by the undoubted masters of URUTSK, the Vrun peoples, are either based upon discoveries, radical political changes, or wars -- often all at the same time.

Indeed, very soon after the First Parents touched the soil of URUTSK, a deadly storm that affected the entire star system showered debris from the War in Heaven down upon URUTSK. This in turn obscurred the system-star, their sun, and brought on terrible storms that scoured the planet clean of virtually all greenery.
No one knows how long the Scourge lasted, but what emerged from the Storm Age was the foundation of modern URUTSK.

Eventually, just as your earth did, we Urutskel <`I'm Born of URUTSK'>, split the atom. Unlike your world, we instantly and universally banned it. Like you, we built them by the gross. But, we were not fixated on the cheap and terrible weapons as were your scientists. No, we devised screens to filtre-out hard radiation as a countermeasure, then went on to develop Plasmatic Acids; LASERS, MASERS, XASERS, and others, beside.

Our militaries are significantly different from yours.
We believe in redundancy of command and small unit tactics, co-ordinated En Mass. Our Infantry are equipped with hypersonic caseless munitions fired from 'bullpup' carbines. The tiny rounds create horrifying wound cavities out to about [1,000 m], before friction with the atmosphere causes them to disintegrate. Most nations have true jet-packs that allow their troops limited flight, but greatly extends their ability to manoeuvre in most sorts of terrain through leaps and jumps. Each trooper has a complex communications suite in their environmentally sealed battledress, and the suits have limited life-saving capabilities, as well as environmental support.

Orbital weapons platforms are owned by only two nations: * The Peoples' Automatic Union -- a communist state administrated by an artificial intelligence known as, Mother; and, The Vrun Continental Authority -- a New-Agey Socialist society with hawkish tendencies. The VCA also patrol the inner system, and have attempted to colonise Aqmlk, the equivalent of your Mars.

[RPG] The Plethora of Rolling Methods in Old School games-

(c) Copyright 2009 Kyrinn S. Eis all rights reserved

Everything boils down to Percentile, or a clever die-mechanic for its own sake.
Combat on 1d20 was an afterthought, but it 'stuck', and contemporary games like Swordsmen & Spellslingers' reversion to 2d6, or Tunnels & Trolls' continued use of the 2d6 Saving Roll, illustrate that a tight bell-curve works fine, so long as the limitations of the curve and its havoc on Percentages is taken into account.

In my attempt to remain faithful to the Old School, I occasionally argue with myself regarding the best die-mechanic to employ for a given situation. In general, I emulate existing principles, if only for generic applicability, such as the ubiquitous 1d6 for Ambush, Detecting Architectural Features, Surprise, and Trap-springing.

But, knowing that a '1 or 2 on d6' is really a 33% makes me occasionally want to wander from the simple homage, toward something more akin to ICE's Rolemaster. And then I stop myself.
But, why is potentially deadly combat better on a d20 with its chunky 5% blocks, when less critical 'Thieving Skills' are more precise with their d%?

Tradition, and Portability.

If my game is to be Old School from a mechanics PoV; if it is to be generically compatible with OD&D, S&W, or BFRPG; it 'ought' to follow Tradition for Portability's-sake. Right?
Picking up a neo-Old School adventure module and running it in UWoM is greatly facilitated by having standardised mechanics (although, yes, OS is all about self-reliant and adaptable GMs/Refs), but more importantly, a Labyrinth Lord (etc.) ought to be able to pick up an UWoM adventure or supplement and have minimal conversion work -- if only out of professional courtesy.

So, what's a girl to do, but stick with Tradition?

* UWoM's combat isn't based upon an Armour Penetration 'to hit', but a more Palladiumesque 'physical connect' premise, and this reflects in a lower base number to be scored on the d20, although Str still figures in a modifier for brute attacks, while Dex figures for 'finesseable' attacks and ranged. Once a hit is determined, damage is rolled, and the Armour die is subtracted from the result before Dodge Points are deducted from the target.

* Con still figures into Dodge Points, but (Constitution score + Str mod.) is the terminal Threshold for actual damage, not simply 0 or -10.

* Percentile rolls are made as 'higher is better', rather than 'roll-under', with 100 as the target number, because, psychologically, higher seems better/cooler, and generating a 128 on a Pick Locks just seems to tell me as a Referee that you did it a lot faster than the cat who rolled a 101. Likewise, Binding Wounds are made on d%, and modifies how much damage is actually treated.

That leaves us with the quirky n in d6 rolls, of which I'm of the opinion that 'higher is better' should apply to as well. But, do these rolls on d6 make sense?
I'm this close to switching them out for d%.


Monday, March 16, 2009

[RPG] The Next Steps-

(c) Copyright 2009 Kyrinn S. Eis all rights reserved

After much calculation and tabulation, I think the Point-Design system for Character Creation is complete-enough to build all of the standard FRP trope 'Classes' (Fighter, Mage, Holy, and Rogue), as well as most, if not all, 'sub-Classes' (Assassin, Barbarian, Dedicated Warrior, etc.)
My next step is to collate the extant XP progression tables from my model RPG (Chris Gonnerman's excellent Basic Fantasy Role Playing Game), to create a 'generic' XP table to be used by the Referee for pacing purposes.

Pacing in the Point-Design system is important insomuch that it prevents outright distortions of the power ramp characters follow, as well as helping keep the entire party in a degree of parity (not true Balance, mind you). Thus, allowing more minor purchases to be made 'live' in-game (such as increasing Technical Skills such as those often attributed to 'Thieves': Trap Removal, Hiding, and so forth), but retraining rampant escalation of Spell Slots/Points or Fight Dice, etc.

In my Alpha Playtest Group (APG hereafter), the player controlling Tybalt the Bard purchased 9 Spell Points once we had converted the characters over to the P-D system. I thought about that over the week, and asked him to scale back the total to 4 purchased points (in line with a 2nd-Level M-U), but I then granted him the +2 from Tybalt's Charisma modifier. Though the difference was only three points, I felt as though things were less likely to spiral out of control should I not pay meticulous attention to the character's development. Likewise, other Ability Score bonuses had already figured in (Constitution toward Dodge Points, and Strength / Dexterity toward Attack Bonus, etc.).

As I have noted on the Dragonsfoot Workshop thread, I am reluctant to port over too many fiddly bits of Latter Day RPG design sensibilities, such as sharply-defined special abilities (Untraceable Steps, Vanish From View, or the like), and must now decide which, if any, will make the translation, and what sort of mechanic will address these sorts of situations otherwise.

Toward that end, I have already introduced -Focus-, which are generic points which the player may ask to apply to various established die-roll functions such as the Ability Test, Critical Tests (known in other games s Saving Throws), Technical Skills (in which case they are treated as +5% each), or the quirky 1d6 'Detect' or 'Surprise' mechanics so ingrained in the Old School systems. In the last case, given the mathematics of a d6, I have decided that it will take 3 Focus to emulate a +1 (worth roughly 16.67%) on the d6 rolls.
Also, in my initial write-up of the Devoted Warrior (a Paladin by another name), I have introduced the concept of the 'dedicated purchase' (currently at a 25% discount) toward such abilities as 'Smiting' a particular foe-type, or Dedicated Focus exclusively for detecting the foe-type. Furthermore, by simply dividing the cost by the 'number of times usable per day', a further reduction in cost is garnered.
I think these mechanics resolve most of the Latter Day special abilities rather nicely. We shall see...

I had asked on Dragonsfoot for some brainstorming assistance on the general topic of Perception, and how to handle it in the game.
Perhaps stimulated by that request, a poster started a General Discussion topic on the very subject, spawning the fairly typical demographic break-downs of: 'No need for a die roll'; 'Int or Wis'; and the occasional more unusual concept ('Int, Wis, or Cha, depending on the context' -- I especially liked that one).
So, now, I ask you for your input here. Thanks. :)

Scattered throughout the Metacosmos...-

All instances of Urutsk, Urutsk: World of Mystery, The Grand Tapestry setting, The Hereafter, and particular proper-nouns derived from these works are (c) Copyright 1985 - 2009 Kyrinn S. Eis all rights reserved.

Various sites, groups, blogs, and message-posts on the web have borne the name, Urutsk, in some fashion since about 2000.

Hundreds of posts on the subject were created on a Yahoo! Club that was ungracefully transformed into a Group, with the subsequent loss of all formatting. That knocked the wind out of my sails for a good while. It still remains as of today's date, but once recorded into some sort of archive file, will likely be put out of its misery.

While a novel has been published within The Grand Tapestry, featuring characters from Urutsk and its general milieu, the ambitious work of chronicling the entire four arcs from first Spring through to Winter, will, in all likelihood, never be completed. It is simply too large a scope in its seven thousand years of history.

That is not to say that in many ways, and through different media, the setting's rich background and detailed cultures and characters won't receive their due. Instead, I find it both good and necessary to use a multi-disciplinary palate to paint this vision, and many needles threaded with different hues to create The Grand Tapestry.

As regards fiction:
  • I have compiled my completed works into an unofficial .pdf release which a few friends have in their possession, and after editing and revision, I intend to release the volume via a POD service, likely LuLu if they are still solvent at the time.
As regards RolePlaying Games:

  • I am currently writing the Urutsk: World of Mystery RPG in the Old School style which spawned it. As a great admirer of many of the current Simulacra and Clones of early-edition RPGs, and a devotee of particular and still extant games such as Ken St. Andre's Tunnels & Trolls, and Professor Barker's Tekumel (among others), I am making every effort to blend my particular mechanics-vision with the sensibilities of the old games. Likewise, I intend to publish via LuLu, as part of the Old School Renaissance movement.
So, this concludes the introductory post to this site.

I thank you for reading,