Saturday, September 21, 2019

Am I the Only One Who Hates Actual Play Shows?

I have an strained relationship with actual-play D&D streams, podcasts, etc. I'm very glad they exist. More than one of my players actually got interested in playing through the Adventure Zone. And I know from running a D&D club at the school where I teach that real-life kids listen to them. I feel about as sure as I am about anything that they are a big reason for the long-overdue coming out party that the tabletop RPG scene has enjoyed in the past few years.

I also can't stand them. I have tried many, from Critical Role to the more obscure OSR groups, and they absolutely cannot hold my attention. I can't even get into the Adventure Zone, and I love their other podcast. I don't even really know why I don't like them. It may have something to do with the fact that I'm not invested in the same way as when I'm playing, or maybe I don't like to see DMs making choices I wouldn't make.

But I want to like them. I really do. Do I have to make one to find one that I like? I fucking hope not. I couldn't see myself putting in the effort. Still, I have some ideas of things I'd like to see in something like this:

Aesthetics

  • Film in front of a green screen and stick in atmospherically appropriate visuals - movies, real-world footage, photos, illustrations.
  • Graphics that look like they're taking inspiration from something a little better than World of Warcraft.
  • Animations that show game information - like if a player gets hit, there's a blood splatter and "-8 HP" above their head.
  • Replace DM description with short animations, if you can find someone good to make them.
  • Shoot on video tape for max nostalgia. I guess you couldn't stream like this, but whatever.
  • Closeups of all players, and a wide shot of the whole table. I'm not a fan of the Brady Bunch style that streaming kind of forces you into. I guess in general I'd rather watch something that has been shot ahead of time and edited together later, rather than streamed live.
  • Rotoscope the players so when they say something "in-character", they are literally their character, full Ralph Bakshi style. Could be pretty off-putting, but I think I'd like it.

Performance

  • Like four players max. Maybe three.
  • Everyone should know the fucking rules. Normally I will tell you that you do not need to know any rules to play D&D, but if you're going to be doing it for other people to watch, you should not be slowing down to figure things out every few minutes.
  • Everyone should be charismatic and charming and genuinely like each other. This seems like the first thing you should worry about and the hardest to pull off. Like real life, I guess. Usually the "cast" is either wooden, gratingly and self-consciously "nerdy," or obviously frustrated actors looking for exposure.
  • Editing, guys.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Somebody stop me

This system is basically an unholy hybrid of Into the Odd and a few of my previous experiments here and here.

Design goals:
  • Remove hit points
  • Tie combat effectiveness to statistics, which Into the Odd doesn't do
  • Differentiate weapons without variable damage
  • Provide interesting tactical decisions in an intuitive way
It's not quite as elegant as I would like (the way you use the injury chart for ranged weapons is particularly clumsy), but overall, how did I do? Any glaring oversights?

Character Creation

Roll 3d6 each for Strength, Dexterity, and Willpower. Saves and non-combat skill checks are roll under these stats. Each level, try to roll over each on 3d6 to increase them by one.


Consult this table for Weapon Skill:


Dexterity Score


3-8
9-12
13-15
16-17
18
Strength Score
3-8
1
2
3
4
5
9-12
2
3
4
5
6
13-15
3
4
5
6
7
16-17
4
5
6
7
8
18
5
6
7
8
9

(The charts kinda got fucked up, but hopefully they're readable.)

Choose equipment according to your preferred method or roll on an Into the Odd-style starting package chart.

Hand to Hand Combat

Combatants make opposing d10 rolls. If they have equal Weapon Skills, they each roll one die. If one combatant has a higher Weapon Skill, he or she rolls one more die. If one combatant has at least twice the Weapon Skill of the other, he or she rolls two more dice. During the first round of engagement, the combatant with the highest-reach weapon adds another die to his or her roll, but after that (until they disengage) the combatant with the highest-speed weapon adds another instead. Compare the two combatants’ highest rolls, and use the difference between them to consult the Injury Chart for the low roller.

Weapon
Reach
Speed
Minor (like daggers)
1
5
Small (like shortwords)
2
4
Medium (like longswords)
3
3
Great (like two-handed axes)
4
2
Pole (like spears)
5
1

Confined Quarters

In cases where the width of the fighting area is less than the length of a weapon extended from the body (use your best judgment), its reach bonus during the first round of engagement does not apply.

Fighting in Ranks

If combatants fight in a line, any reach bonus from their weapons continues to apply after the first round of engagement, except on either end of the line.

Ranged Combat

The shooter rolls a d10 and hits the target if he or she rolls equal to or under his or her Weapon Skill. If the intended target moved in the previous round, the shooter rolls two dice and uses the higher result. If the shooter spent at least one previous round doing nothing but aiming at a stationary target, he or she rolls two dice and chooses the lower result. If the shooter hits, subtract the lowest roll from 10 and consult the Injury Chart.

Armor

For both hand to hand and ranged combat, armor reduces the number used to consult the Injury Table by a certain amount. However, heavier armor reduces the speed of the weapon carried by the armor’s wearer.

Armor
Injury Reduction
Maximum Weapon Speed
Light (like leather)
1
5
Medium (like chain)
2
4
Heavy (like plate)
3
3

Armor Piercing

Longbows, crossbows, maces, and lances from horseback reduce the effectiveness of armor by one point.

Called Shots

Instead of consulting the injury chart as normal, combatants may aim for a specific injury. In that case, consult the Injury table’s “Called Shot Dice” column. In the case of hand to hand combat, the defender of the called shot rolls that many extra dice. In the case of ranged combat, the shooter rolls that many extra dice and chooses the highest roll. If the attacker still succeeds, the desired injury takes effect.

Injury Chart


Injury to:
First Hit
Second Hit
Third Hit
Called Shot Dice
1-3
Legs
Temporary disadvantage on Dex-related rolls
Disadvantage on Dex-related rolls until healed
Disabled, dead in 2d4 rounds if not stabilized
1
4-5
Arms
Temporary disadvantage on Str-related rolls
Disadvantage on Str-related rolls until healed
Disabled, dead in 2d4 rounds if not stabilized
1
6-7
Torso
Disabled, dead in 2d4 rounds if not stabilized
Dead
-
2
8-9
Head
Dead
-
-
3

Healing takes d4 weeks after a “Second Hit” and 2d4 weeks after a “Third Hit.”

Friday, March 1, 2019

Ok how about this one?

I cannot help daydreaming new combat systems. It's a character flaw.

Instead of attack bonus, characters have a Weapon Skill (thanks Warhammer) equal to Str + Dex modifiers (and Fighters add their level).

Weapons don't have damage ratings anymore, but instead have Reach and Speed:

  • Daggers etc: Reach 1, Speed 5
  • Shortswords etc: Reach 2, Speed 4
  • Longswords etc: Reach 3, Speed 3
  • Great weapons: Reach 4, Speed 2
  • Pole weapons: Reach 5, Speed 1

Combatants make opposing rolls (d6 or d10 probably, depending on the game's HD regime). The combatant with the higher Weapon Skill rolls one more die. On the first round of combat, the combatant with the highest-reach weapon rolls one more die, but after that (until they disengage) the combatant with the highest-speed weapon rolls one more die. The winner in the roll-off deals damage equal to the difference between the two players' highest rolls.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Knight's Heraldry Generator


A simple heraldry generator in Abulafia format. Click the button, and the full text of the generator is below.



;heraldry

1,[colour], [charge] [metal]
1,[metal], [charge] [colour]

;colour
1,Gules
1,Sable
1,Azure
1,Vert
1,Purpure

;metal
1,Argent
1,Or

;charge
15,a [ordinary]
10,two [ordinary]s
10,three [ordinary]s
16,a [beast] [beast attitude]
10,a [beast]’s head
5,two [beast]s [beast attitude]
5,three [beast]s [beast attitude]
5,a [beast] and [beast] combatant
5,a [beast] and [beast] addorsed
11,a[bird] [bird attitude]
10,a[sea creature]
16,a[plant]
16,a[object]
1,a serpent glissant
1,a serpent nowed
1,two keys addorsed
1,two keys crossed

;ordinary
1,chief
1,bend
1,fess
1,pale
1,chevron
1,saltire
1,cross
1,cross botonny
1,cross crosslet
1,cross flory
1,cross Maltese
1,cross moline
1,cross patee
1,cross patonce
1,cross potent

;beast
1,lion
1,wolf
1,bear
1,boar
1,horse
1,bull
1,hart
1,hound
1,hind
1,tyger
1,fox
1,weasel
1,hare
1,goat
1,ram
1,lizard

;beast attitude
3,rampant
1,rampant guardant
1,rampant regardant
1,passant
1,passant guardant
1,passant regardant
1,sejant
1,couchant
1,dormant
1,salient
1,statant

;bird
1,n eagle
1, martlet
1, peacock
1, pelican
1, swan
1, cock
1, crane
1, dove
1, duck
1, goose
1,n owl

;bird attitude
1,displayed
1,overt
1,rising
1,volant
1,recursant
1,vigilant

;sea creature
1, pike
1, perch
1, salmon
1, squid
1,n octopus
1, dolphin
1, cod
1,n eel
1, whale
1, seashell

;plant
1, fleur-de-lis
1, rose
1. trefoil
1, quatrefoil
1, cinquefoil
1, thistle
1, grapevine
1,n oak
1, pine
1, pine-cone
1,n aspen
1, willow
1,n alder
1,n elm
1,n olive branch
1,n ear of wheat

;object
1, sun in splendour
1, crescent
1, moon in her plenitude
1, star
1,n estoile
1, constellation
1, ship
1, tower
1, crown
1, clarion
1, drum
1, fasces
1, hammer
1, sickle
1, key
1,n anvil
1, beehive