Samstag, 10. Juni 2017

Quick Review: Macchiato Monsters ZERO (and Extra Shots)

Macchiato Monsters ZERO is a hack of hacks (Black Hack and White Hack, neither of which I know myself). It has some nice mechanics that a both tight and loose, comfortable in a word. The game is complete, has some nice mechanics (I like the death-spirally/doom-clocky risk dice, and the roll all the dice fast equipment generation method). I guess some people will take umbrage with the single-die-roll-combat resolution (players roll and do damage on success/take damage on failure), but I guess that is more about how that feels ... Dungeon World players might feel right at home.

The recently added Extra Shots has a number of referee facing tools that uses the resource die mechanic to have semi-dynamic encounter / event tables: The worse the circumstances, the lower the die size, the worse the result. It's nice that in the current work-in-progress the extra shots each fit one page.

There are also some in-progress die drop tables which are another bunch of tools for quick off-the-cuff prep in the macchiato-fantasy, which is described as "borderlands style" (i.e. exploration of dangerous mostly unknown area, plus safe havens/points of light to return back to).

The map generator deserves extra mention because it is not purely random but somewhat procedural. This promises somewhat more natural looking maps.

Macchiato Monsters is probably the system I will use for short-notice games (at conventions or similar). I am also seriously considering mashing it up with Wonder&Wickedness for a Principalities of Glantri vs. The Grand Schools of the Hypogea spinoff of my current campaign; i.e. Make Total Destroy with Nuclear Powered Lich Mages discovering Hypogean Mana Tar ...
Macchiato Monsters ZERO is available in print from Lost Pages, and in PDF form from OBS

Dienstag, 6. Juni 2017

OSR, Remix Culture, Boxed Sets

In a G+ Post+Alex Schroeder writes about the Unified House Rule Document Update by +James Young:
[T]his is the best part of the OSR, as far as I am concerned. People start with some sort of D&D and then they add stuff and remove stuff, tinkering and transmogrifying shit until it's uniquely theirs, and then they share it in order to help others. Download, browse, experiment, delete, adapt, lift some stuff, it's all good.
And I have to agree: The biggest advantage of the OSR is the use of lingua franca like the old D&D rules or their successors, re-implementations, clones, etc. ... Even if you left these rules behind in your games a long time ago, most parts are easily  recognizable. Some games like Lamentations of the Flame Princess create a distinct profile by adding, removing or changing particular details (like the peculiarities of LotFP classes), sometimes deviating quite wildly (like the class-less Macchiato Monsters which is still pretty much D&D-ish, but with a lot of "modern" rules ideas). And despite all the differences and deviations, you can use LotFP adventures with Macchiato Monsters, one page dungeons in most/any game, exchange/add/remove spell-casting rules, replace character classes (like I did for the original BX based Sylvan Realm) or even switch out complete sub systems like combat rules (I used the Old School Hack combat tracker with Labyrinth Lord for a while, and switching to and back from it was very simple). So, a manifold of options, remixable and changeable as you want or need for your campaign (or campaign leg).

So, the part of the OSR where we never stop tinkering is the most interesting one in my book box, as well. Which brings me to Boxed Sets (like LotFPs Grindhouse Edition box, the Tunnels&Trolls box, or the Chthonic Codex boxed set): It makes it very easy to tinker and add by just printing out a couple pages and adding them to the box. For example, while I do not need most of the house rule document linked above, the chase rules seem like a nice addition to my (tool) box, and if they're not too gimmicky I will keep them.

So, yeah: Have a box, keep all your stuff in it. If you publish a box, make sure there's some space left for people to add what makes their game complete. If you don't publish a box ... reconsider? Or at least make sure your book would fit a box. Oversized full-color hard covers are not the end-all be-all (-:

Montag, 5. Juni 2017

Better campaigns through Character sheets

Running an open table game means that I have new players at the table every now and then, and most of them have no idea what they are up to before the first session. That's alright -- my games are prep and homework free for the players (not that I would stop them, but it's certainly not required, even if the campaign wiki has many entries describing parts of the world, previous sessions, as well as PCs and NPCs.

My game is also a bit West Marches inspired; i.e. the players are open to go where they want. But most often, the players just pick the most straightforward next thing, even if I have some other options at the ready. My biggest shortcoming here is that I usually fail to give the players proper choice (although in the next-to-last session, they simply decided not to explore the ruined underground city, which was a bit sad considering all the fun they could have had there, but player choice is player choice ...). So, to make sure that players are aware that each character can have their own goals and can try convincing the others to help them pursue those, I'll leverage AFGs concept of Accomplishments and a Character sheet re-design that puts these Accomplishments right on the table every time we play.

Donnerstag, 25. Mai 2017

Mysteriously Missing Monstrosities Pt IV: Re-working the Hypogean Travel Shenanigans Tables

So, a while back I posted to a social network about when I have my players roll for encounters, and one of my players remarked:

"At times, the roll roll more lookup lookup on other table think narrate results part takes slightly too long for my tastes. (I'm a sucker for flow, and as a GM rather make up something slightly boring on the spot than spending time on looking up the cool thing in the reference manual if it speeds up gameplay.)"

So, sure, I could just make stuff up, but then I like the Hypogean Karst  so much that I want to show it to the players, also in the travel encounters, without diverging too much through improvisation.

What's a GM/referee to do then? Of course, build better tools to support me at the table!

Dienstag, 10. November 2015

The Chthonic God That Crawls

As I wrote recently, I think that the modules written for Lamentations of the Flame Princess and the world outlined in Chthonic Codex are a surprisingly good fit. One of the ways to further that discussion is to take one of the modules, namely The God That Crawls, and try to make it work in the underworld cavities called the Hypogea.
Spoilers below: If you haven’t read The God That Crawls and plan to play it, you should find another blog post to read. Also, spoilers about the Hypogea.

Sonntag, 18. Oktober 2015

Mysteriously Missing Monstrosities Pt III: Minotaurs

If there is one thing stressing Chthonic Codex is not meant to be a stand-alone product, it is the encounter tables in the back. Almost every section (common, uncommon, rare) for all kinds of terrain (surface, chthonic, ...) seems to have an entry that is not one of the Chthonic Creatures covered in the book/boxed set, so you will need to fall back on other write-ups ... or come up with your own.

So far, my missing monster write-ups were more or less off the cuff. This time around I peruse the MOSTROTON, which is part of Adventure Fantasy Game, the set of rules I am currently using to run the game. While the MOSTROTON is written for random monsters, the abilities and types help framing the Minotaur in AFG terms (not that it is very hard to begin with). Still it helps with the special abilities and ways to combine them. Without further ado:

Minotaur a la MOSTROTON

Freitag, 2. Oktober 2015

Mysteriously Missing Monstrosities pt II: Oozes of the Hypogean Great Karst

For some, the existence of oozes is perplexing, others find they are the alpha and omega of Chimerist design. Most oozes in the close vicinity of schools are thought to be failed experiments ('any experiment that begets life is a success though!' the Chimerists insist) or Chimerist Protoplasm that was assumed spoiled and thrown out with the trash. The by now almost forgotten phrase old as an ooze indicates they may just have gotten out of style since it's easier to create and control Asphaltmorphlings.

"Chimerists couldn't possibly have developed mysteries advanced enough to allow them the pinpoint changes to cause Oozes to speciate. It is much more likely that escaped oozlings, as is more often the case than any Chimerist would dare admit, adopt to outside stimuli, proving their instability and inherent danger." -- Savant Emeritus Klaxon, in 'Observations on the relative advances of the Five Great Schools'

Baby Oozes can easily curl up into a ball form and follow around a designated handler if controlled properly, but they always convey a sense of hunger and loneliness. Humans don't want to cuddle with Baby Oozes due to their caustic nature. Baby Oozes easily feel rejected if not constantly fed, and the only disciplinary measures that put fear rather than moping into them is fire.

AFG: Level 1 Ooze, 2 hits, DEF light, Special: caustic on touch (one hitpoint to organic matter touching it), engulfing attack (on a hit with a six and another six, ooze engulfs some vital orifice and starts eating you up from the inside), mobility (can easily move up surfaces), vulnerable to fire.

Small Oozes have too much mass to easily get into ball shaped forms. They can still keep up with humans at a brisk walking pace and at this stage they start speciating into different versions, sometimes calles slimes or puddings. This hasn't been observed, but only baby oozes (and some forms of giant oozes) are completely clear.

AFG: Level 4 Ooze, DEF medium, Special: caustic on touch, engulfing attack, mobility, speciation specific abilities depending on earlier stimuli.

Medium Oozes might have been fed to size on purpose. They can easily keep stretches of a cave complex devoid of organic matter up to their maximum stretching height. They cannot easily crawl up sheer cliffs like Baby or Small Oozes, so a sudden start of organic matter between waist and breast height is a good indicator of a Medium Ooze or two being around.

AFG: Level 6 Ooze, DEF medium, Special: engulfing attack, mobility, further speciation specifics. Medium Oozes are not generally caustic on touch.

Giant Oozes are only limited by the expanse of their surrounding and the availability of feed. They are known to adopt the shape of wherever they live: Tubular Oozes in round tunnels, and in man-made structures this is where you may encounter the Cubic Oozes, either which often return to a Baby-Ooze like mostly clear, mostly caustic state.

AFG: Level 10 Ooze, DEF medium, Special: Sneaky, Engulfing Attack, Highly Caustic (1d6 acid damage), no special vulnerability to fire due to higher internal cohesion and water content).