Friday, April 30, 2021

On adding player choice to reaction rolls

     B/X D&D and many OSR rulesets use a 2d6 roll modified by charisma bonus to determine whether enemies are hostile, indifferent, or friendly.  However, I've always found a part of this nonsensical: the idea of having one trait that makes all creatures respond more positively doesn't really make sense in a fictional way.  Here's why: 

    We can roughly divide creatures one might encounter into two categories: Offensive and Defensive.  Offensive creatures include:

• Raiding parties

• Predators searching for a meal

• Ect

Defensive creatures include: 

• Those protecting their young

• Guards on routine patrol

• Animals defending territory

• Ect

    Offensive enemies are more likely to be aggressive towards a harmless-looking enemy but less likely to be aggressive to an intimidating enemy.  Conversely, a Defensive enemy is more likely to be aggressive towards an intimidating enemy, but more likely to be indifferent or friendly to a harmless looking PC.  To reflect this, ditch the CHA modifier and simply make a note of whether each PC is intimidating, harmless-looking, or neither.  Intimidating PCs get +1 to reaction rolls with offensive creatures but -1 to reaction rolls vs Defensive creatures.  Harmless-looking PCs get -1 to reaction rolls with offensive creatures but +1 to reaction rolls vs Defensive creatures.

    If you want to add even more nuance, give two +1/-1 bonuses to the reaction roll, which either cancel each other out or stack.  One of the bonuses reflects your character's appearance, and rarely changes.  The other bonus reflects your character's choice of whether to act in an intimidating way or to act in a harmless way.  This gives the players a simple element of choice in how the approach an encounter, which can increase engagement.  However, they shouldn't always know what the ideal way to approach an encounter is.

    If you're playing solo, here's a trick to decide the intentions of the creature you've encountered: use 2d6 of different colors.  Call them A and B.  If the value of A is greater than B, the creature fits into the offensive category.  If the value of A is less than B, the creature fits into the defensive category.  If A and B are tied the creature fits in neither category. This creates a fun bit of gambling during the reaction roll.


    While it does make reaction roles more complicated.  I think the amount of nuance it adds is fairly substantial for the amount of complexity.  

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Why does that creature exist?

 One of the more controversial decisions Gary Gygax made in D&D was what later commentators called "Gygaxian naturalism".  This refers to portraying monsters as members of an entire species that naturally exists.  This isn't always bad, but there are alternatives.  Other people with blogs have spent a great deal of time discussing this subject already, so I decided to just make a table including all the possibilities I can think of for alternative creature origin.

Comment if you think of any more to add to the list.  One obvious possibility is aliens, but I left that out since I never include them in my games.


D8/D6: Why does that creature exist?






Friday, March 19, 2021

A card-based room stocking system

When I'm playing a solo dungeon crawl, all of the dice rolling can get monotonous.  I like to stock my dungeons using a deck of cards instead, it adds some nice variety.

This is based on the Random Dungeon Stocking rules from Old School Essentials.

Double Encounter means you roll up 2 encounters, but the two groups of creatures are in conflict with one another

Room Size:

Small: 2-3 squares per side

Medium: 4-5 squares per side

Large: 6-7 squares per side

Huge: 8+ squares per side



Wednesday, March 17, 2021

D10: Why is that person/creature doing evil stuff?

I came across this post a while back and found it quite in line with how I wanted my games to run.  I decided to make a convenient table of the main categories of villain motivations, to ensure villains have a nice variety of motivations.  

Anyway here it is:

D10: Why is that person/creature doing evil stuff?
  1. They believe they are acting in self-defense
  2. They believe it's for the greater good
  3. Self-interest, they believe their needs matter more than other's do
  4. They believe other people will hurt them if they don’t assert dominance first
  5. To get something they desperately need
  6. Pure sadism
  7. They're just totally numb to suffering and don't think about what they're doing
  8. Their senses are warped and they don't accurately perceive what they are doing
  9. They are in pain and lashing out randomly
  10. Roll twice and combine

Please comment if you can think of any more options to add to the list.



Tuesday, March 9, 2021

New Oracles for Solo Play: People and Creatures

A key part of Solitaire RPG play is the use of oracles, nonsense phrase generators that provide inspiration for what comes next in the game.  When I play solitaire games, I use the Mythic Oracle to answer questions such as "What is that person doing?" "What is going on here?". However, the Mythic Oracle is designed to inspire more mundane ideas, to move the story forward as rapidly as possible. So, I created a second set of oracles, designed for rapid, weird worldbuilding. I've included them below, with examples of what kind of questions they are designed to answer. Some of the words are drawn from biology or from non-english languages. If you see a word you don't recognize, just type it into Wikipedia and all will become clear.

~Content Note: These oracles contain references to slavery and violence.  Each can produce 10000 different phrases.  Some may be disturbing in ways I have not yet forseen.

The Interpersonal Drama Oracle takes the form of  an interpersonal/feeling verb followed by person-related noun:

It answers questions such as: Who is that person and what are they doing? What gossip did you just hear?

The Interpersonal Violence Oracle takes the form of a violence/movement/theft related verb followed by a person-related noun:

It answers questions such as: What kind of violent and dramatic shenanigans are going on here?

The Weird Creature Oracle takes the form of a practical/intellectual/weird verb followed by a random/weird creature-related noun:

The Dangerous Creature Oracle takes the form of a violence/movement/theft related verb followed by a random/weird creature-related noun

They are both designed to answer questions such as: What is that weird creature you just saw?  What is that dangerous creature you just saw?  What is chasing you down the dungeon corridor?  What did you see out of the corner of your eye?

pls enjoy

There is some duplication between these oracles.  That is because I insisted in making sure that each list was exactly 100 words each, so I can eventually produce a pdf version with D100 tables. 

Please do tell me if you end up using this for anything and how it turns out.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

D12 Excellent Animal Companions

 

  1. A majestic snow leopard that is trained to ride on horseback
  2. A talking horse.  Strong and swift, but a whiny diva.
  3. A soaring eagle who brings you small game and stolen hats.
  4. A swift camel who will always spit on your enemies.
  5. A thoughtful elephant who tries to warn you when you're about to make a bad decision.
  6. A gazelle that watches out for dangers in the wilderness.
  7. A large dog of middling intelligence that will try to protect you from all threats.
  8. An agile mountain goat who pickpockets things for you.
  9. A snow white dove who always delivers messages to the right place.
  10. A clever fox who guides you through the wilderness.
  11. A small monkey who sits on your shoulder and screams if someone tries to sneak up on you.  Loves apricots and becomes irate when denied them.
  12. A venomous snake who will sit draped over your shoulders and look very intimidating.


On adding player choice to reaction rolls

     B/X D&D and many OSR rulesets use a 2d6 roll modified by charisma bonus to determine whether enemies are hostile, indifferent, or f...