Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Death & Dinosaurs: Basic Rules of Play

This is part 2 of a multi-part series where I design a game that feels in play like the games I played when I first started playing. In the previous post, I laid out the basics of the setting and some of my ideas on how the game will go. Check it out if you want this part to make sense.

Basic Rules
Rule 1: Dice rolls matter. Whenever the GM calls for a die roll it should matter. There should be definite downsides to failing and definite good sides to succeeding. Basically set the stakes before you roll.

You will be rolling a twenty-sided die for most of the game. You use a D20 for skill rolls, attack rolls, and for the occasional defense roll. The other dice come into play for damage, initiative, and effect rolls(effect rolls are for duration, area of effect, and other variables).

The Combat Cycle
Step 1: Roll for initiative. Each class will tell you what the base initiative die you roll(1D4, 1D6, or 1D8). Add in your Prowess modifier to get your final initiative score. You only roll once for the whole combat. But the score can be manipulated by spells and class abilities.
Step 2: Though this will be step one for the rest of the combat cycle. You may move and take one action. You may move up to your alacrity rating in yards and still take one action. That action can be to move again. Your action can be an attack, a second move, or skill use.
Step 3: Compare attacks to defense rating, or compare a skill rating to opponents opposed skill rating. Your base defense against physical attack is your prowess modifier added to 10. You may also get equipment and special abilities that will modify this number. You can give up your action to add to your defense for the turn by 1D4. This can be affected by special abilities.
Step 4: Deal with ramifications. Deal damage(usually based off of equipment), followthrough with effects of spells and skills, and any other follow on effects from actions taken.
Step 5: Return to Step 2 and follow through until one side flees, gets taken out(runs out of hit points), or the situation change such that combat is no longer necessary.

What is roleplaying?
In this section, I would have an explanation of roleplaying. It would be specific enough that you would sort of understand how it should go, but vague enough that you are still uncomfortable and confused during your first couple of sessions. It would then have an example of play, where I would try to write how people play and end up with a really odd scenario that would never happen in play. As I am writing for folks who most likely know about role-playing games already, I can probably just skip this part...

What you need to play
Paper - on which to write out your character's stats and all notes and doodles necessary for the mind to play the game.
Pencils - pencils are great because they have erasers. During play you will be called upon to add, subtract, and change data on your paper. Pencils are our friends...also they count as a wooden stake. Should vampires attack during the game don't you want the security of knowing you can handle it?
Friends - This can be tricky. Warriors aren't the only ones who see charisma as a dump stat. You will need a couple of friends at a minim to play. At least one to play the Game Master and at least two to play the Characters.
Dice - Many different kinds of dice are used for this game.  are listed as a number of dice followed by a D followed by the number of sides the die has. This game uses the following dice: D4, D6, D8, D10, D12, D20. You can get these online or at hobby stores. They are pretty cheap unless you want some fancy ones. These can go for a fair amount.

Each attribute will be rated as a number between 3 and 18. This number usually comes from a separate roll of 3d6 for each attribute. Though there are other methods you might use. Assume 3D6 down the line, unless your GM says otherwise.
Ratings and modifiers follow:
3 :-4, 4 : -3, 5-6 : -2, 7-8 : -1, 9-11 : 0, 12-13 : +1, 14-15 : +2, 16-17 : +3, 18 : +4

Why eight attributes?
In this game, I will be using eight attributes, but I will be using the old standby of 3D6 for the range of attribute rating. You have to remember I am trying to get the feel of the games I first played in my youth. They all had attributes, and those attributes were all a sort of response to D&D. They would be similar but would sort of feel like a reaction to them. Often these were pointless distinctions or an odd picadillo of a specific group's play style. As such altering attributes and adding a couple extra attributes

Glamor: Grace, poise, and physical attraction. This represents your physical presence and your ability to control how people see you. This is not just your innate physical symmetry and grace, it is your ability to use that to its best effect.
Pull: Force of personality, ability to get people to do what you want. Those with a high Pull can control Their emotions and the emotions of those around them. This is one's ability to get what you want through sheer force of personality, charisma, and moxy.
Strength: Lifting, carrying, breaking things. This represents your ability to focus and utilize your raw musculature. You can lift Strength x10 lbs without incurring mechanical difficulty. you can lift double that weight as your maximum carrying capacity. When carrying more than your normal limit you can not use any strength bonus to skills, and any penalties are doubled.
Prowess: Muscle control and hand-eye coordination. The opposite end of the muscle spectrum. Your reflexes and fine motor control.
Fortitude: Health, endurance, toughness. Your ability to resist pain, disease, poison, Distractions, and fatigue. Those with a great deal of this can stand fast in the face of armageddon, those without much of this are easily distracted and easily pushed around.
Alacrity: Swiftness, Fleetness of foot. Those with a high Alacrity act first and cover the most ground. Those with high Alacrity are slim and swift, those without much are in someway slow and have poor reactions. Your Alacrity attribute number is the number of yards you can move per action, or double that if you take no actions.
Intellect: Intelligence, knowledge, and ability to learn and understand new data and skills. This also includes memory. Let's be honest this is the standard RPG understanding of intelligence. You know what this is for.
Willpower: mental strength, endurance, and resistance. Your force of will and your mental endurance. This also plays into your focus and perception.

When making a skill check you roll a d20 add a relevant attribute bonus or penalty as well as the skill rating. You compare this number against the success threshold. If you roll higher than the threshold you succeed; roll lower than the threshold and you fail. If you are using a skill against an opponent they would roll the relevant attribute and skill combo, and you need to roll higher then their roll and the threshold.

Skills have two variants, Trained Skills, and Hobby Skills. Trained Skills have a success threshold of 10(meaning you must roll higher than 10 to succeed). Hobby Skills have a success threshold of 15. Untrained skills have a success threshold of 21, you cannot critically succeed with an untrained skill. Your class will let you know what skills you have as hobby skills and trained skills.

Each skill starts at rank 0, at each level(including the first level) you gain 5+your intellect modifier in skill points which you can use to increase your skills by 1. Your maximum skill level is your current level. You can move an untrained skill to hobby level for two skill points, move a hobby skill to trained skill for double the current skill level in skill points.

Academics: Understanding of history, literature, and philosophy. This is book learning. Knowledge of how to attain information and who to talk to in an academic environment.
Acrobatics: Jumping, dodging, flipping, moving with finesse balance and control.
Animal Handling: Your ability to communicate with, control, and ride animals. A super Useful Skill in this strange dinosaur infused future.
Art: The creation of objects and expressions of ideas that serve a primarily aesthetic purpose, though there can be more to it than that. This is the creation of art. Discuss what that means for your character when you take this skill.
Awareness: The ability to feel, perceive, or attain consciousness of events, object, patterns, people, and the world around you.
Charm: Getting people to want to help you. You get what you want through making people like you.
Climbing: The ability to climb well. This includes free climbing, rappelling, rock climbing, tree climbing...all sorts of climbing, really.
Cookery: The art of preparing food for consumption. Anyone can do it, in fact, most cook to one degree or another every day. You, however, are a cut above. Your food is more than just sustenance, it is an experience.
Demolitions: Creation and removal of explosive devices. Don't screw up...BOOM!
Investigation: Directed and focused awareness. Seeking small but crucial details.
Disguise: The ability to alter your appearance or the perception of your appearance to others.
Engineer: Applied scientific knowledge and ingenuity. This is the skill of building and repairing things.
Escapology: The practice of escaping traps and restraints.
Etiquette: Knowledge of who to talk to and understanding of how things are done in high society.
Forensics: A scientific method for understanding the causes of death in a formerly living being.
Forgery: the process of making, adapting, or imitating objects, statistics, or documents with the intent to deceive
Intimidate: getting people to do what you want through the use of threats and fear. No one likes a bully, yet people do what the bully wants, so who cares?
Lore: Knowledge of magic theory, demonology, and an understanding of all things magical and superstitious. This is the knowledge of how to attain information and who to talk to in the Magical subculture.
Medicine: Diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease and treatment injuries. If you get shot, 
Might: Lifting, breaking, the distance you can throw, bending. Feats of strength and endurance.
Melee Combat: This represents mastery of hitting things with other things. You are a master of using hand to hand weaponry.
Ranged Combat: Shooting stuff, throwing stuff, hitting at a distance. You are William Tell, Robin Hood, Buffalo Bill, Sergeant York, Wild Bill Hitchcock, or Legolas.
Running: The ability to move swiftly. This covers long-distance running, like marathons, and short distance running, like sprints.
Science: Like all the deadly arts it is divided into two schools of thought...Soft Science and Hard Science. When you take this skill you choose one of the styles of science and cannot take the other.
Stealth: Your ability to move unseen and conceal yourself from the eyes of others. The weapon of a ninja.
Streetwise: Knowledge of underbelly of society. This is a skill used to understand who to talk to and where things can be found within the criminal subculture.
Survival: Techniques used to gather the necessities of life within the wilderness.
Swimming: Mankind's primary weapon in its never-ending war against the menace of water.
Thievery: You are trained in picking locks, picking pockets, and cracking safes. One might say you are somewhat untrustworthy.
Unarmed Combat: Punching, kicking, gouging, scratching, and biting. When you got nothing else, you still have the weapons the gods gave you. At rank 1 you must choose either a hard martial art or a soft martial art. Hard means when the opponent attacks and fails, they take damage equal to your rank in the skill. Soft grants a bonus to defense equal to your rank.
Vehicle Operation: you can maintain and operate vehicles

And that is the rough outline of the core mechanics, the Attributes, and The Skill list. Next week I will go into the alignments and factions of the games. That should be fun. Right? I hope it is fun...

Let me know what you think, I am always intrested in comments critiques. 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Death & Dinosaurs: Introduction

As it is my birthday, I have been thinking about my personal history with roleplaying. I did not start way back in the seventies or early eighties like some. I started in the early nineties and didn't play D&D until I was well into the hobby. In the last few years, I have been looking at the OSR movement. I dig what they are attempting to do with the various games. It seems like they are trying to impart the feel and style of game they first played. I like this whole concept, though I didn't have the same experiences or the same beginnings as many of the designers of OSR games. I do not have the same experiences, but the OSR bug had me. So I have decided to do a bit of micro design here on the blog. I will be making my own personal OSR game, my own Old School. So come with me, back to the early nineties. An age of game design that was strange and fun, filled with cargo cult design and metaplot. It shall be a strange journey, I hope you have as much fun reading(and hopefully playing) it as I did designing it. Let us begin...

The nineties were an odd time for gaming. Design Theory was still kind of vague. This is all from my perspective, but this seems to be the core of gaming at the time. Primarily I recall gamers wanting to find the one system that works for everything, and there was a lot of work to make that happen even with really odd systems. I had a friend who used(and still uses to this day) Marvel FASERIP for every game he runs. EVERY GAME.  I had another who used Rolemaster combined with Paranoia and swore it worked even when it clearly did not. This led to a lot of system bloat in games, where they added systems for all sort of things to games. I am pretty sure there was not a lot of playtesting done. If it was done at all it was alpha testing only, and that led to odd gaps in rules descriptions. Finally, there was a sense that rolling dice was sort of seen as a failure. I recall my playgroups really looking down on combat systems, and mechanics in general. So this sort of led to cargo cult design, games that add more and more systems to an existing system with the knowledge that it was not going to be used. So the systems existed only to add flavor and style to the game. Nineties games were all about style and self-assurance. At least, that is how it felt to me.

Now I am not going to try and recreate it all, but I am going to try and recreate a game that feels in play like the games I played with my friends. It will be silly, as my friends were all pretty silly. It is going to be gonzo because we played games that had all the things we liked in it. It is going to use systems that feel a little janky, but it will be a bit more coherent than some of the games we used to play. It will have Vampires, because the nineties. It will zombies because nineties. It will have cyborgs, because nineties. It will have Dinosaurs...why? BECAUSE NINETIES BABY! YEAH! I am currently calling it...

Death & Dinosaurs

December 31st, 1999 the thirteen archmagi of the earth seek to take over the planet using their magical powers to summon demons and evil spirits to inhabit the bodies of the dead. Technology becomes unreliable and billions of the dead rise and take over much of the world. One cutting edge tech company genetically created dinosaurs in the early seventies as attractions for a theme park. When the world fell these dinosaurs were released into the world. Now 50 years later mankind has tamed these dinosaurs to aid in travel through the cursed wasteland and fight the zombie hordes. Only three remnants of civilization remain, Norad holds much of Missouri River Basin, The Circle protects New Orleans and the Mississipi, and the Sea-Tech Alliance produces incredible technology from the islands of the Puget Sound. Each of these remnants sends out rangers to defend civilization with iron, salt, and the ancient power of the saurians.

Inspirations: Lazarus comic series, Old Man Logan, The Book of Eli, Alita: Battle Angel(and the comic it was based on), Jurassic Park(books and films), Cadillacs and Dinosaurs(Xenozooic Tales), Zombieland, Suicide Squad(Specifically the film, and specifically the witch in it and her plan.), World War Z(the book not the film), The Jon Shannow books, The Stand, I Am Legend(also Omega Man), Dino-Riders

The North American Zones
Manhattan: Magic cannot cross the water, and the city is run by a gang lord, The Duke,  who rose through violence and canny political moves. He maintains order through a quasi-feudal system of control. often raiders head out to steal and scavenge from the surrounding lands.
The East: Vlad II(father of Dracula) rules most of the lands between the Atlantic and the Mississippi River. Many cults rule over the territories, building vast temples for sacrifice to their dark lord. Vampire Queens roam these lands with their packs of lesser vampires, demanding tribute from all within their domain.
The North: Baba Yaga rules Canada down to the great lakes and the Missouri River, very few people remain in the region. She rules over magically uplifted wolves and bears, infused with demonic spirits. her power holds the winter in place, making it always winter and never Christmas.
The West: From the Mississippi River to the west coast ruled by Morgan le Fay. She has granted power to a number her Chosen Knights who rule over various territories and fight each other for her amusement.
The South: Florida, Alabama, and Georgia are controlled by the Serpent King, the area is infested with dragons of all sorts. Sometimes dragons and dinosaurs fight. This is awesome.
The Islands: the islands in the Puget Sound are protected by the waters of the pacific and the last of the big tech companies, who have been working on ways to fight the zombies. Currently, they have developed technologies that are magic resistant, and have found that cybernetics and genetic augmentation can protect the technology from the effects of magic. These augmentations allow soldiers to fight on an even field with the worst of the demons. Aristocratic elite use technology to protect and control the serfs who work within them.
New Orleans: home to the last of the white magicians. and central hub for the river folk. They are ruled by a council headed by someone calling himself Thrice Blessed Hermes.
Norad Defense Zone: Running out a few small bases along or near the Missouri River. They are the primary suppliers of refined metals and dinosaurs. They also are the few

Magick has always existed, though only a few humans have ever been able to use it. For thousands of years The Circle, the powerful ruling council of magicians, held magicians in check, protecting the world from evil magick and demonic forces. Magick can corrupt those who wield it, but the remnants of The Circle use their magic to defend humanity and defeat the minions of The Thirteen.

There are two kinds of magick spells and rituals. Spells are quick and dirty magick that deals with immediate effects. Rituals have lasting effects and take more effort to accomplish. The 13 used a massive ritual to attain immortality and tremendous godlike magical power, they each have a different style and a different focus.

Magick cannot cross running water, or circles of salt. Salt and Iron can disrupt magick, and deal damage to spirits and demons. Dinosaurs predate magick and are largely immune to magick. These ancient beasts represent raw power deep within the collective unconscious, which grants them deep metaphysical power.

Minions of the 13
Zombies - Footsoldiers of armageddon, the lowest and most numerous od demons inhabiting the bodies of the recently dead, almost mindless and shrieking with hunger. The more they eat, the more horror they cause, the faster stronger and smarter they become. eventually becoming a ghoul. tend to attack in wave upon wave.
Vampires - Leaders and spies, they have many powers and are often minor lords of hell in the bodies of the fallen. Appear to be alive, though still dead. Must drink blood to continue to operate. Fears sunlight, and can only be killed in certain ways.
Ghouls - High ranking demons who seek to infiltrate and bring chaos to the societies of man. They are corrupters and ill-meaning advisors. They often come across as wise and knowledgeable but in the end, bring only ruin to those they advise.
Mummies - Even the 13 care for some people, and those they want with them for eternity are mummified and prepared using special rituals so that the soul does not leave the body on death. Mummies are usually quite insane, and vastly powerful.
The Chained - Living humans who have betrayed their people to the dark forces are sometimes put through rigorous loyalty training before having a demon bound into their body. They have a great deal of power and are used to bring down groups that are prepared for the undead.
Wendigo/werewolf/berserker: a demon of hunger bound within the body of a person granting them the powers of beast and man.
Madlings: people who have been driven mad by the collapse of reason. they seek to live in the world by becoming worse than the world.
Sorcerer: those chosen few trained and raised up by the thirteen to rule over small regions of their territory. They have spells, but they are not trained in Magick. If they betray their master they lose their power.

Who do you play
The Range Rider - Have a kinship with nature and animals, they ride dinosaurs to protect the few civilized places. Focus is on the pet, use some ranger rules. Tyrannosaur, Triceratops, Ankylasaur, Utah Raptor, Quetzalcoatlus. They can take action after the character's action. They gain access to more commands and tactics as their master levels up. They draw aggro and do area attacks.
The Chosen One - Before the fall your kind was chosen to defend the earth from demons and monsters. You can sense them, you can fight them, and you have the instinct of a hunter. Can sense demons and demon spawn, does extra damage ith all attacks to demonic forces, highly immune to magic, enhanced physique.
The Faithful - The 13 were only able to do their dark ritual because the world had become secular and depraved. Mankind had turned his face from god and so evil was given domain over the earth. You are one of the few Trained Clergy remaining in the world. This grants you the ability to resist temptation and the mission to help bring light to the darkness. Immune to mental domination, ability to inspire those around them. gain a superhuman ability(healing, purify food and water, inspiration), basically a cleric.
The Egghead - You are the mad scientist. You build things. You harness the power of nature into new and better ideas and understandings. MAD SCIENCE, huge bonuses to science and engineering, however, they pick up derangements to decrease difficulties or time. You can keep magic from affecting your inventions, though if it leaves you for a little while it breaks.
The Mystic - There are still those magicians in the world who do not want to serve the 13. You are one of these White Wizards. You know the temptations of magick, and you fight it every day. For, in the end, your knowledge will help bring down the 13 and save the world. you can cast spells and know magic circles. can become corrupted, use a dark side mechanic...prbably from Star Wars WEG.
The Augmented - You have been enhanced through some sort of super science, you went through Crispr or you are a cyborg or similar changes. You can actually go toe to toe with the demons in hand to hand combat and win. Each level you gain another augment, so long as the tech is covered in the flesh of a human it is immune to the corrupting influence of magic. However, if you gain too many augments you become inhuman enough for demons to gain control of you. Can increase each of the physical attributes to 16(if taken again can increase to eighteen), must take separately for each attribute boost. Increased initiative. Healing increase. sensor abilities.

Norad: the remnants of the North American militaries, centered along the Missouri River. They use non-electronic weapons and seek to return the Democracy and Peace to the remains of the Republic. Each town and base has a governor a representative, they are centered in Great Falls Montana.
The Circle: The last of the white mages, centered in New Orleans and the Mississippi River. They use massive rituals to hold back the tide of dark magic from the lands along the river. The Circle has a hard time dealing with normal folks as they are viewed with great suspicion by the average person.
Sea-tech Alliance: the Seattle technical firms using advanced tech to defeat the menace from the islands in the Puget Sound. There are three major corporations in the alliance. This region has become something like techno feudalism.
Gulf, Lake & River People: they live upon the Missouri and Mississippi rivers as well as the great lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. They roam the rivers to stay safe and trade with the people and towns along the way. They have a reputation as being untrustworthy and of stealing people from communities.

Alright, that is the first part done. I think I have enough in here on the setting is adequate for basic play. Though if you know me, you know that I will be adding more and more as I go forward. Next up I will be introducing the basic rules of the game, attributes, and skills. I hope you like it. Let me know what you think.