Sunday, April 9, 2017

Random Memorized Spells for Swords & Wizardry

Making a random table is easy, making a good random table that useful is a bit harder. While I haven't been blogging as frequently I am still gaming and one the things I been doing is working on the various parts of what is going to be follow up for the Majestic Wilderlands Supplement.

This particular project is about randomly generating memorized spells. This came about because one of the things  I am doing is writing up a Monster Manual style listing of common NPCs that I used. This includes various magic users NPCs that I used.

While doing this I realized that I don't have a good way of coming up with memorized spells. What I been doing is using the NPCs I created for Scourge of the Demon Wolf and varying the spells a bit. I wanted more variety with less sweat I had to put into Scourge.

So I sat down with the spell lists and looked them over carefully and assigned what I thought were the odds of somebody memorizing them.

Then I coded up the tables using NBos' Inspiration Pad Pro and tweaked the result until they look about right.

After that I had everything I need to write up Random Memorized Spell Generation for the Majestic Wilderlands RPG.

Since like my original supplement, it  is based on Swords and Wizardry, the rules are designed to work with the Core rules edition.

One additional thing I want to point that this booklet also illustrate the use and different between random tables and random assortments. In the mid 70s Gygax and TSR released the Monster and Treasure Assortment. It contained charts to generate the monsters and treasure for nine levels of a dungeon. What made this different is that each chart was very simple to use. There were two charter per level, one with a 100 different monster entries, and another with a 100 treasure.

What interesting to me that the starting looked that Gygax rolled on the the random tables of OD&D 100 times and then edited the results to make sure there was enough variety. This booklets does the same for memorized spells. I used the table to generate six sets of memorized spells for 3rd, 6th, and 9th leve, and four sets of spells for 12th, 15th, and 18th. I then did some minor editing to rework result I felt where nonsense.

Hope this proves useful and let me know how it works for you.

Friday, April 7, 2017

How not to design a RPG

Since their successful Runequest Classic kickstarter, Chaosium has been working on a new edition of Runequest. This editions is built on Runequest and is designed to support the Glorantha setting the same way Runequest 2 did. Yesterday they formally announced the new name which will be Runequest: Roleplaying in Glorantha.

As part of this effort Chaosium has released a series of designers note.
Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Overall I applaud this project. It is a bit of downside that the folks at the The Design Mechanism are not involved due to creative differences but they are still in business and writing excellent material for the renamed Runequest 6, Mythras.

By now I am sure you are asking what this has to do with how not to design an RPG. While reading Part 2 I noticed this section

The RuneQuest percentage skills character sheet elegantly serves non-combat roleplaying through these two important design rules:
RPG Design Rule a: "If it's not in the rules, it's not in the gameplay." [ie, player knows it's not an important thing to think about]
RPG Design Rule b: "If, in a scenario crisis, a player can't find problem-solving tools on their character sheet, they won't look elsewhere for them." [ie, When players are flummoxed, they look to their character sheets for inspiration. And they won't be inspired to use any tool they don't find there.]
I strongly disagree that the above are two important design rules for a RPG. In fact they are bad design because theylimit the flexibility that is one of the primary strength of a given RPG.

Consider this what is the point of a RPG? Over the year I have come to the conclusion that is not to play a set of rules in the way that we play chess, backgammon, Risk, Panzerblitz, Axis & Allies, etc, etc. Rather the point of tabletop roleplaying to experience a campaign by playing a character interacting with a setting where the action is adjudicated by a human referee. The rule are an a tool to facilitate this.

And to be clear,  while I contend playing the rules may not be the point of tabletop roleplaying, which set of rules is an important personal preference, and referees find certain sets of rule work better with the way they run tabletop rpg campaign. Both directly impact the enjoyment of the campaign.

The first point made in Chaosium's post was that if it not in the rules it is not part of the gameplay. When it comes to tabletop roleplaying campaign, it is the setting that defines and limits what the character can and not to do. If the rules and the setting conflict it is the rules that need to bend. If the rules don't cover something that the character could reasonably do within the setting then it is the referee job to figure out how to adjudicate. Never say "Well it not the rules". This is especially pertinent to Glorantha which has DECADES of background details about how it does and does not work.

The second point is way off the mark. In my 30 years of tabletop roleplaying when I run into the situation where the players ONLY look to their character sheet for solution is because the referee is browbeat them into thinking that if it is not in the rules it can't be done. I always been a referee that said roleplay first, we will figure out what you need to roll second.*

I think the authors behind the new Runequest need to think long and hard about their approach if they believe the above two are true. My advice is to focus writing good tools to allow players to experience Stafford's Glorantha as various characters. To remember that anything they write will never cover everything that is possible in Glorantha.  Especially considering the mythic nature of the setting.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The one where I get Brendan Davis

I been doing maps for  Brendan Davis of Bedrock Games for a couple of years. As part of the process we get together online to various reviews of the work in progress. More often than not we wind up chatting afterwards and discuss all thing roleplaying.

So when Brendan started a podcast, I was happy when he invited me on for a episode. We talked about the early days of gaming, sandbox campaigns, and gaming in general. Also I talk up what +Tim Shorts  of Gothridge Manor is doing. Along with a mention of the stuff that +Dwayne Gillingham has been working on with 3d6 based Crit System.

You can find the podcast here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

First Edition Woodgrain OD&D boxed set

If folks want to take a look at a First printing OD&D Woodgrain Box there is a ebay sale going on with detailed pictures.

Has a interesting back story to go along with it.

This set is in Very Fine condition with one small stain on the front label and very minor scuffing on the corners of the box. Note that the Reference Sheets are not stapled, but loose sheets folded together. This was the original condition.
It was acquired by the present owner in an interesting way.
In 1974 I worked in a project offering supplemental educational materials to four school districts in Northwestern Wisconsin. I met Bill, an elementary school librarian, who was very excited about working with his students using role playing games. He had a friend in Minneapolis whom he had met through their shared interest in war gaming. This friend, “Lance,” was involved with creating a new project, a fantasy-style wargame in a box that could be played by anyone.
My librarian friend was working with a sixth-grade class to create a book based on playing the game. Included in this set is a copy of the booklet that his students created using the game.
Bill also used a 20-sided die that he had hand-colored to differentiate scoring. Adding to the charm of this set, the die is included, as is a hand-written note from Bill, the librarian, explaining the use of the die. He added that there was currently a shortage of these dice, but they were available in England. He was going to England for a vacation, and would be bringing some back with him.
I hope the new owner of this game enjoys owning this piece of gaming history.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions. I will try to reply to all inquiries within 24 hours.

The seller appears legit and is answering questions on the Acaeum Forum[/URL].

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Dungeon Grappling Kickstarter

Douglas Cole of Gaming Ballistic has started a Dungeon Grappling Kickstarter. He was a great player in my DnD 5e Majestic Wilderlands campaigns, and the author of several GURPS Supplements including Technical Grappling for GURPS.

The basic idea is that there a better way of dealing with grappling. Doug developed a set of mechanics that takes the same basic mechanics of rolling to hit and inflicting damage and turns the result into something meaningful when it comes to grappling. He did this for GURPS and now he doing this for classic DnD, Pathfinder, and DnD 5e with the kickstarter.

Doug's project already funded however further support will allow him to pay for a ebook layout and full color art. I hope you will support him.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Ten days left to get onto Operation Unfathomable.

+Jason Sholtis and his team are putting together Operation Unfathomable. A adventure/setting setting set in a weird fantasy underworld. I only had the pleasure of playing once in his setting but it was a pretty cool experience. I found myself enjoying it a lot which was surprising as weird is really not my thing as a referee or a player.

So you know I am biased when it comes to Jason and his team work. I did some maps for one of his products as well as he did the art for Scourge of the Demon Wolf.

Even if you don't think this is a thing for you, you owe yourself to check out their intro video. Definitely one of the best I seen for RPG Kickstarters.

Just read the below and just ask yourself whether this is something you can pass up.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

More Treasure Tables and Inspiration Pad Pro Tutorial

So for my lunch hour project I been working on Random Treasure Generation for my Majestic Fantasy RPG. First as I stated earlier, making a decent random treasure generation is surprisingly a lot of work. And that it is critical to code it up using software like NBos's Inspiration Pad Pro to see if what you expected happens over 100 to 1000 rolls.

I was surprised to find that Matt Finches Swords and Wizardry  random treasure generation to be very stingy. An solitary Adult Red Dragon with a CR 15 is going to have a treasure horde worth between 4,600 gp to 9,600 gp. According to the Sword and Wizardry treasure rules this will on average result in 1 roll on the major treasure tradeout, 5 to 9 rolls on the medium treasure tradeout and 46 to 96 rolls on the minor treasure tradeout.

There only a 10% chance of getting a trade out over the cash value. When you do roll a tradeout there only a 1 in 20 chance of rolling magic items. This means only 1 in 200 dragon hoards will have a major magic item. Roughly 1 in 30 dragon hoards will have a medium magic item. And finally roughly 1 in 3 even having a minor magic item like a healing potion.

I realize I sound critical, but I do know that for many referee an extremely low number of magic items is what they prefer for this campaign. However this does not fit how I been running my Majestic Wilderlands for the last decade. I been using the ODnD treasure tables and Gygax's monster and treasure assortments. Magic items are not plentiful in either but they do appear about 20% of time with the type of item appropriate to the power of the creature.

The general idea behind the Swords and Wizardry treasure generation system is sound so what I been doing is adjusting the odds in Nbos's Inspiration Pad Pro until it product what I expected over a 100, and even 1,000 rolls.

Before I was getting stuff like this for the CR 15 Dragon

Orb Brass 14 oz. (14 sp), Scroll of Speak with Animals, 400 sp

now I am getting stuff like

Potion of Dragon Control, Potion of Heroism, +1 One Handed Spear, Lapis Lazuli Gem (5 sp), Bronze Necklace (7 sp), +1 Broadsword, 1 crown (320 sp), 1,163 sp

Much better for how I run my campaigns. Again the lesson, if you going to do an elaborate system of random tables, code it up to see if it does what you expect it too.

Now for the second half of my post. How do you code this up with Inspiration Pad Pro. Today I will cover the basics.

The first thing to remember is that Inspiration Pad Pro random table are just text files that can be edited in notepad. The newest version has a built in editor as well. The file is saved with a ipt extension instead of a txt extension. You will need to place your file in a folder in the generators folder where you installed IPP. 

Inside the you will start off like this.

Header: Random Cursed Magic Items for the Majestic Fantasy RPG

Next you define the table like this


1-2:Bag of Devouring
3-4:Censer of Hostile Elementals
5-6:Cloak of Poison
7-8:Crystal Ball of Suggestion
9-10:Dancing Boots
11-12:Flask of Stoppered Curses
13-14:Horn of Collapse
15-16:Medallion of Projecting Thoughts
17-18:Mirror of Opposition
19-20:Robe of Feeblemindedness

Table:(name) is used to name the table which is not important for a file that has single table. However if you have sub tables then it become important.

Next Roll:(dice roll convention) defines what type of dice I will be rolling.

The entries are formatted like:
(dice range):(result)>

The dice range can be a single number '5' or a range '5-6'. The result can be any piece of text you want.

Finally you terminate the table with EndTable:

You also can do random lists like this


With each item having equal odds of appearing.

With this you can define one table per file and save them in a folder underneath the generator folder. When you fire up IPP then you will see them appear.

Is there is more? Yup, and I will cover that in another post.