'Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,' the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. 'Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.'

-Robert E. Howard
Beyond The Black River

Showing posts with label DND. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DND. Show all posts

Friday, January 25, 2019

Friday's Forgotten Fiends: The Hyperborean Monoceros

Welcome back to another installment of Friday's Forgotten Fiends! Custom monsters for your RPG table feature stat blocks for Conan 2d20 and Dungeons and Dragons 5e as well as VTT tokens!


The "ice age" and it's mega fauna are ripe for inclusion in a setting like the Hyborian Age. They fit so well that they are already common in sword and sorcery and even in the Hyborian Age itself; From mammoths in Conan Exiles and Age of Conan to the saber-tooth tigers written by Howard himself in Beyond the Black River. I am not one to stand back and think, what if.....

This past week Logan of "Rogues In the House" Podcast posted a picture from a facebook group about ice age mega fauna: The Siberian Unicorn. This thing is a great giant rhino the size of a mammoth! How could I not stat it up and bring it to life on the northern planes of Hyperborea or Hyrkania.

Not only am I providing some stats worked up for Conan 2d20, but also for Dungeons and Dragons 5e! So if you have friends who play either, don't forget to point them my way! As always following the stat blocks will be a token for use with your favorite VTT.

His labored breath produced a cloud in front of him. His hands gripped tightly around the wooden shaft and he wondered, not for the first time, why he had come to this frozen hell of Hyperborean tundra. The great beast stood in the ruins of his camp, its cold eyes staring at him, seemingly oblivious to the blood soaked into it's thick coat. The beast snorted, its own white haze billowing from its nostrils. Conal involuntarily took a step back, trying to grip the spear even harder.

Suddenly the great beast lowered it's head and with it, the single monstrous horn protruding from its forehead. The beast's charge shook the earth as it thundered towards the single man. Conal braced himself and, at the last second, avoided the wicked horn, but not the the enormity of the creatures gigantic head, which bashed him aside like a child's doll. With reflexes that only a life long warrior might possesses, he rolled up and struck with the spear. He felt the point resist and then slip deep into the beast just behind the shoulder. With a last mournful cry the great behemoth sunk to the earth motionless.

Conal stood, bloodied and bruised, and scanned the remains of his camp. As he surveyed the destruction his eyes caught movement and as he turned four more of the great shaggy beasts appeared out of the night, the remains of the herd, called by the death cries of one of their own............



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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Story Seed Tuesday: Suns

Welcome to the first of a new weekly series we are going to try on Starships & Steel, "Story Seed Tuesday".

Whether you play Dungeons and Dragons 5e, Rifts or Traveller I hope you find a story idea in one of these articles.

Starships

Articles like this began to pop-up recently: Sun will Turn Into a Solid Crystal

WOAH. When I first saw these pop-up I was blown away, I'm pretty sure I haven't encountered that in sci-fi, and immediately my mind turned to a small starship on approach to a massive crystal hanging infront of it in the heavens.

  • Did this crystallization cause a civilization to die?
  • Did an advanced species mine the ancient star?
  • Is the crystal integral to the villain's doomsday machine?
  • Is something alive in the giant crystal?
  • Is it a backdrop to a giant orbital station?

Steel

Giant crystalline suns will be hard to beat, but lets keep suns as the theme of the day.

As you move towards the poles of our world the days and nights become increasingly long depending on the time of the year. Far enough north and the darkness is eternal for half of the year. To people who don't understand science this concept on any world is rife with ideas.

  • The yearly darkness is spreading further south.
  • Some dark creature emerges from it's lair to hunt during the darkness.
  • Sorcery is at it's height at this time, the wizard must be stopped.
  • Every year champions are sent north to fight back the darkness.



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If you have questions or comments don't forget to hit me up on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube or Instagram!

Make sure you don't miss a single post and subscribe by e-mail today!

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Till next time, don't forget to Keep it Weird!

Monday, December 10, 2018

NPCs: A Codified Approach to the Man on the Street.

In a general session of play, you as GM may have a series of NPCs that you are aware of. A cast of characters you expect your players to interact with. You have an idea about them and how the interaction will go. You have at least some idea of how the social encounter will work. This article is generally not about those cases, although it may act as a guide to flesh those characters out if you generally haven't and have trouble figuring out how you want to role play them.

This is an approach to NPCs that will hopefully help you have better social interactions between your players and the cast of characters that populate your world. Not just the few have prepared in advance but everyone the PCs encounter. They are, after all, representing people with their own lives and aspirations, even if the PCs only encounter them during a single session. I am going to present a basic framework to help you give your NPCs more life, more direction, which in turn will allow you as the GM to role play them better.

It's easy to want to boil these encounters down to a single roll of the die or an opposed test and go from there, and I won't tell you this doesn't have it's place. Instead this framework will allow you to use these rolls and give these NPCs desires to resist, or be difficult. Should the random guy on the street be as willing to help as someone the PCs have known, will bribing them be a way to get more information? I believe that simply boiling the encounter to a simple set of dice rolls is short changing a potentially rich encounter that may lead down different paths. Maybe that dancer they just tried to get information from is actually in cahoots with the villian and is laying a trap for the PCs? The possibilities!

The Framework

I see us needing to have a few known things to really flesh out the NPCs: What do they want? What is their disposition towards the players and what motivates the them? Certainly you can answer more questions about them, but I think knowing these three simple things will allow you to really add some realism to these people.

The Disposition of the NPC

If we accept the NPCs disposition is separate from their personality or charisma, then we must define it. Mechanically I see a scale, in the middle I see someone who is neutral, who just doesn't care. They might help. They might not. For this I think a simple social test at a basic difficulty is a fine way to determine if the NPC will be somewhat helpful or disinterested. I don't see this as an outward showing by the NPC towards the players, simply a concept of how easily they can be swayed.

As we move away from the middle of the scale we get the two basic dispositions you might encounter: positive and negative. One end of the scale is an NPC who thinks of the PCs as good friends and is willing to help them, go out of the way for them, maybe even endanger themselves. On the other end is an NPC who is openly hostile or rude to the PCs. Someone who hates them and who might become something more to them in an antagonistic way in the future.

I would probably leave the far ends of the scales alone for random NPCs unless the PCs have had numerous positive or negative dealings with the NPC.

What does the NPC want?

What the NPC wants can have a direct impact on their disposition. If they want to steal or cause harm to the PCs they are more likely to have a negative disposition towards the PCs. Is the NPC someone who wants something from the players? Is he a merchant looking to sell, or perhaps someone who needs something recovered? Or do they just want to be left alone to go about their business, that is probably the case of the neutrally disposed NPC.

Knowing what the NPC wants is something we should determine first and from there we can use this to determine a more accurate disposition for the NPC.

The Motivation of the NPC

The thing that motivates the NPC is something a player can use to change her disposition in their favor making social encounters easier? Is it money? Money is probably a motivator for a lot of people and is the easiest one for the players to figure out. Bribing someone with cash can be the easiest way to change there disposition towards a character. Of course there is probably a few people out there that will see an attempted bribe as an insult and may move disposition away from the players.

Maybe something else motivates them though, which could make things more interesting: family, friends, trinkets, food, jewels. You can use these to help flesh out the NPC. If the NPC is motivated by jewels, perhaps she is adorned in several of them, or mentions them in conversation. Likewise someone motivated by fine wine, might be overweight, or have a winejug with them. These small details might be picked up by the players making observation tests to determine more information about the NPC.

The NPCs motivation might not be something useful at all. The motivation of someone not motivated by money, who will do anything for their family, might not be useful to the players, unless they can determine that and are willing to do something....unsavory.

Quick Random NPC Tables

Now that we have a framework to build NPCs from, sometimes when the players encounter someone, or force and encounter with someone you will need to determine something about that NPC beyond basic stats. A few quick tables and a roll of a few D6 can generate this quickly and easily.

You can of course simply pick how you want the NPC to act, or build their framework however you want, but we all like rolling dice.

What do they want?
1 - Left alone (+)
2 - Left alone (-)
3 - Help finding something (+)
4 - Help finding someone (+)
5 - Rob the PCs (-)
6 - Lure the PCs into a trap(--)
Disposition
1 - Negative
2 - Negative
3 - Neutral
4 - Neutral
5 - Positive
6 - Positive
Motivated by Money?
1 - No
2 - Yes
3 - Yes
4 - Yes, but expensive
5 - Yes, but expensive
6 - Expensive and insulted by low offers
Other Motivation
1 - None
2 - None
3 - Delicacies
4 - Jewels
5 - Trinkets
6 - Family

So we roll 4d6 and consult the tables to describe the social aspects of the NPC. You will not that under the column, "What do they want?" each entry has a (+) or a (-) on it. Each + or minus will shift the disposition one direction, one step. So a (+) would move a hostile disposition to neutral and likewise a (--) would move a positive disposition to a negative one.

Lets see this idea in action

Your players are on a mission to rescue the king's beautiful daughter, the Princess of Zamora. They haven't simply ridden out to the evil Wizard's mountain as you expected, instead they have decided to hit the local tavern and see if they can glean any information from the tavern goers.

You are not really prepared for this, but as a good GM you have a set of generic human stats just in case, but of course these are not all generic people. The party warrior approaches someone at the bar and engages them in conversation........You as the GM, quickly roll 4d6.....and roll: 4,4,5,6. Suddenly the random generic tavern goer is someone in need of help, perhaps his own kin has been taken by the wizard, or maybe a more mundane kidnapping, either way as the PCs approach he sees warriors and maybe hope in finding his lost friend or family. He will react positively to the PCs, at least initially, although he *IS* motivated by money, he is expensive, but can also be swayed by family.

Now we have more than just a block of stats, now we have a somewhat fleshed out NPC that we put together at the drop of a hat with a few rolls on a very basic set of tables. How many options these tables get is limited only by you imagination and the world the NPC lives in.

Until Next Time. Keep it Weird!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Conan 2d20: Chase Trials.

Recently we talked about a mechanic to bring extended tests into Conan 2d20. We named this the Trial. Today we are going to extend this a little further using what amounts to Trial struggle, or the Chase Trial

We saw a Trial denoted like this, "10-D2", where D2 was the difficulty and 10 was the total momentum that needed to be generated to complete the extended test. The Chase Trial will work essentially the same way. One side will be given the Trial, and the other side a simple difficulty rating.

The Chase

Those being chased will be given a Trial they will need to complete to escape, ie 15-D1. In order to escape their pursuers they must complete the Trial. Those chasing will make their own skill roll, and as in a struggle the total momentum available will be the difference between the two.

Those escaping can, of course, use any momentum left to work through the Trial, while those giving chase can use their momentum to undo whatever headway the escapees have made.

How Far?

If we assume an accumulated momentum on this Trial of 0 is equivalent to the parties being in the same zone then we can take this a step further and introduce zones and ranged weapons into the mix. Perhaps an accumulated momentum of 1 or 2 indicates the two parties are at medium range and an accumulated momentum of 3 or 4 indicates long range.

How many momentum is indicated by range will largely by the GMs call. A short chase across a grassland might mean 3 momentum still indicates close range, while a long chase through the narrow streets of the Maul might indicate only 1 momentum is medium range and beyond that you lose line of sight on your opponents.

Test Difficulty

Generally, start the difficulty at 1 and add to it based on the environment. The total momentum required will vary based on the number of players, how capable they are, and how much they are willing to risk. If the player leading the challenge is unwilling to use Doom to gain additional dice, the players may flounder, especially if their base difficulty is 2 or higher.

  • Escape through a well known, lit city. Base difficulty = D1.
  • Escape through a known darkened city. +1 Difficulty = D2.
  • Escape through an unknown, darkened city. +2 Difficulty = D3.


Here are a few quick samples illustrating this as an idea.
Quick escape through known darkened streets - 10-D2 Survival/Stealth vs D2 Observation/Survival
Quick escape through unknown darkened streets - 10-D3 Survival/Stealth vs D2 Observation/Survival
Prolonged Escape through known daylight streets - 15-D1 Survival/Stealth vs D1 Observation/Survival
Chasing a cart on horseback along a forested road - 10-D2 Animal Handling vs D1 Animal Handling

The night is dark and a thick mist has descended upon the city. Two men stand outside a money house, while a third crouches and works the lock with slender tools that glint occasionally in whatever light is available. The standing men are both of native stock, Nemedia, while the third is clearly Zamoran. The Nemedians scan the area and one speaks, "Hurry up."

"Almost there.....", replies the Zamoran, his voice trailing off in concentration.

With a click the door opens and a quick sly smile jumps across the Zamoran's face. Just as quickly the smile vanishes as men in clanking armor and the livery of the Numalian town guard step from the shadows and utter a single command, "HALT!"

The three companions look at each other and with a small nod that only their years together allowed them to understand. They bolted off into the night, the guardsmen in pursuit!

Round 1
Momentum Pool: 2
Doom Pool: 13

GM: Ok! You escape into the fairly familiar streets of the city with the guards hot on your tail. Your difficulty in evading the guard is 10-D2 Stealth or Survival, and they are at a D2 to catch up to you.
Nemedian1: I have a 15/3 Survival rating so I will take the lead.
Nemedian2: I assist with my 13/2 observation helping to pick the safest path through the darkness.
Zamoran: I will assist with my Stealth 12/2 skill, helping us stay as silent as possible.
GM: Ok Roll!
Nemedian1: I roll 4 dice, buying 1 with momentum. 15, 1, 2 and 12 for 6 successes and 4 momentum!
Nemedian2: I roll my assistance die! I roll a 2 adding 2 more success!
Zamoran: I roll 1 die as well. I get a 4. That is 1 more success!
GM: Your total momentum for the struggle is 7!
GM: Ok. The Squad of guards rolls. 3 for the Sgt with an observation of 9/1 and 4 more for the rest of his unit also at 9/1
GM: 10,9,1,13,17,4 and 15 for 4 Successes and 2 momentum vs your total momentum of 7
GM: You manage to put some ground ground between you and them. Your total momentum for the escape is at 5/10.

Round 2
Momentum Pool: 0
Doom Pool: 12

Nemedian1: I roll 3 dice! a 3, 14 and a 10, for 4 successes and 2 momentum!
Nemedian2: I also roll assistance 1d20 against my observation again! I get a 1! 2 more successes!
Zamoran: I assist with my stealth again rolling my 1d20! 12 for 1 successes.
GM: Your total momentum for the struggle is 5!
GM: The sergeant buys 3 dice with doom and the rest of the squad rolls 4, for a total of 9d20 all at 9/1.
GM: 3,10,19,11,20,7,13,13,10 for a total of 2 successes and 0 momentum, PLUS a complication!
GM: Your total momentum for this Trial is now at 10!

The three men race into the familiar streets of the city, the night and mist work in their favor as they quickly slip away from the guardsmen that were laying in wait to catch these three thieves.......


Until Next Time

If you have any ideas or thoughts about this as a simple system to mechanically run chases, let me know. Feel free to drop a comment or check me out on YouTube .

Till next time, don't forget to Keep it Weird!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Naval Combat in the Hyborian Age: Conan 2d20, an overview and example.

It was just at sunrise when the lookout shouted a warning. Around the long point of an island off the starboard bow glided a long lethal shape, a slender serpentine galley, with a raised deck that ran from stem to stern. Forty oars on each side drove her swiftly through the water, and the low rail swarmed with naked blacks that chanted and clashed spears on oval shields. From the masthead floated a long crimson pennon.
Queen of the Black Coast
-Robert E. Howard

Overview

Like many things in Conan 2d20, small details are ignored to bring big action and quick resolution. We generally don't count arrows and we don't concern ourselves with exactly how many coins of gold we find. Naval combat works like this, scaling up regular combat to the high seas. Allowing us to resolve the epic ship battles of the open water in only a few rounds.

This is not a wargame by any stretch of the imagination. It is a high level abstraction of ship combat that allows PCs to still be central to the action. Like combat at a man to man level we have familiar ideas like zones, soak, stress(structure) and harm(breaks). Despite these similarities a man's weapon isn't going to cause damage to a ship, but flaming arrows, ramming and siege weapons can all batter and destroy a ship sending it to the depths.

Ship Positions & Roles

Crew Assignment - One or more crew members on a ship assigned to the same task. If the crew assignment is larger than one, then one of the crew assignment is designated as the leader and the others as support. For example a PC might be the leader on a crew assignment that commands the ship and have a number of NPCs to assist in the role.

A ship is split into various positions that describe the functions a ship might perform during its turn: Commander, Helmsman, Lookout, Marine and Piper. Each of these positions has a selection of actions they can perform; marines can try and grapple the enemy ship or fire flaming arrows at it, Commanders can attempt to coordinate actions or assign command crew.

Each crew assignment is able to complete one action in a ship's turn. In order for a ship to complete one of these actions in a turn, it must have a crew assignment to complete the skill test associated with it. For marines to shoot flaming arrows there must be one or more marines assigned to attempt a ranged weapons test.

Each position can only have one crew assignment associated with it. You can't have two command crews and perform two coordinate actions in a turn. The only position this is different, is the marine crew. You can have as many marine crew assignments as you have men for.

This is a list of the positions, what they do, and the number of crew assignments they can have.
  • Commander - Generally giving orders and coordinating. Adding momentum to the pool and moving crewmen around if needed. 1 crew assignment.
  • Helmsman - Making movement decisions and sailing tests to avoid shallows, reefs and debris. 1 crew assignment.
  • Lookout - Watching and adding momentum to movement and helping to coordinate attacks. 1 crew assignment.
  • Marines - Boarding, Firing arrows (Normal and flame), firing siege equipment. 1+ crew assignment.
  • Piper - Coordination of the rowers. Adding momentum to movement. 1 crew assignment.
Large ships will generally have enough crew to create larger crew assignments and be more effective. Smaller ships will have less effective crew assignments, or in the case of very small vessels, not enough crew to fill all the roles, causing them to not be able to perform an action from each position during a turn.


The term "Crew Assignment" is one of my own creation to help clarify the positions on a ship. Conan the Pirate talks about crew (generally the PCs) and Support crew. However support crew are a part of the rules that could use a little bit of clarity. I play them based on my idea of the crew assignment and assistance rules; the leader rolls their dice and the support crew roll their dice. If the leader is successful then the support successes are added in. If I was GMing a party of six adventurers on a sailing vessel and they had managed to scare up 20 crew members, they might organize their vessel something like this.
  • Commander - PC1 - 2 crew - Command rolls are PCs 2d20-5d20 + 2d20 assistance dice from the crew.
  • Helmsman - PC2 - 3 crew - Helmsman rolls are PCs 2d20-5d20 + 3d20 assistance dice from the crew.
  • Lookout - PC3 - 3 crew - Lookout rolls are PCs 2d20-5d20 + 3d20 assistance dice from the crew.
  • Marines - PC4 - 4 crew (Squad with PC) - Marine rolls are PCs 2d20-5d20 + 4d20 assistance dice from the crew.
  • Marines - PC5 - 4 crew (Squad with PC) - Marine rolls are PCs 2d20-5d20 + 4d20 assistance dice from the crew.
  • Marines - PC6 - 4 crew (Squad with PC) - Marine rolls are PCs 2d20-5d20 + 4d20 assistance dice from the crew.

Reactions

Although the rules state a single action per crew assignment, it lists actions as a Standard Action and as a Reaction. This is another area I feel the rules could use a little work, but it we assume a scaled up version of normal combat, in which players receive a single standard action and can still perform reactions, we can reasonably make the same assumption here. We can of course make the same assumption on the cost of these reactions being 1 doom for the first, 2 for the second etc.

The Ships

As I mentioned combat is essentially scaled up from standard melee combat. Each ship is given basic specifications, some matter for combat and some do not. The ones we care the most about are as follows.
  • Structure - Stress of the ship.
  • Breaks - How many breaks it takes to destroy/sink/incapacitate the ship.
  • Soak - How much armor the ship has.
  • Maneuver - How nimble a ship is, grants bonus d20s on sailing tests.
  • Qualities - Some of these are general concepts and don't lend themselves to combat, others allow combat centric abilities like quicker moves, or easier ramming.

Damage

Ships can suffer from a few types of damage. Ramming, flaming arrows and siege weapons can all cause physical damage that can sink the vessel. Boarding and regular arrows generally cause non-lethal damage, and again the rules are a little loose here, so use your best judgement on how many crew are actually killed if the ship takes several non-lethal breaks.

Final Thoughts

As a set of rules these could use a little more polish. There is a large portion of gamers that want to play RAW and some things just don't make sense as they are written. Others require more of a leap of faith than some are willing to make. If you can get past that, then you can easily use this as a framework to play out high level narrative combats on the high seas, while allowing each PC to handle a specific action on a ship.

An Example

In the example to follow we will break it down in depth and split each ship turn up into the crew positions. Our example will illustrate a battle between a Merchant Cog named "The Promise of Ishtar" being attack by a Pirate Caravel named "The Fury of Set". Below are the specifications for the two ships. You will see that the "Fury of Set" has a maneuver of 1, and so will gain +1d20 to sailing tests. It is also listed as agile which means it can move an additional zone with any movement action it takes.

Also take note that the "Promise of Ishtar" is a much heavier ship with more structure and breaks than the caravel has.

To further help in our example, we will call the "Promise of Ishtar" the PC vessel and the "Fury of Set" the NPC vessel. Further we will assume all crew positions have an acting leader, who is at least toughened, to give each ship equal actions during a turn. We will also assume play has been in sessions for awhile and the players have 3 momentum in their pool while the GM has 15 doom accumulated.

Fury of Set

Class: Caravel Sailing Range: 14 Days Maneuver: 1
Soak: 2 Structure: 6 Breaks: 3
Crew: 20
Qualities: Agile, Shallow Draft, Ship
Stowage: 100

Promise of Ishtar

Class: Cog Sailing Range: 8 Days Maneuver: 0
Soak: 2 Structure: 10 Breaks: 4
Crew:10
Qualities: Deep Draft, Ship
Stowage: --

Here I have laid out the crew assignments for the various ship positions. As well as the skill Target Number(TN) and Focus(FC) we are most likely to need in this scenario.

Crew Assignments
Fury of Set Promise of Ishtar
Commander 1 Leader
3 crew
Command Skill: 9/1
1 Leader
1 crew
Command Skill: 10/2
Helmsman 1 Leader
4 crew
Sailing Skill: 9/1
1 Leader
1 crew
Sailing Skill: 12/1
Lookout 1 Leader
4 crew
Observation Skill: 10/1
1 Leader
1 crew
Observation Skill: 9/2
Marines 1 Leader
4 crew
Ranged Skill: 10/1
Command Skill: 10/1
1 Leader
1 crew
Ranged Skill: 9/1
Command Skill: 10/1
Piper
None
None

One final note before we move to the example. It will seem long as there is a lot of writing, however it is only 3.5 rounds of combat. I have also not included any descriptive text as this was designed to be a mechanical example of the rules. Of course if you have any questions or find any mistakes please drop me a line or leave a comment on the blog!


Khemi was still a day away, and as the sun began to set, the crew of the “Promise of Ishtar” prepared for another night at sea. They sailed from Messantia loaded with cargo, headed for the northern end of the Black Coast. They had travelled this route many times, past dark coves and around small islands holding mysterious ruins.

The remainder of the day was quiet in the embrace of the dying sun, only the sound of the ship’s prow plying the waves made any discernable noise. Suddenly the silence was broken by a sharp cry from the lookout as he spotted a long dark shape sliding out of one of the shallow coves. Its mast flying a brightly colored pennon, floating on the breeze. Its triangular sails unfurled and full of wind as it bore down on them with remarkable speed.

“By Mitra!” The captain cursed. “Get ready ya dogs! That be the Fury of Set!”.


Opening set-up.  "Fury of set" sailing out of the cove to attack "Promise of Ishtar".


Round 1


  • Momentum: 3
  • Doom: 15
The Fury of set is headed toward the Promise of Ishtar, but is currently at long range and running with the wind.
Players always get initiative unless the GM interrupts.

Promise of Ishtar
"Promise of Ishtar" takes damage in the shallows.

Commander: Coordinate.
  • D1 Command Test vs. 10/2. Rolls 2d20(9,17). 1 success, 0 momentum.
  • Crew support of 1 rolls 1d20(19). 0 successes, 0 momentum.
  • No momentum spent.
  • No momentum is added to the group pool.
Lookout: Heading.
  • D1 Observation Test vs 9/2. Rolls 2d20(14,14). 0 successes. Failure.
  • No momentum spent.
  • No momentum is added to the group pool.
Helmsman: Full Sail.
  • It is a deep draft ship, so the difficulty is increased by 1 step due to crossing shallow waters.
  • Move 2 zones. Z5->Z6->Z4. D2 Sailing Test vs. 12/2. Rolls 3d20(13,16,5). 1 success. Failure.
  • The ship fails to cross the shallow water and slows as it takes damage ending its turn in Z6. The hazard causes 3cd(2,5,6).
  • Promise of Ishtar suffers 2 structure damage as her soak absorbs 2 points.
  • 1 momentum spent. (+1d20) (2 left)
  • No momentum is added to the group pool.

Fury of Set
"Fury of Set" softens her prey with flaming arrows.

Commander: Coordinate.
  • D1 Command Test vs. 9/1. Rolls 3d20(1,5,10). 2 successes, 1 momentum.
  • Crew support of 3 rolls 3d20(15,19,2). 1 success, 1 momentum.
  • 1 doom is spent. (+1d20)
  • 2 doom is added to the doom pool. (16 left)
Lookout: Heading.
  • D1 Observation Test vs, 10/1. Rolls 2d20(4,15). 1 success, 0 momentum.
  • Crew support of 3 rolls 3d20(8,4,19). 2 successes, 2 momentum.
  • 0 doom is spent.
  • 2 doom is added to the doom pool. (17 left)
Marines: The ships are now in close range. Flaming Arrows.
  • "Promise of Ishtar" attempts to evade and pays 1 doom for the reaction.
  • Reaction Struggle
    • "Fury of Set" D1 Ranged attack vs 10/1. 4d20(19,16,14,4)+crew 4d20(8,18,7,13)=2 momentum.
    • "Promise of Ishtar" D1 Sailing Test vs 12/1. 5d20(8,10,16,3,14)+crew 1d20(15)=2 momentum.
    • GM spends 1 point of doom to break the tie for the NPCs.
  • Flame arrows cause 4cd(4,2,2,3) damage to the "Promise of Ishtar". 2 points are soaked.
  • She takes points of structure damage.
  • 3 doom is spent. (+3d20)
  • 2 doom from PCs. (1 reaction, (+1d20)(18 left)
  • 2 momentum spent. (+2d20)(0 left)

Round 2


  • Momentum: 0
  • Doom: 18

GM interrupts initiative and "The Fury of Set" goes first.

Fury of Set
"Fury of Set" grapples and pulls in her quarry!

Commander: Coordinate.
  • D1 Command Test vs. 9/1. Rolls 3d20(12,12,13). 0 successes. Failure.
  • 1 doom is spent. (+1d20)(17 left)
Lookout: Heading.
  • D1 Observation Test vs. 10/1. Rolls 4d20(17,5,15,10). 2 successes, 1 momentum.
  • Crew support adds 4d20(10,14,19,18). 1 success, 1 momentum.
  • 2 doom is spent. (+2d20)
  • 2 doom is added to the doom pool. (17 left)
Helmsman: Standard motion. Z6 close – Z6 reach.
  • D1 Sailing test vs. 9/1. Rolls 4d20(17,2,17,4). 2 successes, 1 momentum.
  • Crew support adds 4d20(8,14,6,9). 3 successes, 3 momentum.
  • 1 doom is spent. (+1d20)
  • 4 doom is added to the doom pool. (22 left)
Marines: Grapple.
  • D2 Ranged attack. "Promise of Ishtar" attempt to evade spending 1 doom.
  • Reaction Struggle
    • "Fury of Set" D2 Ranged attack vs 10/1. 5d20(10,11,8,4,4)+crew 4d20(17,6,2,4)=5 momentum.
    • "Promise of Ishtar" D1 Sailing Test vs 12/1. 5d20(4,14,11,19,2)+crew 1d20(16)=2 momentum.
    • "Fury of Set" wins the struggle with 3 momentum.
  • 3 Doom is spent. (+3d20)
  • 4 doom from PCs. (reaction, +3d20)
  • 3 doom is added to the doom pool. (26 left)

Promise of Ishtar
"Promise of Ishtar" fails to cut herself free.

Commander: Coordinate.
  • D1 Command Test vs. 10/2. Rolls 2d20(7,3). 2 success, 1 momentum.
  • Crew support of 1 rolls 1d20(6). 1 successes, 1 momentum.
  • No momentum spent.
  • 2 momentum is added to the group pool. (2 left)
Lookout: Heading.
  • D1 Observation Test vs 9/2. Rolls 2d20(16,15). 0 successes. Failure.
  • No momentum spent.
  • No momentum is added to the group pool.
Helmsman: The ships are grappled and floating aimlessly within the zone.
There are no rules presented to ungrapple the ships, or at least non that I can find. You can assume it is not possible in combat or you can allow the grapples to be unhooked if a boarding action is successful. We will allow the grapples to be unhooked after a successful boarding action.
    Marines: Boarding Action. Attackers are at D0 when attacking during a grapple.
    • Command Struggle D0 vs. D1
    • Struggle
      • "Promise of Ishtar" D0 Command Test vs 9/1. 4d20(3,19,10,4)+crew 1d20(5)=3 momentum.
      • "Fury of Set" D1 Command Test vs 10/1. 5d20(7,1,4,5,12)+crew 4d20(8,10,6,19)=7 momentum.
      • "Fury of Set" wins the struggle with 4 momentum.
    • 2 momentum is spent. (+2d20) (0 left)
    • 3 doom is spent. (+3d20)
    • 4 doom is added to the doom pool. (27 left)

    Round 3


    • Momentum: 0
    • Doom: 27

    GM interrupts initiative and "The Fury of Set" goes first.

    Fury of Set
    Savage pirates board and kill on "Promise of Ishtar".

    Commander: Coordinate.
    • D1 Command Test vs. 9/1. Rolls 5d20(19,16,2,15,2). 2 successes, 1 momentum.
    • Crew support adds 3d20(9,17,11,3). 2 success, 2 momentum.
    • 3 doom is spent. (+3d20)
    • 3 doom is added to the doom pool. (26 left)
    Lookout: Heading.
    • D1 Observation Test vs. 10/1. Rolls 5d20(17,10,1,5,17). 4 successes, 3 momentum.
    • Crew support adds 4d20(9,17,11,3). 2 success, 2 momentum.
    • 3 doom is spent. (+3d20)
    • 5 doom is added to the doom pool. (28 left)
    Marines: Boarding Action. Attackers are at D0 when attacking during a grapple.
    • Command Struggle D0 vs. D1
    • Struggle
      • "Fury of Set" D0 Command Test vs 10/1. 5d20(11,19,9,8,6)+crew 4d20(8,2,19,19)=5 momentum.
      • "Promise of Ishtar" D1 Command Test vs 9/1. 4d20(17,15,19,8,3)+crew 1d20(8)=2 momentum.
      • "Fury of Set" wins the struggle with 3 momentum. Note this is not doom yet, but momentum generated from a test and so can be used for non-immediate spends.
    • Boarding actions cause 5cd NON-LETHAL damage.
      • Rolls 5cd(4,1,1,2,6).
      • 1 momentum to re-roll the 4 and a 1. Rolls 2cd(6,5). Total damage = 6.
      • 1 momentum to gain a penetrating attack ignoring 2 points of soak.
    • "Promise of Ishtar" takes 2 breaks. 1 for suffering more than 5 structure in a single attack and 1 for having it's structure drop below 0.
    • Note: You may wish to reduce the crew of "Promise of Ishtar" by about 1/2 as it's now suffered half of it's breaks. For this example we won't bother. You should do whatever makes narrative sense.
    • 3 doom from PCs (+3d20)
    • 3 doom is spent. (+3d20)
    • 1 doom is added to the doom pool. (27 left)

    Promise of Ishtar
    "Ishtar" fails to cut herself free again.

    Commander: Assign Crew.
    • D1 Command Test vs. 10/2. Rolls 2d20(17,15). 0 success. Failure.
    • No momentum spent.
    • No momentum is added to the group pool.
    Lookout: Heading.
    • D1 Observation Test vs 9/2. Rolls 4d20(5,16,15,7). 2 successes, 1 momentum.
    • Crew support adds 1d20(19). 0 success, 2 momentum.
    • No momentum spent.
    • 1 momentum is added to the group pool.
    • 2 doom from PCs. (+2d20)(28 left)
    Marines: Boarding Action. Attackers are at D0 when attacking during a grapple.
    • Command Struggle D0 vs. D1
    • Struggle
      • "Promise of Ishtar" D0 Command Test vs 9/1. 5d20(14,1,9,8,10)+crew 1d20(14)=4 momentum.
      • "Fury of Set" D1 Command Test vs 10/1. 5d20(12,16,5,5,9)+crew 4d20(6,14,7,12)=4 momentum.
      • Gm breaks the tie in favor of the "Fury of Set"
    • 1 momentum is spent. (+1d20) (0 left)
    • 2 doom from PCs. (+2d20)
    • 4 doom is spent. (+3d20, Tie Break)
    • 0 doom is added to the doom pool. (24 left)

    Round 4


    • Momentum: 0
    • Doom: 24

    GM interrupts initiative and "The Fury of Set" goes first.

    Fury of Set
    The Pirate's of Fury of Set finish the job, taking the ship.

    Commander: Coordinate.
    • D1 Command Test vs. 9/1. Rolls 2d20(19,10). 0 successes. Failure.
    • 0 doom is spent.
    • 0 doom is added to the doom pool. (23 left)
    Lookout: Heading.
    • D1 Observation Test vs. 10/1. Rolls 2d20(7,11). 1 successes, 0 momentum.
    • Crew support adds 4d20(14,19,11,3). 2 success, 1 momentum.
    • 0 doom is spent.
    • 1 doom is added to the doom pool. (24 left)
    Marines: Boarding Action. Attackers are at D0 when attacking during a grapple.
    • Command Struggle D0 vs. D1
    • Struggle
      • "Fury of Set" D0 Command Test vs 10/1. 5d20(9,1,6,15,2)+crew 4d20(19,3,16,9)=7 momentum.
      • "Promise of Ishtar" D1 Command Test vs 9/1. 5d20(3,17,19,10,2)+crew 1d20(6)=2 momentum.
      • "Fury of Set" wins the struggle with 5 momentum. Note this is not doom yet, but momentum generated from a test and so can be used for non-immediate spends.
    • Boarding actions cause 5cd NON-LETHAL damage.
      • Rolls 5cd(5,3,2,2,2).
      • Total damage = 11 structure damage - 2 soak = 9 structure damage.
    • "Promise of Ishtar" takes 2 breaks. 1 for suffering more than 5 structure in a single attack and 1 for having it's structure drop below 0.
    • 3 doom from PCs. (+3d20)
    • 3 doom is spent. (+3d20)
    • 5 doom is added to the doom pool. (29 left)

    "Promise of Ishtar" has now suffered 4 non-lethal breaks and so has been subdued and taken over by the "Fury of Set".

    Friday, October 19, 2018

    Conan 2d20. Skill Trials

    In previous articles I have talked about how success in Conan2d20 aren't simply pass/fail. There is a measure of how well a character completes a skill test; how well you attack, observe or hide. Momentum is an easy way to track this, each point you generate allows you cause more damage, do cool stunts or learn more about your environment.

    Generally failure is, however, still failure. The one place this is different is combat. If I am fighting a skeleton and I make a melee skill check to hit and I fail, the skeleton is still there. I get to try again to succeed in the next round. Compare this to your party sage trying to decipher ancient runes on the wall. If he rolls a failure, it's all over and the meaning of the writing is lost forever, beyond the abilities of our heroes. Certainly there are mechanics in games that work to address this, such as "taking 20" but most of these make the assumption that the player and their character has essentially unlimited time to solve the puzzle or make the skill check.

    Today we are going to try and address this potential issue with something I am calling a "Trial". I didn't invent this mechanic. Several other systems use it, such as ICRPG and the AGE system. (It has been noted since I published this that both the Infinty and Star Trek 2d20 RPG systems have similar mechanics.) These "Trials" also works well once it is placed alongside the "TIMER" mechanic from ICRPG. Now rolling a failure, in a time sensitive encounter, doesn't mean they will never know what it says. Now it just takes them longer to figure it out. How long it takes might be a key part of a combat encounter; can the sage get the door open before the horde of ghouls overwhelms the party?

    Some ideas for skill tests that might benefit from these "Trials" are deciphering runes, solving puzzles, exploring ruins or jungles, negotiating costs etc. It can give your non-combat characters the ability to work to complete something during combat and contribute to success of the party instead of taking the backseat.

    The Basic Idea

    The current iteration of the system is quite simple. I make a note like 10-D3, which signifies a 10 momentum D3 challenge. Succeeding at the challenge lowers the total by 1 and momentum generated goes towards solving the puzzle or being stored in the pool. When challenge momentum reaches 10 you have solved the puzzle, deciphered the runes, made it through the jungle etc.

    Probably the easiest way to track this is to pick a momentum score that is a multiple of one of the types of dice we use for general RPG play, this way you can easily use a die to track how much progress a players has made. You could even get a special set of dice that you use only for "Trials", this way players can easily tell what they are and how much work still needs to be done.

    Round 1:
    Our Sage, Altan, has come across a series of strange runes at the end of a corridor. He suspects deciphering the runes is key to opening the passage, and so sets to work.
    Player: I try and decipher the runes.
    GM: Ok it's a 5-D3 test.
    Player: I will roll 4d20 against his Lore score of 13/2 and get 8,9,15,13.
    Altan looks over the runes and begins his work to decipher them. At first he doesn't recognize anything, but finally he thinks he has a good place to start and continues to work on them.

    Round 2:
    Altan continues to work on deciphering the runes, as his work continues his fellow adventurers hold off the ongoing things in the dark, but time runs short and his friends are being to fall back.
    Player: I continue to try working on the runes.
    GM: OK, since you succeeded last time it is now a 4-D3 test.
    Player: I will roll 5d20 against his Lore score of 13/2 and I will use a Fortune for one of the dice. 10,5,17,19,1. Giving me 1 point of momentum.
    GM: The test has been reduced to a 2d3 test. Altan works hurriedly decoding and deciphering, he believes he has slightly more than half of the words figured out, but they still don't make much sense.

    Round 3:
    In the darkness, something large stalks towards the party. Four warriors standing, heaving with exhaustion. Blood and sweat drip down their bodies. Behind them, seeking the way out, an older man in robes hurriedly works, scrawling in a notebook.
    GM: Something large will be upon your party next round
    Player: I continue to work!
    GM: OK, We now have a 2-D3 test! All you need is success and a momentum! .
    Player: I will roll 5d20 again agains his Lore score of 13/2. I roll 17,10,4,4,12, giving me 4 successes!
    GM: You solve the runes! They are an ancient version of Turanian your didn't initially recognize. They tell you to how to open this passage and so you do, allowing you and your fellows to escape the coming doom.

    Lending a hand

    Assistance generally works the same as before, players can try and lend a hand by rolling an extra die and hopefully adding momentum to the pool. It was suggested another way to handle this is to allow the players to choose which skill they will roll against to offer the assistance. All they have to do is narrate their character using the skill in the scene.


    Our Heroes set out into the desert looking for a long forgotten tomb of an ancient Stygian king. All they have is a map and the setting sun.
    GM: It is going to take you 10-D2 Survival Trialto navigate the desert with the information you have. Failing a test will cause fatigue to occur. Player 1: I have the highest Survival test so I will make that as a roll.
    GM: Will anyone assist?
    Player 2: My alchemist would like to use Lore to assist to better understand the map.
    Player 3: I would like to use Observation to keep a keen eye on the horizon and make sure we are not going astray.
    Player 4: I use my counsel skill to keep everyone's spirits up, hoping the high moral will keep our heads about us.
    GM: Ok. make your rolls!
    Player 1: As lead I roll 5d20 against my Survival of 14/2. I roll 13,7,8,8,16 = Success and 3 momentum.
    Player 2: I roll my assist vs my Lore of 13/1. 10 = +1 momentum
    Player 3: My roll vs. my Observation of 12/2 is 3 = +1 momentum.
    player 4: I roll against my Counsel of 12/2. I get a 5. +1 momentum!
    GM: Your total is 7, reducing the "Trial" to a 3-D2 test on your next round.


    Fatigue and Despair

    If your players are exploring a deep oppressive dungeons, parching desert or big infested swamps, it might be worth while having a negative effect to an outright skill check failure. Perhaps if the party is working on a Survival Trial, rolling to navigate the desert and they fail it can be assumed they wander hopelessly and gain 1cd Fatigue, and likewise if trapped in the oppressive dark of a dungeon and they fail they gain 1cd Despair.

    Complications

    The simplest complication is to raise the difficulty of the next test by 1. But other things could occur depending on what the test is. In a dungeon? Perhaps they set off a trap. In a desert? Perhaps they encounter a snake and they take 2cd before killing it. Negotiating in a tavern? Maybe they have been pickpocketed and lose 1cd+1 gold. Another idea is, especially if they are burning through the test too fast, to extend the length of the test by 2 per complication, or some variant depending on how much you want to slow them down.

    Conclusion

    I have used this a few times and find it to be a decent way to abstract explorations without having to focus on mapping. It allows you plenty of places to use combat and encounters to spice things up. It also allows non-combat characters to participate more and at a similar level to combat characters. Going forward I have a few more articles planned that will utilize this mechanic to enhance your sessions of Conan 2d20.

    Till next time, don't forget to Keep it Weird!

    Thursday, August 30, 2018

    Zones Revisited for Miniatures. Conan 2d20 RPG

    One of the things I have struggled with is zones, especially when outdoors. Playing an action scene with miniatures and having zones that are not clearly defined can be difficult. D&D and others get around this by using grids, one square typically equals five feet. If you character has a move of 30'/turn, they move 6 squares. Nice and easy. Some players of these systems have moved away from grids and gone gridless. In systems like this if 1 inch equals 5 feet. A character with a 30'/turn moves 6". Still simple. This is generally how wargames work.

    Of note is an independent skirmish wargame called "A Song of Blades and Heros", which is an awesome game that I highly recommend. In this game characters are moved via a move stick. No measuring apart from the stick. You do lose a little granularity, but what you lose there you make up in speed. It's a cool system.

    I am sure some of you are wondering what I am on about. This is CONAN 2d20! It doesn't use a grid! It uses abstract zones! Zones based around scenery, zones based around where the action is happening!

    Yes. This is all 100% true and if you can easily define zones you can create areas that are larger and some that are smaller, allowing you to control speed of the characters moving across the environment. ie a large zone represents an area a character can move fast and a small zone represents an area a character needs to move slowly across.

    If you have time and can create defined zones in your outdoor scenes that your players can clearly identify, this is the way that more closely resembles how the rules are written and I suggest that it might be the best way to go. Best, but not fastest.

    Using some of the above ideas from gridless D&D games as well as SoBH, I want to suggest the use of a stick. This stick is the size you want your average zone to be, + 1/2 that length again. In the case of a 4.5" stick we mark it at 1.5" from the end, and label it "Close", label the remainder as "Medium".

    Indoors it might be small, say 4.5" long, and outdoors it might be double that size representing faster movement in larger, more open areas. As you can gather this stick represents the length of a zone. At the start of a players turn we assume his or hers character is sitting in the middle of their "zone".
    • Adjust - Free action - Miniature may move within any point listed as "Close" on the stick. Representing moving within the zone.
    • Move - Minor action - Miniature may move within any point on the stick. This represents moving to any place within "Medium" Range.
    • Sprint - Standard - Miniature may move to any point on the stick + the medium range portion of the stick, representing moving to "Long Range".


    Basically we are picking a length for what we want the "MOVE" action to be. In D&D that might be a 6" stick representing the move of 30'. Once we have that we are allowing half that distance in the free action "Adjust", that full length for "Move" and two of those lengths for "Spring". Compared to the zone map we had before we can see how this might look and how well it translates.

    This is a simple method that will allow your more tactically minded players to have a better grip on how far they can move in a round of play. It does have it's downsides, the biggest of them is you can't simply make a zone larger or smaller because the terrain is easier or more difficult to move across.

    If you play Conan 2d20 with miniatures I would love to hear your thoughts on using a measuring system vs a zone system. Drop me a comment below and let me know. If you don't play Conan 2d20 but do play gridless I'd also love to hear what you think of it. Till next time, don't forget to Keep it Weird!

    Monday, May 28, 2018

    Easy DIY Gaming Table Upgrade!

    Welcome back!

    Last year, late in November I did a quick video on what I use for a gaming table. It was easy and cheap and created a cool lifted surface. You can find that video here: Gaming Table!

    I have always planned on rebuilding the top and making it nicer. Over the last year it has also warped a little, but not enough to be unusable. Since it functions and it would be a solely aesthetic upgrade it has become a low priority in my life. I did however have another idea I wanted to try out; under table LED lighting.


    As you can see it creates a pretty cool effect! I got this inexpensive set of lights from Aliexpress which has a nifty remote and allows changing of colors pretty easily! All of the colors are good except for the pure yellow, which looks more yellowy green.

    Total price for the strip and remote was about $10cad. Super inexpensive! I did have to get a battery for the remote that ran be a couple of dollars as well, but it didn't turn this from a $10 upgrade to a $30 upgrade. It was still under $15 when it was all said and done.

    This project is based on a raised tabletop, but if you had a sunken play area you could use it on that as well just as easily. It adds a new quick and easy dimension to your game that can really help with mood, if you can add this to your area, I highly recommend it!

    Have you done any upgrades like this to your gaming area? LED lights? something else cool? Drop me a note and let everyone know what cool things you have done!

    One last thing don't forget that buying items through quite a few of the links I provide gives me a small kick back which helps to support both the blog and the YouTube channel! Thank you to everyone that stops by and enjoys my ramblings!

    Until next time! Keep it weird!

    Wednesday, April 25, 2018

    RPG Accessories. Tokens, Trackers and Coins! Oh My!

    Tabletop roleplaying games need very little in the way of supplies to play; Some dice, Some paper and a pen or pencil. Of course you need a set of rules as well. Apart from that though? Nothing.

    BUT! There is always a but. Sometimes accessories can help take your game from cool to COOL. Most players like rolling dice. The physical aspect of touching and using an object adds to the fun. This idea can be applied to many other things we need to track!

    Many of these accessories can be made. DM Scotty has some videos on building things like this. Things like little quivers to track arrows instead of erasing 10 and writing 9 can be simple and add another element of fun to the game.

    Some games have a set number of Hero points, Bennies, Fortune or similar mechanic that could also benefit from this idea. Having a player toss in a coin of some description is more fun than just changing that number of the page.

    If you are busy like me, sometimes you don't have time to craft everything, or sometimes you just need so many tokens it's just not feasible to craft them.

    Below is a list of things that I have found on aliexpress, amazon and a few other places where you can simply drop some cash and grab your supplies. I personally use a far number of these in my Conan 2d20 games. Remember, AliExpress will generally be less expensive, but you will need to wait longer for shipping.

    Skull Beads! White! - AliExrpess
    Black! - Amazon.ca
    Flat Beads! White Acrylic - AliExpress
    Transparent glass cabochon - Amazon.ca
    Plastic chips AliExpress
    Amazon.ca
    Coins! Plastic Pirate Coins - AliExpress
    Fortune Coins - AliExpress
    Fortune Coins - Amazon.ca
    Metal Phoenix beads - AlieExpress
    Bowls for your Tokens AliExpress
    Amazon.ca
    Wound Trackers AliExpress

    Hopefully you will find something you can find useful, or it sparks your imagination!

    Thursday, April 19, 2018

    Thursday, April 12, 2018

    Printable Miniatures. Part 2, Basing the figure.

    In the first part of this series on paper miniatures I went over the various ways to get the paper miniatures with links to some kick ass guys on drivethrurpg as well as some links to a few custom tutorials. Today I want to continue this series with a short discussion on bases and the pros and cons of each type.

    The easiest way to base the paper miniature is to grab a piece of foam core, put a slot in it and insert your figure. It may require a coin or similar on the bottom to give it a little heft. These are cheap, plentiful and with a little work, can look good. This isn't the method I use, but Wyloch goes over it in his video on creating the paper miniature.

    The next option is also a DIY option with the caveat that it requires you to have access to a 3d printer. 3d printers can be fairly expensive, especially a genuine Prusa, however there are several models of inexpensive printer that are good for basic printing for a gamer.

    I have an A-net A8 which is a decent machine, print quality wise, and gives you the ability to try getting your feet wet for not a lot of money. It is built with cheaper components which should be replaced if you are going to use it a lot though. It will be more than able to print up bases and other things that you might find at a website like thingiverse. These two links are some samples of thingiverse links you can use for basing paper miniatures. Sample 1 Sample 2

    Moving away from the DIY option we start to move into some for of clip. The first and cheapest version of these is a binder clip. These are a pretty good solution being easily available, inexpensive and coming in multiple sizes and colors. I don't personally use them, and right now as I am typing this I am wondering why. The only real drawback I can see to these is they will be a little more fiddly when it comes to changing your figures over. You will have to re-insert the metal handles so you can easily open the clip to remove the figure. I think the pros may outweigh the cons here.

    You can get a cheap acrylic base designed for boardgames as well. These are pretty good and give you a clear plastic base, and can be purchased in multiple colors. The downside to these is they require a fairly thick card as the clip is fairly wide. I have used these and need to use several layers of construction paper to make them work. Despite how inexpensive they are, I don't really recommend these ones unless your paper figs are quite thick.

    The ones I have purchased and use the most are most similar to the binder clips, they can be found sold as "card holders". These are easy to use and replace the figure into. I have only found them in black, which is another strike against this style. The downside to these is they are among the more expensive option, that being said they are still going to run you less than $.50CAD cents each. As much as I like a lot about this style, I doubt I'll be buying more of them.

    Litko makes a range of bases for paper figures, similar to the 3d printed model I talk about, these are square or circular and come with a curved slot to hold your figure. The downside to these are two fold. One, they are getting upwards in price, running about $.50CAD each. Two, I don't find litko to have especially friendly shipping options to Canada. If you are in the USA this might be a great option where they will be about $.40USD each and have better shipping options.

    Over the past year of using paper miniatures in most of my games I have used several of the above purchaseable solutions. At this time I have not tried the binder clips or 3d printed models, but I think that the binder clips might be the best option being inexpensive, easy to get and in multiple colors. I have also not ordered from Litko. Another possible downside to some of these is that they represent non-standard bases sizes. I don't think it'll take much to make them work, but it's something to think about.

    Now that we have our bases and figures, next week we will talk about the process I go through when I assemble these figures! Until next time, keep it weird out there!

    Friday, April 6, 2018

    The GMs Journal: Notebook selection.

    So.... what mapping
    programs are you
    using for making
    world and area maps?


    A couple of days ago that question was posted to a local role playing group I belong to.

    The standard answers all came up: Pyromancers, Inkarnate, Photoshop, Hexkit, VTT software and Campaign Cartographer. These are all useful tools, and although I suggested some of them, I don't personally use a single one of them.

    I occasionally try and use the cool and fancy tools, but I never like them. I find it easier to simply grab my notebook/journal and jot down ideas and story arcs and finally flesh them out into maps and adventures. At most I sometimes organize thoughts in Google Docs. They never allow the ease of use that a simple piece of paper allows.

    I like notebooks. I have always liked notebooks. I used binders in school with looseleaf paper and never liked it as much as a simple notebook. Perhaps I find the journals of the old masters inspiring. The notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci being a prime example. His notebooks are as important as his masterpieces.

    I don't journal, which you would think based on my above statement I might do, but I do keep a sketchbook and that directly leads into my current favored set of notebooks for GMing. I follow an artist on social media named, "Jake Parker". Aside from being a cool illustrator he has some awesome videos about creativity and projects on youtube. One of the things he has turned me on to is the Moleskin Cahier line of notebooks. My first reaction was, "Must be nice, Moleskin notebooks are expensive!", and indeed some of their line, like many other journals, are pricey. He went on to show how they were resistant to bleed through with inks and could even be used for some basic tone with paints, and the best part is that they are NOT pricey. They are quite affordable.

    So I went out and bought a three pack of these to use as my next sketchbook. The three packs will run you around $20, and each notebook has 64 pages in them. They are not huge tomes, but that is also a blessing in disguise. I liked them. They were easy to use. They are small and easy to take with you. The paper isn't pure white, and so you can add white to sketches pretty easily. Finally because they are not 100s of pages long, they are easier to fill up. That act of completing one gives you a sense of accomplishment and fulfilment.

    When I went out to find a new journal that had dots or grids on them I quickly started looking over at the Cahier line, which offer books in three flavours: Plain, Lined and Squared. I immediately went to Indigo (our local bookstore chain, and maybe yours) and tried to buy a set. Squared journals are apparently more difficult to find. Off to Amazon I went!

    I found a set of 3 and ordered them. They took a LONG time to arrive as I did not order them directly from Amazon and ended up shipping from the UK. When they did they were smaller than I had realized (being the 5"x8.25" journals), but in the end I think I prefer this size for most GM journaling. I feel it is a good middle ground, but I think that is a personal preference.

    Like the ones I use for sketching, they are small, allowing for completion and that sense of accomplishment. They are also filled with the same type of paper that resists bleed through; I use a uniball pen and write on every page, front and back. The slightly off white color will allow the addition of whites to your journal entries if you desire.

    Of course these are not the only notebook on the block, and they are far from the cheapest, even if I do think they are affordable. For the most affordable notebooks, which I have used extensively in school and out, the crown has to go to Hilroy or a knockoff. These cheap coil bound books provide an inexpensive way to get a journal. They open flat and provide an easy way to remove pages. The downside, as I have always found, being the coil interfering with your hand when you are writing near the end of the page.

    I have again provided links to Amazon and the tools I have mentioned in this post. These are affiliate links and purchasing through them provides me a small commission. Thank you!

    Wednesday, April 4, 2018

    Printable Miniatures. Part 1, Getting the Image.

    In Part 2 we talk about basing options!

    We all love miniatures, or at least I suspect you do if you are reading my blog. If you play a system that uses a lot of smaller level fodder type characters, such as a 2d20 system or Savage Worlds, you might find it hard to have 15 or 20 of a single figure type. Even for me, with the Conan board game to pull from, it can be hard to have enough bad guys.

    Custom Minis from a Ghoul stock image I got from DriveThruRPG
    Enter the paper miniature, sometimes refered to as flats. I first came across these when I was getting back into gaming and watching the various channels on youtube that exist. Check out Wyloch's tutorial on how to make your own.  He goes through how to make these props, step by step using images found images.  Please be respectful of copyright when you are building printable minis this way.

    We also have Printable Heros over on Pateron. For a couple of bucks you can get access to the cool collection of figures he has produced. For me though, I often need something fairly specific and I am building them pretty close to the last minute. I don't have time to search the net for the image and cut and paste it, trim it up, size it and get it ready for play. Sometimes I just want to do a quick search, print out the figure and get it on my table. For this I go to DriveThruRPG.

    I am sure you are all aware of DriveThruRPG. If you are not click the above link and it will take you to a wonderland of digital products, BUT back to printable miniatures.

    These guys are probably my favorite shop creating printable miniatures. They are have a wonderful distinct style and he has a wide variety to fill many many different gaming roles! Get them here!
    Another store that has an excellent selection of figures for use with your games. Like Okum arts there is a wide variety of figures from fantasy to sci-fi. Get them here!
    The ICRPG Core set is more expensive but comes with a wealth of content, including a selection of printable miniatures for your table in Hankerin's distinctive black and white style. Get it here!
    These guys have a wide selection of printable miniatures(some are even free!) as well as papercraft buildings. Get them here!
    A later entry to this list, as I just found them recently is Trash Mob Minis. Like Okum Arts above these guys have an impressive collection of paper figs in a very distinctive style. I recommend checking them out!

    There is a wealth of people creating these printable heros and monsters! Part 2 of the series will talk about the supplies I use to make mine, as well as some alternatives. Once we have all of our supplies together we will see about putting together some of these creations!

    Until then, keep it weird!



    The above post contains affiliate links, using them will give this blog a small commission on the sale.