'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

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Saturday, October 1, 2022

The Hunt: RPG Alliance 2022

 


As night fell the crew of the longship came ashore on the bank of the mighty river.  Darkness was a dangerous time to sail these waters.  Most of the crew busied themselves with setting up camp, while a small group of hunters set off to see if they could find some meat for the fire.  

After the hunt, the small group of hunters returns looking forward to the fire and some mead.  As the warriors approach it is clear something is wrong, there is no fire, and there are no sounds of laughter. 

You will be that small group of hunters set off to find some animal to bring home for your band of Vanir.

System: ICRPG Master Edition
Setting: The Hyborian Age, Nordheim.
Location: RPG ALLIANCE: DICKENS PUB!

ICRPG is a rules-light, quick-to-learn and play d20-based system.  We will spend the first 10-15 minutes generating a unique Vanir warrior for you, and then you and your hunters will start deep in the forest tracking a deer, allowing you to get your heads around the mechanics before you return to your kin.

Never played ICRPG, NO PROBLEM.
Never player an RPG? NO PROBLEM.


Monday, August 29, 2022

Conan 2d20 : On The Grid

Conan 2d20 on the Grid

Introduction

Without a doubt I have spent a good amount of time discussing zones and ways to get them to work easily within the context of a miniatures based game of Conan 2d20. It is no secret I am a fan of the zone idea, liking how it places the game somewhere between theatre of the mind and the tactical battlemap. The closest I have come to this alternate set of rules was back in August, 2018 with this idea around rulers for zone combat. Rulers can work well, and lots of people are proponents of them, still they do add another bit to have to deal with and locate when a move occurs.

There can be times during a battle where the zone idea can be a little confusing, players may not know exactly where they are in relation to the enemy and might feel like things are on the unfair side. If the GM handles things less than diplomatically it can make the table less fun to play at. I had this occur recently at my table, and so I was keen to find ways to fix it. Since I had been playing a lot of 5e, the grid jumped out as a possibility. At present the following rules have been tested once in game play and they worked well enough. We have not yet tested area effect, but we discussed it after the game, and my players thought it might be on the large side, so that might be something to keep in mind.


Conan on the Grid: The Rules, v0.5

The abstract nature of zones fits a nice niche between theatre of the mind and the tactical grid-based combat of many games. Despite this, the grid aspect of many games is enjoyable and can make combat more tactical for some people. I have played both types of games and find that they both have their place. One of the benefits of grids over zones is knowing exactly where your character is. Having a miniature on a zone-based map can, at times, lead to confusion. Conan as written is a zone-based game. Within a turn, a player may make a standard action, a minor action, and many free actions. All three of these have a movement type associated with them, but a player can only use one of the movement types in a given turn.

Movement

Using a base of 30’, stolen from 5e, all players in Conan will move this base level. The adjust action, in my mind, exists to allow characters to interact with items in the same zone due to the positional abstraction inherent in zones. With this system removing positional abstraction, it also removes the adjust move action. A minor action is a move represented by a move at 30’ (or the character’s base movement) (Move) A standard action is a move represented by a move up to 60’ (or 2x the character’s base movement), this increases the difficulty of all skill tests this round by 1 (this does not affect the defend reaction) (Sprint)

Splitting Movement

A minor action allows you to move up to your base movement, usually 30’. If you move part of that distance and then complete a standard action, you can continue to use the remainder of your movement, however, all movement rules still apply. Ie if you move into combat, leaving combat will trigger a retaliate action, unless withdraw action is used, as a free action.

Optional Fast Movement

Every 2 points of focus in Move (for NPCs) or Acrobatics (for PCs) grant an additional 5’ of movement. A character with an acrobatics of 4 could move up to 40’ as an adjust action, 40’ as a regular move, and 40’ to 80’ as a sprint action.

Difficult Terrain

Difficult terrain will count as double movement for each square it occupies, ie a 5’ square of difficult terrain costs 10’ of movement to move through it. Players can make athletics/acrobatics checks to avoid this penalty.

Range

Ranges will also be based on the same concepts of a basic move being 30’
  • Close range, ie within a zone, is closer than 30’
  • Medium Range ie the next zone over is 30’-60’
  • Long Range, ie 2 zones, is 60’-90’
  • Extreme Range, ie more than 2 zones, is 90’+
Shooting outside of your effective range class increases the difficulty by 1 for each class. Ie A close range shooting to medium range is +1 difficulty and +2 difficulty to long range.

Ranges for Mobs/Squads

When determining the range for mobs measure the range from the middle of the mob. If the mob is straddling two range bands, choose the further range.

The Diagonal

The easiest way to handle diagonals is to simply allow them as a 5’ move.

Melee Combat

In order to engage in melee, combat miniatures must be in adjacent squares, this can be adjacent orthogonally or diagonally, this is known as base-to-base contact.

Withdraw

This is a standard move action, a character can move up to their base move when using this as their standard action. If the side withdrawing outnumbers their opponents this can be completed as a free action.

Protect Reaction

To use the protect reaction, the character using it must be adjacent to who they are attempting to defend.

Retaliate Reaction

This is triggered when a PC or NPC moves out of base-to-base contact without using a withdraw action.

Mobs and Squads

As members of the mob/squad are eliminated the back ranks will move to fill the front ranks. The mob or squad cannot leave base-to-base contact with their attacker as a result of the loss of members. Each member of the squad occupies 5’.

Interpose

In order for a mob to interpose themselves, they must be in base-to-base contact with the target of the original attack.

Flanking (optional)

If two or more opponents are attacking with at least 5’ between them, they can each re-roll one of their melee dice for free, the second roll stands.

Areas of Effect

Weapons that normally affect an entire zone now affect a 30’x30’ square. Complications on the roll cause it to drift in a random direction (1d8) 1d6*5’

Friday, February 18, 2022

Forbidden Lands: Character Creation


I wanted to put together a character creation walkthrough to help people build their Forbidden Lands Characters.  The process is pretty straightforward, but as with all things, there are always questions about how things are actually done.  In general the process involves 12 steps, but I am going to add a step 0.

Step 0: Get an idea of your character

It is always helpful to have an idea of the kind of character you want to play.  A muscular barbarian with a long sword?  A swift forest scout? A wrinkly old wizard with a grey beard? 

Of course there are times going the random route and having a character appear in your mind is fun as well.  The basic Forbidden Lands book doesn't have a life path system, but the Legends and Adventurers book does allow for a random life path creation system.


Step 1: Who are your people, pick your Kin.

Pretty basic decision here, have a look through the book and choose your race.  Elf? Wolfkin? Human?

Each of the carious Kin will have a few things to take note of.

  • Key Attribute
  • Kin Talent
  • Typical Professions
  • Typical Names

Step 2: What do you do, pick your profession:

Your kin has some typical professions that are the most common for your people, but you can pick any you want.  Choose one that best fits your character concept.  Like Kin your profession will give you a few things to take note of.
  • Key Attributes
  • Skills
  • Typical Nicknames
Your profession is also going to give you some more information about your character.  Three of them will influence your role play of the character and the people they interact with.  These are dealt with later in the character creation process in more detail.  You are free to make up your own, or choose from the samples.
  • Pride - Step 7 of character creation
  • Dark Secret - Step 8 of character creation
  • Relationships - Step 9 of character creation
The final thing your profession will give you is your basic gear, starting gold and resources

Step 3:  How long have you been around, how old are you.

You can pick one of three categories here, the actual number is less important.  Although there is a table that can give you an idea of this.
  •  Young
  • Adult
  • Old
Age will determine how many starting attribute and skill points you begin with.

Step 4: How strong and smart are you, what are your attributes.

You have four attributes to assign points to.  Each attribute must have at least a score of 2 in it.  The maximum you can place into a score is 4.  

If you have an attribute defined as a key attribute from your kin or profession it can be elevated to a 5.  

If you are of adult age and have 14 attribute points, you place 2 points into each of the 4 attributes leaving you with 6 points to elevate your scores.  

Step 5: What do you know how to do, what are your skills.

Like attributes your age determines how many skill points you have.  Unlike attributes these all start at 0.  You can still make attempts to use them, you just gain no extra dice.  

Any of the skills listed under your profession can have up to 3 points assigned, while the others can have a maximum of 1 point placed into them.

Step 6: Why are you a beautiful and unique snowflake, choose your talents.

You start with a number of talents.
  • Kin Talent
  • A profession talent of your choice (detailed in the Talents section)
  • A number of general talents, which is again dictated by your age.
Talents all have 3 ranks of ability in them, and you normally start with a rank of 1 in any talent you posses.  You can however choose to give up a general talent to gain a rank 2 in another.  This includes professional talents.  You can use one of your general talents to achieve rank 2 in a magic talent, for example.

Step 7: PRIDE!

You have had a look at this, and perhaps chosen what your pride is, this section in the rules details how it is used mechanically

Step 8: What lies in your closet, the dark secret.

Again this is looked at previously, this section simply details how it works within the game

Step 9: Who are you to me, who am I to the, relationships matter.

Simply a quick short sentence about how you feel about the other members of the party to help guide interactions and role play

Step 10: It is a harsh world and you are a tool using kin, get your gear!

You had some gear listed under your profession, you start with that.  If presented with a choice you are required to choose basic items.  Nothing rare, nothing magical.

You are assumed to have a knapsack and waterkin.

You can use your starting coins to buy additional gear before the game starts.

Step 11: What do you look like, choose your appearance.

Pretty straightforward here.  Choose how you look. 

Step 12: What do they call you, choose your name?

Pick a name.  There are samples provided for each kin, and nicknames for each profession.  Choose one of these or make up your own. 

Final thoughts.

With that you should have a character ready to go.  I haven't dug deeply into talents, as each talent and its abilities gained with ranks are individual, but with the main book and this you should be able to create a basic character fairly easily.

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Saturday, November 6, 2021

Help Thy Neighbor!


During most 2d20 games you have ability to store momentum in a group pool, which maxes out at 6.  From that pool your friends can pull points and spend them on effects that can help them in their quest for glory: buying extra dice on a skill check, doing more damage on an attack etc.

How momentum is spent is largely up to the players and GMs.  The game certainly lists some ideas and uses for how you might spend it but really it is a measure of how well things are going for the players, and I have written several articles on how you might use that momentum, such as chaining attacks for cool narrative effects or re-enacting a common trope we see in Fantasy.

Conan of course already has assistance rules, but this is not that.  This is inspired by such ideas as the "Master of Tactics" in 5e and 5e's Help action in general as well as adding a boost die to the net allied attack in Genesys.  Still I think it would be cool to allow a specific spend of momentum that might be able to assist your allies.

This has yet to be play tested, so this is just a rough idea, but I feel it goes something like this.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Calamity at House Ralto



Two House Minors, Vondar and Ralto once stood as allies. That time has since past, now a bitter rivalry burns between them.  Once the pharmaceutical industry of Ralto and the scientific equipment and engineers or Vondar created profit for both houses.  As is the way of such things, the delicate balance of friendship can be tipped by the slightest flap of buttefly wings.

Since the announcement that House Harkonnen was to give up Arrakis to House Atreides, the politics of the Landsraad has begun to shift and change.  Now House Ralto has begun to gain favor with some of the House Majors. The Marquis and Marchioness of Vondar has seen this as a dire turn for Their House and has sent emissaries to House Ralto in an attempt to gain favor with the house once more.

Knowing that an end of the rivalry, even at some cost to the house is better than the potential destruction of the house They have chosen an entourage, you, to carry Their words to the Baron and Baroness of Ralto...

Can you help ensure the continuation of your House?  

Choose one of four agents: Bene Gesserit, Sword Master, Mentat or Suk Doctor and join us on a Spacing Guild heighliner to travel to the House Ralto to bring the will of your Marquis and Marchioness to House Ralto. 

Conan 2d20: GRAPPLED!

The blackness of the abomination rears up above you lashed out with inky blobs.  Your shield barely defends against the horrific attack warding off any serious damage, despite this you find yourself hopelessly entangled in the things grip!


**WHAT DO YOU DO?**


Player: Umm.  Can I try and break the tentacles from my friend so they can fight this round instead of having to break free?

GM:  Ummmmmm.  Not directly....the rules say you can assist their effort, or you could attack it and hopefully gain some momentum to allow them to roll better.....but no....there is no direct way to help....

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Welcome to the RPG ALLIANCE Convention!

Welcome to the RPG Alliance Convention!  I am excited you found your way to my little space on the Internet.  If you haven't played met me or played any games with me, I hope we cross paths soon!  I am hosting an ICRPG Blood & Snow game this weekend (Nov 20 & 21st, 2021) and will be around the Gather Town platform to chat.

If you want to know a little bit more about me, jump on over to the ABOUT page and learn all there is to know!

If you are interested, I run a small bi-weekly newsletter highlighting what I found interesting over the last couple of weeks and also what I am working on.  I generally try to include some art or rollable tables as a little fun inclusion for all my subscribers.  It is totally free, just a way to keep in contact with everyone out there!  You can check out the latest issue and subscribe by clicking!

I also offer a few odds and ends for purchase over on DriveThruRPG.  Sale from those items allows me to keep picking up new rulesets and adding new ideas into my games as I strive to be a better GM and help my players tell the best and most exciting stories that they can.  The largest series of items I sell are my terrain decks, you can check out the Corrupt Cliffs for free by subscribing to the newsletter.

You can also jump over to TeePublic and pick up some cool t-shirts or custom Starships & Steel Merchandise to support my creative endeavors as well, every little bit is appreciated!

Games I am running this year at the Convention

A few of the games I like.

Some podcasts of note
Where to find me on Social Media
 Have a great time at the convention and don't forget to KEEP IT WEIRD!