'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

Corrupt Cliffs

Corrupt Cliffs
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Saturday, August 14, 2021

Conan 2d20, Character Attributes


If you are used to rolling 3d6 or using a point buy system, as is common in many RPGs the approach Conan 2d20 takes to determining attributes is going to be a little different. I suspect that might even be why you are here; the entire process of character creation is much more narratively driven. As such it is a good idea to have an idea before starting, although the process of creation can easily create a well-rounded back story.

The process is straight forward, and I think it is described pretty well in the core book on pages 16 -18, still I see people being confused by it and I know I was one of those people.

 Base attributes

All attributes start at 7.


 Mandatory attributes

Characters are defined by attribute aspects are they strong and resolute or eagle-eyed? Characters get two of these aspects which can be chosen or rolled for. A character can have the same aspect twice. The table defining these are on page 17.

Once determined the aspects will define 4 attributes that are above the base of 7. If we are Strong and Resolute as well as Eagle-Eyed our attributes are brawn and willpower as well as awareness and coordination.

 I think the confusion often comes from having doubled up attributes. The Brave aspect gives us agility and willpower. While the Dexterous aspect gives up us agility and coordination. Now our 4 attributes are: agility, agility, willpower, and coordination.

 Now that we have 4 attributes, we determine which of these is the best and which of them is the worst. This is the best and worst of these 4, not all your attributes.

   Add 3 to your best.

   Add 1 to your worst.

   Add 2 to the other 2 attributes.


With our example of agility, agility, coordination, and willpower we can't make agility both the best and worst.

   Agility = best, +3

   Agility = +2

   Coordination = +2

   Will power = worst, +1

 Optional attributes

Each aspect also defines 2 optional attributes, choose 1 for each aspect and add 1 to each of them. Brave defines brawn and coordination as optional attributes and dexterous defines them as brawn and willpower. So we can choose brawn twice since it is an optional choice for both aspects.

   Brawn = +1

   Brawn = +1

 Ancient bloodline

If an attribute is greater than 12 the character gains the ancient bloodline talent. This is described on page 17 of the core book as well as other supplements.

 Max

Characters cannot exceed 14 in any attribute.  This is the maximum they can have.

 Additional Bonuses 

·         During the nature step characters gain an additional +1 to an attribute (page 35- 37)

·         In the final step a player can increase an attribute by 2 or 2 attributes by 1. (Page 42)


Crom doesn't care, but I hope this helped!

And that is all there is to character attributes in Conan 2d20.  Since it is a narrative process with descriptors around why things are chosen it allows you to gain a better feeling for the character you are creating.  Alternatively it allows you to tie a character concept into the game mechanics in a simple manner as well. 

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

Friday, July 2, 2021

The Quest for Approachable Narrative Dice

The Quest for Approachable Narrative Dice

 I was introduced to the Genesys system a few years ago, and have since played it a few times with a GM who was experienced with the system.  It took all the things I loved about 2d20 and added to them; success by measure, complications on successes, plus failure with benefit.  Once you played the system the dice were pretty straightforward. Coming into the game for the first time?  woah.  Those dice were cryptic, can we just play D&D 5E? 



Building ideas around how to make a simpler version of this idea rattles around in my brain from time to time, and it appears not only in my mind.  Recently a friend replied to a post on Twitter, which made it clear that other people have it rattling around in their minds as well.  How can we get all of the flavors of the Genesys system in an approachable system that can bolt onto a d20 game?  How can we do it with basic dice?



Ideas on the issue

I think a lot of systems do *PART* of the Genesys narrative dice well.  Generally, the part where we determine how well you succeeded: Savage Worlds with its raises, 2d20 with its momentum, AGE with its stunt dice, to name a few.  2d20 even allows for negative effects on successes.  None that I have seen incorporate everything, and generally don't have any positive outcomes from failing, ie you are climbing a cliff, and you fail the roll, but in doing so make it easier for your party member to climb because you created a handhold as you dislodged a rock.

Further down in the Twitter thread this was suggested...

My ideas

My first thought was that it was an interesting idea, but it didn't scale.  No matter how skilled or how easy or difficult the task was your narrative effects chances were exactly the same, but I thought it had a good idea behind it. 

Keeping with that idea, what if we scaled the number of dice we are rollings?  Add 1d6 to the pool for each of the stat bonuses?  Subtract 1d6 for each step of 5 around the DC of 15, with a minimum roll of 2d6?  In the end, I don't think that works particularly well either.  

My next idea involved the first idea, but using multi-colored d6s.  Start with 2 pools of d6s, one for skill, and one for the task.  Each of these pools starts with 1d6 in them.  Add 1 skill die to the pool for each stat bonus, ie +3 strength gives 3 good dice +1 in the pool for a total of 4 dice.  Add 1 task die to the pool for each step above a DC of 5, ie a DC of 15 adds 2 task dice to the pool, for a total of 3 bad dice in the pool.  When the d20 is rolled the d6 pool is rolled with the d20.  Subtract task die total from skill die total.  A positive total gives an advantage, a negative total yields a disadvantage.  Going back to Jason's idea, we could incorporate double of either yielding a triumph or despair as well.  

My final idea is essentially the same as my second idea. but with no math.  It uses multi-colored fate dice.  One pool for the task, and one pool for the skill.  Compare the two dice rolls, A "+" in one pool can cancel out a "+" or two "-" in the other pool. 1 "-" dice face can cancel out 1/2 of a "+" face. Whichever pool has remaining value determines advantage or disadvantage.  Finally, if there were 2 "+" dice faces n the original roll then we can add a triumph or despair to the roll, depending on the pool it was rolled on.

Let's test this out, and say we have a barbarian named Grunar trying to climb a snake tower.  The GM rules that since they have a rope it will only be a DC 10 test.  Grunar has a strength of 15 giving him a +2 to his athletics check.  

Skill dice = 3.  (2 from a strength of 15 + 1 for default)
Task dice = 2. (1 from a DC of 10 + 1 for default)

Roll 1
So we roll a d20 and 5 fate dice.  
D20 roll: 14+2 = 16 = SUCCESS
Skill dice = _,+,+ 
Task dice = -,+
"+" from Task dice cancels out one skill dice "+".
"-" from Task dice cancels out 1/2 of the "+" from the Skill dice. Resulting in an advantage.
Additionally, since the Skill roll has 2 "+"s a Triumph is also generated.

Roll 2
D20 roll: 10+2 = 12 = FAILURE
Skill dice = _,_,_
Task dice = _,_
Straight failure.

Roll 3
D20 roll: 7+2 = 10 = FAILURE
Skill dice = -,_,_
Task dice = +,_
"-" from Skill dice cancels out half of the "+" from the Task dice.  Resulting in a disadvantage.

Conclusion

I think this might be a good starting point but would definitely need some testing and tweaking.  One of the other large parts of this puzzle would be to determine what exactly an advantage, disadvantage, triumph, and despair look like in your game.  If you have thoughts on this or have implemented something similar in your game, drop a note below.  I would love to hear your thoughts on the whole idea or what you have done. 


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







Sunday, June 13, 2021

The Rescue of Gunnlief


The following is a write up from a recent Conan 2d20 game I ran over roll20 for my local group.  I hope you enjoy!








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






Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Travel Interludes in Sword & Sorcery

Welcome back to another exciting blog post!  Today I want to share the first pass of my ideas behind travel interludes.  Way less overhead than a hex crawl, way more story telling then waving your hands and bein at the end of the journey.  This represents my first pass at the idea with no real testing.

After a quick chat this afternoon, something I was aware of but had completely forgotten, was that this system was inspired by Savage Worlds as well.  

The Interlude

When characters travel from one location to another, a common question is often, “How do we resolve this?”.  Is it a hex crawl?  Do we just wave our hands and say it happens?  Both of these are valid and have their place, but both have weaknesses as well.

If your adventure is not focused on the outdoors, and you just need to move the PCs from one city to another, hex crawls introduce too much time, energy and wasted narrative that isn’t part of the sword and sorcery tale you and your players are telling.

On the other hand, simply waving your hands and saying it happens and you are not in Tarantia solves the logistic aspects of the hex crawl but it also removes ALL of the narrative qualities of a trip. 

This system is inspired by Sword & Sorcery films and a card mechanic that I first encountered created by Chris Hartigan, who took the idea from Savage Worlds and adopted it into his games.  It was a system I enjoyed and went on to adopt and modify into my narrative terrain cards system.  This is unsurprisingly a variation of that system.  It will utilize a standard deck of 52 cards, as the original system used for a chase mechanic.


Phases

The first part of this system is to determine how many phases of the interlude exist?  This answer is simply 1 phase per player.  This system will require each player to tell a short tale of the adventure with the cards steering the direction it goes.  The order the players go can be any that is desired.


If you know how the distance between the two points and the length it takes to travel between A and B, you can determine the time each phase actually takes, but it isn’t important to the overall system.

The Cards

As discussed above, the cards will denote the basic idea of the phase.

The suit will determine the overall classification, and the number how intense the encounter is.

Hearts - Interaction (Story teller, Bards, Village, Fortune Teller)

1982 Conan example - Witch/Subedei.

Diamond - Trade (Wandering sales, Hub city)

1982 Conan example - City with lizards on a stick, Zamora.

Clubs - Conflict

1982 Conan example - Dogs chasing him.

Spades - Environmental

examples - Storms, flash floods, earthquakes, tornado

Ie drawing a 10 of clubs would indicate that the party encountered some sort of major conflict along the way.  What story makes up that conflict, even what that conflict was, is up to the player.  These narrative phases will generally have no effect mechanically on the overall story.

Benefits of Travel (optional)

Players can come up with a sort of hook that might be helpful in the upcoming adventure.  This should be a minor advantage gained under a specific set of circumstances.  Since the players do not know what is coming up in the adventure it can be difficult to necessarily know what sort of advantage they might incur.

It should be sufficient for the players to specify they have found a piece of equipment or gained some information that might be useful later.


If you want the players to be more specific, you as the GM should be sure to present them with an opportunity to use it.

Some examples might be that the party encountered a wandering fortune teller who foretold them of some bad event. You could then allow the player to gain inspiration in 5e, or an extra die in Conan 2d20, when attempting to avoid something, ie an ambush, trap, etc.


Face Cards (optional)

If a face card is flipped up during the interlude you can provide the central player some sort of newly found equipment based on the story they tell.  An example of this from the 1982 Conan might be Conan finding the burial chamber of the Atlantean king when being chased by the wild dogs.  With this system he would have flipped a king of clubs, denoting a conflict, the dogs, and an upgrade, the sword. 

The level of the equipment should be tailored to the face card pulled with Jacks being a very minor upgrade to the king being a major piece of equipment.


Conclusion

Overall the drive of this mechanism is to quickly move players from one end of the map to the other with out. Till next time, don't forget to Keep it Weird!


Saturday, May 8, 2021

Torch Hexflower

Welcome back everyone!  It has been a little while since I made a post here, but fear not I haven't forgotten about the blog or my readers!  My morning blog time has been largely (completely) replaced with doing some more post secondary training!  

A little while ago Matt Hayles, who I know through the local RPG community, was making posts about hex flowers.  He in turn picked them up from Goblin's Henchman.  Goblin's Henchman has an instruction cookbook on these things as a mechanic, which I haven't read, but you can grab a copy here!

Looking at the idea, I thought they looked fun and wanted to look into them deeper.  At the same point I was working on a way to make torches more fun in my sword & sorcery games without it turning into a resource slog.  At present I haven't actually attempted this as a mechanic, largely because I think it will work way better during an in person game.

The basic idea is when the players light a torch you place a marker in the middle of the hex flower, and as they progress through the dungeon they roll 2d6, each roll moves the marker through the flower. If the marker moves off the flower simply place it back on the other side of the flower.

The players get to watch and make the rolls seeing the torch staying lit or eventually going out.  My hope is that it will make the torch a fun little mini game and add a little bit of tension to the torch.

Depending on the system you are playing you might even opt to let players re-roll if it is going badly for them.  Perhaps in D&D 5e you could allow them to burn inspiration or an action to get a re-roll as they fight to keep the torch lit.  In Conan 2d20 or other similar games you could use momentum or advantage to allow the players to influence the torch.

Either way I hope this idea will be useful or at least get those creative juices flowing!


Looking forward to getting back around the table with everyone!  

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