'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 RPG. Show all posts
Showing posts with label RPG. Show all posts

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Tool Trunk Thursday: Fishing Net

Welcome Dog Brothers and Sword Sisters to the next installment of Tool Trunk Thursday! The feature where I present a piece of equipment for Conan 2d20 and its effects in a friendly card-shaped format.

The new year is upon us and as some of us think about heading back to work, and getting back into more normal routines I wanted to wish everyone a great new year!

You can find other pieces of equipment in the Blog's Equipment Chest!

Fishing Net


The oceans of the world then, just as now, provide a source of food and survival for those that live along its shores. Many methods are used to gather the bounty of the sea. One of the most common tools used by the men of the Hyborian Age is the fishing net. Common in the countries of Zingara, Argos, Shem, Stygia, Turan and even some of the people of the Black Kingdoms; really any nation that shares a border with the sea.

A strong mesh of heavy rope that can be thrown by several men out into the ocean or another body of water and brought back in, hopefully, full of fish, but who knows what else it might dredge up from the depths?

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Thursday, January 2, 2020

Tool Trunk Thursday: Sharpening Stone

Welcome Dog Brothers and Sword Sisters to the next installment of Tool Trunk Thursday! The feature where I present a piece of equipment for Conan 2d20 and its effects in a friendly card-shaped format.

The new year is upon us and as some of us think about heading back to work, and getting back into more normal routines I wanted to wish everyone a great new year!

You can find other pieces of equipment in the Blog's Equipment Chest!

Sharpening Stone


Since man has been using weapons he has used other tools to keep them in working order. Weapons of steel are no different, and in time their edges dull and they require maintenance. These hard, fine grit stones from the mountains of Aquilonia and Nemedia, are prized for their ability to bring back the sharpness that a warrior trusts his blades to have.

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Thursday, December 26, 2019

Tool Trunk Thursday: Holly Berries

Welcome Dog Brothers and Sword Sisters to the next installment of Tool Trunk Thursday! The feature where I present a piece of equipment for Conan 2d20 and its effects in a friendly card-shaped format. I thought I would add a slightly more festive item this week, I hope you enjoy it. You can find other pieces of equipment in the Blog's Equipment Chest!

Holly Berries


Within the temperate forests of the Hyborian Age grows bright green holly. The leaves, though prickly, are harmless but the bright red berries these plants produce are not. If eaten the berries can cause intestinal issues and vomiting. If distilled into a potion by a herbalist these easy to find plants can be used to weaken or perhaps kill a man... if you can get him to drink it.

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Thursday, December 19, 2019

Tool Trunk Thursday: Stygian Sand

Welcome Dog Brothers and Sword Sisters to the next installment of Tool Trunk Thursday! The feature where I present a piece of equipment for Conan 2d20 and its effects in a friendly card-shaped format. You can find other pieces of equipment in the Blog's Equipment Chest!

Stygian Sand


In the deepest Stygian deserts lie patches of fine off-color sand. Of those that know about it, some say it is the dust remains of the ancient sorcerers that once walked within Acheron, while others believe it to be where beings from beyond the outer dark once walked.

What can be certain about this sand is that it is a fine powder and that on contact it burns with an intensity of fire. Alchemists lucky enough to possess it are able to more effectively create powders than burn and blind those who would cross them.


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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Tool Trunk Thursday: Star Flower

Welcome Dog Brothers and Sword Sisters to the next installment of Tool Trunk Thursday! The feature where I present a piece of equipment for Conan 2d20 and its effects in a friendly card-shaped format. You can find other pieces of equipment in the Blog's Equipment Chest!

Star Flower


These bright orange to red flowers grow most commonly in the darkest parts of the forest between Argos and Zingara. Even within this forest they are rare. It is possible similar flowers may grow in other places in the world, but no matter where they are found they will favor dark old growth forests.

The compounds in these flowers are extremely combustible, and so they are highly prized by the alchemists of the age to create spectacular effects both visually and deadly.


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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Alien RPG: Colony & Station Layouts.


The Basic Framework

The Core book states that Alien is generally played out on a map of a space station, a colony or similar structure or location, but where do we get these? There are certainly a few around on the internet and many get posted to the Facebook group "Alien RPG by Free League". Despite these excellent resources the time will come when you run out, or simply want something original. This article aims to give us an easy way to quickly whip up a colony or station. Colonies and Stations are fairly similar in their internal components: Power, housing, control, repair, engineering, food etc, however their physical construction will be considerably different. Let's start with the basics...

The map is divided into zones. A zone is typically a room, a corridor, or an area of ground. How big a zone is varies—from a few steps across up to about 25 meters. A zone is generally smaller in a cramped environment than in open terrain.
-Alien RPG Core, Page82

Another consideration is how fast characters and opponents move in the game.

In one Turn, you can move two zones on the map and explore them, scanning for enemies and getting a superficial description of these two zones from the GM.
-Alien RPG Core, Page85

We should also note that the Xenomorph moves twice that fast, so a map with 12 zones in it isn't going to provide a very long cat and mouse chase.

With these two basic factors in mind, we can give our map some thought.

The Components

For game purposed a station and a colony are not all that different, one is ground based and one is floating in space. certainly the structure between the two will change, such as foorprint vs height and the ability for ships to dock.

Looking through the internal modules on page 171 and the Novgorod station on Page 360 we can start to put together a list of areas in our new map.

Colony/Station Modules
Cargo storage
Corporate suite
Emergency escape vehicle
Landing pad/Docking bay or Docking Clamps
Mess hall
Hangar
Med Lab
Science Lab
Garage
Machine Shop
Recycling
Hydroponics
Housing
Central Control
Power Supply
Defense Armaments
Security & Jail
Exercise
Exterior Access
Maintenance Corridor

The final question I would ask would be what is this thing for? Is is a mining colony or a repair station? This can help flesh out some final ideas.
Main Use
Ore
Atmosphere
Cargo
Repairs
Medical
Science
Prison
Black Ops

The Layout

So now we have some idea of areas within our structure and maybe an idea of what it is for. We can finally start laying out our ship or colony, this is where we really need to know what we are building. Here we may see some design differences between a colony and a space station. Colonies are generally going to be flatter and wider, while stations are going to be more compact and taller.

Stations

We can look at Novgorod station in the RPG as an example of what they call the "Tapering Spire" design, and we see similar in Isolation with Sevastapol station. Gateway station provides another look at a potential design, and although I am unsure to the scale, it is best described as a grid of office towers in space.

Colonies

Colony wise we don't have a large subset, but we can tell from Hadley's Hope that they are probably not going to be the highest end of facilities, especially in the beginning and they will be built largely from modular components. As we get our first looks at Hadley's Hope we see a set of low structures that could be a frontier town anywhere, complete with a neon sign advertising "bar". The colony is, of course, mapped out in detail within the Core RPG as it provides the setting for the adventure included with the rules.

Building the Colony/Station

You can choose from the lists or roll d66 to determine your outcome.

Step 1: Select the structure type

RollStructure Type
1-36Colony
41-66Structure


Step 2: Determine the structure's size

This will tell us the basic size of the complex and it's initial components as well as how many rooms or zones are present in each of these components.
ie a small colony has the following modules: Central Command, Power Supply and Exterior Access. Each of these are 1 zone large. In addition the structure will need to house and feed its crew.

RollBasic Structure
SizeBase modules & Layout MarkersBase Zone SizeAdditional Modules
1-26SmallCentral Command (CC), Power supply (PS), Exterior Access x2 (EA)12
31-46MediumCentral Command (CC), Power supply (PS), Exterior Access x2 (EA), Med Lab (ML), Landing Pad (LP)26
51-66LargeCentral Command (CC), Power supply (PS), Exterior Access x2 (EA), Med Lab (ML), Landing Pad (LP)312


Step 2a: Determine the structure's population and housing needs.

Knowing the a zone consists of a single room we can assume a barracks style might house anywhere from 4-6 people in bunk beds, or 2-4 people per zone in a more colonial/family setting. Once we have a total population we can divide the population by the style of housing to get a total number of zones required for housing.

SizeBase PopulationAdditional Population
Small25+d33
Medium100+d66
Large200+2d66


RollBunk StylePop/zone
1-36Military6
41-56Dorm4
61-66Normal2


Step 2b: Mess Hall

Assign 1/4 of the housing total to mess hall zones for the structure, ie if we have 9 housing zones, we need 2 mess hall zones. These are probably in one large area adjacent to housing but could be spread across the structure in smaller sizes. When it comes to station layout, simply use MH as the initials.

Step 3: Determine the structure's makeup

All stations or colonies must contain the following to function: Central Control, Power Supply, Mess Hall, Housing and Exterior Access Everything else is optional.

Make a number of rolls on this table based on the Colony size determined in Step 2. You should re-roll duplicates.

RollModuleLayout Marker
11-12Cargo Storage
C
13Corporate Suite
CS
14-16Landing Pad
LP
21-22Hangar
H
23-25Garage
G
26-31Science Lab
SL
32-34Med Lab
ML
35-36Machine Shop
MS
41-42Recycling
R
43-44Hydroponics
H
45-46Defense
D
51-52Security
S
53-55Exercise
E
56-61Recreation
R
62-64Armoury
A
65-66Emergency Escape Vehicles
EV


Step 4: Determine the zones in each Module

Simply roll 1d6 for each module rolled above and add the following modifier to it.

SizeModifier
Small+1
Medium+3
Large+5


Step 5: Colony/Station Shape

Colonies and Stations will look considerably different from each other, so this step is divided into two sub-steps, one for colonies and one for stations.

The concept here is the same, roll or pick from the chart to get the number of divisions present. Divide your total zones by this number to get an idea of how big each section will be.

ie If we are building a massive sprawling colony that has 60 zones, within an L shaped layout, simply divide the zones by the divisions, 60/5=12, to get a total of 12 zones per section. If you were building the same station with 60 zones and rolled a single spire we would divide the 60 by the 3 zones per spire level to get 20 levels. Generally speaking a station spire isn't going to have any more than 10 levels per spire. Divide the total levels together to get the number of spires on the station, in our example this would be 2.

If you don't have an even division, which is common, simply take the remaining zones and hold them in reserve and add them onto the layout as needed.

Step 5a: Colony Shape

Roll on the table below to get the basic layout for the colony.

RollLayoutDivisions
1-36Square
9
41-46Plus
5
51-53C-Shapes
7
54-61H-Shaped
7
62-66L-Shaped
5


Step 5b: Station Shape

As in all things the exact layout of a section, or an entire level is left to your discretion this is simply to give a quick basis to allow the generation of a station.

RollBasic ShapeDivisions/level
11-24Tiny Spire
1
25-36Small Spire
2
41-53Medium Spire
3
54-66Large Spire
4


Mapping the Colony/Station

Step 6: Division Layout

The easiest way to approach this is going to require a pen and a piece of paper.....OR Google Slides. As we continue through this section we will assume we are building a small square colony with standard dorm housing (4 people per zone).

  1. We will start by drawing out the number of zones in a division in as close to a square as possible. Once you have an idea of the size and shape of the area, you can draw the remaining divisions.


  2. Next, go through the zones and start populating each zone with its layout marker, based on the rolls in step 3. If you want to have a multi-zone mess hall, simply place the MH marker in adjacent zones. Add the extra zones onto the layout as makes the most sense.



    If you find you have a zone module that doesn't make sense, move it to a place that does. This article is a guideline on building a system, not a totally random chart based generator.

  3. Now take your zones and combine the ones you want to to make larger rooms as well as adding some shape character to the rooms to aid in narrative descriptions.



  4. Now we have a basic layout but we need to link them together in a sensible fashion.
    • People should be able to get from housing to the other areas without going through other housing areas.
    • Do we want people to have to go through Central Command to get to the rest of the base, or should it be off on its own for security?


  5. Now that we have a basic map we need to place some doors. As a rough guidline place a door at the junction between two modules or a module and a corridor. Finally split the larger rooms into their component zones. It is a good time to denote any doors with extra security levels on the map as well. I used red for high security, orange for special security and green for general access. This gives us a fairly complete colony or station. Only one step remains....


Step 7: The Underbelly

What Alien scenario would be complete without having a network of vents and sub basements?

Roll
Underbelly
1-36Air Vents
41-56Sub-basement
61-66Air Vents & Sub-basement


Step 7a: The Air Vents

No matter the roll, the structure is going to have some system to allow air to move to the various places in the station. This roll represents air vents large enough for a human to enter in a crouched way, think of them about the same size as we see in ALIEN. Except in extreme cases these vents are going to require characters to follow the crawling rules.

We now have a map which we can use to figure out how the vents look using a few simple guidelines.
  1. Place a marker representing a vent entry in any room you think makes sense.
    • I generally place one per room/module excluding airlocks.
    • Larger rooms might have multiple vents.
  2. Connect your vent entry points with the actual air vents.
    • Redundancy is good.
    • Follow hallways where possible.
  3. Make any marks on the map that denote secure hatch entries at vent junctions, or entries that require some kind of key access.
    • It is helpful to use the same color key as we used for the door in the previous step.

Step 7b: The Sub-basement

Ok, technically a sub-basement is a basement below a basement, but frankly it just sounds cooler than basement, so we are going to go with it. If you like, it will allow you to include a basement level should the plot suddenly require it.

I am viewing these areas as maintenance and possibly storage for the facility, and as such I picture them generally to be below the main base structures, but probably not below housing.
  1. The first thing I do is mark out the areas and shape I would like the sub-basement to be. Here I had drawn sub-basements below the main power generator, the garage and the storage area.

  2. Once we have the basic layout we can add corridors and doors onto the map, after all we don't want our sub-basement to be completely open.

  3. Now make note of the security levels you would like on the doors. I used the same color key as I have been using. You also may want to keep in mind how your main level security works and mirror that below. Although it might be an idea to use high security on the upper levels to force players into the sub-basement for some reason....

  4. Finally make note of the access hatches that lead into the sub-basement. I color coded these as green, just to note there wasn't additional security on these hatches.

Step 8: Additional Areas?

Like Hadley's Hope, these structures could have additional areas separate from the main colony or station. On a world, this might be represented by a refinery or atmosphere processor. Is there a direct corridor from the main colony to this structure or is it simply reached by crawlers and tractors? Perhaps it is part of the maintenance level?

On a station, there might be another spire that hasn't been defined yet or perhaps another smaller, separate orbital facility reachable only by shuttle. What is it for? Is it a dry dock, or perhaps just mineral storage.

Either way, referring back to those original questions we asked will help to flesh out this area of the structure which you may or may not decide to map out depending on how important it is to the story.

Step 9: The Completed Map

And now that we have walked through the set-up we have a complete map for a small colony or station complete with main level, air vents and a sub-basement.

Final Thoughts

As always these articles are meant to help you as the GM of your game produce ideas and stories for your table. They are not meant to be an end-all method of playing or creating. Please use these ideas and build on them or even think to yourself, "Wow that is dumb.", and go about it in another way. The basic layouts and lists of modules are ideas, add your own, take some off, whatever works for you.

If you have some time and need a colony or station this system can help you produce something that makes some amount of sense, but leaves you in the driver seat to build the structure that works for your game.

AND as always please leave me a comment and let me know what you think. Share the page with your groups and social media if you find it useful. This is a hobby for me, a way to give back, but I enjoy my hobby more when I have more people access the content here and on YouTube.

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Thursday, December 5, 2019

Tool Trunk Thursday: Iron Cauldron

Welcome Dog Brothers and Sword Sisters to the next installment of Tool Trunk Thursday! The feature where I present a piece of equipment for Conan 2d20 and its effects in a friendly card-shaped format. You can find other pieces of equipment in the Blog's Equipment Chest!

Iron Cauldron


Cauldrons made from iron are used by many different people for many different things. Anyone who needs to heat liquid over a fire in the Hyborian age is sure to have used a similar device. No matter the size, these pots are generally made from thick iron, making them heavy.

They are used widely by alchemists to more evenly distribute heat into their delicate solutions. This allows them to more efficiently use ingredients to create their enchantments.


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Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Google Slides for the RPG creator.

I'm working away on a post, but it doesn't look like it will be done this week, so to hold you guys over I thought I would talk about my secret weapon.

GOOGLE SLIDES


I certainly use most of Google suite for various things, but I use Google Slides the absolute most. If you have a google account you have access to it, but before we begin let's look at the chief pros and cons of the software as I see it.

PROS
  • Free - No cost besides a google account, which is free. Additional storage can be purchased.
  • Cloud based - Data lives on the cloud so you can access it anywhere you have a connection to the internet on a wide range of devices.
  • Support - Large user base means lots of support online through forums as well as Google.
  • Export formats - Exports as PNGs as well as PDFs, and a variety of others.
  • Extendable - There are a wide variety of extensions you can install from 3rd parties.
CONS
  • Not a graphics editor - Although it can do some rudimentary graphics and can do vector shapes it is not going to replace a full graphics program.
  • Cloud based - I know! I thought this was a pro!? Your data lives on the cloud, you can back it up locally, but by default, your data is on servers outside of your control.
  • Not as fully featured as similar software - Google Slides is a fully-featured piece of presentation software, but even so Power Point can do more.
  • Fonts - Although it has a wide variety of fonts it doesn't allow us to add new fonts to it.
For me, and what I use it for? The pros heavily outweigh the cons, to the point that when I was looking for a new laptop I decided on a Chromebook.

So what do I use Google Slides for?

Adventures

There is something to be said for having a notebook with you at all times and writing out your adventure. Writing in a book can feel more creative than working at a computer, and there is plenty of research that shows it aids in memory retention over typing on a keyboard. With this in mind, my first use for Google Slides might not be its best use but it seems like a great place to start.

You can easily write up quick adventures and notes within Google Slides. The default presentation works fine for jotting down a scene name and some notes. Even a map or image can be dropped onto the slide. This makes a pretty convenient way to either write an adventure or capture ideas quickly.


While we are talking about adventures I searched a long time for something simple that would simulate jotting down notes and shapes for flowcharting an adventure. I do this to get an idea of how the adventure may proceed as well as possible paths for the players. Again I generally use Google Slides for this now, finding nothing else that met my needs any better.

Reference Sheets

It is easy to set your slide size to any custom size you want. Setting it to 8.5"x11" or letter sized, for those of us in North America, allows me to layout a document as I like. I can place each item in its own box and place it easily on the page including lining it up with other items on the page.



Cards

As I said you can set the slide size however you want, this includes: Inches, Points, Pixels and Cm. You can easily set up a printout to produce 3"x5" cards (or whatever size you desire) and save them as a PDF for use either as a printed card or a page on a device like a tablet.



You can also use it to set up custom cards for printing through the Game Crafter. Simply download their card template and create a presentation at the same size as the template. Load that template as part of the master slide and make it slightly transparent and you are good to start designing!



Quick Maps

I have even used it to create quick layout maps when I had no paper to scribble on. These would be especially useful for online play. Although they certainly aren't going to win any visual prizes they are perfectly servicable.



Character Sheets

Character sheets are another item that can be created within Google Slides. I did a new one for my home table for Conan 2d20, as well as a simplified version for running 2d20 convention games.





In general, any single page or card layout you need to create is pretty easy to do in Google Slides. If you jump over to Tool Trunk Thursday, or Friday's Forgotten Fiends, all of the cards were done within Google Slides. You could layout a larger document, like an entire adventure, but you would need to be tenacious since it isn't really designed for it and doesn't handle linked text boxes.

Either way, Google Slides is a robust piece of free software that can be leveraged in any number of ways. If you have tried it please leave a comment below about your thoughts, and if you have an interest in learning more about how I used Google Slides let me know that as well!

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Thursday, November 28, 2019

Tool Trunk Thursday: Barbaric Necklace

Welcome Dog Brothers and Sword Sisters to the next installment of Tool Trunk Thursday! The feature where I present a piece of equipment for Conan 2d20 and its effects in a friendly card-shaped format. You can find other pieces of equipment in the Blog's Equipment Chest!

Barbaric Necklace


In the more barbaric corner of the world, the hills of Cimmeria, the dark forests of Pictland, the jungles of the Black Kingdoms or even the wastes of Hyperborea, tribes of humanity scratch out an existence. Warriors are a primary part of their culture, one that keeps them alive, and the horrors of the world at bay. When children who would be warriors come of age it is not uncommon that they must prove themselves in combat against the beasts of the world. These necklaces, as varied as the people who make them, are the result. Trophies of adulthood, talismans to hold back the darkness.

As you can imagine these are among the most prized possessions of those who carry them. Receiving one as a gift is an, almost unheard-of honor. Perhaps even more rare is finding one in a market of curiosity in one of the more civilized lands. Still, they fall into the hands of those who did not earn them, but despite this, they still carry respect in the more barbaric cultures who recognize them as more than just trinkets.


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