'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
Get your FREE Narrative Terrain Deck today!

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!


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!

Friday, October 1, 2021

Wrath of the Shaman

Your hunting party returns from the lowlands to find your village destroyed and the chieftain's son gone.  Only smoking ruins remain...

Welcome to Blood & Snow, a stone age RPG setting for ICRPG Master Edition, with a twist!  Welcome to Stone & Sorcery!

Join me as members of a stone age tribe in a twisted realm where men, dinosaurs and other unholy terrors roam the lands.  Can you and your hunting party find the lost heir to your tribe and bring some semblance of order back to your world?  ICRPG Master Edition from Runehammer is a rules light, intuitive d20 based system.  So light that we will complete character generation and then begin our adventure!

What do you need to do if you want to play beyond signing up?  Simply get an idea for your character.  Do you want to be a fur clad caveman with a big club, all brawn and no brains?  A slender intellectual type that knows the ways of nature?  Perhaps an expert archer, that rained hunting mammoths?  

Brand new to RPGs? Then this rules lite game might be for you! Come join us and tell a story!

This is largely a place holder that will have information about the game as it becomes available.

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.


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.


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!