RPGaDay2015: Days 1 & 2

I skipped out on Day 1, mostly because I was out most of the day, partially because there really aren't any games I'm particularly looking forward to. At least on the RPG scene: video and board games are another story.

I mean, I'm looking forward to getting my next three games done (game-games, not A Sundered World, which is more of a campaign setting for Dungeon World anyway), but they're still a few months out, and I think the "spirit" of this thing is to talk about someone else's stuff.

So, moving along to Day 2. This is likewise tricky as—again not counting board games (less so video games)—I haven't really been particularly pleased with any role-playing game product I've backed: Inverse World was a laughable failure on every conceivable metric, and I'm still waiting on Pirate World, which like Primeval Thule and Servants of the Cinder Queen I keep forgetting even exists.

I suppose ultimately the game I've been most pleased with is Numenera. That is not to say that I'm especially pleased with it: I don't think the "cypher system" or setting is anything noteworthy, but at least I can say that I've actually used and remember it. I just wish everything about the setting had been more imaginative.

Announcements
DriveThruRPG is running their Christmas in July sale. During this time (which is another few days), everything in our store is 25% off.

We just released The Headhunter: kill your enemies and take their heads, using them to fuel your strange, gruesome magic. We're working on The Rakshasa (which is nearly done: just gotta do the cover art), followed by another class that's getting close to being revealed.

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out! Primordial Machine is also out, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World, now's your chance!

The Dungeon World GM Screen is currently available in pdf and landscape insert formats. No matter which you choose, you get eight sets of pdfs that let you have access to the screen in both landscape and portrait orientation, in color or black and white, and with or without art.

We're waiting on the portrait inserts. Assuming they look good, they'll be available soon. They're now available.

Next up, mini screen!

A Sundered World War: Episode 001

Cast
  • Magnus (level 1 kobold warlock)
  • Minu (level 1 cambion battlemind)
  • Ryker Tideson (level scion 1 shaman)
  • Yuurian (level 1 t'pual wizard)

Summary
The characters returned to the cloudfish hatchery with the water cores in hand.

They met their contact Yorg, who told them that a tarchon scouting vessel had been spotted near Hell's Precipice. Their next mission would be to intercept it and leave no survivors.

Given the food shortage issue from the previous mission, Magnus and Ryker demanded a higher pay. Yorg agreed, so long as they could complete this mission to his satisfaction.

Their voyage to Hell's Precipice was uneventful. Ryker took the time to learn more about Yuurian's capabilities, all of which revolved around burning things. Magnus slipped away to communicate with his patron: it wanted the tarchon general's brain, and provided a canister for him to store it.

Eventually, using the linecharts and predicted course that Yorg had provided, they managed to somewhat narrow down the scout's likely location. Unfortunately it was still a fairly vast region of Astral, and there was lots of cloud cover.

Ryker tried looking for any spirits nearby: he figured he could ask them if they'd seen the vessel, maybe even help them search. There weren't any spirits nearby, but they didn't have to search long: the tarchon's vessel emerged from the clouds and rammed them. Though the damage to Ryker's ship was extensive, the weapons were untouched.

And they had a clear shot.

Ryker, Magnus, and Yuurian opened fire with the ballista and bombards. Their barrage shattered the tarchon vessel, but a squad of ten tarchons survived; they leaped from the wreckage and flew towards Ryker's ship. Minu was the closest, and the only one not manning a siege weapon. Assuming the rest of the party wasn't foolish enough to open fire on her, they swarmed her first.

Minu drove her arm-blade through one, but it held her fast, giving the rest the opportunity to strike. She hardened her flesh into iron: this diminished the damage, but her attackers still inflicted grievous wounds.

Yuurian dazzled the tarchons with a brief burst of flame, allowing her to slip by untouched and make it to Minu's side. She wasn't there to help her, at least not directly: once Yuurian was in position he unleashed a cyclone of fire all about himself. The tarchons bellowed in pain and anger, mostly the latter, which was bad.

At least Minu was still alive, albeit barely.

Ryker tried forcing his way past the tarchons so that he could heal Minu. They stabbed and cut him, causing his spirit to burst free from his body. It snatched one up and carried it away, worrying it violently as it went. It was one less tarchon to worry about, but it also meant that he couldn't heal anyone until his spirit calmed down.

The tarchons were surprised by this newfound foe, which gave Minu enough time to refocus her mind and Yuurian to unleash another explosion of flame. When the fire and smoke cleared, the tarchons were reduced to ashes. Ryker was able to fly away in time to avoid it, and Minu's entire body was encased in iron.

Magnus was wondering if there was enough tarchon brain intact to satisfy his patron, if indeed the general was even among them, when the front half of the tarchon's ship impaled the deck. Perched atop was a dragon. Lava oozed from its mouth and fissures in its chest, and each flap of its wings conjured forth clouds of scorching ash.

Good, Magnus thought: the general had survived.

Behind the Scenes
I'll post the region map that we got going on once I make it look nicer (and not frantic scribbles). Apparently most of my players like mobile islands: one was a kind of zoo built onto a giant jellyfish, another was a nomad training academy built on a giant turtle (which might be the pet of a slain god), and yet another was a giant serpent, with steadings both on and within it.

Two of them also had a fire/volcano theme: one was basically a giant volcano with a fortress at the top, with a giant gun that could wind about the mountain (think the Sister Ray/Mako Cannon from Final Fantasy VII, just in a more villainous locale), and another was a chunk of rock that contained a fire vortex, with several smaller volcanoes to allow it to vent.

It sounds like the players really want to stick with this campaign, but we're keeping it in the same campaign as the other, which will allow them to bring over their other characters as replacements (Melissa really likes Katra, and Adam really likes Waive, who is featured in two pieces of art in A Sundered World).

They also want me to kind of bring the whole devils-messing-with-the-tarchons plot over as well, which is nice because it means I don't have to make up as much shit on the fly.

Announcements
DriveThruRPG is running their Christmas in July sale. During this time (which is another few days), everything in our store is 25% off.

We just released The Headhunter: kill your enemies and take their heads, using them to fuel your strange, gruesome magic. We're working on The Rakshasa (which is nearly done: just gotta do the cover art), followed by another class that's getting close to being revealed.

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out! Primordial Machine is also out, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World, now's your chance!

The Dungeon World GM Screen is currently available in pdf and landscape insert formats. No matter which you choose, you get eight sets of pdfs that let you have access to the screen in both landscape and portrait orientation, in color or black and white, and with or without art.

We're waiting on the portrait inserts. Assuming they look good, they'll be available soon. They're now available.

Next up, mini screen!

What a Horrible Day to Have a Curse

The third revision for If These Stones Could Scream is ready to go.

I originally wrote the adventure nearly two years ago, which was just a few months after Melissa and I officially started charging people for our tabletop stuff (it was both our second adventure and overall Dungeon World product).

As with many indie creations it was very minimalistic in its production quality, featuring a cover (drawn by me), blank white pages, and black text. Really the only thing I didn't do was shoehorn in a bunch of Creative Commons art.

(Oddly, I did create some really nice maps using Photoshop, which contrasted wildly in style and quality from the rest of the product.)

The second revision spruced up the layout a bit and added some new content, but aside from redoing the Desert of Angry Winds map—to be more inline stylistically with the rest of the product—there weren't any drastic or frankly even memorable additions/changes (I'd have to look at the original to figure that out, which I don't even have anymore).

Since then we've learned a lot and improved quite a bit. We've also released a couple of other, smaller adventures, with a few more on the horizon. I've always liked the overall plot of this adventure—which inadvertently draws more parallels to various episodes of Doctor Who than I'd initially thought—so I decided to revisit it and give it a complete overhaul.

It's fully in color (though there'll be a B&W version if you want to print it out at home). There's a new cover, art (original, not Creative Commons, and it's both in color and not a bunch of barely comprehensible scribbles), and maps. I've changed the overall plot. Some of the moves, monsters, and magic items have been tweaked, as has the new(ish) race and compendium class.

If you purchased it in the past, you'll be able to download the new version now. If you haven't, once DriveThru's Christmas in July sale ends I'm upping the cost by a buck or two, to reflect the increased page count and production quality.

Announcements
DriveThruRPG is running their Christmas in July sale. During this time (which is around 4-5 days), everything in our store is 25% off.

We just released The Headhunter: kill your enemies and take their heads, using them to fuel your strange, gruesome magic. We're working on The Rakshasa (which is ready for its first feedback round: hit me up if you want to take a look), followed by another class that's getting close to being revealed.

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out! Primordial Machine is also out, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World, now's your chance!

The Dungeon World GM Screen is currently available in pdf and landscape insert formats. No matter which you choose, you get eight sets of pdfs that let you have access to the screen in both landscape and portrait orientation, in color or black and white, and with or without art.

We're waiting on the portrait inserts. Assuming they look good, they'll be available soon. They're now available.

Next up, mini screen!

Dungeon World: When You Make a (Punny?) Move...

Giving moves catchphrase/silly/pun names seems to be a somewhat common practice.

This isn't a problem in and of itself: I think they gives most players a chuckle, and can make the class, or at least the move a bit more memorable. No, the problem is when the end result is a move that doesn't make sense, is horribly underwhelming, or even both.

When we were designing The Swashbuckler, some moves were suggested based on quotes from The Princess Bride. You know, stuff like I Am Not Left Handed, and Never Go In Against a Sicilian When Death Is On The Line (which would have probably been broken up into two moves).

Ultimately only one made it in, Only Mostly Dead (bonus on your last breath), but even then as an optional move in the Director's Cut (since we like to add in lots of bonus content). There was also a pretty funny move called A Buck and a Quarterstaff—which makes you better with a quarterstaff—but it was also relegated to an optional advanced.

Our latest class, The Headhunter, not only features several advanced moves with pun names, like Head Honcho and Heads Up, but even the bonds use head puns:

_______ has a good head on their shoulders.
_______ is always sticking their neck out for me.
_______ and I are always butting heads.

During our two feedback rounds, one of the people mentioned that she had seen other people try to use funny/catchy/"punny" advanced moves, but with, well, lackluster results. Before I get into what we did right, here are a few examples of what others did wrong.

The Immolator's Sick Burn is a prime example of a badly designed pun move. It just reeks of a move that started as a name first, but the authors had to use it because get it: burn, immolator...immolators burn things. Eh? Eeeh? What makes it especially bad is that it's not even worth an advanced move at all: the best you can hope to do is insult someone, and then they can't do anything about it for...some reason.

In other words useless, and it doesn't even make any sense.

For my second example I'll avoid naming other names, but there's a pretty badly/lazily designed class with a move called Rags to Riches. Catchy, yes, but what does it do? Well, it lets you, and I'm not kidding, hold a non-magical item in your hands, and melt it into coins equal to the item's full market value.

Just let that sink in for a bit.

I just imagine the character stealing pants and melting them into coins. Why not? It's called Rags to Riches, after all. I do have a question, not that I expect the designer to listen to or address criticism, but who exactly decides the market value? If I take the pants to a place that is in dire need of pants, will they for some reason melt into more coins?

As with Sick Burn, this smacks of a move that started as a name first, and the designer just couldn't come up with something better (whether an entirely different move, or a way to make this move make sense, like melting golden objects into coins based on their weight). The only saving grace is that unlike Sick Burn this one can actually be useful: rather than spend time trying to fence your pants, you just get the cash right away.

So, what did we do differently?

Simple: we wrote the moves/mechanics first, based on what the class needs to do in order to work/fit the archetype, and then came up with the names later.

That's it.

This is not to say that we never come up with names first. Sometimes we do, and sometimes we come up with names while the move is being developed. We just don't start with a pun, catch phrase, or buzzword, and then try to squeeze a move out of it and force it into the class, whether or not it makes sense, works, and/or even fits the archetype.

For example, Heads Up was originally called [Throw Head Move], because I had no fucking clue what I was going to call it at the time. All I knew was that I thought it would be awesome to have a move that lets you throw chomping heads at your enemies. It just so happened that I was also able to give it a catchy name.

There's another move that allows you to animate your heads, so they can float about and fight, scout, trigger traps, and so on (think the Hellboy comic Heads). The mechanic is that they're treated as 1-point hirelings that always do what you say, but only help you with one short-term goal. It was originally just called something like Animated Heads or Flying Heads, but I eventually came up with the name Head Honcho.

And there you have it: if you're going to make silly moves, at least make them practical, functional, and fictionally appropriate.

Announcements
DriveThruRPG is running their Christmas in July sale. During this time (which is around 4-5 days), everything in our store is 25% off.

We just released The Headhunter: kill your enemies and take their heads, using them to fuel your strange, gruesome magic. We're working on The Rakshasa (which is ready for its first feedback round: hit me up if you want to take a look), followed by another class that's getting close to being revealed.

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out! Primordial Machine is also out, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World, now's your chance!

The Dungeon World GM Screen is currently available in pdf and landscape insert formats. No matter which you choose, you get eight sets of pdfs that let you have access to the screen in both landscape and portrait orientation, in color or black and white, and with or without art.

We're waiting on the portrait inserts. Assuming they look good, they'll be available soon. They're now available.

Next up, mini screen!

Dungeon World: The Headhunter

The Headhunter is out!

(And has been added to both the All of the Playbooks and Adventuring Party bundles over on DriveThru. I also reduced it by 25% due to the Christmas in July sale, so until that's over you'll save more getting it by itself.)

This is a pretty crazy class. You basically kill monsters, take their heads, and then use their heads to trigger moves (or talk to them to reroll a botched spout lore).

As you level up you can use your heads in a bunch of new ways (we managed to cram twenty-three advanced moves on the sheet): take their eyes, wear their faces, use them as ranged weapons, intimidate others, shrink them so you can carry more around, give them to Death in exchange for your own soul, and more.

This product contains four separate pdf files. Two are digest-sized, 20 page pdfs that includes:

  • The Headhunter, a complete class with 23 (yes, twenty-three) advanced moves: gobble up brains to heal yourself, get better at butchering your foes, animate your heads so that they can help you, use them as weapons, plant them on stakes so that they can keep an eye out, and more.
  • New weapons (like a kurki and blowgun), bone armor, dungeon gear, poisons, and an artifact.
  • A director's cut that provides an explanation for some of the moves, and even some questions to ask yourself when rolling up a headhunter.

One is B&W, the other in color, so if you want to print it out you can save on ink.

The other two are 2-page, letter-sized character sheets for you to print out and actually use at the table. It features a new layout that provides more room for gear and alternate moves than the "official" Dungeon World character sheets. If you want the gear already on there, the second character sheet has that.

Note: If you purchase using the PayPal Buy Now button, we will also send you a complimentary copy through DriveThruRPG.



$2.25

$2.50


Announcements
DriveThruRPG is running their Christmas in July sale. During this time (which is just under eight days), everything in our store is 25% off.

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out!

We also just released Primordial Machine, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World, now's your chance!

The Golem is our latest "monster" playbook, and the fourth to be made due to fan demand. Next up is The Rakshasa, followed by a few more that we're not ready to talk about just yet (one of which features yet another character sheet design).

The Dungeon World GM Screen is currently available in pdf and landscape insert formats. No matter which you choose, you get eight sets of pdfs that let you have access to the screen in both landscape and portrait orientation, in color or black and white, and with or without art.

We're waiting on the portrait inserts. Assuming they look good, they'll be available soon. They're now available.

Next up, mini screen!

The Forgotten King: Goro's Terrible Mushroom Garden

Heroes
  • Bearstruck Berserker
  • Survivor Marie-Claude
  • Wyrm Claw Exemplar

Tiles
  • The Forgotten King

Spawning Points
  • Bramble Knight
  • Fungal Growth (x2)

Mini-Bosses
  • Glimmerwing
  • Trent

Boss
  • Goro

Summary
Wasn't sure how well things were going to go down, given that all of us relied on STR, and it went...okay. Ish. Okay-ish.

Unlike our previous game, we weren't necessary trapped on the first tile. We were having a very lengthy string of shitty rolls (can't count how many times 2B1R came up 0-1 stars), and didn't want to risk leaving and disturbing the monsters on the third tile (Bearstruck Berserker almost died twice, and lost a piece of gear to Trent's Decay).

Instead, we bided our time until the first mini-boss (Trent) was destroyed, and when we got to the second tile the Bramble Knight only had one Wound left. Since we hadn't set foot on the tile, the mushrooms on tile three were still waaay on the other side of the board, which gave us some time to slay Glimmerwing.

This was good insofar as we were able to focus entirely on one monster, less so in that by the time they got there, they were both +1 ARM and STR (hooray for Mighty Monsters). This is probably why we didn't get far into the third tile when Goro popped due to Spawn Commands.

Unfortunately the Wyrm Claw Exemplar was all by his lonesome when this happened, and was nearly slaughtered right away since all of the monsters gained Fly. He managed to hold his own until we got close enough to help out, but went down soon after when a combination Command card and Timeout effect spawned a shitload of Giri.

Yeah, their STR is only 2, but when you're rolling it about a dozen times, eventually you're going to take some hits. We miraculously still had a couple Princess Coins in the bank, but right after he respawned we killed Goro (who thankfully was not immune to the Fire status effect).

Thoughts
Bearstruck Berserker is pretty alright. He's got a Reach of 2 and Berserk, but he didn't feel as awesome as Claw Tribe Barbarian.

Maybe it's because I forgot about his Sweep attack (not sure why: everyone else had one, or maybe it was because we were stretching out all of our +STR loot between the entire party. He has a free attack Potion, but we didn't roll many Potions up until near the end (after he got Bashful Boris's Bammer, which adds +1G to STR).

Survivor Marie-Claude's Sweep 2 attack is pretty awesome. It was especially useful near the beginning, when the first Fungal Growth crapped out a bunch of mushrooms, and near the end, when Goro summoned a horde of Giri.

Glimmerwing was pretty underwhelming, even though whenever we drew a Command card we would move it so that it would hit whoever had the most Wrath, plus any other Heroes that could get caught in its Lance effect.

Goro on the other hand is a fucking monster. He can take 12 Wounds, heals a Wound with one of his attacks, his Unique action has him spawn four Giri, and his Timeout pops another six.

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It's Christmas in July Over at DriveThruRPG

DriveThruRPG is running their Christmas in July sale, which means until the 31st you can get a bunch of stuff at 25% off.

We also opted into the sale, and while they missed a couple things (like The Golem) we went through our catalog and marked everything else down, too.

The bundle prices are unchanged, so right now it's cheaper to buy whatever you want individually.

We're hoping to get the updated version of If These Stones Could Scream out in the next few days, along with The Headhunter (the cover of which just needs to be colored by Melissa).

If we can get 'em out in time, they'll also be added to the sale.

Announcements
Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out!

We also just released Primordial Machine, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World, now's your chance!

The Golem is our latest "monster" playbook, and the fourth to be made due to fan demand. Next up is The Rakshasa, followed by a few more that we're not ready to talk about just yet (one of which features yet another character sheet design).

The Dungeon World GM Screen is currently available in pdf and landscape insert formats. No matter which you choose, you get eight sets of pdfs that let you have access to the screen in both landscape and portrait orientation, in color or black and white, and with or without art.

We're waiting on the portrait inserts. Assuming they look good, they'll be available soon. They're now available.

Next up, mini screen!

The Forgotten King: A Night on the Town

Heroes
  • Deeproot Wolf Rider
  • Tabbybrook Mage
  • Wyrm Claw Exemplar

Tiles
  • Von Drakk Ghost House

Spawning Points
  • Grabby House (x2)
  • Pumpkin Patch

Mini-Bosses
  • Death Spectre
  • Gruesome George

Boss
  • Von Drakk

Summary
We just kinda camped out on the first tile, letting the monsters come to us until both of the Grabby Houses spawned enough times to self-destruct.

Once we took out Gruesome George and the Death Spectre, we ran over to the second tile, taking out Curse Coven Witches and Skullbats as we went, until we made it to tile three. About that time the Pumpkin Patch also self-destructed and spawned Von Drakk.

Von Drakk destroyed the Wyrm Claw Exemplar, but we had banked a pair of Princess Coins so he was back on his feet in no time (but back on the first tile). It didn't manner, because the Tabbybrook Mage zapped the Curse Coven Witches out of the sky, and then the Deeproot Wolf Rider finished off Von Drakk.

Gruesome George was a lot easier than we thought. He has an ability called Static Charge, which gives him +1 STR and ARM per Wound. Between that and Tough, which causes him to recover a Wound each time he activates, we thought it would take forever to kill him.

But, Tabbybrook Mage managed to whittle him down to one Wound, then the Deeproot Wolf Rider mauled him to death with a combination of Princess Power (Citrine crystal) and Wolf Spirit, which gave her a grand total of 4B3R1G to the Attack roll.

Death Spectre wasn't nearly as bad as I remember. Before he could auto-Wound anyone he was next to. Now you get to actually make a Defense roll. Fortunately the Commands card didn't have him use his area-effect recovery attack (he did use Soul Scythe once, but it didn't take).

Von Drakk also wasn't as bad, mostly because Timeouts don't spawn a crapton of monsters anymore, and we didn't use any Skeleton monsters so there weren't any Bone Piles lying around. His Blood Drinker (and Nocturne's Feast) gave him some staying power.

Now to find the time to paint everything. And play again: got a few more warbands and Heroes to try out.

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