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Messages - richforest

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Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Hobgoblins (Pet Peeve)
« on: February 28, 2015, 01:19:49 pm »
A lot of D&D monsters and races have ossified over the years into very specific versions of whatever they were inspired by. That's on us. If we don't want the ossified versions, we can and should put our own twists on instead. I like that idea upthread of calling hobbits "hobgoblins" in a game to shake off some of the conceptual cobwebs, and that seems to fit the OP's preferences. I've gotten some traction out of calling dwarves "Mine Goblins" in a campaign, having a "Knockers' Guild" of dwarves and goblins who serve as dungeon guides in a megadungeon in another, and saying that dwarves sometimes "go kobold" (start doing things like leading people astray in minds and killing them) in another. Just playing around with D&D ideas is little ways to make it so not all of the tropes are the most ossified versions.  

The OP is kind of right and kind of wrong about what "a hobgoblin is" (or rather isn't) in terms of what the word has meant or used to mean. Yes, it's true that it wasn't historically used to refer to anything like D&D hobgoblins. Then again, D&D humanoids are kind of a new category anyway. But the word "hobgoblin" (in all its spelling variants) is used pretty indiscriminately in early modern English alongside goblin, fairy, elf, ghost, spirit, devil, even werewolf. It isn't nailed down to a particular kind of preternatural being at all. The "friendly household spirit" is a thing (with plenty of possible labels, including sometimes hobgoblin), but not the "true meaning" of the word--whatever that means, since it's an imaginary creature and a folk category to begin with.

This is a great idea. And agreed -- the game really invites people to add to it.

The following backgrounds are cut and pasted from Into the Breach with Basic D&D 5, a post for playing in my take on Benjamin Baugh's "Long Stair" modern espionage/military + D&D setting. I cheated a little with the proficiencies: I added a "military training" line for modern armor and weapon proficiencies that are above and beyond the default skills and proficiencies. There is a lot more context at the blog post itself. Here I'll just paste in the backgrounds.  

Architect: Specialist in basement architectural, layout, habitation, and xenotechnological distribution patterns. Architects contribute to a shared mapping database including common recurring basement geomorphic patterns as well as a complete database of known Dyson Class Stairwells. Architects serve as scouts during missions in the basement or in breached stairwells. Even a small Dyson Class Breach must be treated with caution.

Note: The player of an architect will be given a folder containing images of the layouts of known Dyson Class Stairwells -- that is, a folder filled with copies of +Dyson Logos's maps or a copy of Dyson's Delves I and/or Dyson's Delves II (print copies via Lulu). Any time the party enters a breach or other stairwell, it's up to the player to match the layout of the place they are traversing with one of the known maps. Once they identify which map they're working with, they can use that to guide the party through the dungeon.  

   Skills: Arcana, Perception
Tools: Dyson Class Delve Database, Climbing Gear
Trait: Wanderer (Basement)
Military Training: Moderate Body Armor (Tactical Armor), Small Arms

Caver (Special Environment Specialist Terrestrial): Specialist in natural cavern environments, xenoforms, and threats.

   Skills: Acrobatics, Athletics
Tools: Caving Gear
Trait: Wanderer (Caves)
Military Training: Partial Body Armor (Tactical Vest), Handguns

Cleaner: Specialist in cover ups and veil outs following Long Stair breaches upstairs. This specialization includes training in psychological and media ops. Cleaners must have Long Stair experience even though most of their work is carried out upstairs.

   Skills: Deception, Persuasion
Tools: Veil-Out Kit
Trait: Contact
Military Training: Partial Body Armor (Tactical Vest), Handguns

Diver (Special Environment Specialist Aquatic): Specialist in aquatic envirnoments, xenoforms, and threats.

   Skills: Athletics, Nature
Tools: SCUBA / Diving Gear, Speargun
Trait: Wanderer (Aquatic)
Military Training: Partial Body Armor (Tactical Vest), Small Arms

Field Analyst: Long stair data collection and analysis specialist. Some specialize in field investigations downstairs. Others specialize in investigations upstairs, tracking down unauthorized Basement tech and Long Stair breach points.

   Skills: Arcana, Investigation
Tools: Digital Surveillance Equipment, Portable Xenochem Lab
Trait: Researcher
Military Training: Partial Body Armor (Tactical Vest), Handguns

Medic: Combat medic. Medics assigned to the basement train and prepare not only to deal with standard combat trauma but also with the special dangers posed by basement xenoforms.

   Skills: Medicine, Nature
Tools: Medical Kit, Anti-Toxins
Trait: "I Owe You One"
Military Training: Moderate Body Armor (Tactical Armor), Small Arms

Negotiator (Xeno-Ethologist): Specialist in both sapient and non-sapient xenoform behaviors and sociability. Trained in techniques for communication and negotiation with sapient xenoforms. Expert in xenoform biological and behavioral traits.

   Skills: Insight, Persuasion
Tools: Xenoform Database
Languages: Lingua Infera (colloquially known to veterans of the stair as "Chaotic")
Trait: Friends in Low Places
Military Training: Moderate Body Armor (Tactical Vest), Small Arms

Soldier: Fire team special operations soldier. Common roles in a fire team include rifleman, automatic rifleman, grenadier, and fire team leader. The rifleman is the standard fire team member and gains an additional +1 with Rifles. The automatic rifleman carries a squad automatic weapon and has proficiency in Machine Guns. The grenadier is armed with an indirect fire weapon and has proficiency with Grenade Launcher. The fire team leader is the operational commander for combat operations and can come from any of the above specializations.

   Skills: Athletics, Perception
Tools: Moderate Body Armor (Tactical Armor), Small Arms
Trait: Military Rank
Military Specialist Training: Grenades and one additional proficiency or specialty, as noted above.

Sapper (Combat Engineer): Specialist in combat constructions and demolitions, including the destruction of the diverse hazards (colloquially known as "traps" to many soldiers and agents) of the basement.

   Skills: Perception, Sleight of Hand
Tools: Demolitions/Explosives Kit
Trait: Life or Death
Military Training: Full Body Armor (EOD Suit), Small Arms

Search and Rescue Inferus Trooper: Specialist in rescue and recovery down below. When things go horribly wrong, these are the soldiers who get down there and pull you out.

   Skills: Athletics, Medicine
Tools: Emergency Medical Equipment, Para- and Rapid Descent Gear
Trait: "I Owe You One"
Military Training: Partial Body Armor (Tactical Vest), Small Arms

We've played this a couple times already and had a blast.

Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / The Hot New Game!
« on: July 16, 2014, 01:47:08 pm »
It is a spectacularly good game.

I chose it to run my current campaign because it seemed to me to best capture the setting (which is a kind of Danelaw England analogue fantasy setting under attack from snow elves with orcish armies). I had some reservations when I picked it. My personal tendency as GM is to want something lighter than RQ6, and I had some concerns that it would be too rules heavy for me to run in the more freewheeling style I prefer. Still, it really hit the right notes for the campaign so I went ahead with it.

I am not at all sorry I did. I was right that it was perfect for the tone and content of the setting, and it has turned out to be a rare case of a game with fairly detailed rules that I'm really happy with at the table.

Also, the Ships & Shield Walls supplement has made it even better for my needs, with all the mass battles in the campaign. I think we may have reached the point now where we've run more mass battles than traditional PC vs. enemy melees, and the results have consistently enriched the campaign.

We played steppe nomads in a D&D campaign last year. The GM's idea was that we'd be steppe nomads entering the area of the first civilizations, where we would settle our tribe. He set it up as a hexcrawl in an Ancient Near East analogue setting, and our characters were built in a classic "barbarians encountering civilization" mode. Conan was a major influence on the tone of the game.

It ended up that we got so into being steppe nomads that we decided we didn't want to settle our tribe at all. We were happier riding free with our tribe, raiding, moving on. Who wants to become a farmer when you can be a horse nomad? Not us.  

Anyway, he blogged about it. I thought I'd just pop on here with a pointer to the blog He Who Saw the Deep and be done with it, but looking through it the blog focuses more on the hexcrawl prep and the "first cities" backdrop than on the steppe nomad piece as such, though in fact the actual campaign ended up being all steppe nomads, all the time (doing a wilderness/borderlands hexcrawl). He does talk just a little about the steppe nomad bit in the post on character creation.

I read The Horse, the Wheel, and Language during the campaign and got a lot of cool ideas from it. This is maybe way earlier "steppe nomads" than you're thinking about, but I thought I'd mention it in case it does fit what you're thinking.

You're right, that is a lot of weapons per style. I went back and forth on that a bit originally, but I wanted to get a broad range of weapons that looked to be in evidence in the historical cultures these cultures were inspired by. So I made the lists with pseudo-historical emulation in mind and didn't worry too much if that made the lists long.

I should probably add that these are the lists for the elites, so non-elites would get subsets of these. Like, for example, Iotar Karls get Shortspear and Viking Shield, Javelin, Dagger, Hatchet, Battle Axe, Short Bow. No sword. No Dane Axe.

Still, you're right that I ended up with fairly long lists here.

I have a set of custom combat styles keyed to the major cultures in my current RQ6 campaign, which is set in a pretty standard fantasy setting that draws heavily on 8th-10th century Danelaw England for most of its human cultures, with the players playing the jarls and huskarls of the region who have stepped up to fight off the advance of the snow elves. It intentionally uses familiar tropes -- fuck off awesome elves, vikings, dwarfs, giants, the enemy coming with a wave of cold and snow from the north, mysterious Hyperborean ruins, and so on.  

Here are the custom combat styles I'm using.  

Primarily fights with Shortspear and Viking Shield or Longsword and Viking Shield; also trained with Longspear, Javelin, Dagger, Hatchet, Battle Axe, Great Axe, Short Bow.

Shield Wall (Benefit)[/i]
Allows a group of three or more shield users to combine their protection, adding one to hte number of locations which can be protected with passive blocking, and resisting Knockback, Leaping attacks and Bash as if using the Brace action.

Primarily fights with Shortspear and Viking Shield or Longsword and Viking Shield. However, every Hothar carries a broadknife for close in fighting. Also trained with Longspear, Javelin, Dagger, Hatchet, Battle Axe, Short Bow.

Ready Blade (Benefit)[/i]
The character can ready a dagger, knife, or broadknife as part of a Change Range (Close or Open) or Outmaneuvre action.

Primarily fights with Shortspear and shield (“Scutum” or “Viking Shield”) or Longsword and shield (“Scutum” or “Viking Shield”). Also trained with Longspear, Javelin, Dagger, Hatchet, Battle Axe, Short Bow. Historically, their elites went to battle in chariots, but this is rare now that their only free kingdom is in bog and moorland.

Wild Abandon (Benefit)[/i]
Style is wild and frenzied, with the violence punctuated by war cries to intimidate foes, making any psychological resistance rolls inflicted on an opponent one grade harder.

Primarily fights with Shortspear and shield (“Scutum” or “Viking Shield”) or Longsword and shield (“Scutum” or “Viking Shield”). Also trained with Longspear, Javelin, Dagger, Hatchet, Battle Axe, Short Bow.

Skirmishing (Benefit)[/i]
The style permits launching ranged attacks while at a run (but not while sprinting). It is common for Ivarians to carry 3-4 javelins at ready, which can be thrown while charging into battle without needing to “Ready Weapon” between throws.

The Lance and Kite Shield or Heater on horseback. The Broadsword and Kite Shield or Heater on foot. Trained also in spears (long and short), axes (battleaxes and hatchets), the mace, and the flail. Familiar with the Short Bow.

Lancer (Benefit)[/i]
Performing a mounted charge with this combat style does not incur the one step difficulty penalty to hit.  

Axe (Battleaxe) and the shield (“Viking Shield”) or Broadaxe. Ready too with a Hatchet, Broadknife, Dagger, or Club. Javelins and Shortspears when the need arises, and the Short Bow.

Shield Splitter (Benefit)[/i]
Permits clubs and axes to roll the weapon’s damage twice and pick the best result, but only when using the Damage Weapon special effect against shields.

Shortspear, Longspear, Quarterstaff. Hatchet, Club, and Dagger. Short Bow.  Sword in the hands of the noble.

Skirmishing (Benefit)[/i]
This style permits launching ranged attacks while at a run or skiing (but not while sprinting).

Primarily fight with Great Axe or Broad Sword and Viking Shield; also trained in Shortspear, Javelin, Dagger, Short Bow; some warriors adopt the Mace in Vanor.

Daredevil (Benefit)[/i]
May use Evade to dodge blows in hand to hand combat without ending up prone.

Asturian Legionnaires wield the Shortsword and Scutum. They carry a dagger at their side, and fight also with shortspears and javelins. They too have archers trained in the Short Bow.

Formation Fighting (Benefit)[/i]
Permits a group of three or more warriors to draw into close formation, placing more open or disordered opponents at a disadvantage (provided the ‘unit’ cannot be outflanked) and thus reducing each foe’s Action Points by one if they engage.

Quarterstaff. Also Dagger, Knife, Shortsword, and Trident and Net. At war, Pike, Glaive, Longspear. At range, Sling or Short Bow.

Cautious Fighter (Benefit)[/i]
Can use the Change Range action to automatically withdraw from engagement with no need to roll.

Primarily fight with Shortspear and Viking Shield or Longsword and Viking Shield; also trained with Longspear, Javelin, Dagger, Hatchet, Battle Axe, Great Axe.

Formation Fighting (Benefit)[/i]
Permits a group of three or more warriors to draw into close formation, placing more open or disordered opponents at a disadvantage (provided the ‘unit’ cannot be outflanked) and thus reducing each foe’s Action Points by one if they engage.

Dwarves favor weapons kept easily at hand. The Knife. The Dagger. The Club. The Hatchet. The Sling. They also train to fight with Short Sword, Long Sword, and Short Bow.

Scrapper (Benefit)[/i]
When using the Change Range action, the foe’s opposed roll to maintain range (Evade) or meet the character with an attack are made at one difficulty grade higher.  

Longspear, shortspear, javelin, sling, dagger, hatchet.

Knockout Blow (Benefit)[/i]
When attacking with surprise treat any Stun Location as lasting minutes instead of turns.

I'm planning to roll out a series of posts describing all the cultures in the setting in RQ6 terms on my oft neglected blog. I've only got the first one out right now.

Quote from: SineNomine;659004
In particular, I'm thinking about the divide between ad-hoc content creation in the middle of a session and the more leisurely creation that GMs do before and between sessions. The same tools that work just fine when you have a half-hour to play around with things are borderline worthless when your party charges in a random direction mid-session. For tools intended for use mid-game, the GM should be able to put his hands on them with no more than five or ten seconds delay and finish any process associated with using them in no more than five or ten more. I can bend a little for tools meant to frame an entire situation with the stats and any maps necessary for adjudication- call it five or ten minutes tops to generate a dungeon/town/noble court sufficient to keep the players occupied for at least a couple of hours.

It sounds like this is going to be worth the wait, Kevin. The D&D style fantasy version of the SWN stuff is the one I'm most looking forward to as well (though in the meantime, Red Tide does well by me), and it sounds like you're giving it the care it deserves. I would say that I use a lot of different tools myself at the game table, including tablet apps, books, and so on, and I still find printed books pretty quick to use once I get used to them and have my bookmarks in place. The only thing faster that I use regularly would be some SRD apps on my phone, but those are only useful for information that is basically short format: one paragraph or so (like a spell, a feat, concise monster statblock or NPC, etc.). Anything longer and it's faster to just the printed page. Lately I have started keeping NPCs in Evernote (a friend's idea), and with the right tagging and folders, that's proven very quick and easy to use as well. It helps that I'm running the Fantasy Trip, so everything I need to know about a character (mechanics-wise) fits on my phone's screen all at once.

I still find that it's hard to beat loose leaf college ruled paper for GM notes -- something I know you mention in your books as a way of organizing notes. They're so very easy to organize, reorganize, and modify or replace when needed.

In any case, I look forward to the fantasy version of SWN.

I missed the original ACKS kickstarter, but I got in on the Player's Companion and am now in on Domains at War. It's ACKS, hand down, for me.

Quote from: talysman;657510
The Fantasy Trip. It's much better at dungeon crawls than GURPS.

Quote from: K Peterson;657551
Definitely, The Fantasy Trip.

This. One of our main two alternating campaigns uses The Fantasy Trip, and it really sings in dungeon crawls.

Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Clerics who Convert
« on: February 06, 2013, 04:37:03 pm »
I hadn't really seen this much up until a couple years ago, when a new player joined our group. Whenever he makes a cleric or priest type character, he always evangelizes, though it's fairly low key (not fire and brimstone, more gentle, polite, but annoyingly insistent). It's all done in a lighthearted spirit of parody.

He's especially fond of pamphlets.

It's a testament to his comedic timing that even after a couple years and a couple characters with the shtick, the pamphlets thing continues to be amusing. I think that's because he's careful not to overplay it -- he's patient and waits for just the right moment.

We used to run a lot of Bloodsport / Enter the Dragon / Street Fighter style tournaments in AD&D 2nd edition just using those random tables for fighting maneuvers from the Player's Handbook (I think it was the PHB) -- the ones Opaopajr is talking about. We put a worldwide "dock fighting" circuit into the game world and had champions of the docks of each port town, then the champions of the towns would gather for a big tournament to see who was the baddest of them all. As you do. The fights were pretty random -- the charts in the PHB were like that -- but a lot of fun. If you have any 2nd edition books laying around, it might be worth taking a look at.  

That inspired me to do random fighting maneuvers for D&D on my blog a while ago: Fisticuffs in D&D. I went down to d6 tables so I could give each "style" of fighting its own character. It'd be pretty easy to make a bunch of these up. That's how I would do it.

Also, a couple years ago Zak S posted a D&D kung fu system to his blog. You might find his system more to your liking.

That's what I can think of for D&D.

Also, here are some random tables for character backgrounds for Street Fighter roleplaying that would be mostly usable as is for D&D characters. You might have to change some of the entries on the tables, but not too many.

Why do you fight?
Tell me about your Sensei

Another thing I can't help mentioning is Melee and Wizard / The Fantasy Trip, which was built specifically to allow duels, and which can handle fighters vs wizards. I noticed that somebody mentioned it on your blog post. That may not be as useful to you if you want to keep it to D&D, though.

Quote from: StormBringer;551277
Checking for wandering monsters every ten minutes is a bit much unless the party is banging around and making all kinds of noise kicking in doors.  In which case, ten minutes is plenty fair.  Normally, I would probably check every three turns, or maybe once an hour if they are taking particular precautions to be quiet.

EDIT:  And especially if they are just shitting around and wasting time trying to find the trap or secret door that isn't in the room.  Definitely every ten minutes, maybe every five just to get them moving again.

IIRC, that check every ten minutes only has a default 1 in 6 chance of actually leading to an encounter, so even checking every ten minutes is only likely to give you one actual wandering monster encounter per hour.

Though yeah, different authors have set different schedules. I've seen once every turn (OD&D), once every two turns (I thought this was B/X, maybe it's BECMI?), once every three turns (Holmes, right)? So there's a lot of variation from edition to edition on that. Don't know what AD&D calls for.

Cidri, the default setting in The Fantasy Trip, has no true gods by default, though the referee has the option of adding them in. The default assumption that's baked into the setting, though, is a godless world. The "priest" talents confer social benefits but no miraculous powers. There is a super advanced magical / high tech progenitor race, but they have more of a sci fi vibe.

Quote from: estar;352946

These issues would be addressed by making a one book Fantasy RPG that is powered by GURPS. The same for Space and Horror. Supported by a handful of adventures each these three book would allow RPG players a clear pathway to learning GURPS and enjoying the rest of the line.

Here's one more anecdotal data point. My interest in GURPS was reawakened last year after we played a 6 month campaign of The Fantasy Trip. It's such a good game that it got me interested in the GURPS line, which I hadn't been all that interested in before. Anyway, I took a fresh look at the current edition of GURPS (4th) thanks to playing TFT, and I couldn't get into it for basically the reasons that Estar mentions. A one book fantasy RPG powered by GURPS would be something I'd buy pretty much sight unseen.

Instead, I ended up buying GURPS Man-to-Man on Ebay and I'll be probably be sticking with TFT (with a couple rules ported in) whenever I want to play a fantasy adventure RPG that isn't D&D.

If you don't like the tactical rules, you may not like the rest of the ruleset. Aramis is correct that the game system is pretty well integrated throughout.

Like Aramis, I've had fun playing the tactical game. I've only played it as part of RPG play, though -- I've never played it as a stand-alone tactical set.

You can ignore this:

Quote from: aramis;343812
It's Battletech done right.

This is wrong. It just shows that Aramis doesn't understand Battletech.

Operation Jungle Drums has some problems. It requires some (but in my opinion, not too much) adaptation. It tends to assume PCs will take a certain route from Sequence 1 to Sequence 2 to Sequence 3. This is a problem. The designers have somewhat mixed loyalties. On the one hand, they're clearly enamored with hex-based wargames on some level. On the other hand, they're also enamored with the tropes of mecha anime, including storyline tropes. This means you have to use some judgment if you want to approach the adventure purely as a military RPG scenario rather than a dramatic military adventure.

On the positive side, information is provided about unit strengths, typical numbers of guards, and typical responses to PC actions. It is enough to extrapolate logical possibilities. Real failure is also on the table in every part of the adventure if the players make poor decisions (or have bad luck). In most cases, the adventure doesn't encourage stepping in to save the players from bad choices.

It's imperfect, but serviceable. I thought the positives outweighed the negatives, but I'm also a fan of the RPG itself as a game system. We played it a long time ago. If I remember correctly, when we played it the party took substantial losses in their first encounter (pilots only have a 1 in 6 chance of surviving the destruction of their gears), and the mission was a failure at an early stage. This means I can't actually speak with much authority on how the rest of the adventure played out.

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