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Showing posts from 2016

Missing in Battersea: A Five-Node Mystery for Maze Rats

The kids have been settling into a steady diet of murderhoboism, so I wanted to get them investigating and interacting a bit more. I pulled a slightly undercooked adventure out of a collection of Five Room Dungeons, and reworked it as a Five Node Mystery. The original adventure: The Nobleman's Daughter Five Room Dungeon Five Node Mysteries by the Alexandrian The system: Maze Rats, 2nd Edition Assisted by Adventuresmith for Android I hadn't really paid much attention to Maze Rats as a game, until today. I was a little miffed that the 2nd Edition departed so much from its Into the Odd roots, and had bought the pdf just for the random tables. But it's a great little game, and I'll want to play it again. Perfect for a spontaneous Saturday afternoon. Here's the resultant adventure: In the seaside town of Battersea, the PCs have two different job offers: One from Lord Cazalet, whose daughter is missing, and one from the merchant Geraldo Luxurioso, whose

Playable Languages

Languages are a lot of fun for world-building, but fun-stoppers during play. Sure, it would be great to haggle with the fungus apes, but dang, no one thought to take the Middle Plains Dialect of Sporetongue. I’ve seen scenarios that were intentionally built around a group without a shared language that worked ( Why are these mysterious mere-creatures beckoning us? Should we trust them? ), but never one where checking the available languages on your character sheet and coming up short made the game better. But you know what is fun? Trying to speak with weird limitations on what you can say. Especially after a beer or two. Besides, in a fantasy milieu, where weird species languages exist cheek-by-jowl, there's going to be all kinds of linguistic crossing. You don't need to be fluent in the language of the Balloon-Herders, you just need to share enough loan words with them to muddle through. So: when you encounter a language for the first time during play, and the

Rabeleis is my Dungeon Master

Over on the Unseen Servant , I'm running a new game: GARGANTUA .   We're using Chris McDowall's Into the Odd for Patrice 'Kabuki Kaiser' Crespy's Castle Gargantua. It's early, yet, but so far it's been a lot of fun. The procedural generation of Castle Gargantua keeps everything low-prep, and Into the Odd is extremely good for play-by-post. For flavor-enhancement, I'm keeping a copy of The Life of Gargantua and Pantagruel close at hand. This is a collection of late Renaissance novels by François Rabelais. It's bawdy, violent, scatological, profane, and unrelentingly dismissive of every pretension that society has to offer, then or now. Right in line with the mindset of your average dungeon party. So far, the party has conversed with a door that recited "Antidotal Jokes," viciously dispatched the first living thing they encountered, and poked their heads through a couple doors. If you're curious about how any of

Kickstarter: Operation Unfathomable

There is one week left in the Operation Unfathomable kickstarter ! Having had a chance to review a draft pdf that was provided to backers, let me say this: Operation Unfathomable lets you crawl into the random tables of Jason Sholtis' The Dungeon Dozen and live there. If you're familiar with The Dungeon Dozen, you surely don't need any more of a recommendation than that. If you're not, the short pitch is that it's the sort of saturated gonzo science fantasy craziness that only makes sense in the context of D&D or prog-rock album covers. It is sumptuously weird and fun and very, very playable. A longer pitch can be found in my review of The Dungeon Dozen book . The longest pitch is going and reading the contents of the blog , which is probably the single most entertaining gaming resource on the net. The one sour note is that the backing levels on the kickstarter aren't all that great. Some kickstarters have that sweet spot between feeling

The Black Hack: Strange Powers

Here is a spell/powers list for David Black's The Black Hack , combining the level-less spell casting from  Wonders & Wickedness and my own Boring Spells . STRANGE POWERS This list was developed for my  Planetary Romance Hack , and therefore is missing some fantasy staples, like, say, anything to do with the undead. I bet you can figure something out, though. What’s Missing: Powers per Level. I assume it will be based on Usage Dice, but I haven’t settled on the exact progression. There are several schemes for Spell Casting Usage Dice out there, and I’d suggest starting with one of those, and adjusting to taste. Please let me know what you think and what improvements or adaptations could be made!

Linneman's Alternate Magic

Jonathan Linneman, over on the Monstrous Matters blog, posted a really intriguing idea for a simplified magic system . He proposes a sister mechanic to Hit Dice: Magic Dice.  If you want to level up in spell casting instead of fighting, you get a Magic Die instead of a Hit Die. When casting a spell, roll a pool of 6-sided dice equal to your MD. MD pool ≥ Spell Level x 5. Success: Spell is cast. Remove one die from MD pool (minimum of 1). Failure: Spell is not cast. Add one die to MD pool. This looks great. I love the idea of taking the bookkeeping out of spell casting. I love mechanics that make failure functional. And this looks elegant. But will it actually work? I went over to anydice and looked at the numbers. I ran the Spell Levels up to 6 and the MD Pools up to 12, because my brain defaults to B/X magic. Spell Level Target MD Pool Minimum Roll Maximum Roll 1 5