Archive for March 2015

Dungeon World: The Oni, New Bundles, and More Sales!

The Oni is now up on DriveThruRPG!

This one took waaay longer than expected, what with the—among other things—art commissions, a semi-exclusive adventure for Mythoard, working on A Sundered World (almost got some more art to post, and Melissa's giving it a thorough proofread), and tweaking a few other games.

I guess one of the upsides is that Melissa was able to take it for a spin.

Not only does the oni start out tougher than other characters (even without armor, maybe even especially without it), it can change its shape, turn invisible, and take hapless victims out Predator style (sorry, no plasma caster).

As you level up you can choose to improve on your existing abilities, become stronger or tougher, or even learn some new tricks: devour souls, possess people, enable yourself to better protect your friends, and more.

This one, like The Cultist, uses our revamped character sheet, and like everything else we've done there's a digest-book to go with.

It includes a list of asian-themed weapons and armor, some of which are essentially reskins of existing weapons and armor, because Dungeon World doesn't do granular mechanics, but a few are entirely new (like the kusarigama). There's also some new dungeon gear, like healing saki and bundles of scrolls, three new magic items, a variant invisibility move, and a bunch of extra moves.

New Bundles & Deals
Not only has The Oni been added to our All of the Playbooks Bundle, we've got a few more bundles to offer:

Finally, throughout the month of April every 10+ Treasures volume is on sale!
March 31, 2015
Posted by David Guyll

Mythoard: April Signups Are Open!

You can now signup for April's Mythoard box, which will include, among other thingsLichfield, a semi-exclusive adventure for Dungeon World.

I've already talked about it in two other posts, but essentially it's a 30-page adventure that's inspired by the Silent Hill series (hence the name, as opposed to the longer ones I've used in the past).

In a nutshell the main villain is a dead witch, who hellishly transforms both the city and most of its citizens due to her aforementioned affliction. The characters get caught up in this, and have to stop her before the city is destroyed.

The adventure comes with:

  • Four ways to use the book (as a one-shot, adding it to an existing campaign, etc) and start the adventure (doing an actual witch hunt, just arriving in the city, etc).
  • The witch formatted as a danger.
  • An overview of the city of Lichfield (using my steading-stat-block), which includes a map, some of its citizens, places of interest, location moves, and so on.
  • A similar treatment for Lichfield after the curse takes effect.
  • Random building contents and floorplans (in case the characters try to hide in or loot buildings).
  • A customized treasure table specific to this adventure.
  • A new magic item (that you'll have to pry from the hands of one of the monsters).
  • Four new monsters (five if you count the actual witch), each drawn from the witch's experiences, fears, and hatred (no, none of them are nurses).
  • A small dungeon, which includes a Silent Hill-esque puzzle.
  • An explanation of the Order of Ayash and Hydra Trading Company.
  • A discount link for The Witch.

This adventure is a semi-exclusive, meaning that if you don't get it now you'll have to wait until October. Mythoard has removed their monthly cap, so in the interest of seeing how many they can get, for every 50 people that sign up between now and the 10th I'll add in another discount link for something else I've written. If it happens to be something we offer in print, it'll apply to that, too.

As another added bonus, if it gets to 200 subscribers I'll throw in The Witch for free, and if it gets to 300 I'll throw in something else for free.

So, if you want it sooner than later, along with some discounted (and possibly free) extras on the side, sign up now.

This is my second contribution to Mythoard (the first being 10+ Treasures), so if you like this (and/or liked 10+ Treasures), and want to see more of my stuff make it in future boxes, be sure to let Jarrod know.

Giving the Immolator the Cold Shoulder

Sometime last August there was a charity that you could donate to in order to get early access to the immolator, a Dungeon World class made by the actual creators of Dungeon World. Sounds exciting, right?


I can't find the link anymore, but it was yet another charity aimed solely at getting women into tech, because as we know all men are privileged and the real reason there aren't just as many women in the field is because of Teh Patriarchy™, and not at all because what women tend to want isn't what men tend to want.

Except for the fact that they don't, but let's not let bothersome things like facts get in the way.

So, yeah, I didn't contribute to it because A) I know too many women that seem to have no trouble doing what they want to do, without whining and making excuses for their laziness, lack of talent and creativity, and/or requiring yet more special treatment, B) I think most of the core Dungeon World classes are severely lacking, and C) I write my own stuff anyway.

And you know what? I'm really, really glad I didn't, because here we are over a half year later and this is the best they can do. The file is suffixed with V1, which I guess means version 1, I did The Psion in a couple of days, and The Cultist took just a bit longer than that (and both were more than complete classes). It took them this long to arrive at that point? It hurts my brain to think what the alpha and beta might have looked like.

So why do I think it's half-assed? Well, let's take it from the top.

(NOTE: I'm going to suggest some additions and changes. While I understand that we could take this class and easily make it much, much better, that doesn't excuse its lackluster quality.)

The stats are all over the fucking place (at least one starts at 17): you use CON to conjure your flaming weapon (I's got a reach of touch, and every weapon has a range tag of at least hand), INT to attack with it, WIS to use another starting move, and four advanced moves use CHA. Overall this class would make perfect sense just sticking with a mix of CON and CHA.

There are only two races to choose from, human and...salamander? Okay. It's not entirely reliant on the bog standard Dungeons & Dragons races, which I guess is a start, though I'm guessing it's still the Dungeons & Dragons take on a salamander, which is a kind of fire elemental, but the playbook doesn't specify so who knows.

The human move has you regain all of your hit points so long as you make camp next to a large, open flame. Fictionally this tells me that the fire rejuvenates you, which I can get behind, but there's no mention of debilities. A healing potion can instantly heal 10 hit points or restore a debility, and while this move can completely top you off it does nothing about debilities.

Also, dwarf would have been a logical addition. There is after all a bunch of blank space on the front page, but maybe they were super busy this past half-year?

Moving on to starting moves, Burning Brand sucks ass. Partially this is again because of all the stats you need: you have to roll+CON to conjure it, then you have to roll+INT to attack with it, and after every three attacks (not hits, just attacks) you have to roll to conjure it all over again.

Why does it rely on two stats? Let's compare this to the thief: the thief also deals d8 damage, can easily use its best stat for all of its attacks (DEX), and every weapon starts with at least the hand tag (though usually you'll end up with the close or near tags). The immolator deals d8 damage, can use its best stat to either conjure or attack with it (you gotta choose), its second best start to conjure or attack, and it starts with the touch and dangerous tags.

Depending on how well you roll when conjuring it, you can give it the hand or near tags, add in all of +1 damage, or remove that pesky dangerous tag. If you give it the near tag, then aside from the dangerous tag if INT is your best stat you've put it on par with the thief, assuming said thief isn't a halfling and thereby gains +2 damage with all of his ranged attacks, all the damned time.


Another issue is that you're forcing the player to roll simply to have a three-attack weapon on hand. The druid, despite all of its faults, has you roll once to gain 1-3 auto-successes. Why not just say "you can conjure flame from your hand at will: treat them as weapons with the fiery and hand tag", or at least let you roll+CON to conjure and wield the weapon, or even +CHA to attack with it, so that you need one less high stat.

Zuko Style, pandering aside, sounds like what I wish Burning Brand was all about: punching and kicking fire everywhere. I would have also gone with something that represents you getting angrier (taking +1 against someone who hurt you or someone you have a bond with). The effects of this move sound more like vanilla firebending.

Hand Crafted lets you craft metal objects with your bare hands, no tools or fire are needed. There is no fictional explanation provided: is it because your hands get super hot? Can you light wood on fire? Can you hurt someone by touching them? Can you do fine detail work? I think that, if burning brand was changed to be something more automatic and useful, this could have been an advanced move that lets you melt through and shape metal.

The second page is even worse: you always start with adventuring gear and a healing potion for some reason, and have to choose if you have dungeon rations (as opposed to every other class, which start you off with dungeon rations and has you choose other things). There's a huge swath of blank space that eats up about a quarter of the page: you think they could have scooted it up to fit in more advanced moves.

There are only fourteen advanced moves to choose from (and only four of which are 6-10, meaning that you will have to waste a 6-10 level up on a 2-5 move), but when you choose Burns Twice as Bright you automatically get Burns Half of Long (which even has a check box for no real reason). Another issue is, again, four of them rely on CHA, and the class already has you using CON, INT, and WIS right out of the gate.

As for move-specific criticisms, here we go:

Burns Half as Long is confusing. Do you have to sacrifice a victory to the flames of fate (whatever that is), and then treat a 10+ as a miss? What kind of victory? Or, do you roll a 10+, and then immediately turn it into a miss? Like, if I would totally burn someone to death with my fire-poke, do I know I'm totally going to burn them to death but then somehow completely flip it into a miss?

This Killing Fire gives you yet more tags you can choose from. A shame you can only ever make two choices. There's not even a "choose +1, and on a miss you still choose 1" or a "on a 12+, choose 3" move.

My nitpick with Ogdru Jahad is that it seems to be about as pandering and boring as Zuko Style. I get the loose association with the Ogdru Jahad, who want to reduce the world to ashes, possibly to give rise to a new race of man, but this move just gives you the wizard's Ritual move, with the added requirement that you always have to sacrifice something.

That doesn't sound anything like you're communing with/trying to free/acting on the behalf of ancient, apocalyptic gods sealed in a prison somewhere in deep space. I think this move could have been written more creatively, but it can at the least be passably fixed by changing the name.

Burning Bridges doesn't make any sense. You die, but burn away your...humanity, I guess, to completely avoid death? It doesn't affect how many bonds people can have with you, nor does it affect your personality in any other way, so I dunno. I think there could have been some association with the phoenix (or for that matter, cauterizing wounds).

The Enkindler and Sick Burn both provide absolute effects against NPCs, regardless as to who or what that NPC is.

Enkindler has you make a CHA roll to see if you incite courage in others, but if you fail (which is probably likely given that you're already juggling three other stats) then no matter what they are cowed or terrified by your presence. We have a similar morale moves in The Pirate and The Bard, both of which I think are much better and don't deal in fictional absolutes.

Sick Burn is even worse (and the name is ridiculous): you insult a NPC, roll+CHA, and on a 10+ they just suck it up. Everyone, from a beggar to a king to a dragon. What's even the point of this move? Who wants to waste a move so that they can insult people and maybe control their reaction? This reminds of the Shopkeeper specialty from Class Warfare, where you can roll to see if your store has items it shouldn't have, with results that will usually just put you in trouble.

At any rate, I think this could be handled by any character via a combination of social roleplaying, possibly with a defy danger roll.

Likewise, who the hell would ever take Burning Ring of Fire? Seriously? You get to roll+CHA, which is probably your worst stat given that you need three for your starting moves, and what's the payoff? If you get a 7+ you can sense the location and emotional state of someone. Whoop. De. Fuck. Worse, on a 7-9 you also share debilities gained, but as with the human move I have to ask why just debilities? Why not hit points?

I dunno what else to say. It looks very half-assed. I wouldn't even use it as a basis for improvement, I'd just discard it and start entirely from scratch. Eh, maybe we'll add pyromancer to our next voting round.

Dungeons & Delvers: A Very Tolkien-esque Playtest One-Shot

  • Angus (1st-level dwarf fighter)
  • Cassidy (1st-level human cleric)
  • Gitta (1st-level kobold rogue)

Cassidy and Gitta met up with Angus at Fry's Watch, a halfling village a week's trek from an ancient, ruined dwarven fortress. Angus was looking for adventurers interested in liberating the treasure of his ancestors from the dragon that claimed it centuries ago, and they were the only two foolish enough to turn up.

They spoke for a bit—in a house that Gitta claimed was owned by her cousin—on how they'd divvy up the treasure, and after Gitta managed to "acquire" a sufficient amount of "rations" to see them there and back (assuming they all came back), they struck out.

After four uneventful days they arrived at the rotting expanse of a once verdant forest. They searched for a road that would ideally lead them directly to the fortress, but time had taken its toll and they were forced to navigate the looming, tangled wood as best they could.

Several hours passed when they came across the crumbling shell of a tower. It was overgrown with dead trees, and inside they found numerous skeletons threaded by black roots. Angus, presuming that they would suddenly awaken and attack, carefully walked towards one, hammer and shield at the ready.

When he reached for one his hand was snagged by a nearly invisible strand of webbing. He pulled against it in a vain effort to free himself, but whatever was on the other end started dragging him up through a hole in the ceiling. In the darkness he saw numerous glimmering eyes, and fangs dripping with venom. He braced his feet against the edges of the hole and pushed, managing to finally break free of the web strand.

The giant spider descended upon him, pinning his arms as it attempted to sink its fangs into his throat. Cassidy held out her holy symbol; a torrent of water struck the spider, keeping it at bay long enough for her to rush forward and skewer it with her spear, while Gitta cautiously struck when the opportunity presented itself. This took the spider by surprise, and Angus was able to kill it with a solid blow to the face.

Gitta climbed up to the second floor and found numerous cocooned, desiccated remains. There weren't any more spiders or survivors. Angus hauled himself up and tore them open, discovering a golden crown, along with jewel encrusted armor and rings: he wasn't the only dwarf to try and slay the dragon, though he resolved to be the first. As promised he divvied them up as evenly as possible and they continued on.

They hadn't traveled far from the tower when they heard the loud flapping of great wings, followed by a shadow blotting out the sun. The dragon. It flew past their location twice, but when it came back a third time unleashed a gout of fire before landing nearby. As expected it was massive. Its body was covered in dark red scales, its long tail effortlessly smashed trees aside, and its teeth and claws looked like they could easily rend through steel and bone.

Gitta managed to hide, but Angus stood his ground and bellowed a challenge before charging. His hammer didn't seem to do much, but when the dragon snapped at him he dashed underneath it. It hadn't anticipated this particular "fighting strategy" from a dwarf, and as it awkwardly tried to crush him with its claws Gitta threw a grappling hook. It caught one of the dragon's wings, and she tied her end of the rope to a nearby tree.

Though this proved to be only a momentary impediment, it was enough for Angus to leap on the dragon's back and start crippling one of its wings with his hammer. It furiously snatched up Angus in its jaws, and tried fleeing into the forest so as to finish him off without further distraction. Fortunately for Angus, Gitta managed to hang onto the rope still attached to its wing, and Cassidy was able to grab a hold of its tail.

It tried crashing into trees to knock them loose, but Cassidy was able to hang on, climb the length of the dragon's tail, and drive her spear between the base of its tail and one of its legs. This surprised it, causing its grip on Angus to slacken just enough for him to escape, and as it attempted to limp away he was able bash in its skull with his hammer.

Behind the Scenes
We got a chance to play with someone new from Google+ (you can listen to the video here, nothing to really see though), but he had to crash so I decided to wrap things up with a bang, and by bang I mean dragon. To be fair it was a "young" dragon, but it still managed to almost kill the dwarf fighter and injure the rest. Here's the dragon's stat block in its entirety:

The general consensus is that the game is, and I'm paraphrasing here, a shitload of fun. The only minor quibble are the skills. Not how they work with the Dice Pool system (there're no problems there), but just the list of skills, which I cribbed from 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons as a kind of "alpha" list.

Honestly, given that, if I added up the nights I spent writing this in between everything else, it only took about a week, I'm pretty damned pleased with the results. I was even able to easily handle Matthew's off the cuff actions (snagging the dragon's wing with the grappling hook, and then slicing it up) with ease. The only thing we really need to stress test are Wounds (and, well, maybe address the skills).

Right now each character starts with 2-5 Wounds: wizards get 2, fighters get 4, and if you're a dwarf you can spend your talent to gain another. You don't gain Wounds as you level, unless you spend your race or class has +Wound talents (like the dwarf, fighter, and presumably others like barbarians or paladins), so what I need to figure out is if they're enough to get through a small dungeon with.

Between the fight with the giant spider and young dragon, there were a grand total of eight Wounds inflicted. Fortunately Melissa's character could negate a Wound now and then (there's no easy source of magical healing in this game), so she was able to use her magic to soak two of them. Had she lacked this ability, then during the fight with the dragon Angus would have probably died (or been knocked out), but they still would have won, which against a dragon is fine by me.

So, we're going to try a more "traditional" dungeon crawl to see how far the party can go before having to stop. I want them to be able to clear a decent portion without magical healing being mandatory; if they need more I'm considering a "reserve" Wounds system, similar to 4th Edition's healing surges, where when you're out of a fight you can spend Wounds from a reserve to heal yourself up to your maximum.

The one thing we did change (aside from the name, which was kind of code-named A Really Simple Dungeon Crawl) is the name of the Willpower stat. It's now called Grace (kudos to Matthew for coming up with the new name), which gives the game a kind of combination social/magic stat for clerics (and bards and sorcerers when I add them to the game).

I'm cool with this, because it now means there are actually skills tied to it (Willpower had none).

A Pirate's Class For You!
Just under a week left to pick up The Pirate (which is a Best Silver Seller, so you know it's good) on the cheap(er)!

The Pirate now boasts our new character sheet layout (which you can also see on The Cultist): let us know what you think, so we can continue making it better!

Mind you this is in addition to the "classic" sheet, so if you don't like the new one you can always stick with that one (though we'd like to know what you don't like about it).

Another Mythoard Semi-Exclusive Teaser

Last week I posted a teaser for Lichfield, a semi-exclusive, Silent Hill-esque adventure I've written for next month's Mythoard box (semi-exclusive as in you'll be able to pick it up separately in October).

This week I figured I'd talk about some of its contents.

The meat of the adventure runs about 30 pages. It is largely intended to be a one-shot, and there are several options on how to start it, one of which can extend its duration if you want to stretch it over several sessions, or maybe make it into a mini-campaign.

Being heavily inspired by the Silent Hill series, it takes place almost entirely in the city of Lichfield. It's actually not a bad place to live until a curse takes effect, transforming the city into a hellish furnace, and most of the citizens into scorched monstrosities.

Here's some of what's included in the adventure:

  • A map of Lichfield, before and after the curse takes effect.
  • Location moves for both versions of Lichfield.
  • Random building contents and floorplans (in case the characters duck into a building).
  • A treasure table customized for this adventure.
  • Five new monsters (including the witch), drawn from the witch's experiences, fears, and hatred. No, there aren't any nurses, but one of the monsters is unique and carries a new magic item.
  • A small dungeon warded by a Silent Hill-esque puzzle.

Since the adventure features a witch as the main villain, it's also going to feature a discount link for The Witch (and when it goes on sale individually in October, previous buyers of The Witch will get a discount link for the adventure).

A Pirate's Class For You!
DriveThru RPG's GM's Day Sale might have ended, but for the rest of the month we're marking down The Pirate (which is a Best Silver Seller, so you know it's good).

As I mentioned in this post, The Pirate boasts our new character sheet layout (which you can also see on The Cultist): let us know what you think!

Mind you this is in addition to the "classic" sheet, so if you don't like the new one you can always stick with that one (though we'd like to know what you don't like about it).

Dungeon World: Edenvale One-Shot

  • Darwin (3rd-level cultist)
  • Hordac (3rd-level vampire)
  • Mihara (3rd-level oni)

Standing on the outskirts of a little village called Edenvale and the aptly named Castle of Ten-Thousand Screaming Souls, the party opted to head to the village first in order to hire, depending on who you asked, some sacrifices, food supply, or both.

That was their first mistake.

The only person willing to go with a band of complete strangers offering the dubious promise of unsubstantiated wealth within the Castle of, and this cannot be stressed enough, Ten-Thousand Screaming Souls, was a mentally deficient youth named Kip, who was capable of haphazardly swinging a sword and little else.

They then spent the night at the inn, because counting the new hire, half of the party had to sleep.

That was their second mistake.

Once everyone else had fallen asleep, Hordac slipped out of their room, transformed into a rat, and snuck into the innkeeper's room so that he could murder him for...reasons. Unfortunately he was married, which meant that Hordac had to take out the wife, too. Being a vampire this was pretty easy, except that he opted to exit the room by hurling the innkeeper's blood-drained corpse out of the window, before transforming into a bat and flying away.

This attracted the attention of a few guardsmen and a priest, which was especially bad for Hordac since he was vulnerable to sacred items. Since Hordac had not informed them of his intentions, when Darwin and Mhara were awakened by the noise they went to investigate. The guards were already there, and after briefly examining the scene Darwin explained to them that the innkeeper had apparently stabbed his wife, the force of which caused her head to propel off of her body and knock him out the window.

They didn't believe him until Mihara, being invisible, picked up the wife's corpse and in her spookiest voice confirmed Darwin's assessment. In a panic, one of them cut the corpse in half before they both fled. Darwin and Mihara then returned to bed, casually telling Kip that his parents had killed each other, and that their blood had seeped through the ceiling of their room, and dribbled onto his face.

When they went downstairs the next day, the common room was filled with people including the priest from the night before. They'd just seated themselves when the priest approached and began questioning them about last night's incident. Darwin tried explaining that the innkeeper and his wife had murdered each other, but the priest's holy symbol was too much for Hordac to bear, and he transformed into a bat and flew out one of the windows.

Mihara revealed her true form, assuming that at least Darwin was prepared to throw down, but while everyone else was distracted he conjured a tentacled horror and pretended to flee from it in terror. One of the warriors quickly dispatched it, but Darwin continued to run while needlessly explaining that he was too irrationally afraid to stop.

Surrounded and abandoned, Mihara turned invisible, crept upstairs, and jumped out of the shattered window. Unfortunately she landed in a large mud puddle, which revealed her presence to the very warrior that had just killed the monster Darwin summoned. Since the priest and guards were exiting the inn she legged it, but was unable to outpace the warrior.

She ducked behind a building, and when the warrior rounded the corner possessed him. His mind was far more...chaotic than she anticipated, and she was unable to maintain control long enough to throw the others off. The moment her form materialized they set upon her, and a lucky sword blow cut a deep gash across her leg. Blood spurted from the wound, which would reveal her location should she try turning invisible again.

From the treeline at the edge of the village, Darwin and Hordac could see that Mihara wasn't going to last long. Darwin summoned another monster and had both it and Hordac feign pursuit, so that he could distract and hopefully catch one of them by surprise. The warrior again swiftly slew Darwin's beast, but at least this time it was able to wound him.

While Hordac went to Mihara's aid, Darwin tried to strangle the warrior using his own tentacles. Unfortunately the warrior was much stronger than he anticipated: he managed to drag Darwin close enough to hack at him with his axe, and by the time Mihara and Hordac had crushed and/or torn apart the rest he was able to finish the job.

All alone Mihara was easily able to possess him. She forced him to throw away his axe, and when she reappeared bashed in his skull with her metal-banded club.

Will Mihara and Hordac ever make it to the Castle of Ten-Thousand Screaming Souls? Will they conveniently run into another party member? Maybe. We'll have to wait until Chris runs another game.

Behind the Scenes
Two players couldn't make it tonight, so we decided to just do a one-shot. Even better I was able to actually play, and after some brief class consideration settled on The Cultist (in hindsight I totally should have rolled up a mummy). Shane went with a vampire (he's been itching to try it for a while, now), and Melissa was kind enough to give The Oni some playtesting.

Everyone had fun, and we learned that some of The Oni's moves could benefit from a bit clarification (which if nothing else I can always add in the Director's Cut chapter). Otherwise I think otherwise it's fine as-is. Shane loved the vampire, and even suggested some new moves to add to the Director's Cut. Given that it's the second fastest class I've written and it saw no playtesting what-so-ever, I was pleased with how well it worked at the table.

Same for The Cultist. I mean yeah, I died, but that had pretty much everything to do with a lengthy string of incredibly bad luck. I didn't track XP since it was a one-shot, but I'm guessing I could have leveled up on miss XP alone. If I were to do it all again, I would have opted for Terrifying Revelation instead of Alien Insight: there were numerous cases where I could have used the former (including the warrior while he was stuck), and the latter never once came into play.

Not sure if we'll continue this. Chris asked us some questions about the Castle, and I'd like to, you know, go there, but we'll see what happens next time we have an open game night. If we do, what would you like to see me play?

A Pirate's Class For You!
DriveThru RPG's GM's Day Sale might have ended, but for the rest of the month we're marking down The Pirate (which is a Best Silver Seller, so you know it's good).

As I mentioned in this post, The Pirate boasts our new character sheet layout (which you can also see on The Cultist): let us know what you think!

Mind you this is in addition to the "classic" sheet, so if you don't like the new one you can always stick with that one (though we'd like to know what you don't like about it).

The "Needs" of the Few

A while back someone made a post on Google+, asking why the rakshasa in Dungeons & Dragons has a tiger head. Though his family had come from India, he had not, and he even admitted to not having a meaningful education of Hindu mythology.

I explained to him that not sticking to mythology is a Dungeons & Dragons thing (citing the kobold, ghoul, and medusa), and that if he didn't like it he could change it or create his own.

Among the responses of blathering white people eager to also be offended on his behalf, he told me that since I'm from the "colonizer world" I could never understand what it feels like to have my culture appropriated.

My response was that, again, Dungeons & Dragons gets a lot of mythology wrong, and if he's that butthurt over a shapechanging monster having a tiger face for a default, he should consider growing up and stop finding trivial things to pretend to get pissy over.

Predictably he uncircled and blocked me. I guess when you're of Indian descent and know little to nothing about a bit of your culture's mythology, making a minor cosmetic change is a really big deal?

Is tiger face is the new black face?
To me (and most others, I'm sure), changing the appearance of a creature is one of the easiest things to do in a make-believe game that never made claims of accuracy (when mythology even has one detailed interpretation), but that's probably just my straight male white privilege talking.

I'm not a fan of Numenera. I backed it back at whatever level got you a leather book when the Kickstarter happened, but when I got the book I was disappointed in how lackluster the setting was. We still tried playing several games, but the mechanics were likewise lacking so it never got any traction, which is why I didn't bother backing The Strange.

I don't own The Strange and doubt I'll ever buy it (because I just don't like the system); this blog post isn't about defending it or Monte Cook Games, but pointing out the behaviors of social justice whiners.

Someone named MorningStar Angeline started a petition on, demanding the "immediate removal of Thunder Plains and all related content from all Monte Cook Games publications current and future, and request an immediate public apology for harm done, regardless of supposed intent from the creators and companies responsible for publishing of this content." As of this writing is has yet to make the measly 500 signatures MorningStar asked for.

To put things into context (because context and evidence is anathema to any social justice whiner's narrative), a recursion is a "unique but limited world" created by "the creative resonance of pure imagination". They are not necessarily historically accurate, and the petition even mentions that MorningStar was told that the intent was to show that collective imagination and stereotypes are wrong. Finally, the Thunder Plains recursion eats up maybe two and a half pages in total, and there's only single half-page piece of art.

This is how, apparently, Monte Cook Games is going to, as MorningStar accuses, perpetuate "blatantly racist stereotypical trope after trope, belittling real living human being, demeaning our existence, dehumanizing us, and forcibly placing us in the category of make-believe past and purposefully reinforcing the very same imagery that contributes to the continued genocide and colonization that plagues us today."

Despite the petition barely topping 400 signatures and, according to Monte Cook Games, "the majority of people that we heard from, privately and publicly, Native and non-Native, said that we really didn't need to do anything",

In light of other companies pandering to the manufactured outrage of social justice whiners looking for something, anything to get pissed about, I would have liked to have commended Monte Cook Games for standing their ground and not caving to the bitching of the few, but in the end they did: the pdf and future books will be updated to feature new text.

The majority of people that didn't care (which, again, included Native Americans) will continue to not care and/or wonder what the hell the fuss was about, and the social justice whiners get their way (which they'll promptly forget about in their never-ending crusade to be angry). Besides setting a precedence for other companies that will invariably be targeted for not adhering to arbitrary, hypocritical standards, it's a win-win, right?

Well, no.

Just scroll down to the comments and you'll see a stream of social justice whiners (including the usual suspects) spewing their vitriolic, manufactured outrage at Monte Cook Games for not doing...whatever the hell it is they wanted them to do. Not that Monte Cook Games could have done right by them: the anger of an armchair slacktavist, no matter how pitiful, is still insatiable after all.

Oh no, please, have mercy: don't tell everyone not to purchase from Monte Cook Games again. I mean it's been a Best Platinum Seller for probably months at this point, but I'm sure this time you'll make a dent.

Honestly Monte Cook Games shouldn't have done anything. Not just because the majority of people didn't have an issue with it, or that the people whining about it almost certainly weren't going to buy their stuff anyway, but because they were going to get shit on no matter what, since when it comes to social justice whiners you have to predict exactly what they want you to do, and do it exactly (and even then they'll still prolly bitch about something).

Otherwise you get a bunch of white people screaming at you on behalf of whoever it is they claim to be representing.

Despite, again, the majority of people they claim to be representing not having a problem with it.

Fright Night: Defeating the Monster

So Fright Night is almost done: I wrapped up the art several days ago (or maybe it's been over a week...hard to tell with all the art commissions I've been saddled with), all the text is laid out, and we've handed the pdf off to others for proofreading and to see if we've missed anything.

Barring any major rewrites and/or additions it could be out this weekend. It's pretty exciting for us, not just because it's our first standalone role-playing game, but also because it's not a hack from another system: we built it from the ground up to do exactly what we wanted.

Even better, people that have both read and (better yet) played it have expressed interest in us taking the system and using it with other genres, like X-Files or Fringe, superheroes, and I can even see it delivering a punishing rogue-like, dungeon crawl experience.

That said there's one thing we're still debating, and that's how we explain how the Main Characters kill, escape from, or otherwise defeat the Monster.

The current model treats the Monster as a kind of prolonged task that requires 3 successful Stat Checks per Main Character to overcome. So if you've got two Main Characters, you gotta rack up six Successes, and if you have three you'll need a whopping nine.

This is my personal preference, because unlike giving the monster a pool of points—Hit Points, Wounds, Stress, or whatever you want to call them—it doesn't imply killing the Monster as a default, which depending on your Movie and Monster may not even be possible (because the Monster could be something like Jason Voorhees, a horde of zombies, or a vengeful spirit like Samara/Sadako).

Here are the (kind of) two alternatives that have been pitched:

Alternative 1: Stat Points
The Monster effectively has 3 Stat Points per Main Character, essentially making it a reverse of the current model: instead of making Stat Checks to gain Successes, you make Stat Checks to reduce the Monster's pool of points, and once it's out you've defeated it.

The upside is that it has both the Main Characters and Monsters using the same "health" system, but the downside is that I think it implies beating it to death as the norm.

Alternative 2: Hit Points
This is basically Stat Points by another name. In addition to having both the Main Characters and Monsters effectively have the same health system, Hit Points is a pretty common term in role-playing games that people might grasp more quickly.

The downside, again, is that it carries the same implications of Stat Points and stabbing the Monster to death.

So what are your thoughts? Which model/terminology seems most appropriate to you, keeping in mind that killing the Monster isn't always assumed or even possible (in fact, in playtest games we've had to flee from the Monster).
March 19, 2015
Posted by David Guyll

Mythoard Adventure (Semi) Exclusive Teaser

A few months ago I was tapped to write a semi-exclusive adventure for Mythoard's April package. For those not in the know, Mythoard is a service where you pay $25 for a box of tabletop goodies on the cheap (and if you go in for at least three months, you can save even more cash).

Previous exclusives were for I think earlier editions of Dungeons & Dragons (or at least d20-esque dungeon crawlers), which if you're even a semi-regular here are probably aware that they aren't games I'm exactly fond of.

Thankfully they said I could do it for any system, it just had to take place somewhere in the established setting, which near as I can tell is just a section of map. Since Dungeon World is both the system that we've already written a bunch of awesome content for, and have been playing the crap out of the most lately, I went with that

I wasn't sure what the adventure would be about until, after very recently wrapping up Silent Hill 2 and 3 (for the first time thanks to the Silent Hill HD collection), and Silent Hill: Downpour (better late then never, I suppose), Melissa and I re-watched the often disappointing movie adaptation that it hit me: what if the witch really was the bad guy all along?

Like, not some misunderstood and/or convenient scapegoat, but a genuinely terrible person. Someone so wretched and desperate that she traded her soul for power, power that would allow her to not only elevate herself over others, but even hurt them (whether or not they deserved it). What if, during her execution, she cursed everyone to suffer her fate?

And that's the elevator pitch for this adventure: a city executes a witch by burning her at the stake, she curses the city as she dies, and her magic lets her make good on her word. The characters happen to just be in the worst possible place at the worst possible time, and have to find and kill her (again) before her curse drags the city into the depths of hell.

Mind you this is only a semi exclusive: I'll be allowed to sell it on my own sometime in October. But if you don't wanna wait about six months to get your hand on it, sign up for the April package next month!

A Pirate's Class For You!
DriveThru RPG's GM's Day Sale might have ended, but for the rest of the month we're marking down The Pirate (and we've adjusted our Awfully Big Playbook and All of the Playbooks bundles accordingly).

The Pirate, in addition to being a Best Silver Seller, boasts a new character sheet layout (which you can both see here and on our very awesome, very meaty The Cultist): let us know what you think!

Mind you this is in addition to the "classic" sheet, so if you don't like the new one you can always stick with that one (though we'd like to know what you don't like about it).

Building Your Sundered World

One of the players couldn't make it this week, so there won't be A Sundered World play report. I think we were considering playing something else, like Super Dungeon Explore since I managed to get a Wyrm Claw Exemplar on the super cheap, but instead got dragged into a two-hour conversation about A Sundered World.

There're a lot of unusual elements in A Sundered World, like the shape and physics of the world itself, the default world moves (which let you fly, construct objects out of astral matter, and cause your soul to stick around when you die), the races, the classes, the equipment (which includes treant-type mecha), and so on.

If you're used to a more...traditional fantasy game where, for starters, you kill kobolds with draconic ancestry, deal with angels that are almost universally winged humanoids, and gorgons are called medusas, there's a lot going on, which is why I'm including a primer, things to consider for your first session, and questions about the party, world, races, and classes.

Mind you when I write my adventures and classes (and in this case settings), I already assume that you are going to use what you like, change or remove what you don't, and add what you need to make it as enjoyable as possible for you and your group. During our talk my group suggested that I take it one step further. and put in a section for you to explicitly look at the default setting and tweak it before you even start your campaign, kind of like what you'd do at the start of a Dresden Files game.

So, in addition to providing some example world models, I'm going to put in a section on tweaking/building the setting. Like, maybe you don't want everyone to be able to fly, and when they're thrown from an island or object they just kind of float around (or fall, if you give your world objective gravity). Don't want everyone to be able to create objects out of the astral? Easy: just remove the world move, restrict it to certain creatures (like powerful angels), or require a specific advanced move to do it.

As a quick status update, the book is at a hefty 350 pages (text  hovering at about 90-95% complete), and the art is nearly a quarter of the way complete. Art production has slowed since I've been commissioned to do a cover for an indie RPG, cover and interior art for an old-school adventure module, and a semi-exclusive Dungeon World adventure for Mythoard, but the book is still well on track for a release sometime this year (along with Fright Night and very likely Dungeons & Delvers).

A Pirate's Class For You!
DriveThru RPG's GM's Day Sale might have ended, but for the rest of the month we're marking down The Pirate (and we've adjusted our Awfully Big Playbook and All of the Playbooks bundles accordingly).

The Pirate, in addition to being a Best Silver Seller, boasts a new character sheet layout (which you can both see here and on our very awesome, very meaty The Cultist): let us know what you think!

Mind you this is in addition to the "classic" sheet, so if you don't like the new one you can always stick with that one (though we'd like to know what you don't like about it).

A Sundered World: Episode 104

  • Agron (level 3 scion psion)
  • Katra "Crazy Gin" (level 3 kobold pirate)
  • Sift (level 3 deva shaman)
  • Sirus "Ironhide" (level 3 tarchon battlemind)
  • Waive (level 3 scion nomad)

Arms shaped into jagged blades and eager to mete out retribution, Ironhide charged towards Panzer...who snapped him up with a single, surprisingly swift motion.

Choking on his scalding, sooty breath, Ironhide struggled to force his jaws open. When that invariably failed, long, metallic spikes erupted all around his body, piercing the interior of Panzer's mouth and causing him to unceremoniously expectorate Ironhide.

Seeing that they were clearly outnumbered and outclassed, Sift unleashed his spirit Fizz. She darted about in a smoky blur, destroying the floor of the already rapidly destabilizing cathedral underneath the tarchon warriors. While they floated about helplessly, Waive grabbed Ironhide and followed everyone else as they retreated from the cathedral, with Panzer and a torrent of magma hot on their heels.

They made it to Katra's ship in various degrees of health, but as she fired up the collidor and sped away Panzer flew after them. He quickly closed the distance and latched onto the back of the ship, tearing at the hull with his great talons. Ironhide took Katra's ghostly blade and again charged him, and again Panzer snapped him up. But, as Ironhide's pain and consciousness slipped away he drove the ghostly blade into Panzer's skull, killing him. Panzer's grip slackened and he fell away, Ironhide's corpse still in his mouth, to the streets below.

Waive drifted down to the street to retrieve Ironhide's body. He easily found it amid a pile of blackened rock and ash, along with the devil prince that had purchased the cambion ship they were hauling on their way to the city. He asked the prince what he was doing, and he dismissively replied that he was looking for something. After a few moments he pulled a spherical object from the remains of Panzer's chest. Waive then asked him if he'd profited from whatever it was that he did, and the prince said that he wasn't sure before vanishing.

Waive returned to the ship, body in hand, and told them what had happened. Unsure what, if anything they could do about the devil prince, then instead focused their efforts on finding a way to return Ironhide to life. They entertained some theories before Waive suggested, what with the sudden lack of divine presence, the library's archive.

There weren't any golden lanterns flitting about, so it was a simple matter for Waive to slip through the door and unlock it. The archive was filled with massive stone slates that Agron found he could easily lift and move about. They were inscribed in the angelic language, which fortunately Sift could read well enough. He found a passage that described Tyr's valiant sacrifice whilst defending his angelic host, and subsequent reassembly.

Sift concluded that with some god's blood, and pieces of various god-corpse fragments that corresponded with Ironhide's own missing body parts, they could similarly revive him. From what they could tell the tarchons were not actually claiming trophies or prisoners, so they went to the cathedral in the hopes they could find something in the disintegrating ruin. As with the library there were no angels to impede them, meaning that they had a clear path to the sanctuary.

The devil prince had beat them to it.

Waive extended his sight so that he could take a closer look without getting too close, and watched as he tore the face off an ophanim, melted an altar, and removed a small, golden sphere that featured the faces of scion and animal. After some brief inspection a fleshy, worm-like creature consumed him and returned to his black, wailing ship.

With no one around to stop them they entered the sanctuary, where they recovered a variety of priceless relics like a strand of Tyr's hair, a fifteen foot wide fragment of his comb, a halberd stained with blood, a massive set of golden, jewel-encrusted scales, and a few golden idols.

Oh, and a tiny, thumb-sized phial of shimmering god's blood.

Behind the Scenes
Hooboy, had to remove and downgrade a number of tags on this steading, but on the plus side they managed to tackle that particular danger before it got too far. Wasn't sure if they'd kill Panzer, though honestly I wasn't betting on it. I'm sure they weren't either, and I'm proud of them for fleeing: I know a lot of gamers get used to the idea that if you see something, you can (or perhaps are expected to) kill it. These guys knew that they stood no chance against a dragon and squad of tarchon warriors, so tried to retreat.

Unfortunately a bunch of misses threw a wrench in their plans, but in the end it worked out well enough for them since Panzer "split the party".

One of the major deviations with A Sundered World is character death. Since there is no Death or Black Gate, you don't make bargains or whatever. Instead your soul or soul-like essence manifests, and you roll+WIS to see if you can resist the call of oblivion. If you succeed your soul sticks around, and you start racking up a counter currency over time. When it equals your Wisdom your soul departs to wherever it is that souls go in your world (this is one of the questions asked in the book).

Until then you can keep adventuring to a point: souls can harm living creatures with their touch (and ignore armor for the most part), and can pass through objects. The sword that they found in the first adventure is the Shattered Echo from 10+ Treasures: Volume II, and while I ruled he can wield it it really just increases his range from hand to close. There's also a lingering soul compendium class that better allows you to resist vanishing and do other things, like possess corpses and devour other souls.

Though they've found what I consider to be a valid way to bring Ironhide back, Shane wants to try out The Vampire, so I'm running with the idea that using godsblood will give his character THE THIRST.

Matthew, the player of Sift, expressed his frustrations at not knowing the layout of A Sundered World. This is understandable given that it's a pretty "gonzo" setting, and something that bears addressing, which is why I wrote this post. It describes several models for the arrangement of the world, and I'm curious what everyone else thinks (as well as if you have any other models you'd like to see).

A Sundered World: Topography of a Sundered World

During this week's A Sundered World Hangout session a few things came up, including whether allowing everyone to fly is just too damned good, Ironhide's death and return as a spirit, and just what the hell the world (such as it is) looks like.

That last one was something that I don't want to set in stone in the actual book, as I feel that there are a variety of possible ways you can arrange the world without having to change much if any of the rules and content.

However in our current campaign one of the players became understandably frustrated because he wasn't sure what things looked like, what things like ley lines were, and how it all worked together, which meant that he wasn't able to really make informed decisions.

Sooo this post is to help address part of that.

Right now I've thought of three ways to model A Sundered World, with one that could help address the "issue" of not having a day and night cycle. Lemme know which one you prefer, any tweaks you would add to the mix, and any other models that you'd like to see in the book as options.

Option 1: Spiral World
Originally my "default" topography was similar to a spiral galaxy. Here's a sideways shot that isn't at all scaled:

I went with this for two reasons.

The first is that I started designing this setting back when we still regularly played 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, so I blew up the World Axis cosmology (which I think is way better than the Great Wheel, and I'm a Planescape fan). The end result was that all the other planes ended up getting suspended in the Astral Sea.

One of the main features of the Astral Sea is the astral horizon, which "forms something like the surface of the ocean" (Manual of the Planes, page 87). This leads me to the second reason: I was pretty much going with a kind of "pirate" campaign, just set in a very alien world. Using the astral horizon was better for the concept and made things easier to map.

Here you've got the Abyss is in the center of the Maelstrom. The Maelstrom endlessly produces various types of elemental matter and forces, some of which gets gobbled up by the Abyss (kind of like a supermassive blackhole that also vomits forth demonic critters). Around the Maelstrom is everything else, which generally remains stationary unless someone or something else acts upon it.

Option 2: Sphere World
Another option that someone else proposed was a spherical topography, where islands are scattered about in all directions around the Abyss and Maelstrom. Here's another sideshot (also not to scale):

I think you could kind of merge the spiral and spherical models, with most of the objects on a flat plane, but plenty of other stuff scattered about above and below. Could be a way to stash hidden locations that no one's discovered.

Option 3: Layer World
A third model that I thought of yesterday (and that is my current favorite) is to have everything arranged in a series of layers (sideshot, not scaled, etc):

Instead of an ambient light illuminating everything, it shines down from above where the heavens used to be. There's been discussion of how to handle a setting without a day and night cycle (or really any way to accurately and consistently measure time), so this light could fade and brighten at regular intervals.

The next layer down are the islands and clouds. As with Dungeons & Dragons's Astral Sea, things tend to settle around here and remain stationary. 

The Maelstrom occupies the entirety of the third layer. Chunks of matter that manage to escape could float up, and islands could send ships down to harvest stone, water, and other materials. Particularly devastating explosions of fire and discharges of lightning could inflict havoc on the island layer.

Finally, the Abyss lurks at the very bottom. If you get too close it can corrupt you, or even draw you in. What happens then? Who knows, but it's probably not anything good.
March 07, 2015
Posted by David Guyll

A Sundered World: Monster Setting Art

I've already posted plenty of race art, and even some location art. This time I wanted to art for the Voices of the Stars and Celestial Host monster settings (what Dungeon World calls groups of at least thematically related monsters). Note that this isn't the final art.

A Sundered World: Episode 103

  • Agron (level 3 scion psion)
  • Katra "Crazy Gin" (level 2 kobold pirate)
  • Sift (level 2 deva shaman)
  • Sirus "Ironhide" (level 2 tarchon battlemind)
  • Waive (level 2 scion nomad)

With their initial hire inexplicably vanishing without a trace, the party asked Meg if she knew of any other capable healers looking for work.

As luck would have it she did: a very...tranquil and socially awkward deva shaman named Sift. He spoke slowly and had a penchant for overindulging in what he referred to as "openers", which fortunately didn't interfere with his spirit's potent healing magic.

They met and, after a sluggish and detailed conversation hired him, partially because he seemed competent, partially because they had no other options. Katra was in a celebratory mood, but since legal libations weren't strong enough to tickle her palette, she left with Ironhide and Sift in search of more potent potables.

The bar scene not being their scene, Agron and Waive went to the library in search of information on psionic powers and magical swords. The library was vast, with visitors, furnishings, and golden lanterns floating about between towering bookshelves. Agron could tell that the lanterns were intelligent, but when he tried to read their minds was surprised that they were not only able to repel his mental intrusion, but could force their way into his mind.

Which informed it of his soul-devouring sword and its agenda of devouring souls.

He quickly left the librarye and located an idyllic park so that he could meditate. He wasn't there long when he felt someone tap his shoulder, and when he opened his eyes saw...something looming over him. Near as he could tell it was humanoid enough in appearance, though much of it was concealed under white robes. Even so the head was strange enough in that it featured four faces: one was that of a scion, while the rest were various animals.

And floating just behind it was a golden lantern.

The scion face spoke to him, explaining that he was in possession of a restricted device. It had intended to followup with instructions on where to receive a license, but Agron interrupted it with...not-so-veiled threats. The entity's tone shifted as it told him that he was now under arrest for threatening an officer, and that if he attempted to resist would be obliterated.

At Geist's telepathic urging Agron surrendered. He was taken to the cathedral floating about the city, where he was interred in a spacious, luxurious cell that was, in his words, "befitting his station as a prince". The cell was sealed with a barrier of golden light, leaving him to peruse a stack of heavy tomes in search of a legal loophole.

Sift brought Katra and Ironhide to a literally underground bar. After bribing their way past the bouncer, a rock-like dwarf with mechanical limbs, they ordered a few drinks from a kytheran bartender who personally dispensed the beverages from one of his arms. After Ironhide somehow survived drinking what looked like a pitcher of lava, and besting someone in an arm-wrestling content, a choir of angels announced their arrival by blasting the door off the hinges.

They were led by a seraphim who was apparently familiar with Sift, but during the brawl that ensued he, along with Katra, Ironhide, and the barkeep, were able to escape through a passage behind one of the numerous swill tanks that lined the walls. Sift then lead them to his safehouse, but were quickly located by a cherubim officer. He attempted to arrest them, but after some tedious, circuitous dialogue with Sift conceded their innocence and left in frustration.

They returned to the ship in time to find Waive, who had returned from the library, learned that Agron had been arrested, and was gathering up the necessary funds to bail him out.

They were still on the ship when what looked like a colossal spike of bone—which Ironhide identified as a tarchon carrier—collided with the cathedral. Smaller shards of bone separated from it and rained down upon the city, punching through towers, ships, and people. When they came to a halt they split apart, and small bands of tarchons hauled themselves out of a crimson, gelatinous substance. The tarchons tore off chunks of the spikes, wielding them as weapons as they set upon angel and mortal alike.

The carrier was slowly driving itself through the cathedral, which was starting to dissipate back into astral essence as angelic hordes fought back with sword and light. Hoping that Agron was somehow still alive, they fired up the ship's engines and made a beeline for the cathedral, weaving through the rain of spikes as best they could.

When they arrived they saw Agron fighting a trio of tarchons at the entrance. He was clearly being overwhelmed, just barely keeping them at bay with a barrier of mental force. Unleashing a challenging roar Ironhide leaped into the fray, with Sift slowly floating after him. The tarchons turned just as Ironhide crashed into them, giving Agron the chance to flee back into the cathedral.

As Ironhide fought the other tarchons Sift released his spirit to heal him, while Waive appeared next to Agron. He told him what was going on as a tarchon easily twice as tall as Ironhide smashed through the stained glass ceiling, shaking the ground as he landed. He was followed by a squad of tarchons, and after ordering them to kill Waive and Agron began lumbering towards a golden door.

Waive taunted the giant tarchon and plunged his sword through a twist in space, making a barely perceptible scratch on his hand. This still drew his attention, which would have been bad enough if there weren't also six other tarchons with him. He advanced upon Waive, only stopping when Ironhide came rushing through the door, covered in blood.

The giant tarchon gave Ironhide an incredulous look before referring to him by his true name, Sirus. Though his form was markedly different, his voice was unmistakable: it was Panzer, one of the tarchons that had left him for dead so long ago. Overtaken with rage, Ironhide transformed both of his arms into blades, and told him that this time things would be different.

Panzer sneered in agreement, then with a loud crack his chest split open, revealing an intense fire within. The fire poured forth and enveloped his body. When the flames died down he had again changed: he stood on four taloned legs, his head was set upon a long, sinuous neck, and two broad, ashen wings grew from his back. His body looked to have been hewn from molten stone that cracked and dripped lava as he moved.

He was a dragon.

Behind the Scenes
Quick trip down memory lane: back when I was designing this campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons (4th Edition, of course), I was trying to find a way to fit in all the races: cambions were tieflings, cthon were genasi, dwarves were dwarves, etc.

Dragonborn were also in the mix, though they never made an appearance. I had written them to be born from the blood of Bahamut and Tiamat, who had both simultaneously killed each other during the Dawn War. Born from battle, the metallic and chromatic dragonborn had continued to fight each other in an effort to claim both of the Dragon-God corpses.

Partially since dragonborn is a product identity thing, partially since I've long since been moving away from "D&Disms" (which is why kobolds are spirits and ghouls can change their shape and appearance), I've also changed their name, appearance, history, and abilities.

When the gods and primordials fought they released the World Fish, Bahamut. It managed to take out a few on both sides before finally being slain, and as the blood of Bahamut, god, and primordial combined it gave rise to the tarchons (I forgot who suggested this name over whatever the hell I was originally calling them).

Born from the fury of cosmic-scale conflict and slaughter, they are constantly instilled with bloodlust. Tarchons start with a race move that imposes an ongoing penalty when there is a fight going on that they aren't part of. It lasts until they join the conflict or get away from it. They also gain a one-time damage bonus against whoever damages them.

One of the new things from A Sundered World is being able to choose between race and class moves as you level up: tarchon race moves let you gain a breath weapon, spend adventuring gear uses to produce weapons, deal more damage when you get hit, gain a constant damage bonus, and even turn into a dragon for a short period of time.

I had decided early on that the tarchons would be a potential front, along with several other possibilities that I don't want to reveal right now (since I might bring them in later). The only mental note I had on this session was that a tarchon army was going to attack the cathedral. I didn't think Chris's character was going to get imprisoned, but I think that just added to the tension as the carrier started boring through the cathedral while his character was still inside.

I've never ran a campaign in which the characters had to do things amid two warring armies. I divided the island into four sections, and had them defy danger to get through each section until they made it to the one that had the cathedral. I was going to have them take a detour, have the collidor suffer a malfunction, or get attacked and/or damaged as part of a soft or hard move, but Melissa kept rolling 10+'s with the ship's evasive maneuvers.

Oh well, at least we got to test out the ship moves a bit. I think they're still working as intended, though I should give her an actual sheet so we can better track weapon ammunition and fuel.

In the first session Shane explained that his character had been mutilated and left for dead by his tarchon squad after ordering a retreat (something tarchons almost never do). I happened to glance down at my notes right before he charged into the cathedral, and decided on the spot that the giant tarchon would be someone from his past. I built Panzer "by the book"; he's pretty badass, so I'm curious who'll win.

Finally, let's talk Kickstarter. I've been doing the writing, layout, and art myself, which means that I don't need to do a Kickstarter in order to pay someone else to tackle, well, any part of the project. Mostly it would allow me to focus more time and energy on it (instead of other stuff that would provide a more immediate payoff).

Over on G+ people have said that they like backing Kickstarters due to the possibility of expanding the scope of the project via stretch goals, which can include porting it to other systems. The downside is that it would probably be me doing the conversions, which means that it's going to take longer to finish it.

Another issue is people getting burned on Kickstarter projects, whether they are incredibly late, don't deliver on their promises, or both (and you know who you are). That is, of course, assuming they ever come out (you also know who you are). So if this is something you'd back lemme know, plus anything you'd like to see for stretch goals. If this isn't something you'd back tell me why, especially if there's something I can do to get you to back it.

GM's Day Sale!

Over on DriveThru RPG they're running a GM's Day Sale, which is actually more of a GM's week sale since it runs for a week. There are a bunch of titles marked down 30%, including our entire catalog.

Seeing as I forgot about this when I put The Pirate on sale, I set it back to it's original price, and then marked it down 30%, which is 9% more than it was before. When Drivethru's sale ends, I'll put it back and keep the March sale rolling.

I'm not going through the motions of updating the bundles, since right now if you get them individually you'll still save a good deal more than if you got the bundle.

So, here's your chance to snag a bunch of high-quality, high-content classes and magic items at a considerable discount!

Fright Night Art & Rules Update

It's been several months since I talked about Fright Night. Ever since Melissa pushed me to start doing art myself for A Sundered World, we've decided against trying to Kickstart it again and just have me draw all of the five-ish pieces we were initially aiming for. Here's the cover for the Creature Factory section:

Since the entire game relies on film terminology, I'm going for a rough, "storyboard" kind of look.

In addition over the past few months we've done more playtest sessions with some other players, and even a few other groups (sometimes with them running the game to see how it worked out). I haven't blogged any play reports because I've been insanely busy with a variety of projects (including, well, Fright Night), but some of the highlights include a prisoner shipment getting picked off by aliens in Australia, a whaling crew fighting off zombies (which culminated in a fight against a zombie whale), and a clan of hillbillies getting pulverized by a particularly violent ghost.

Though only one of the sessions was kind of meh (which, unfortunately, was run by yours truly), we still ended up tweaking the game some more.

The way the game works is that each Character takes turns having a block of playtime focused on their character (a Scene). The Director (ie, the GM) builds Scenes by rolling on a pair of tables and using the results as guidelines: the character might learn, find, lose, or see something, suffer damage (either from the Monster, an Extra, or the environment), or have nothing really happen at all.

It used to be that both tables had six results, which meant that you had an equal chance of anything happening. After one session in which the Director rolled a bunch of Extra Deaths, he proposed a change: have the tables vary as the game progresses. Again, the game already uses a lot of cinema terminology (Director, Movie, Set, Scenes, Extras, Actor, etc), so why not have the game better follow a kind of three-act structure?

So there are now three sets of tables, one for each Act. As you accrue Climax successes the game transitions from Act I to Act II, then from Act II to Act III. Each successive set of tables changes the odds of each result, so you're more likely to get a Nothing, Jump Scare, or Asset in Act I, while in Act III you can expect more Extras to die and Characters to suffer damage.

Something else we clarified was forcing Cool rolls to avoid having the Character do something stupid or disastrous, fighting the Monster at the end (including an option for an Instant-Death ending), and suggestions on handling Character recovery (in case you have a lot of downtime, or your Movie has access to futuristic medicine or magical healing).

It's been about a year since we started doing this, and we're excited that it's almost done (and all "in-house" to boot). The next game we plan on making using this game system (which we're calling Treatment) is probably going to be something superhero oriented.

GM's Day Sale
DriveThru RPG is running a week-long sale, in which they are marking down hundreds of titles by 30% or more, including our entire product catalog!

Seeing as I forgot about this when I put The Pirate on sale, I set it back to it's original price, and then marked it down 30%, which is 9% more than it was before. When Drivethru's sale ends, I'll put it back and keep the March sale rolling.

I'm not going through the motions of updating the bundles, since right now if you get them individually you'll still save a good deal more than if you got the bundle.

So, here's your chance to snag a bunch of high-quality, high-content classes and magic items at a considerable discount!
March 02, 2015
Posted by David Guyll


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