Friday, August 31, 2012

Tunnels & Trolls Combat Mod

In the 7.5 rules, damage dealt can be distributed to the recipients in whatever way the winning side(or GM) sees fit. This is a brilliant little rule because of course it begs to then be justified in a narrative.

What results is that I could see it be tempting to deal all of the damage towards the most powerful character when fighting multiple opponents, attempting to take them out first. Now combat in real life doesn't exactly work this way. People are often defended or protected by others.

Here is a optional mod to shake combat up and to address what I described above

When making your combat roll add yet another colored d6 to determine the following results:

If PCs win then on a:

6 - strongest enemy takes at least 75% or more determined by PCs
3-5 - damage division is determined by party
2 - damage dealt equally
1 - weaker characters take a 75% or more(divided equally if more than 1)

If the enemies win then:

6 - weaker character takes at least %75 or more damage (divided equally if more than 1)
3-5 damage dealt equally
2 - players choice as to how damage is dealt. (describe a sacrifice or 'jumping in front of a bullet' maybe?)
1 - strongest character takes at least 75% of damage or more

This obviously can be tweaked for balance and I need to try it out in action just to verify what I think could work well.

Especially with solo play, this table can prompt a another simple way to narrate combat(how do the weaker characters take more damage? what happens?) based on results and give a very simple random AI to monsters based on the d6's results. It could even suggest enemy movement in a very loose way.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tunnels & Trolls Combat Arena Mod

I love the rules in the 'Weapons and Arenas' from Old School Hack. This is a mod for Tunnels and Trolls inspired by the same rules (arena descriptions are taken straight from the Old School Hack beta rules):

Tight Arenas: Narrow Places that often limit your mobility somehow.

- All daggers and swords that are 2 1/2' or less gain up to a 1d6 bonus in adds determined each combat round (easy way to do this is to have a colored bonus dice assigned for each character that counts as a regular combat die but also serves the function of determining the bonus)

All hafted weapons, swords that have a weight of 150 or more as well, or polearms suffer a 1d6 penalty while missle weapons suffer a 1d3 penalty(1d6: 1-2 =1, 3-4 = 2, 5-6 = 3)

Hazardous Arenas: Places where footing is difficult or visibility is limited and requires care.

All swords 6' and over, spears and pole arms(including quarterstaffs gain a 1d6 bonus(determined by same method above)

daggers and swords that are 2 1/2' or less suffer a 1d4(d6 -2, most likely will receive a 1 for penalty) penalty.

Open Arenas: Stark, wide-open areas where there is little to no cover.

All Missle SR roles gain a 1d6 bonus (again determined by same method above)

Dense Arenas: A crowded environment that has lots fo fiddly but smashable bits that might get in the way.

All hafted weapons and swords that have a weight of 150 or more gain a 1d6 bonus(again determined by same method above)

missle weapons suffer a 1d4 penalty (d6-2).

Neutral Arenas: A bland or ambigious environment that's hard to define.  Most arenas are this.

Missle weapons gain a 1d3 bonus if in neutral arena and outside

Middle sized swords, and all other weapons not mentioned receive no bonus or penalty. Daggers and small swords have a bit of an advantage in balance but that's because they deal much less damage.

I like this for the same reason that I like this OSH - it give some more strategy in weapon selection and allows for more varied combat.

The brilliance of T&T combat is that the division of damage makes combat easy to narrate. This is true of bonuses added especially when determining the bonus or penalty each round. For example:

Round 1 using my dirk in a tight space such as a goblin's small barrack room.

If I roll a 5 and succeed in my combat roll then I could describe it as: "I roll beneath a table, leaping out and stabbing the Goblin in the legs as he runs past the table toward Glain the dwarf. 

If a 1 is rolled then I could describe it as: "as I grapple with the orc on the ground, I just barely find a way to plunge my dirk up under his chest plate while keeping the tip of his broad sword away from my body." (basically the degree to which you are successful with your bonus can  be used to narrate the degree to which your bonus works for you in your combat round)

Or if using my Sling in the same situation, losing the combat roll, and I roll a 3 on my penalty: "I try to retreat a few steps to get some distance then I release a shot directly at the goblin behind the bunk, but the goblin swiftly hides behind the bed's headboard and the shot flies directly over his head."

Since T&T combat rounds are essentially 1-2 minutes depending on your combat bonus, it's then easy to describe your movement and position in the room like if Glain rolls a 3 bonus with his Sax then he could describe his action as "I move away from the door, running over to the table, leap on top of it, then jump on top of the Goblins back stabbing him in the neck!" The table then becomes an advantageous set piece in the encounter and can be used to describe amazing attacks.

You're essentially justifying the dice results through the narrative and the T&T longer rounds(1-2 min) give you more freedom to describe what happens.

It is optional whether you decide to give monster bonuses or not. If so, I think it best to only apply them in the occasion where it is obvious for example: goblin archers in an open arena, giant troll in dense arena(bar fight) etc. If playing solo this obviously could be phrased as a question in Mythic (Will the trolls size be an asset to him in the bar fight? - answered as a 'likely' question)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tunnels and Trolls

I've had several Tunnels and Trolls solo modules sitting around my house that I bought a number of years ago. I enjoyed playing through one of the adventures and found it interesting but maybe a more sparse version of Fighting Fantasy book.

A number of weeks ago I stumbled across this post which rekindled my interest in playing some Tunnels and Trolls partially because I'm less interested in solo CYA style modules and more interested in doing my own thing via Mythic. I've got a special itch for Old School rpgs as well and T&T is about as old school as you can get since it remains for the most part pretty much unchanged since 1975 (it's also the 2nd oldest rpg ever).

I had looked for the new box set online (T&T 7.5) but didn't have any luck. Noble Knight was selling it for 60 bucks and that seemed to be the only option but seemed to steep to take the plunge. The other day I swung by my FLGS to check out some board games when I was surprised to find a new copy for 35.00 so I decided to take the plunge.

I really like this box set - very similar to Ancient Odysseys Treasure Awaits box set.

The artwork is fantastic - doesn't this cover make you want to play some Tunnels & Trolls? It's literally overflowing with stuff (You can't even completely shut the box). Contents include a 170 pg rule book, a solo module, 2 monster manual supplementes (about 60pgs total), a gm adventure, a magic supplement, map of the world, three pages of cardboard tokens, and 4 mini d6s. You got everything you need.

Anyway I've played through the solo module and have been reading the rules and after giving it another chance I have to say that there is a lot to like especially in the 7.5 version. I think it could work well with Mythic solo play.

What I like so far in my reading:

Battles are fast and resolve all combatants in opposing roles. It's very simple and at face value might seem too simple but it's actually is quite elegent system and seems to work well based on my experience with it in the solo modules. I could see this working with Mythic since combat results can be described easily in a narrative.

The mechanics eliminate the need for Monster AI which is a plus for solo play (less decisions and interpretations). Also, since single dice rolls are used for numerous characters that means it's easy to have other NPC's (or familiars) join you in your solo adventure.

The SR mechanics are simple and really easy to calculate. 2d6 plus attribute versus SR level. SR levels are easy to decide and lends itself well to balanced difficulty which again is plus for solo play.

Buying equipment is a mini game in itself. I like that that you don't start with plate mail and a long sword but may start only with a sling, a dirk, and a steel cap. You have to earn your items. Plus the weapons are awesome! A Sax? YES! I don't even know what that is but I bet it's bad ass!

The experience system is very clear and I think would be easy to calculate with solo play. Check it out to see what I mean. Basically killing monsters is only one part of gaining experience.

Here is a link to the free quickstart rules. This is for the 5.5 Edition and not the 7.5 edition but they are very similar.

If I feel inspired in the next week or two, I plan on doing a simple AP of using T&T with Mythic and sharing some mods and ideas that I think will make T&T even more Mythic friendly. Stay tuned for further details.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Rant about the Czege Principle

Have you heard of the Czege principle? Basically it says that if you generate your own adversity in a game then the results are boring. I've struggled with this.

Using Mythic GM, why not just ask a question such as "Do I find a ring of invincibility?" or "Does a rock fall from the ceiling, crushing the dragon's skull?". Or simply just saying that a task resolution is easy. Who's going to call you out on this? The argument is that it's too easy to cheat. I think there are many good co-op board games that have rules that actually generate adversity very well in a balanced manner. Pandemic, Wrath of Ashardalon, LOTR the card game are a few. With balanced game play comes a horde of mechanics and in my experience that can kill the creativity in a solo RPG game making it no more then a puzzle to figure out.

What is wrong with generating your own adversity? How is that unsatisfying? Rereading the original Mythic RPG rules last night, I was struck by some advice on setting difficulty levels or enemy proficiency. The advice essentially suggests clearly following your logic and trusting that. A good question is 'what defines the average?' If you're busting open a door, what is the average strength of a door? is it an inch thick? So the door that I'm busting down now, is that stronger then an inch thick door? So is it likely that I can bust it down? I find by being as logical as I can, it's easier for me to trust that I'm being fair with establishing the level of difficulty in my obstacles. If a another GM ruled exactly the way I do based on my logic, why should that be different? Especially if I just trust my own competency and ability to discern and evaluate without cheating.

In improv, when your partner throws something at you, establishing a fact like "I just ran over your Dog" instead of saying "no you didn't, he's right here" you should say 'Really, did that happen!?' Go with it and say YES. Take it as the honest to god truth otherwise everything falls apart and it's unbelievable to watch as an audience member. Same is true of games. If you interpret, based on the Fate Chart in Mythic for example, that a huge fire breathing dragon emerges from behind the pile of treasure, then go with it! If you accept it as truth  and engage yourself with trying to overcome the obstacle, then what does it matter if it was you or someone else who came up with dragon in the first place.

When we dream, we create opposition all the time, or conflict in our lives manifest itself into opposition in a narrative. It's believable and we get entirely caught up in it without judging it or slamming on the breaks.

So if you have a goal as a character, why make opposition difficult and hard to overcome? Why increase the chances of losing? Because it's interesting, it's fun. It's fun to want difficulty, to say "bring it". If you're power gamer that might be a bitter pill to swallow. Look at any movie or great story. It's about characters trying to beat the odds. If there isn't any conflict it's boring. Why do people play RPG's? One reason, I believe, is to face dangers and maybe triumph over them without actually having to take the real journey of doing that. Why does it need to be created by someone else? Isn't the whole point to take a journey, maybe get caught up in the world and get your emotions running a bit.

Randomness makes this exciting. Not knowing what to expect and using mechanics to facilitate and encourage that is why I like to play solo rpg's. If I do end up rolling a 20 and slaying the dragon, that's really cool. Or if I come up with a great idea or plan and it works to trick the dragon, that's also really cool and satisfying from a gaming perspective whether or not Mythic or a live GM brought the opposition into the game.

Use and trust your logic , keep your impulse to cheat in check and say yes!

Dragon Dictation and Solo Play

Here's an idea that someone posted over at the Mythic Yahoo Forums as a tool for playing solo. Use this app on your iPhone and record your session while you play as journal entries or summaries.

I think using a journal could aid solo play. It encourages more of a focus on narrative as well as 'writing' APs or game logs super easy - just have to edit. This I think could allow for more episodic and shorter sessions since it's much easier to pick up where the last session ended.

Here are two games that use a journal mechanic and would work well with Dragon Dictation:

Swords_of_the-Skull-Takers  I want to write more about this game in length after I've played it (just read through the rules twice). I really am excited by the mechanics and the game world. Could easily be adapted to Zombie Survival horror, or an Aliens type session.

De Profundis I have yet to finish reading the rules for this one but from what I understand it is all based on writing journal entries whether playing it Gmless with another person or solo.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Old School Hack Pregens

I've made my love for Old School Hack known before. Today, Kirin uploaded this awesomeness to his website. Great little pregens to get you playing right away. They remind me a bunch of the character cards that came with the Hero Quest board game. A handy little resource to jump in and start playing an adventure right away. I might have use these with some of my OSH gmless/solo dungeon crawling ideas that I've been working on.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Some Inspiration for Solo Play

So I'm a Dungeon World Kickstarter contributor and there has been some great kickstarter rewards coming my way. I like Dungeon World a lot and hope to run it if I ever get around to getting people willing to play with me. I especially like it's simplicity. It calls for an improvisational/off the cuff style of play without much adventure design or 'work'. Really great stuff and I highly recommend getting a copy once it goes free or check this link here for the latest version of the pre release rules compiled by a fan:

People have been releasing 'Dungeon Starters' which are essentially basic  elements or ingredients that a GM can use to improvise an adventure from. Kickstarter backers got a whole slew of them as one of the rewards. This one should be available to everyone though(I found it in the forums but it also happens to be one of the Dungeon Starter that was released as a reward). Check out this one::

and this has a better format but is a little different(maybe better):

Seriously cool  stuff. I could see this being used to play solo. You start by asking one of the questions that acts as the adventure seed and then use Mythic or bust out the FU dice mechanics and let that guide your story while using your favorite rules lite fantasy ruleset (I recommend Tunnels and Trolls, or Swords and Wizardry). Impressions, People, events, obstacles, places are all compiled in two pages - all the ingredients for an adventure. You could either make these into random tables, make your own custom Mythic Event Focus Table based on all the adventure elements, or use my adventure deck idea which I've written about before. Maybe throw in about 30% random events based on the Mythic Action Tables to heighten the element of surprise. The custom moves even provide specific events (and read like a Fighting Fantasy entry) with multiple outcomes. Anyway these are on my mind and I'm getting some serious inspiration from them. Possibly a great way to create a specific world, adventure scenario for random solo play