23 May 2018

Multiplication is Magic

Drawing by Evlyn M
The only people who have ever done magic have been executed by the primary religion or are in hiding and the player characters probably don’t even know about any of them except one or two executed wizards. (No magic classes are available to players.)

If a player character ever starts to use multiplication, they’ll feel an intense surge that resembles drinking too much coffee. If they actually finish a multiplication operation, a spell will be cast.
Now everyone in the party is a wizard, if they’re foolish enough.

Division teleports you and everyone nearby to the Underdark/Veins of the Earth. Division down below casts spells there. Multiplication has no effect in the depths.

Doing square roots collapses the mathematician’s lungs.

Drawing perfect geometric shapes causes supernatural mutations.

Other kinds of math have no effect whatsoever.

Correctly multiplying a negative number by anything grants a wish and sets the apocalypse in motion.

Example: a player character says “4 torches each. There are three of us, so that’s 12 torches.” Now, use a list of spells and randomly choose a spell. I’d probably just use the 12th entry of the wizard section from the short concise list of traditional spells. This means the character would, without warning, cast a 5x10ft cone of flames in whatever direction their palms happen to be exposed to.

20 May 2018

Wallet OSR On the Go - Players Roll Under

Drawing by Evlyn M
Get the RPG here. It’s all in one column so you can print it double-side and fold the sheet in half. Write notes on the rest of the sheet. It’s 200 words long and was written for 200 Word RPG Challenge. (Some rules to convert all rolls to roll-under stolen from Arnold's GLOG. I had lots of help from Nickoten and bits of help from various others. )

Why this exists and why you might want to use it

When my wife and I first started playing an RPG, we wanted something we could play while on a walk, cooking, doing other chores, waiting at an airport terminal, waiting in a grocery store line, talking on the phone, or chatting on the internet. We wanted a game of challenge, skill, logic, and cleverness. We also wanted something that could be used with the endless material developed for the OSR and older “fantasy games.” Eventually, we learned the rules well enough to do this with more complicated systems (Lamentations of the Flame Princess and the Goblin Laws of Gaming, also known as the GLOG.)
This thing is what I wish we had when we started. (It’s not adapted to make anything easier for playing with a single player. When I referee a game for my wife, she just plays cautiously and gets initiative except when surprised. If you’re interested in playing with just one player, see my blog series on the subject.)
This RPG is very compatible with almost any OD&D, AD&D, B/X or “OSR” adventure, bestiaries, setting, or other module from those systems with very little adaptation. Use whatever equipment list you like. If something you’re reading seems to be based on a rule that is different than one presented here, simply change the rule in your copy of this document or change the rule in the module. Balance doesn’t matter so long as your players find it difficult to survive.

Rulings and the power of sparse rules

If you find yourself wanting more or are unsure of how to interpret a rule, you should do your absolute best to fill in the gap yourself. This is called making a “ruling” by way of exercising “fiat.” I recommend doing that through several sessions, maybe six or even twelve. You’ll have to decide what happens when a player character decides to stab someone in the back. It isn’t fair to make an attack check, is it? The enemy is less defended, especially if caught by surprise, drunk, and surrounded. How will you fairly decide what happens? Thursdays in Thracia demonstrates this process wonderfully. I recommend reading the whole series.
If you want to consider the attitude and goals you should have when making rulings, I recommend reading this collection of advice for new referees: Principia Apocrypha.

Somewhat denser rules

When you feel like you’ve filled in all of the gaps, you should study other rulebooks to see how other people have handled the same situations.
I may eventually add appendices of additional rules for special situations, the kinds of rules that I’m encouraging you to add on your own. I may never do this because it might be a crutch for you. I don’t want to ruin your chance.
I based this game mostly on Dungeons and Dragons Basic/Advanced. To see how this game answered the questions you will answer, I recommend reading Gavin Norman’s excellent reference series, B/X Essentials. If you want to actually use them, he’s laid them out beautifully in the best way I could ever imagine for easy reference at the table. If you just want to reference them, there are free versions online, and they’re editable so you can use them as a start for creating your own rules document, if that’s the kind of thing you like to do.

Bonus: asynchronous play benefits

If you play RPGs by post or by chat or by using the wonderfully simple RoleGate website-app, this system allows players to roll for everything and it allows them to do it simply. This can hugely speed up play by removing the GM bottleneck from parts of the game.

01 May 2018

Black Soots

You might have noticed that most of my monsters are Ghibli-esque. That's on purpose. I think that sort of monster suits OSR play very well and is highly adaptable to styles and ages of play. This one is much more directly inspired.

Black soots usually only occur in groups of 3d6+10 or more.
Black soots are sprites. The average black soot is the size of a lemon. They're fuzzy, hairy balls with stick-like limbs that extend, retract, and hold objects, eyes, and mouths that are only noticeable when they're expressing emotion or eating. They float in the air in the general direction they want to go in, but cannot float with precision. A black soot can lift about 1/4th the weight that an average adult human can each and can push and pull things just as easily. They cannot speak any language but their own which sounds like low squeaks.
At the moment at which great physical harm might occur, they become a spot of black, powdery soot until they feel safe, often fooling their would-be killer into believing they've successfully killed them. (Do this when a PC successfully removes their HP.) They can be alchemically destroyed or used in the creation of magical objects, potions, and whatnot. This ability lends them a certain lack of fear - they rarely run from danger, though they will flee hard work if they don't see an opportunity to not do it.
They're stupid. They will obey simple commands if intimidated or impressed but like small, mostly harmless bits of mischief when left to their own devices. Their emotions show very easily.

Summary and Stats

3d6+10 Black Soots are in a typical group.
Attacks: 1 × Grapple. On success, they will carry their target to whatever object they want them to interact with or they will carry their target away from whatever location/object they do not wish to be disturbed.
(Ascending) AC: 14 HD: 0 (1hp)
Move:60’ Morale: 10
Details: lemon-sized, fuzzy, hairy, stick-limbs that extend and retract, can lift 1/4th the weight that a human can, no human language, changes to soot powder instead of death
Wants: food (seeds, small insects), good work, to please a master and inspire gratefulness.
Doesn't want: boring work, unappreciated work, to be stomped, .
Flavor: coal dust.
Effect of consuming: roll 1d6. 1-2: Only works once. Increase STR by 1. Your clothes become sooty every 12 hours. 6: Permanent asthma. -1 Inventory Slot when near flowering plants and for 1 hour following intense exertion.
Alchemical uses: sootiness, unnatural strength, fill lungs with soot.