HAMMERCRAWL! RPG Method version 2.2 is now live

After a bit of work over the past weekend, I finally assembled a newer, crisper version of the HAMMERCRAWL! gaming method outline document. This current version is a refinement of the last blog post I wrote on the matter, taking a lot of those pieces and reorganizing them into a usable-at-the-table reference text. Like all my current and planned future work, this new document can be found on GitHub: https://github.com/nonplayer/hammercrawl

I’ll be running this again in two nights at this weekend’s upcoming Gamestorm convention here in Portland. I’d love to hear from anyone else who has read this and given it a shot, too!

Hammercrawl v2.0, Revisited

Author’s Note, May 2016: I wrote this post before going to Gamestorm last year, but something caught it up accidentally in a pending state and frankly I’m not sure what happened. I haven’t really touched this blog much since then, but I just this morning found it chilling out in my draft queue, and figured I’d read it over and push it out. It’s worth noting that in the days that followed at Gamestorm 2015, we played this twice and jammed out even more new ways to improve the process – I’m most particularly fond of a new “Loot Bag” mechanic that I’ve been writing up after a year away from this particular design project. More posts will follow on this subject, but for now, here’s the old post that got locked, so that maybe folks will find it interesting. End Note

Last year at Gamestorm 2014, a few conversations on “roguelike” gaming experiences led me to come up with an on-the-fly method for character-grinding adventure gaming. With but a single simple Chessex d12 Dungeon Die, a handful of those custom Warhammer Fantasy Third Edition RPG dice, a Swords & Wizardry monster book, and a stack of random characters from Save vs Total Party Kill, we had a rip-roaring time plunging into unknown dungeons (and looting the bodies of fallen compatriots after every battle).

From this was born HAMMERCRAWL! – my nickname for this evolving method of using collated existing tools for immediate, “procedurally-generated” roguelike tabletop dungeon crawling. The idea is to have everything I need to run such a game on-hand in the size of a custom GM screen, or less. This year, I want to give HAMMERCRAWL! a second go at the coming Gamestorm 2015, and hopefully get things into a more well-oiled machine than the previous attempts. To assist with this, I’m keeping notes here on the various pieces and how they fit together.

First off, things that HAMMERCRAWL! is not:

  • HAMMERCRAWL! is not core game mechanic: It uses old-school D&D/retroclone rules – pick one of your choice, there are plenty!
  • HAMMERCRAWL! is not a system for generating story: If you want Story, you’ll have to add that part yourself.
  • HAMMERCRAWL! is not a method for campaign gaming: The various tools here are collected for the primary purpose of one-shot gaming; long-term use of HAMMERCRAWL! might not be fun, unless you and your group are exceptionally masochistic.

Instead, HAMMERCRAWL! is a system for randomly generating the “bottom line” elements of a dungeon crawl: Characters, Dungeon Rooms, Traps, Monsters, and Treasure. And it’s certainly not for everyone, especially those who want a more stable, fleshed-out gaming experience that lasts more than a single pick-up or con-game session. Continue reading

HAMMERCRAWL! Part 2: Game Structure

The first post laid out the tools of the game, now this one sets down the adventure flow, with specific focus on the meta-game that the DM commands.

The Goal of HAMMERCRAWL!

The characters’ main purpose is to venture out into the depths of a dungeon, kill monsters and gain loot, and then make it back to the surface alive in order to enjoy the primary benefit of those rewards: Experience! The longer they stay on a run, and the deeper into the dungeon they go, the greater the reward, and the darker the dangers. Continue reading

HAMMERCRAWL! Roguelike Random OSR Gaming, Part 1: Tools

(This post has turned into something much larger than expected, so I’m breaking it up into multiple posts)

Last year at Gamestorm 2014, a few conversations on “roguelike” gaming experiences led me to come up with an on-the-fly method for character-grinding adventure gaming. With but a single simple Chessex d12 Dungeon Die, a handful of those custom Warhammer Fantasy Third Edition RPG dice, a Swords & Wizardry monster book, and a stack of random characters from Save vs Total Party Kill, we had a rip-roaring time plunging into unknown dungeons (and looting the bodies of fallen compatriots after every battle).

From this was born HAMMERCRAWL! – my nickname for this evolving method of using collated existing tools for immediate, “procedurally-generated” roguelike tabletop dungeon crawling. The idea is to have everything I need to run such a game on-hand in the size of a custom GM screen, or less. This year, I want to give HAMMERCRAWL! a second go at the coming Gamestorm 2015, and hopefully get things into a more well-oiled machine than the previous attempts. To assist with this, I’m keeping notes here on the various pieces and how they fit together.

First off, things that HAMMERCRAWL! is not:

  • HAMMERCRAWL! is not core game mechanic: It uses old-school D&D/retroclone rules – pick one of your choice, there are plenty!
  • HAMMERCRAWL! is not a system for generating story: If you want Story, you’ll have to add that part yourself.
  • HAMMERCRAWL! is not a method for campaign gaming: The various tools here are collected for the primary purpose of one-shot gaming; long-term use of HAMMERCRAWL! might not be fun, unless you and your group are exceptionally masochistic.

Instead, HAMMERCRAWL! is a system for randomly generating the “bottom line” elements of a dungeon crawl: Characters, Dungeon Rooms, Traps, Monsters, and Treasure. And it’s certainly not for everyone, especially those who want a more stable, fleshed-out gaming experience that lasts more than a single pick-up or con-game session. Continue reading

I’ll let you in on a little secret

This weekend’s convention was pretty stellar, at least as Motobushido game play is concerned. The “pretty much final” version of the rules was tested in full, and stood pretty damn solidly. But there’s one cool thing that I really want to take a moment and talk about. Towards the end of one of the sessions, a player said to me something that I’d never really quantified in words, but had been otherwise trying to get across in different manners since the early days of this game.

To paraphrase him: “Motobushido is a game that has both motorcycles and samurai in it, but isn’t at all about either one of those two things.”

This is something of a secret, and totally true. While there are samurai mechanics, and motorcycle mechanics, and samurai fights on the backs of motorcycles, the true core of the game boils down to a sentence which involves neither: Motobushido is a game about brotherhood, reputation, and fatalistic action. Motobushido is a game about not discovering your own limits until after you’ve pushed them too far.

In pretty much every game I run, once the players finally grasp the mechanic (which – not to toot my horn here – is completely different from anything they’ve ever played before), their faces always show this “Ohhhhhhhh I get it” moment when they realize the truth of the game’s focus. And for me, that moment is always, always a wonderful thing to see in action.

Anyway, I’m spending this afternoon and evening mostly working on the final playtest draft. I had intended on releasing it today, but I’ve just got too much post-con administrivia to handle, so they’ll likely be up tomorrow, or Wednesday morning at the latest.

Gamestorm 2012 Recap Time

(Eek! I wrote this a few nights ago but forgot to set it to auto-post. So it’s a bit late. My bad!)

This past weekend was Gamestorm 2012, which I like to call “Portland’s Annual Gaming Convention in Vancouver.” You can read about the convention in my post history and on its own website, so I’m just gonna skip on ahead to the highlights.

For me, the biggest and most awesome parts of the weekend were the two first-ever public playtests of Motobushido. I finally got to put my newest creation in the hands of total strangers who had never heard of it before. The results were pretty powerful: after two full sessions of play, I walked away not only with pages of rules tweaks and updates, but with some damn fine gaming memories as well. I found it interesting to see how the same basic scenario idea was so drastically altered between the two different groups. I’ll definitely be fleshing that one out a bit more and including it in the core book.

Aside from those demos, I really spent most of my time at the Indie Hurricane booth in the Dealer Room. I met some great new local gamers, and had some good discussions about gaming-related ideas that opened my mind to new perspectives. Some thanks and acknowledgements:

  • Many, many thanks to Hans Otterson for the rides to the convention.
  • Even more thanks to Joel Shempert for making the Indie Hurricane booth run smoothly, and for putting the whole effort together.
  • Thanks to the guy at the FaceEater booth for finally teaching me how to play this game. It was a lot of fun, and I look forward to more games with my local pals.

I walked away with some cool swag from the GM Gift Room – namely a copy of Feng Shui, which I’ve been meaning to grab for some time now based on the recommendations of many. And of course, after the con, there was much sleeping.

I’m really eager to build some new semi-regular game-nights with those of you that I’ve just met. Let’s make this happen, folks!