Homerules: Something Unexpected Happened Along the Way

In this post I want to share the “Random Encounters and Vistas” house rules that we use in my ongoing D&D campaign. This set of rules has crossed game editions from OD&D (using the Rules Cyclopedia) through 2nd Edition AD&D and into today’s 5th Edition D&D incarnation of this campaign. Before you say it, yes, I know, every D&D blog under the Sun has their own random encounter rules. While some groups out there find the very concept of random encounters completely anathema to their style of play, there are still dozens of approaches to the rules for groups that find them useful. That’s one of my favorite parts about this grand new digital age for my most beloved hobby: there’s any number of ways to do any one thing in your games, something for everyone and then some. So here are mine.

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Lately we’ve been playing a lot of exploration-heavy games in our main group. Be it exploring a newly-discovered southern continent in our Forthalome campaign (which I swear I will get back to some day), or traveling cross-country back in the northernmost reaches of the homeland in our Northwarde campaign, the process of The Journey has become a core focus in many of our sessions. The flow we use is in many ways similar to the “Hex Crawl” approach to gaming, albeit with a few personal twists and less of a main stage focus. For us, we always have a starting point and a destination in mind, and everything in between is largely undefined. Random encounters mixed with direct requests for improvisational player input help us flesh out all of that intervening space while also making it an active play event at the table. Continue reading

Friday Excitement 2016-05-13

With this post I’m bringing back an old positivity exercise I used to practice, with the hope of using it as an ongoing tool for inspiration. So let’s talk about some things that I’m currently excited about!

First off, I’ll be spending this weekend at the third annual occurrence of the PDXAGE (Portland Analog Gaming Event) convention. PDXAGE is the newest convention-style event here in the Portland metro area, and is growing every year. While it’s mostly board-and-card game focused, there’s a growing RPG section and I’m happy to be a part of it. I’ll have a few of our CelStyle games with me to demo, as well as a fresh printed copy of Beyond the Wall for anyone interested in a pickup game. I’m really excited to see more gaming cons taking root in this city, so come check it out this weekend!

Speaking of CelStyle, the old website for our anime-inspired design collective either got hacked or got swiped, I’m not entirely sure of the details. I’m not excited about that at all, but I am pretty excited about taking the old site and starting something new. Look forward to a new site, a new domain, and a renewed stream of content in the coming weeks and more. Continue reading

KnownWorld RPG is also now added to GitHub

Following the trail laid out by yesterday’s post, I’ve gone and pushed out the KnownWorld rules to GitHub as well. This was a Palladium Fantasy 1st Ed rules hack that I developed, to try and get some more use out of a set of well-loved books that still grace my shelf. That game world will always be one of my favorites, but ye gods I just can’t handle that system for more than an hour. Anyway we played with these house rules for a few sessions before the game fell apart, and while they’re not perfect, they were a lot of fun and helped us breathe new life into a beloved older setting.

So if you have the Palladium Fantasy 1E book handy (you absolutely need it to play – if you don’t have it, you can buy it here), then check out that repo and read over the rules. And feel free to offer suggestions for improvement. And don’t forget, there’s still Eight Days Left on the Savage RIFTS Kickstarter!

Next up: Cannibal Contagion!

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