Dec 9, 2021

PotRP Design Diary #33 - Gunfights


It is somewhat of an irony that what would take hours or days in real life takes moments in a gaming session, while something that would take mere moments can take hours to play out. Traveling across a vast wilderness takes a couple of random encounter checks, but a combat can take hours to conduct.

So to make a fast combat system the less rules the better, but that sacrifices all nuance. The more detail and variation in the system the longer the combats are going to take. For that reason I've never favored complex combat systems and it was probably the #1 turnoff of 4th Edition for me. 

In designing the combat system for On The Arizona Hills (Gunslinger) I looked to one of the best under appreciated combat systems: Boothill. From its war game roots, Gygax and Blume created streamlined yet detailed gunfighting rules. While 3rd edition is probably my favorite as it is a genuine fleshed out RPG, it is the 1st edition that is the most interesting for the purposes of borrowing ideas here as it comes from the same period and stew of ideas as the original LBB.

This is an effort to translate that system into original ODD compatible mechanics.

The First Shot

In western gunfights the victory often goes to whoever draws and fires first. Sometimes that comes down to not only speed (the DEX bonus) but also using the handier weapon and circumstances.

Use the normal combat rules, but with individual initiative.

Before rolling for attack, characters on both sides may optionally declare if they’re using one these attacks or defensive options: Hip Shooting, Rushing, Running, Evading, or Careful Aim, as these affect the First Shot chart. You can also take an “ordinary shot” in which case there’s no modifier.

Aim or Careful Aim means you’re sacrificing speed for accuracy.

Rushing (a quick attack) or Hip Shooting (even faster) means you’re trading accuracy for speed.

Running or Evading (zig-zagging, etc.) boosts your Armor Class at the expense of accuracy and speed.

If you are surprised, or your weapon is not already in your hands, you have an additional penalty to speed as you must draw it from the holster or unsling it.

Each player’s d6 initiative roll is modified by their Dexterity modifier and Weapon’s Speed factor (see the Ranged Weapon Table) and any appropriate bonuses and penalties shown on the FIRST SHOT CHART.

Do this for each figure firing that turn. The one with the highest positive total fires first, with other figures firing in order thereafter. In case of ties fire is considered as taking place simultaneously with regard to the figures whose total scores were tied.

Use the information on the FIRST SHOT CHART as a guide for other factors not listed.


Hit Location and Wounds

If a hit is to a limb, it’s just a flesh wound unless the attack causes the character to lose half or more of his CURRENT hit points. For instance, if he had only 3 hp left, then any hit that makes him lose 2 or more hp cripples the limb.

If a limb is an arm that is holding a weapon, the character drops it. They cannot use that arm/hand for shooting or combat until they recover back to full hp.

A crippled leg reduces movement by half, and eliminates any DEX bonus when trying actions that require physical agility. If both legs are crippled the character can only crawl at 3” and can’t do anything that requires physical agility. Again, they must recover to full hp and care from a Doctor to regain the use of the limb.



Dec 2, 2021

Hawkmoor Beasties: Frog Demon

Thorred Helgisson had a thirst for knowledge, he was the great jarl of Sinder who sat upon the throne of the elders high within the royal halls in the capital city of Hawkmoor. He commissioned Valdris Jarnsdottir and Fargrim Bardsson to survey the realm and report back all they witnessed and record the stories they heard on their travels.

Joining them was Thorelf the renowned ranger and Irenmund the wise, along with a band of other misfits and hardy mountaineers from far and wide across the uncivilized lands. The venture was perilous and would take this party from the warmer safe southern lands to the desolate and demon-haunted frozen north and around to the barely charted forests, fjords, and chasms, all the way to the far eastern fortress of Borderkeep that sat upon the edge of the known world, holding at bay the dark forces of chaos that threatened the realms.

Early in their travels they made their way to the icy bogs of Ismyri, where they encountered the fierce tribal frog demons, known as the froskapúki who made their homes among the fetid swamp.

FROSKAPÚKI Medium beast, neutral

Armor Class: 13 (scaly)
Hit Dice: 3 (18hp)
Speed: 30ft., fly 20ft
Morale: 9
Treasure Type: C

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
15(+2) 13(+1) 13(+1) 6(-2) 10(+0) 8(-1)

Senses: darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 11
Languages: Common
Challenge: 1 (200 XP)

Amphibious. The froskapúki can breathe air and water.
Standing Leap. The froskapúki's long jump is up to 20 ft. and its high jump is up to 10 ft., with or without a running start.

ACTIONS
Bite: Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d10 + 2) piercing damage plus 5 (1d10) poison damage.

Froskapúki: (AC 13, HD 3, hp 18, MV 30’, fly 20’, ML 9, TT C, Amphibious, Leap 20’, Bite +4 1d10+2 dam + poison save or take additional 1d10 dam)


Known as the frog demons, the froskapúki dwell in the icy bogs of southeastern Sinder where the noxious fens of kvefsveppur enter the delta that eventually meets with the Sea of Souls. They are a territorial and tribal species and are suspicious of all outsiders. They are also industrious building great villages among the swampy trees and marshy ground with bridges and walkways that criss-cross every which way. They have a flat tiered society where all are equals, but have different specializations within the tribe. The warrior caste holds no more authority or power than the food gatherers or child rearers. Their society is quite rigid though and a young froskapúki remains in the caste it was born to for the rest of its life unless something unusual and dramatic happens to change their station, such as defending the tribe from invaders thus proving they should be in the warrior caste for example.





Nov 22, 2021

PotRP Design Diary #32 - Air Plant Keeper

Air Plant Keeper
Red Martian, 3rd level Scientist

Armor Class: 10
Hit Dice: 3/9hp
Move: 120'
Attacks: shortsword or pistol
Damage: 1d6 or 1d12
No. Appearing: 1-4
Save: S3
Morale: 5
Treasure Type: A
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
XP Value: 100

Str: 11 (+0), Dex: 10 (+0), Con: 10 (+0), Wis: 9 (+0), Int: 13 (+1), Chr: 9 (0)

Equipment: shortsword, pistol.

Air plant keepers are skilled in the operations of the great air generators that maintain the breathable atmosphere of Barsoom. They are dedicated to their job and will defend the plant from hostile forces that may harm it.


 

Nov 18, 2021

PotRP Design Diary #31 - A Korad Building Map

 Developing the distinctive shapes for each of the 3 major cities: Korad, Helium, and Zodanga The Zodanga buildings are going to tend to be more squares and rectangles.




Nov 16, 2021

PotRP Design Diary #30 - Building Map

 



A clan of green martians have captured some Helium citizens and are holding them hostage. Break into the building and rescue them, hopefully without alerting the green martians.

Nov 15, 2021

PotRP Design Diary #29 - Mapping Buildings

 One of the challenges of mapping cities is the level of detail necessary to turn it into a viable adventuring area. Most city maps you see in RPG's are bird's eye view with little square boxes for buildings. Rarely are the individual buildings mapped out with the level of detail needed to conduct an adventure in. Because it would be madness.

The general approach is to highlight a few important buildings and map those out. But what if you want something a little more sandbox? The best examples of this are City State of the Invincible Overlord and the original Lankhmar city sets.



What I liked about Lankhmar is the city map had these little blank spots you could fill in with geomorphs that provided more individual details. I'm considering a variation on this idea. But it still requires drawing dozens if not hundreds of maps. I'd like this project done in my lifetime (well, by next year actually!) so I'm exploring ways to create great alien looking maps that also have the kind of maze-like density described in the Mars books.



One of the annoying aspects of sandbox adventures is leaving too much of the work up to the GM. This should be pick-up-and-play but with plenty of customizability if the GM wants that. So the approach I am taking here is providing enough info that the building is playable as an adventure by giving it basic mission types such as: a heist, a rescue mission, defeating a threat, cleaning out a hive of scum and villainy and so forth. But then leaving plenty of room for additional details the GM can custom fit to their campaign and play group. Here is one of the city building maps that I've also tried to imbue with some unusual geometry to give it an alien feel.

I've been developing a method to quickly generate these and still have a bit of hand-drawn feel to them. There will be more to reveal as the city maps are developed.


Nov 11, 2021

Sinderan Water Steed

Off the coasts of Sinder are the deep waters of Sálnahaf (the Sea of Souls). Lurking among the crashing waves, icebergs, and treacherous rocks many strange creatures swim. One of the less commonly sighted are the noble Vatnshestur, the water steeds. They are treasured by the Shahatha as a means of transportation and as beasts of burden and can be trained to endure long hours of hard work and travel. Some are even trained to be combatants.


VATNSHESTUR (Water Steed)
Large beast, neutral

Armor Class: 12 (scales)
Hit Dice: 3 (18hp)
Speed: 60ft (swim)
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: nil

STR     DEX     CON     INT   WIS    CHA
20(+4)  18(+3)  14(+2)   2(-4)   10(0)    12(+1)

Senses: normal
Languages: none
Challenge: 2/12 (75 XP)

Water Breathing. The water steed can breathe only underwater.


ACTIONS
Bite: Melee Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5ft, one target. Hit: 2 (1d4) slashing damage.
Stomp: Melee Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6 + 1) bludgeoning damage.

Vatnshestur appear as large fish with horselike forelimbs. They are swift and graceful in water, and cannot move on land. Their markings range from olive green with deep red stripes and fins to blue and white. They are kind tempered and easily tamed and trained. They can also be fierce combatants when threatened. The males can be particularly aggressive during mating season in the late summer. They are prized as steeds for aquatic humanoids. 

Nov 8, 2021

PotRP Design Diary #28 - How does the party get to Mars?

How does the party get to Mars?

Here are some options to handle the question of how the party makes their way to the Red Planet.

The easiest entry to the adventure is to simply begin on the Red Planet. If you have the Gunslinger roleplaying game you can begin the adventure on Earth as a classic western (with some strange science!) that contrasts with the weirdness of the alien world of the Red Planet.

Other options are:

  • Reincarnation and/or spirit travel: The characters die in a cave, their spirit travels across time and space, they wake up in bodies on the Red Planet that may or may not resemble their original bodies. This hews most closely to the novel.
  • Tornado of strange energy: A whirlwind crackling with strange red-orange energy overcomes the characters and whisks them away to the Red Planet.
  • Amulet or ring: The characters receive a teleportation device. It is a strange amulet, or a magical colored ring. It is a one way ticket to the Red Planet.
  • Ship: A mysterious ship is uncovered in the desert. When the characters get on board it activates and launches to the Red Planet.
  • Portal: A mysterious mirror on a wall, or a pool in a cave shows strange scenes, characters can step through and end up on the Red Planet.
  • Teleporter: The cave has a teleportation device of mysterious and advanced technology that accidentally or intentionally gets activated when the characters are near it teleporting the characters to ancient Mars.

However the characters get there, they find themselves on the Red Planet without equipment or clothes near a Thark hatchery as the eggs are hatching. The characters are first captured by Tharks and put in prison awaiting to be sacrificed in the arena for entertainment. They meet Sola who stations a calot named Woola on guard to prevent escape. What the characters choose to do now is up to the players.



The Kickstarter page is prepared, if you're interested in backing this project here is the preview page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thomasdenmark/gunslinger-strange-science-in-the-wild-west-roleplaying-game


Oct 29, 2021

Drawings by Robert Bloch of HP Lovecraft's Creations

Happy Halloween. Welcome to this special horror themed post. A special gory feast for your eyes today are the drawings of Robert Bloch's HP Lovecraftian horrors. They are every bit as disturbing as the madness inducing stories of eldritch horrors and things that should not be.
















Thanks to:

http://monsterbrains.blogspot.com/2020/11/robert-bloch-hp-lovecraft-drawings-1933.html

Oct 28, 2021

PotRP Design Diary #27 - Engineer Class

I just received the edited 1st draft back of On The Arizona Hills from my editor the brilliant and under-appreciated David Pulver and boy did he take me to the woodshed. I have to roll my sleeves up and get to work on the 2nd draft of this adventure.

I know, I know I'm spending a tremendous amount of time and effort on what amounts to just the first 2 chapters of the novel, but if I get this part right the rest of the adventure will work. I do have the rest of the entire adventure outlined and researched, it is only a matter of details at this point so the remaining parts should come together much faster (and I don't have to write a whole new RPG!).

One of the things that was clearly missing was the "strange science" part. I mean it had some cool gadgets, similar to the gadgets from Warriors of the Red Planet, but the rest of it felt like a plain old western. While that was part of the point: contrast with the weirdness of Barsoom, it didn't stand out on its own from any other western RPG. So I dug into the novel again and there is an important detail: James K. Powell, John Carter's mining partner, is a Mining Engineer by training. That opened up the door to the most obvious missing class: Engineer! So now the adventuring party can have an expert at all things mechanical in order to decipher the use of any strange science items from Barsoom (or any of the other worlds in the Burroughs-verse). It is a kind of parallel class to the Scientist in Warriors of the Red Planet.

Here is the first draft (much of it borrowed directly from WotRP).

Engineer

Primary Attribute: Intelligence 13+ gets a 5% XP bonus each level.
Hit Dice: 1d6 (+1hp per level beyond 9th)
Starting Hit Points: 6 + CON adjust.
Armor/Shield Permitted: None.
Weapon Proficiencies: Rifle, Revolver, Bowie Knife, Shotgun.

Engineers in the 1800’s were knowledgeable in the cutting edge technology of their day. They understood the principles of mechanical engineering, mathematics, electricity, and the aether theorem. Much of what they knew was superseded by new discoveries, but in their day they were the experts. Many of them used their knowledge to become prospectors, railroad engineers, and the like in the Wild Western frontier. These weren’t frail men in lab coats, they were serious hardened individuals used to difficult labor.

Engineer Special Abilities

Gadgets: Each Engineer possesses a suite of instruments, devices, and weapons, collectively known as Gadgets. The Engineer adds a new device to this suite each time he or she gains a level. An Engineer with an Intelligence of 13 or higher starts out with one additional Gadget. An Engineer with high Intelligence may apply his or her Basic Ability Modifier to a Gadget that requires an attack or damage roll.

Gadgets require power to operate. Unless otherwise noted in the Gadget’s description, each Gadget may be used once per day, and must be recharged before it will function again. Each Engineer possesses a portable power source (pack, battery, etc) that will recharge any Gadget the Engineer possesses, once every 24 hours. Engineer gadgets at 4th level can hold 2 charges, at 8th level they can hold 3 charges. 

Lost or destroyed Gadgets may be replaced at a cost of $100 per level of the Gadget, while lost or destroyed power packs may be replaced at a cost of $100 per level of the Engineer.

A Engineer may use another Engineer’s Gadgets for a cost of two power pack charges, providing they are able to figure out how to use it (50% chance, modified by Intelligence: Basic Ability Modifier x 5%).

Recharge: Some items (see STRANGE SCIENCE) require recharging to function. Engineers are capable of recharging one such item per day, at a materials cost of $100 per charge.



Oct 12, 2021

Game Wizards - The Epic Battle For D&D

 The early history of Dungeons and Dragons is every bit as fascinating as any story could be about young creatives with a great idea and finding success. Jon Peterson, author of the excellent Playing at the World, has written another book about a part of D&D's history we don't know as much about: the insider business.

This is a part of the history of TSR and D&D I've long wanted to learn more about, and it appears Jon Peterson has done the deep research to uncover what happened behind the scenes.

Pre-orders are available on Amazon and Barnes & Nobles


You can read more at his blog. https://playingattheworld.blogspot.com/2021/09/game-wizards-my-new-book.html


Oct 11, 2021

PotRP Design Diary #26 - Princess of the Red Planet - On the Arizona Hills

The prequel to Princess of the Red Planet is almost complete. The first draft has been sent off to be edited by my esteemed colleague David Pulver

I've set up a preview page on the Night Owl website. Just a few images for now, but it will get fleshed out as the time for the Kickstarter gets closer.

https://www.nightowlworkshop.com/gunslinger

Having read through the Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs several times I think what stands out about the first novel and helps to really make it special, besides it being a great rip-roaring story, is the way it starts out as a traditional Western. The mundaneness of the Old West sets the stage and contrasts with all the fascinating weirdness of Barsoom. And I really wanted to capture that contrast. Thus Gunslinger is a traditional Western RPG, with a little bit of strangeness (the strange science part) until the characters find themselves somehow on the Red Planet. You can follow the book exactly or let the players discover and explore things and create their own story that gets them there where they can meet the strange denizens of the Red Planet.

Why Kickstarter? I've resisted crowdfunding and have instead just made my fun little books as Print-on-Demand available at a reasonable price for everyone. Well, if a Kickstarter is successful then the quality of the printed books can be much higher than POD. Also it helps to increase awareness which means more players which means more support the games can get. This book has been a considerable investment in time, research, writing, play testing, editing, and of course art. I want to make it as good as I can. A Kickstarter will allow this.

Stay tuned as more details are revealed and the time for the Kickstarter is revealed.

Oct 2, 2021

OSR Blog Index

 Here is an index of OSR blogs. It isn't 100% complete (could any index be?), but it is filled with great treasures to explore.

http://osrsearch.blogspot.com/p/sites-indexed.html


(courtesy of Necropraxis https://www.necropraxis.com/ )

Sep 28, 2021

Raiders! The Martial Artist

I don't post that much about Raiders, though it is a genre every bit as interesting as Swords & Sorcery, Superheroes, and Sword & Planet. When designing Raiders one of the challenges was what classes to keep. There were a little over a dozen in the first draft, but it was whittled down to the four basic classes that made up the sort of ideal Raiders adventuring party.

I stumbled across this blog that has been posting some interesting content for Raiders, including a new class: the Martial Artist.

The new Marvel film Shang Chi was much better than the trailers advertised. It would be fun to put some of this action and storytelling into a Raiders campaign.

This class can fit well into pulpy archeological adventures in the early 20th century. At the time from what was considered the "mysterious Orient". Before Bruce Lee martial arts were a little known peculiar fighting style that the West didn't know much about. 

This interpretation is more of a sort of specialized Mercenary, a pretty good approach to maintain the simplicity of the Raiders RPG. Check it out:

https://theosrlibrary.blogspot.com/?m=1



Sep 17, 2021

Hawkmoor Beasties: Arctic Tortoise

 The bitter cold air raked our throats like a Sinderan witch's claws with every breath. We'd trekked across the bleak tundra for a week now without a single living thing in sight. Not even a bird. The land was cold and hard, each step on the frozen ground shot icicles of pain up our legs. We were famished, our supplies depleted days ago.

The ground began to tremble, the icy field cracked open and a giant shelled monstrosity burst out of the ground. "Get back it's a naesehorn!" I yelled, using the native name for the hungry arctic tortoise that was snapping at us.

Narrowly avoiding having a leg removed by the razor sharp jaws, I pulled my battle-axe out, bit my shield to engage my inner rage and charged the beast. My only hope was to sever its head by landing a blow on its neck, the only vulnerable part of the hard shelled scaly foe.

Behind me I heard Valgris reading aloud her runes to summon strength to empower my axe-arm. The arcane energy surged through my muscles and in a howling rage I unleashed the full fury of my blade upon the fell beast. My axe cut through scale and sinew, thick blue-green blood spewed across the tundra as the beast's head fell to the ground and the shelled carcass collapsed. I stumbled back, feeling the drain of fatigue caused by having stirred my rage.

"Good news is we have meat to eat. The bad news is I can't stand turtle flesh. Aah well, hunger is the best seasoning." I remarked while standing over the remains.

"Tortoise" Valdris corrected as she pulled her hunting knife out to begin carving the creature up for dinner.


- - -

NAESEHORN (Arctic Tortoise)
Large beast, neutral

Armor Class: 21 (shell)
Hit Dice: 6 (36hp)
Speed: 30ft
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: A

STR     DEX     CON     INT   WIS    CHA
27(+8)  10(+0)  11(+0)   2(-4)   3(-4)    8(-1)

Senses: Tremorsense 8
Languages: none
Challenge: 3/24 (125 XP)

Cold Resistance: half damage from all cold based attacks.
Burrowing: The naesehorn can burrow into frozen ground by heating it, and sinking just low enough to cover its body. This takes 3d6 turns. The ground will then freeze again. It does not travel underground.
Surprise: a burrowed naesehorn cannot be detected by normal means, it senses prey on a Tremorsense check within 20’ and can burst out of the ground to attack.

ACTIONS
Bite: Melee Attack: +6 to hit, reach 10ft, one target. 2d6 slashing damage.
Stomp: Melee Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5ft, one target. 4d6+8 bludgeoning damage.

Native to the northern sub-arctic regions of Sinder and the tundra wastelands, the naesehorn (nay-seh-horn), or arctic tortoise, is a giant hard-shelled tortoise adapted to freezing temperatures. It appears to have a hair like mane and tufts, these are just very thin long scales that trap air and insulate the creature. It remains very sedentary but is capable of uncanny bursts of speed that belie its massive size.


- - -

I'm experimenting with the creature stat block for the monster listings in Hawkmoor. It is inspired by every edition of DND in some way. The main goal here is to provide all the information readily available without burying important details in text blocks. I'm still considering adding terrain or something about its ecological niche.

Sep 9, 2021

Tower of the Moon - The Fantasy Trip Edition

 Gaming Ballistic has picked up Tower of the Moon and converted it to the recent The Fantasy Trip system. It is whole new layout and additional content and maps. They did a bang-up job and I recommend it if you are interested in that game system.

They are also helping to publish a new edition of the OSR version that Night Owl Workshop made a while back. It is an updated version with a few new bits and maps. The hardcopy version is quite good, much better than print on demand.

Head on over to the crowdfunding page to check it out: https://gamingballistic.com/tower-of-the-moon/






Aug 26, 2021

Geirahöð - Valkyrie of Spears

 This was based off of one of the first paintings for The Book of Valkyries when I was starting to explore what the book was going to be about. This is a rework in ink in the style I settled on for the GD&H (Gods, Demigods and Heroes) retroclone version.

The full color artbook is still planned, but each of those paintings takes a lot of time and research, so it is a little further down the road.

Geirahöð
Valkyrie of Spears

Demi-Goddess, Medium Humanoid, Chaotic Neutral

Armor Class: 18
Hit Dice: 10 (80hp)
BHB +5
Attacks: 1 × spear (1d6 1H/1d8 2H)
Move: 120’ (90’)
Save: D4 W5 P5 B5 S8 (F10)
Morale: 16
XP: 1650
TT: F

Str: 22 (+6) Dex: 17 (+3) Con: 14 (+2) Int: 14 (+2) Wis: 15 (+2) Chr: 19 (+4)

Spear: Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: 1d6 (1H), 1d8 (2H), Rate of Fire: 1, Range: 20ft, Max Range: 40ft

Roll 1d6 to Determine Spear’s Effect

  1. Spear of Wind: On a hit creates a blast of air, Save vs. Breath or be blown back 20’ and knocked down prone.
  2. Spear of Accuracy: +4 to hit.
  3. Spear of Fire: On a hit causes an additional 1d6 fire damage each round for 1d6 rounds.
  4. Spear of Cold: On a hit the victim must Save vs. Paralyze or be frozen in place for 1-6 rounds. They may still defend or engage in melee, but cannot move.
  5. Spear of Wounding: +6 damage. Wounds can only be healed by magic.
  6. Spear of Constriction: On a hit victim must Save vs. Paralyze or be entangled and unable to move, and will slowly be constricted to death for 1-4hp damage per round. Can be cut off in 2 rounds with a sharp blade by someone else.

Geirahöð (battle of spears “Spear-Battle,” or “Spear of Battle”) is the Valkyrie of spears. She carries spears forged by the Dokkalfar (dark elves) that are each imbued with a unique power. Some rarely miss, others create wounds that cannot heal, another blazes with fire, while another one can freeze an opponent in place. Roll a 1d6 each time she pulls a new spear to see what its capability is. She never runs out of spears, as she uses one another materializes in her possession.

Here was the original painting:



Aug 20, 2021

Gunslinger, Cougars, and Gamma World 2nd Edition

Short update on Gunslinger and Gamma World. What does Gamma World have to do with a Wild West RPG?

I don't know if Gamma World is the first non-D&D RPG I owned, but it was certainly one of the first. To this day it is still my favorite iteration of GW. That strange apocalyptic world will always hold a special place, as it came into my sphere of awareness around the time I was really into reading Andre Norton. Her book Starman's Son had quite an impact. If you haven't read the book it is basically a Gamma World-like post apocalyptic setting. Not quite as out there in wahoo-silly land, but it had its quirks.

Because of Andre Norton, Gamma World, and maybe especially Mad Max, I have a real fondness for the genre. Maybe the genre is too bleak for mainstream as we don't get a lot of post apocalyptic movies as we do other genres. Then again I guess Walking Dead falls in that category, and that show has certainly done well.

Back to Gunslinger and the connection to Gamma World. One of the features of Gamma World was the art. The interior was lavishly illustrated by Larry Elmore. I may have commented more than once that I like a lot of his paintings, but it was his pen & ink illustrations that I really like. I proudly have an original page of SnarfQuest hanging over my drawing table. In the creatures section Larry Elmore did a tiny little illustration of just about every weird mutated beast to be found in GW. And I've always loved that about 2nd edition.

With that in mind as a sort of homage to Larry Elmore and GW 2e, I'm drawing a tiny little pen & ink drawing for just about every critter in Gunslinger. By the illustrations being so small they don't take a lot of time to draw, so it isn't really delaying completion of the book that much. And they're a lot of fun to make.


Side note. I've borrowed many creatures from the Monster Book 0e Reloaded (Monster Compendium) by Matt Finch, and modified them specifically for Gunslinger. A great resource for fleshing out the critters in your 0e game. There once was a Word Doc floating around the internet, but I can't seem to find it at the moment.

Aug 12, 2021

The Vigilante


 The Punisher, Rambo, and others who are pushed to the limit can exhibit extraordinary abilities. In the Guardians Superhero RPG there isn't really a class that quite captures this unique individual that is a common trope in many comic books. Here is a write up that can be used with any original edition compatible system, but is meant specifically for Guardians.

Vigilante

The vigilante is most often driven by a deep personal need to exact revenge or to achieve some sort of justice beyond what the Law is willing to do. Extreme circumstances sometimes push normal individuals to become extraordinary. Whether through surviving physical or emotional trauma the vigilante has toughness, perseverance, and an unusual resistance to pain. What would kill an average person only makes them stronger. The non-powered Vigilante class can stand side by side with super powered individuals, and in some cases even overcome them in combat.

Prime Attribute: Constitution, 13+ (+5% XP)
Hit Dice: 1d8 (+1hp per level beyond 9th)
Starting Hit Points: 8 + CON adjust.
Armor/Shield Permitted: Any.
Weapon Proficiencies: Composite Bow, Rifle, Hand Gun, Tactical Hunting Knife.

Toughness: the vigilante reduces damage done to them by 1 point per hit at 1st level, 2 points at 3rd, 3 points at 5th, and 4 points at 9th level.

Pain Resistance: the vigilante is nearly immune to torture, and does not give in to pain.

Mental Resistance: the vigilante’s single minded goal for revenge makes them very resistant to mental attacks and mind control. +4 on saves vs. those effects.

Perseverance: at 0 hp the vigilante does not die, instead they become reinvigorated and determined to defeat their foe and will have +2 to hit and damage while at or below 0 hp. They are not killed until they are at -10 hp.

Extra Attack: at 9th level the vigilante gets 2 melee attacks per turn.


Aug 11, 2021

Orcs Across the Editions

When making monster reference cards for my Hawkmoor campaign I did some research on stat blocks across the various editions. That culminated in the creation of a spreadsheet based on the humble Orc so they could be readily compared. The gray rows are the stats from the original edition that is (almost) common across all editions.


When I look at this it strikes me that the Basic stat block is both the most useful and nicely succinct. I expected 5th edition to be the most convoluted, but it is 3/3.5 that is overly complicated. Why no 4th? Meh.

The final reference card form ended up looking like this:


And this version is formatted for a standard 2"x6" bookmark:



* * *

Hawkmoor is a classic high-fantasy retroclone that emulates LBB+GH plus some of my favorite mechanics from various editions presented in an "old-school" way. It is named after the capital of Sinder, a frontier state that stands between the demonic arctic hordes of Cholizar and the warmer southern lands. It is based on Tarniss, the grim fantasy world of Dungeoneer. A co-op boardgame of the same name is also in development.

Aug 10, 2021

HIldr: Valkyrie of Battle

 

Hildr 
Valkyrie of Battle
Demi-Goddess, Medium Humanoid, Chaotic Good
Armor Class: 18
Hit Dice: 8 (68 hp)
BHB +8
Attacks: 1 × battleaxe (1d8+4)
Move: 90’ (40’)
Save: D4 W5 P5 B5 S8 (F18)
Morale: 16
XP: 1150
TT: F
Str: 21 Dex: 16 Con: 17 Int: 12 Wis: 11 Chr: 18
  • Adrifa, Axe of Bashing: +4 To Hit and damage. On a successful hit victim must save vs. breath or be stunned for 1d4 rounds.
  • Verdun, Girdle of Protection: +4 AC
  • Berserk Rage: +4 To Hit and damage for 4 rounds. Causes fatigue, while at -4 To Hit and damage, must rest for 8 rounds.
  • Horn of Rejuvenation: her horn, yngjast, holds 4 doses. One quaff recovers 4 HP and immediately rejuvenates fatigue.
Hildr (her name means battle) is a ferocious combatant. She is hot tempered, and lives for the thrill of battle.


Aug 6, 2021

PotRP Design Diary #25

Saving Throws

I wrapped up the section on Saving Throws and was liking how it came together and decided to give a little sneak peek here:

A saving throw—also called a save—represents an attempt to resist a trap, a poison, a disease, an explosion, or a similar threat. You don’t normally decide to make a saving throw; you are forced to make one because your character is at risk of harm.

To make a saving throw, roll a d20 and add modifiers and match or beat the number on the type of save you are making.

There are six types of saves:

  • Explosions: things that go boom like dynamite.
  • Mentalism: mental or psychic attacks.
  • Energy: fire, lightning, energy beams.
  • Poison: lethal substances like a rattlesnake bite.
  • Falls: dropping from heights, or other physical trauma.
  • General: this is a catch-all for anything that doesn’t fall in the other categories.

A saving throw can be modified by a situational bonus or penalty as determined by the GM.

Modifiers to a saving throw are determined by the effect that causes it. For example, saving throw vs poison modifiers are determined by the potency of the poison.

Perhaps one of the most notable differences between various editions are saving throws. By default Gunslinger uses the same saves as in Warriors of the Red Planet which roughly align with:


The Average (or General) category is for systems that only use 1 Save stat. It might be a little silly to align it with Charisma, but I like the orderliness it gives to the table. And hey, maybe force of personality is the deciding factor whether or not a character saves!

* * *

Gunslinger Strange Science in the Wild West is the prelude to the Princess of the Red Planet adventure. It is also a stand alone RPG that can provide Western adventures in the vein of the classic TV show Wild, Wild West or the cult-hit Adventures in Brisco County Jr. And of course it can be part of a larger Sword & Planet style campaign.

Sigrun: Victory Rune


Sigrún 
Valkyrie of Victory
Demi-Goddess, Medium Humanoid, Lawful Neutral
Armor Class: 16
Hit Dice: 11 (88hp)
BHB +11
Attacks: 1 × spear (1d8+5)
Move: 90’ (40’)
Save: D1 W11 P12 B13 S14 (F12)
Morale: 17
XP: 1950
TT: F

Str: 19 Dex: 18 Con: 18 Int: 14 Wis: 15 Chr: 28

  • Spear of Victory: +5.
  • Victory Rune: this can be activated to guarantee herself or an ally a melee hit. Can be used up to 3 times/day. 

Sigrún’s name means "victory rune". She is the knower of the mysteries of victory. She was the daughter of King Hogni, and was Svava reborn.

The hero Helgi Hundingsbane first meets her when she leads a band of nine Valkyries

Sigrun was due to marry Hodbrod (Hodbrodd), son of King Granmar, whom she despised and had no intention of marrying. So when Sigrun met Helgi, son of Sigmund, she urged the hero into battle against Hodbrod.

The two fall in love, and Sigrún tells Helgi that her father Högni has promised her to Höðbroddr, the son of king Granmarr. Helgi invades Granmar's kingdom and slays anyone opposing their relationship. Only Sigrún's brother Dagr is left alive on condition that he swears fealty to Helgi.

Dagr is however obliged by honour to avenge his brothers and after having summoned Odin, the god gives him a spear. In a place called Fjoturlund, Dagr kills Helgi and goes back to his sister to tell her of his deed. Sigrún puts Dagr under a powerful curse after which he is obliged to live on carrion in the woods.

The sons of Hunding, enemies of Helgi, became allies of Hodbrodd. Helgi had killed their father in an earlier war. Helgi with the help of his half-brother Sinfjotli, defeated and killed Hodbrod in battle. Hunding's sons - Alf, Eyolf, Herward and Hagbard - were also killed.

Helgi is put in a barrow, but returns from Valhalla one last time so that the two can spend a night together.

Sigrún died early from the sadness, but was reborn again as the Valkyrie Kára.


The Book of Valkyries

 The Book of Valkyries is an OD&D style book of Norse Mythology that focusses on those fierce Shield-maidens of Asgard: the Valkyries.

A while back I did a review of the original Gods, Demigods, & Heroes. This is my effort to produce a book that is what I wish that book had been like. Also to address some of my criticisms towards the AD&D Legends & Lore books.

The first criticism is the lack of sound scholarship. I don't mean the kind of in depth knowledge a professor of Mythology who teaches at the college level would have (though that would be ideal). But something a good journeyman who studied and researched the material would have. After doing the research then taking those myths and D&Difying them. Turning them into gameable material suitable for use in any D&D campaign. This step necessitates extrapolating and even inventing beyond what is in the canon. This shortcoming is excusable in GD&H because it is more or less an amateur production, but by the time AD&D rolled around TSR had the resources to produce a much higher quality book of lore.

In the case of Norse Mythology there is really only the Eddas, and a few scraps of other material. The Icelandic Sagas, while valuable, are generally written far later than the time of the Viking era. In the case of translating to game material though anything and everything is fair game excepting more modern additions. So I'm generally avoiding the lore of modern Paganism, Wicca, and related material. Those are interesting, but for purposes of the Book of Valkyries I'd rather stick to the old stuff.


Jul 30, 2021

Herja Valkyrie of Devastation

 

Herja 
Valkyrie of Devastation
Demi-Goddess, Medium Humanoid, Chaotic Neutral
Armor Class: 18
Hit Dice: 10 (80hp)
BHB +5
Attacks: 2 × battleaxe (1d8)
Move: 90’ (40’)
Save: D4 W5 P5 B5 S8 (F18)
Morale: 18
XP: 1650
TT: F
Str: 21 Dex: 16 Con: 17 Int: 12 Wis: 11 Chr: 18
  • Axe of Devastation: on a successful hit creates an explosion of force all within a 25’ radius takes 2d8 damage save vs. breath for half.
  • Axe of Destruction: on a successful hit destroys non-magical shield and armor, or a parried non-magical weapon.
  • Amulet of Protection: +4 AC
Herja (Devastate) is the Valkyrie of Devastation. She is silent most of the time, and soft spoken when she does speak. She lets her axes do the talking for her.