Thursday, October 18, 2018

Another OSR Guide for the Perplexed

I've enjoyed reading other people's responses to Zak Smith's OSR Guide for the Perplexed, so I thought I'd add my own. 

1. One article or blog entry that exemplifies the best of the Old School Renaissance for me: 
d100 Monster Missions and Deals in Redbrick Dungeons is just one example from a ridiculously useful blog. It is immediately applicable at the table and adds complexity to just about any dungeon-y situation. The blog is full of entries like this.

2. My favorite piece of OSR wisdom/advice/snark: 
This, from Zak Smith.

...if you play with a lot of distance--the distance is the content of the game. You're not pretending to be an elf because you want to be an elf, you're pretending to be an elf because you're an insurance adjuster and the back-and-forth between being an insurance adjuster and an elf is interesting and funny. The insurance adjuster is automatically complicated because he's real--the elf can be, but doesn't have to be. That's what's interesting--the constant juxtaposition of worlds. One full of quirks and logistics and ordinary people, and one made of nothing but genretastic invention. 

... somebody like me would say--the sand castle isn't really the end product--the product is the fun in trying to make a castle out of something as chaotic as sand.
3. Best OSR module/supplement:

4. My favorite house rule (by someone else): is still Shields Shall Be Splintered. 

5. How I found out about the OSR:
This is hazy for me. I remember reading Jeff's GameblogRobert Fisher's TSR Era D&D thoughts, Philotomy's Musings, Grognardia, and the OD&D boards. A poster going by the name "Calithena" looms large in my memory of the early part of the whole thing, especially Fight On. I was also combing forums for scraps of information myself, in a spotty way, before I remember an OSR label really coming together. (My first post on this blog (2008) was a repost of a few links from my (now super lost) Livejournal, doing just that.)  

6. My favorite OSR online resource/toy:

7. Best place to talk to other OSR gamers: 
G+, but I don't talk much, just read.

8. Other places I might be found hanging out talking games:
Blogs. I also lurk at most of the main RPG forums.

9. My awesome, pithy OSR take nobody appreciates enough:
The OSR conversation is a lot like the Forge, and it has been as successful as it has for many of the same reasons the Forge was successful in its day (esp. a combination of intense content moderation with a focus on DIY production). 

10. My favorite non-OSR RPG:
Street Fighter: the Storytelling Game (20th Anniversary Edition, fan-compiled, here!)

11. Why I like OSR stuff:
People create interesting new things I couldn't imagine myself. 

12. Two other cool OSR things you should know about that I haven’t named yet:

13. If I could read but one other RPG blog but my own it would be:
Rolltop Indigo, hands down, if I'm reading the question correctly (i.e., that any RPG blog counts, not only OSR). 

14. A game thing I made that I like quite a lot is:
my "Rainy City" campaign setting. 

15. I'm currently running/playing:
Running: my current Rainy City campaign, about the first class of City College of Magick. Homebrew game system. 

Playing: Stars without Number 

16. I don't care whether you use ascending or descending AC because:
It's a boring conversation. 

17. The OSRest picture I could post on short notice:



Thursday, July 20, 2017

Orcs as the Fallen


Another take on orcs as a playable race for ACKS. This orc thing keeps popping up around here in various forms, somehow. This time, it's a take on noisms's Tolkien's Drow, the Bizarro Orc, and Corrupt Elfdom. This isn't exactly what he had in mind. (No sense in simply copying it.). Rather, it's a different path that might be taken with that post as its starting point.

ORC (pdf)
Prime Requisite: STR
Requirements: CON 9
Hit Dice: 1d6
Maximum Level: 13
Build Points: Elf 0 (125), Fighting 2 (1000), HD 1 (500), Thievery 1 (200)
Orcs are twisted things, created in evil times from elves warped by foul magics. Common folk often know the smaller orcs simply as goblins or kobolds, the larger as orcs, hobgoblins or bugbears. Some scholars refer to the members of this race as the dark elves.
All know them as hateful cowards and murderers, foot soldiers of evil, and killers in the night.  
Physically, orcs tend to be squat and wiry, sallow or ashen in complexion, with wide toothy mouths and small mean eyes. The smallest common goblin is no larger than a halfling. The greatest and largest orc can reach nearly the size and build of men.
Orcs are accustomed to strife and battle. At first level, orcs hit an unarmored foe (AC 0) with an attack throw of 10+. Thereafter they advance in attack throws by two points every three levels of experience up until 9th level (i.e. they fight as fighters). They advance in saving throws as normal fighters, by two points every three levels of experience. Like fighters, orcs increase their base damage roll from successful missile and melee attacks by +1 at 1st level and by an additional +1 at 3rd, 6th, 9th and 12th level. They may perform one cleave attack per level.

Orc Level Progression
Experience
Title
Level
Hit Dice
Damage Bonus

0
Goblin
1
1d6
+1

1,825
Hobgoblin
2
2d6
+1

3,650
Bugbear
3
3d6
+2

7,300
Uruk
4
4d6
+2

14,600
Uruk Veteran
5
5d6
+2

29,200
Uruk Leader
6
6d6
+3

60,000
Uruk Commander
7
7d6
+3

120,000
Uruk Lord
8
8d6
+3

240,000
Dark Elf
9
9d6
+4

360,000
Dark Elf Lord, 10th lvl
10
9d6+2*
+4

480,000
Dark Elf Warlord, 11th lvl
11
9d6+4*
+4

600,000
Dark Elf Warlord, 12th lvl
12
9d6+6*
+5

720,000
Dark Elf Warlord, 13th lvl
13
9d6+8
+5

*Hit point modifiers from constitution are ignored



Orcs are killers, trained in the use of all weapons and armor. They may fight wielding a weapon and shield, wielding a two-handed weapon, or wielding a weapon in each hand, as desired. Equipped with light armor and a bow, any orc is an archer or skirmisher. Equipped with heavy armor, shield, and blade, that same orc is a heavy foot soldier. Cloaked as a man, carrying a wicked curved knife, the orc is an assassin in the night. In addition to the common speech, orcs know a twisted but intelligible form of the elven language, as well as the goblin tongues -- goblin, hobgoblin, and orc.
At heart, all orcs are cowards and ambushers, preferring to set traps and fall upon enemies unawares. They gain a +1 bonus to surprise rolls when in the wilderness. When wearing leather armor or lighter garb, an orc can move silently and hide in shadows as a thief of the same level. Orcs have the searching eyes of the looter and robber and detect hidden and secret doors with a proficiency throw of 8+ on 1d20 when actively searching, or 14+ on casual inspection.
Orcs are corpse eaters and are immune to all forms of disease, including magical diseases caused by mummies, spells, or lycanthropes. Their corrupted bodies are unaffected by the paralysis ghouls can inflict, and they gain a +1 bonus on saving throws versus Petrification/Paralysis and Spells.
Orcs are fearsome, and the predators and prey alike in the wilderlands recognize them as masters. Whenever orcs build forts, all ordinary animals within 5 miles of the stronghold become servile and helpful to their goblin masters.
Orcs are feared for their inhumanity. Orcs suffer a -2 penalty to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of humans and demi-humans. Conversely, they get a +2 bonus to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of other goblins.
When an orc reaches 5th level, his battlefield prowess begins to inspire others to follow him. Any henchmen and mercenaries hired by the orc gain a +1 bonus to their morale score whenever he personally leads them. This bonus stacks with the modifiers from the goblin’s Charisma, proficiencies, and race.
At 9th level, the orc can build a fortress. When he does so, up to 1d4+1x10 0th level mercenaries and 1d6 orcs of 1st-3rd level will come to apply for jobs and training. If hired, they must be paid standard rates for mercenaries. Through force of arms, the dark elf may ultimately control several castles or even entire realms, though he can expect to face ongoing challenges from humans and demi-humans. Additional rules for castles are detailed in the Campaign chapter of ACKS.
Orc Proficiency List: Alertness, Ambushing, Animal Training, Berserkergang, Blind Fighting, Caving, Climbing, Combat Reflexes, Combat Trickery, Craft, Disguise, Dungeon Bashing, Endurance, Fighting Style, Healing, Intimidation, *Kin-Slaying, Precise Shooting, Riding, Running, Siege Engineering, Skirmishing, Skulking, Sniping, Survival, Swashbuckling, Trapping, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus
*New proficiencies described in Chapter 6 of the ACKS Player’s Companion.

Template:
Orc Foot Soldier
Proficiencies:
Endurance, Kin-Slaying
Starting Equipment:
Crossbow, case with 20 quarrels, curved sword, battered steel shield, chain mail armor, armiger’s tunic and pants, low boots, backpack, 2 weeks’ iron rations

Orc Foot Soldier Template: This pre-generated template represents a common goblin foot soldier in the armies of evil. The template is ready for adventure. However, if your foot soldier’s INT is 13 or greater, you may pick one or more additional general proficiencies before play if you’d like (see Starting Proficiencies in Chapter 4).
*New proficiencies described in Chapter 6 of the ACKS Player’s Companion.

Template:
Orc Murderer
Proficiencies:
Ambushing, Disguise
Starting Equipment:
Short bow, case with 20 arrows, long knife, curved sword, small shield, leather armor, dark cloak, tunic and pants, low boots, backpack, 2 weeks’ iron rations

Orc MurdererTemplate: This pre-generated template represents an orc spy or assassin, perhaps a half-orc plying their trade in the cities of men. The template is ready for adventure. However, if your assassin’s INT is 13 or greater, you may pick one or more additional general proficiencies before play if you’d like (see Starting Proficiencies in Chapter 4).


Orc Saving Throws

Level
Petrification
& Paralysis
Poison
& Death
Blast
& Breath
Staffs
& Wands

Spells
1
15+
14+
16+
16+
17+
2-3
14+
13+
15+
15+
16+
4
13+
12+
14+
14+
15+
5-6
12+
11+
13+
13+
14+
7
11+
10+
12+
12+
13+
8-9
10+
9+
11+
11+
12+
10
9+
8+
10+
10+
11+
11-12
8+
7+
9+
9+
10+
13
7+
6+
8+
8+
9+
Orc Attack Throws

Level

Attack Throw
1
10+
2-3
9+
4
8+
5-6
7+
7
6+
8-9
5+
10
4+
11-12
3+
13
2+

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Street Fighter: the Storytelling Game 20th Anniversary Edition

White Wolf made one great game. Street Fighter: the Storytelling Game. It was a bright, colorful spot of adventure in their relentlessly dreary catalog. Released the same year as that dire gray thing, Wraith: the Oblivion, accompanied by apologetic articles in their magazine about how it wasn't a case of selling out, and tied in its advertising to that embarrassing 1994 Street Fighter live action movie, maybe it never had a chance. And perhaps because they didn't know any better, they made it a very ugly book, with a very ugly cover and very ugly original interior art alongside some good official Capcom artworks.

Yet they also made it glossy and full color in a world where there were few full color gamebooks, and it was sold at a low price point even in its day ($14.94).

Who knows what White Wolf was thinking?

It went out of print more or less immediately. Most of White Wolf's fanbase wasn't going for it, and the gamers who wanted a fun action adventure game weren't going for it either -- it couldn't possibly be a game that embraced actual fun -- it was a White Wolf game. Right?

But the game! The game was better than it had any right to be. A modern martial arts action adventure game, a game in which you got bonuses for shouting out the name of your martial art move when doing it (shoooooryuuuuuuuken!), a game featuring a cutaway map of the villain's evil lair in its antagonists book, a game in which you can get in a fistfight with a robot to see who is the best at punching!

Goddamn, White Wolf. You did something right.

Now a fan has drawn together all the game's core rules into a single re-release. All the genius of the fast playing martial arts action adventure game that still stands as the best entry into the field of martial arts RPGs.

Nothing before or since has gotten kung fu roleplaying so right.

Download it here!

Download it. Play it. Remix the source files to make your own personal Street Fighter dream game.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Montana Event

We've lost Montana. 

Our current intelligence is limited, but communications from our embedded agent at Malmstrom Air Force Base strongly support the theory that a xenothropic entity has control of most of the state. Satellite imagery corroborates that large parts of the state are currently reality adjacent. Ordinary Americans are finding the idea of visiting the region subconsciously abhorrent and are cancelling family vacations, rerouting road trips, and electing to stay at college during the summer instead of returning home. More worryingly, our agents in homeland security have identified a number of suspected basement-infected military contractors, rogue agents, and global "adventurers" who have entered the U.S. via PDX, SLC, or DEN. Given these entry points, the conspiracy suspects that these rogue elements are converging on the region.  

Malmstrom Air Force Base remains under our control. This will be your entry point. From that site, you will be equipped for your insertion at the Berkeley Pit, which we believe to be the center of the incursion. 


All communications into and out of the Berkeley Pit area have gone silent. You are to verify whether this is the source of the breach, analyze the xeno-etiology of the event, estimate the percentage of the state population that has become infected, and identify the nature of the xenothropic entity at its origin. You are then tasked with a safe return to Malmstrom base for debriefing and extraction.


This mission is categorized high risk for UAS. Proceed with caution regarding the behaviors of yourself and your fire team.  

Good luck and Godspeed.