Thursday, July 28, 2016

Into the Seas, Darkly

Water, water, everywhere...
So when it comes to playtesting new rules, I like to come up with something unique just to give my players some fresh air and to kind of push the new rules in the background to see if they can fly without being too overly conspicuous. Our first try was the infamous Star Wars one shot that I hope to bring to the play report to the blog sooner or later.
Here is an example I thought up, but thought it was more appropriate as a campaign and since my players have been fairly entertained by the current Crown’s Hold campaign, I figured I’d share this in case anyone else might find use for it.
Into the Seas, Darkly
Premise: Sometime in the past, the modern world experienced a holocaust of an unleashed fury of bio-engineered plagues and rampant nuclear exchanges. The dry land has been contaminated with radiation and plague carrying mutants. The survivors of the apocalypse have immigrated to the seas to survive.
The few shattered survivors in battered flotillas of bound together small craft, massive cruise liners, freighters, and a few of the remaining military vessels that were not destroyed by the war. GPS satellites are no longer functioning, amount of settlements with someone who can navigate by the stars are slim. Fuel for the larger ships is long gone so other forms of traveling the seas have been developed. Massive sails and slave manned oar decks are common. Still, rumors of abandon off shore refineries that still produce fuel are abundant, yet no one seems to know exactly where they are.
Weapons: Bosses and their elite bodyguards are usually the only one with the ammunition available to carry guns, so make shift bows, spears, axes etc. are the norm.
Players’ Home vessel:
1.        Cruise liner
2.        Bound flotilla settlement
3.        Flotilla of smaller craft
4.        Former military vessel
5.        Cargo freighter
6.        Small merchant vessel

Home vessel community:
1.        Feudal
2.        Theocracy
3.        Anarchy
4.        Monarchy

1.        Off-shore refinery (d6: 1 operable, 2 repairable, 3-6 irreparable; d4: 1-2 abandoned, 3-4 occupied )
2.        Flotilla settlement (d6: 1-2 abandoned, 3 temporarily vacant, 4-6 occupied)
3.        Single survivor in tiny craft
4.        Mutated Sea life
5.        Land
6.        Submarine raiders
7.        Whirlpool
8.        Bad weather
9.        Shipwreck
10.     Pirate Flotilla
11.     Vessel
12.     Iceberg

Mutated sea life:
1.        Mega-whales
2.        Kraken
3.        Mermen (Deep Ones)
4.        Sentient fungal blooms
5.        Shark swarm (aggressive)
6.        Aggressive pigeons/ernes

1.        Atoll (unoccupied)
2.        Atoll (occupied)
3.        Island (unoccupied)
4.        Island (unoccupied)
5.        Archipelago (occupied)
6.        Archipelago (abandon)
7.        Continental shore
8.        Ice floe

Occupied by:
1.        Pirates
2.        Survivor community
3.        Plague-bearers (mindless fast zombies)
4.        Mutants (Victims of both the plague and radiation, most have kept their mental faculties)
5.        A secret refuge for the rich and powerful from the modern age
6.        Devolved survivors who are now cannibals
7.        Religious fanatics
8.        Mermen (Deep Ones and their hybrids).

Single survivors:
1.        Religious zealot
2.        Assassin/bounty hunter
3.        Spy for another settlement
4.        Plague bearer (infectious fast zombies)
5.        Mutant
6.        Exile
7.        Cannibal
8.        Pirate
9.        Madman
10.     Herald for another community
11.     Trader
12.     Wreck survivor

Things settlements are looking for:
1.        Trade
2.        Ammunition
3.        Converts
4.        Navigator
5.        Mechanic
6.        Electrician
7.        Gunsmith
8.        Agriculture experts
9.        Slaves
10.     Slaves
11.     Women
12.     Women
13.     Doctor
14.     Engineer
15.     Food
16.     Fuel
17.     Freshwater
18.     Medical supplies
19.     Repair materials
20.     Construction/repair materials

A few examples of what can be encountered at sea:
Cathedral of St. Neptune: The Black Cardinal Joseph Celeste runs his oar propelled oil tanker turned house of worship with an iron fist. Any survivors rescued by his minions are bound for the Holy Breeding Chambers if female, and males to the oars for ‘conversion.’ Any order, no matter how ‘sinful,’ is immediately performed by his elite guard of “Red Robes” who control the members of the congregation with unholy fear and the only working firearms on board. The Cardinal’s primary needs are for technological savvy ‘converts’ to keep his sea-borne cathedral running, and fuel to keep the electrical generators running. He has no desire to get the engines running, as the conversion of his rowers is an integral piece of their path to God and conversion into zealotry.
The Venture: One of the modern mega-cruise liners, plague broke out while far out at sea. A crew of mutants led by Eric Seven-eyes run the massive ship, using the hordes of mindless plague-bearers to overwhelm any opposition as they raid any occupied boat or settlement they come across. Having heard rumors of an operational off-shore refinery, he and his crew desperately hunt for it.
Fish Town: A conglomeration of almost a hundred sea vessels, from anything to dinghies to a small yacht, the float tied, taped, nailed, and glued together. The inhabitants all have an odd degenerate look to them, but those who mention they look a bit like the strange mermen that occasionally attack ships at sea, are quickly silenced.  Operating as a peaceful trading village on the high seas, it is also known as a place where baser services can be found, including drugs, alcohol, and prostitution.  While visitors are always welcome, it isn’t unheard of for a few to not make it back to their ship before they cast off. It is a recognized cost of doing business with the strange people. When Fish Town is encountered, the sea is always strangely still.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Grim Hack Expanded - Alpha Build.

What does this post have to do with Cthulhu? Everything's better with Cthulhu!

Getting ready to try out these rules in a series of one-shot adventures with my regular gaming group. They'll be using these as written other than a more genre-appropriate background table and archetypes which I hope i'll have ready for the game tonight..

This is the Grim Hack Expanded. Its basic premise is that these are rules-lite and career-less rules for adventuring in any roleplaying genre. This includes character creation, skill use, combat rules, and character advancement. Complete magic and non-human rules will come at a future date.
These rules will cover adventuring genres from very beginnings of mankind to its far future. Middle-ages, western, modern combat, science fiction, and investigative adventures are all covered here. What isn’t are the more fantasy areas such as magic and psionics, but as these rules are compatible with Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st edition, these subjects can be covered there, and with minor adjustments, 2nd edition, and even the newer Warhammer 40000 rules by Fantasy Flight Games (maybe with not-quite-so-minor adjustments). Magic rules for my Crown’s Hold campaign may be found here.
This current iteration of the Grim Hack uses skills and spells as written in WFRP 1st edition unless otherwise noted. A skills re-haul is forthcoming.
In time, I also want to alter some things so players only need d6s and d10/%s.
Character Creation:
Attributes are what you role against to see if you are successful with their related tasks and skills. A characters attributes are represented thusly:

Movement (Mv): This determines how far a character may move in an appointed time. In a combat round, this roughly translates to how many 5 foot squares may be traversed at a non-running pace. At a run or a charge, the amount of squares moved is doubled.
Melee Skill (MS): This attribute represents the characters ability in melee combat. This covers activities and skills such as sword fighting, fisticuffs, wrestling, and disarming opponents.
Ranged Skill (RS): This attribute represents the characters ability in fighting with ranged weapons. This covers activities and skills such as shooting with firearms, bows, crossbows and throwing things.
Strength (S): This attribute represents the characters physical strength and the amount of damage inflicted in melee combat. This covers activities and skills such as tests involving physical power, athletics, climbing, swimming, lifting and carrying.  A high strength can also help to intimidate others.
Toughness (T): This attribute represents the characters physical resilience and endurance, as well as damage mitigation. This covers activities and skills such Poison and Disease tests, consuming alcohol, and how long one can hold their breath, or do strenuous activities such rowing and carrying heavy loads.
Wounds (W): This attribute represents the amount of damage you can take and depends upon the Strength and Toughness attributes.
Agility (Agi): This attribute represents the characters ability in controlling their own bodies and their swiftness in action. This covers activities and skills such as dodging incoming attacks, combat turn order, acrobatics, dancing, riding, and many stealth activities.
Dexterity (Dx): This attribute represents the characters ability in their fine motor skills. This covers activities and skills such as picking locks, disarming traps, creating and repairing items, forgery, piloting, and performing sleight of hand tricks.
Cunning (Cn): This attribute represents the characters ability in thinking on their feet and how quickly they can do it. This covers activities and skills such as noticing hidden items, disguising or hiding themselves or objects, tracking, orientation and navigation, gambling, wilderness survival and street smarts, and most artistic activities.
Intelligence (Int): This attribute represents the characters ability in learning and recalling academic knowledge. This covers activities and skills such as knowledge and lore skills, languages, literacy, history, various technological skills, demolitions, science and research, , first aid and medicine, animal care, evaluate, learning magical spells, cryptography, cartography, and similar skills that require serious brain power to accomplish.
Will Power (WP): This attribute represents the characters ability in exerting their will through strength of mind and keeping calm in stressful situations. This covers activities and skills such as Fear or Terror tests, spell casting and using psionic abilities, spell resistance, sensing magical items or activity, riding animals, sailing, and other activities that require a steady hand.
Fellowship (Fel): This attribute represents the characters ability in dealing with other sentient beings. This covers activities and skills such as how non player characters (NPCs) react to you, bartering, singing or acting, influencing others actions, seducing or interrogation, handling animals, information gathering, and success in politics.
Fate Points (FP): Fate points represent your characters ability to escape the consequences of your actions. When a character feels the need to alter their destiny, say when a critical result comes up with the something unpleasant such as decapitation or long fall with a sudden and fatal landing, a Fate Point may be spent to somewhat allay these. The main caveat is that the player must describe convincingly what could have happened instead of what the dice rolled. Being knocked unconscious and sporting a disfiguring scar may be more desirable than a cold, unmarked grave or dinner for wandering scavengers.

Rolling for attributes:
Movement (Mv): Roll d3+2
Wounds (W): Is the first digit sum of the of Strength plus Toughness attributes. For example: a Strength of 23 and a Toughness of 37 would result in a Wound score of 6 (23+37=60).
Fate Points (FP): d2+2
All other skills: Roll 2d10 + 20
Strength Bonus (SB): The amount of damage you inflict in melee combat is equal to the first digit of your Strength attribute. For example: with a Strength of 34, you would add 3 to your damage roll.
Toughness Bonus (TB): The amount of incoming damage you can absorb without taking off of your Wounds score is equal to the first digit of your Toughness score. For example: with a Toughness score of 40, you would subtract 4 from an incoming attack damage of 7, thereby only subtracting 3 from your total wounds.

Attribute flip (optional): Now that you have a characters attributes rolled up, they may be a little scattered in areas of expertise, so if you have an idea of the type of adventurer you want to play, the scores of two attributes may be switched with one another. This may only be done once per character.

Note: A ‘Free Raise’ is included in the career archetypes which gives you a choice to add +10% to one of 3 attributes.

Roll for Natural talents:
Natural talents are inherent abilities that are the result of ones upbringing or just the luck of good genetics. These are only available at character creation! If the rolled talent effects an attribute, it does not count against the attribute’s maximum value when it comes to character advancement detailed later. Roll once on this table to find your character’s natural talent. A second roll may be attempted at the cost of one Fate point. This trade may only be done once, and a duplicated result is ignored with the Fate point still being lost.
Roll d12
Acute hearing
You gain +20% to your Cunning in regards to Listening.
No disadvantage when using your off-hand. You gain +20% to your Dexterity in regards to activities needing two hands.
Excellent vision
You gain +20% to your Cunning in regards to Searching or Noticing.
Fleet footed
Your Movement becomes 5, unless it was already 5, then it becomes 6.
Add +3 to your Wounds attribute.
Indomitable Will
You gain +20% to your Will Power in regards to resisting Charm, Fear, and Terror.
Resistance to Disease
You gain +20% to your Toughness in regards to resisting Diseases.
Resistance to Poison
You gain +20% to your Toughness in regards to resisting Poisons.
Lightning reflexes
You gain +20% to your Agility in regards to Turn Order.
Once per adventure, the GM secretly rolls a d6. You can adjust any roll by 1 or 10% this amount of times.
Very resilient
Your Toughness becomes 40, unless it was already 40, then it becomes 50.
Very strong
Your Strength becomes 40, unless it was already 40, then it becomes 50.

Note: This table may change in the future, particularly in regards to the needs of the campaign or genre.

Roll for Character’s Background
This table represents what the character did before they decided to become and adventurer. Each background has a random bonus of 1d10 addition to one attribute, a skill, some starting money, and an item or two for the character. The additional points gained on the attribute does count against its maximum value.
Roll d20
Art, Musicianship, or Sing
Paints & Brushes, Lute, or throat lozenges
Tin cup, crutches
Boat Builder
Boat Building
Saw, planer
Keg of ale
A performance skill*
Tin cup, colorful but ragged clothing
Hammer, nails, saw
Kettle, spices
Rake or hoe
Fishing pole, bait (x5)
Fortune Teller
Fortune telling
Crystal ball, carved bones, or tarot deck
Gem cutting
Loupe, fine chisel
Stone working
Hammer and sturdy chisel
Hand cart
Pick axe
Animal Handling
Shepherd’s crook
Sturdy hammer
Sewing kit
Diverse background

Roll twice on this table, ignoring any duplicates, including this result.

* Performance refers to skills used in busking. These are: acting, clown, comedian, fire eating, jest, juggle, and mime.

Adventurer Archetypes
The following is a list of the more common adventuring archetypes found in fiction, history, and gaming. These can easily be added to depending on the campaign. These archetypes start with the skills and equipment found on a typical character that demonstrates a basic competence in their field.
The archetypes also allow for a one time choice to add 10% to one of three attributes important to the character’s play type.
These are merely examples, archetypes may be added or ignored as needed. To make new archetypes, the only real guideline suggested is a fairly even amount of skills between the archetypes offered.
Description: This is a character made for close-in melee combat and getting splattered with gore. Examples include medieval knights and thugs, modern martial artists, mob enforcers, and futuristic space assault troops.
Free Raise: Melee Skill, Strength, or Toughness.
Skills: Disarm, Dodge blow, Ride – horse, Specialty weapon - two-handed, Strike mighty blow.
Starting equipment: Genre appropriate ranged weapon, Genre appropriate medium armor, horse w/ saddle and bridle, shield, two-handed weapon,
Description:  Troopers used to fighting with their fellows, and doing so smartly, as the politicians who sent them to fight just don’t give a shit about cannon fodder.
Free Raise:  Ranged Skill, Toughness, or Will Power.
Skills:  Consume alcohol, Dodge Blow, First aid, Specialty weapon – firearms, street fighting
Starting equipment:  Genre appropriate ranged weapon, Genre appropriate light armor, Heavy Boots, Helm, Uniform or tabard
Description:  Stalkers of the woods, big game hunters, they sneak and kill whatever they can damn well find.
Free Raise:  Ranged Skill, Agility, or Cunning.
Skills:  Silent move rural, concealment rural, marksmanship, ride – horse, set traps, tracking
Starting equipment:  Compass, Genre appropriate long ranged weapon, heavy boots, horse w/ saddle and bridle,  and salt lick.
Description:  From James Bond to the Grey Mouser, these sneaky bastards get by with a combination of skills, smarts, and complete untrustworthiness.
Free Raise:  Agility, Dexterity, or Cunning.
Skills:  Silent move urban, concealment urban, streetwise, street fighting, pick lock, disarm traps
Starting equipment:  Genre appropriate short ranged weapon, concealable melee weapon, Genre appropriate thieves’ tools, soft soled shoes, and dark, non-descript clothing.
Description:  The face of any adventuring party, able to manipulate people with a wink or knowing nod. He negotiates, haggles, investigates, and gets all the romance.
Free Raise: Intelligence, Will Power, or Fellowship.
Skills:  Charm, etiquette, flee, public speaking, seduction
Starting equipment:  Fancy clothes, horse w/ saddle and bridle
Description:  Wizards, warlocks, sorcerers, cultists and all types of nefarious supernatural prestidigitators. How can they do what they do? “Magic, m****** f******!
Free Raise:  Agility, Intelligence, or Will Power
Skills:  Arcane Language – magic, cast petty magic, cast battle magic level 1, magic sense, read/write.
Starting equipment:  Robes, staff, spell-book or equivalent, writing implements, 6d4 Magic Points.

Skill use: Things a character can attempt to do without specialized training is the prevue of the Game Master. Depending on whether the GM desires a gritty, realistic campaign, or a heroic one wherein the characters can perform difficult feats easily, the GM has last word on which actions require an attribute roll, or specialized training. A character from the equivalent of a medieval society, would surely need some sort of training to use a computer found in a crashed spacecraft, while one from a 21st century level of technology would be hard pressed to know how to tan a hide or load and use a matchlock firearm.
Critical successes and failures: Critical successes and failures occur whenever doubles are rolled on a skill check. If the roll is successful, the doubles are a critical success, meaning the skill was performed spectacularly and the GM will decide what the result is depending on the particular circumstances. Conversely, if doubles are rolled on a failed check, something disastrous happens. Again, the GM decides exactly what this entails.

Combat changes:
Number of Attacks: There is no Attack attribute in the Grim Hack, characters get a single attack per round. However, an extra melee attack can be attempted at -30% Melee Skill, a third can be attempted at -60% skill. Multiple ranged attacks can only occur when the ranged weapon has a rate of fire higher than once a round. A single roll is made, and a die is rolled to see how many rounds actually hit, damage being rolled separately for each. For example, most automatic weapons have a rate of fire of either one or d3.
Critical successes and failures: Doubles rolled on a successful Melee Attack nets you a second attack, if the second attack is also rolled doubles, a third attack may be attempted. A critical failure you lose your next attack.
 A crit on a parry, you do not lose your next attack, while on a fumble you drop the parrying weapon/shield and must spend a round to pick it up.
A crit on a ranged attack, a second d6 of damage is added, while on a fumble you lose your next attack due to dropping the weapon, a jammed round, etc.
Exploding damage: on a maximum roll of “6” damage on a parry, an additional die may be rolled after a second successful parry roll (as one would for an attack). Damage beyond what has been thrown at you, is inflicted upon the attacker.

Character advancement:
While adventuring, make note of any meaningful successes (i.e. rolls that actually have negative repercussions if they are failed) made from rolls off of characteristics, only a single success counts for any particular statistic. Multiple successes only count for one advancement attempt. At the end of the session or adventure, roll d100 for each of these noted characteristics. If the roll is higher than the characteristic’s current value, add d6 points to it, up to the max value allowed.

Maximum characteristics: The maximum and particular characteristic can be raised is +40% over the starting score. Any attribute bonuses from Natural Talents or acquired skills do not count against these maximums.  In the future, these values will be changed for non-human races as they are added.

Wounds: A Wound point is gained whenever a character gets knocked down to zero wounds and survives the encounter. The maximum value for Wounds is 10.

Learning Skills: To learn a new skill, one must pay whatever fee the instructor requires or spend an amount of time studying, etc., then roll against the related attribute of the desired skill. If successful, the skill is learned, if unsuccessful, learning it may be attempted again after investing again in time and money, however, each additional attempt a +10% cumulative bonus is applied. For example, Erik the Reaver spends a month’s study time with “Bentley’s Lock Picking Primer, Revised Edition” and spent money on lockpicks and furnishing his Inn room door with multiple locks to practice on and he fails his Dexterity check, he can try again after more study time and investment in better (or simpler) locks, but this time he gets a +10% bonus to his target number. His Dexterity is 33, so he needs, after the first failure, to roll below 43 to learn Lockpicking successfully. If he fails again, his target number will be 53.
Acquiring Magic Points: 2d4 MPs are gained when learning the Petty Magic skill, and 4d4 MPs each when first learning a casting skill at levels 1-4. To clarify, magic points are gained when Cast Spells: n Magic level x skills are gained, only counting at the first level power level they are received. So Cast Spells: Battle Magic level 1, 4d4 MPs are gained, but when a character later gets Demonology level 1, they do not receive any more MPs until the first time they reach a second level tier of spellcasting. On face value, it may look like spell-casters will advance in power/spells more rapidly than in WFRP, but it is dependent on whomever is teaching them these skills, whether they will teach them or not. Good reason for earning favor with people.