Monday, May 30, 2016


I was thinking about how to do interception in D&D. Like, playing the bodyguard and taking an arrow or sword for someone. I have been thinking about how I want to do it. I've come up with some ideas.

The Approach

First off, I think I know what I want from it.

  1. I'd want the bodyguard to act out of initiative, but then use up their turn. I think that's fair, given that they are taking what could be a death dealing blow. That's a pretty big risk.
  2. In addition, I'd also want them to have to make the decision before the attack roll is made. I like keeping that uncertainty when doing this potentially powerful maneuver.
  3. I'd also be okay with them moving into position, as long as they could make it with a full round of movement and wasn't already engaged in melee combat. They could disengage, but they'll be attacked 
  4. But, the key is that when they end their movement, they have to be adjacent to the target (if taking a melee hit), or between the shooter and the target (if taking a ranged hit).
What I haven't figured out is which of these methods are going to be the way I want to do interception. Let me list them.

Interception #1

The player can elect to intercept a hit against a target. As long as they haven't acted this round, the bodyguard can make a full movement and take the hit automatically if it would hit the target. The interceptor takes the damage as normal and ends their turn.

With this method, the bodyguard would automatically protect the target once per round, as long as they can reach them. There's the initiative limit on how often they can do it as well as the HP limit. It is simpler than method #2, but it does mean that the person gets automatically hit, despite their armor.

Interception #2

The player can elect to intercept a hit against a target. As long as they haven't acted this round, the bodyguard can make a full movement and attempt to take the hit. If the enemy's attack roll is higher than the target's AC but lower than the bodyguard's AC, then the bodyguard takes the hit but no damage. If the enemy's attack is equal or higher than the bodyguard's AC, then they take the hit and receive damage. Either way, the bodyguard ends their turn.

This way is a little more complicated, but rewards a bodyguard that has a lot of armor. It does lower the risk a bit for a plate mail wearing guy, but at the same time, it does reward a bodyguard for wearing good armor. And I feel armor should play a bigger part in this.

I'm learning towards #2 as I do want armor to play a part in this. I'd actually prefer that armor was a damage reduction rather than part of AC for this, but I'm not sure how I'd do that one for ACKs. So what do people thing?

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Different Creation Story

I had this idea for an alternate creation story. One that doesn't start with nothing in the beginning.

"In an age before our own kingdoms and gods, there lived a world beyond our comprehension. A world with it's own creatures, gods, and peoples. None can say if they were like us or something otherworldly, but the legends say that for a time, they knew peace and prosperity that we could only dream of.

Karil was the first of our gods to cross the Ocean of Stars and meet these people. He was the messenger god and patron of travelers and explorers. Karil greeted these people and opened the gates to trade and diplomacy, With bated breath, the gods of the old awaited to receive their new allies.

But peace breeds foolishness and complacency.

Our gods came with the strength of thunder and lightning, with their knights of steel and fire storming the gates. They quickly dispatched the soft guards of the old world and battled the old gods in their own palace. It was a slaughter, as ours are gods of might and brawn, cruelty and guile. But it was cruelty that won the day, and the old gods were executed, their bodies and blood used create mountains and rivers that we see today. The world was theirs and eventually, we mortals would reap the benefits of their victory.

As for the original races of the old world? Some were captured and kept as concubines and servants. Many of the angels and guardians of the gods are enslaved first men, bound by the accords of the spoils of war to serve our gods for all eternity. The ones that fled went to the underground. They became twisted with hate and vengeance and made a pact with a dark and ancient god. Now they plague our kingdoms as demons, subverting our world to reclaim what they believe is rightfully ours.

This is why we raid and war, young one. Peace weakened the old gods and if we rest, it shall weaken ours against any other gods that wish to take our world and enslave us. We must remain the greatest and mightiest, taking what is rightfully ours and sparing no man, woman, or child. Lest we rot in the bowls of the underworld."

The idea behind this was a culture of raiders and warriors and what kind of creation world they might have in a fantasy world. I also kind of like the idea of a war band of gods acting as robber barons.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Magic, Technological Stagnation, and Guns

When you look at some homebrew settings people make, or published settings like Golarion or Faerun, there is a common question asked by a lot of fans. Why is the setting still in the medieval times? In our own history, 8,000 years brought us from clay pots to smartphones, but in many of these settings, 8,000 years have passed and there are still swords and knights. Not to mention that unlike the real world, there is magic in these settings. Eberron gets into this and I actually really like it as a setting. A lot of the reason for this technological stagnation is so that people can play in the fantasy genre they want. Swords and arrows and fireballs. But lately, I've been thinking about an in-game reason for it and I think I have something I like.

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Mortals in these settings can have magic and that is a huge game changer. People capable of slinging spells is a big game changer, even in settings where magic is dangerous. I'd imagine that most people in charge are going to be magic users. Wizards, clerics, psions. With the capability of magic plus some less than positive human tenancies, mages would essentially be in charge. Religious casters would probably wield even greater political power than their real world counterparts did in our history, since they can cast spells.

When you are in charge, you don't want to lose that power. You want to stay on top and will do some pretty questionable things to stay on top. So imagine all of the things magic rulers of a kingdom would do to keep their subjects loyal. Keeping everyone uneducated is a number one priority, and that's where this stagnation of technological advances come in. Technology is a great equalizer against magic. Both can provide for a community and give people power when used. Imagine the fear a wizard would get when staring down the barrel of a rifle. Men and mage alike would fall to a bullet to the brain. So, mages do their best to keep mundane people hindered and uneducated. Depending on how powerful (or dangerous) magic is, it would be best for mages to keep a large amount of loyal allies to help control their kingdom. Even with the powers of a god at your fingertips, there are still a lot more mundanes than mages. So you want a loyal retinue kept happy to put down any revolts. So I feel this would be a good reason for a large scale lack of technological advancements. A fear of the peasants successfully overthrowing magocracies would make any caster quake in their boots.

Where do guns fit in this?

Well, I had an idea of running an ACKS game, but set in a time period similar to our 1910s-20s. I have it in my head that many influential thinkers, both magic and mundane, wanted something more for their communities and kingdoms than thatch huts and feudalism. So many formed a sort of Freemason group to subvert the control of mages and clerics by developing innovative technologies and art. Imagine people similar to Da Vinci, Newton, and Benjamin Franklin working to better all mortals, not just those that wield magic. 

A printing press. Source: Wikipedia
Their biggest tool to fight them? Well there are two. The first is more cultural. The printing press. This helped to spread knowledge and education, and like our founding father did, these thinkers would create pamphlets decrying the magocracy and spurring other mundanes to join their fight. The other invention?


Maxim Machine Gun
Guns in this setting are more than just a weapon. They are a symbol of the downtrodden, a sword against the tyranny of casters, the weapon of the proletariat. They are the great equalizer, requiring less training to use than a bow and killing mages very quickly. With the advent of firearms, you'll start seeing frontiersman taking down chimeras, manticores, and even dragons with powerful cannons. The minuteman and musketeer are now almost mythological figures that represent freedom, manifest destiny, and liberty.

Of course, things don't always go this well and that's where I have an idea of a Great War styled D&D game. A pulp era World War of squabbling kingdoms and nations fighting each other for supremacy. It's not necessarily a magic vs technology war, though that certainly is there. But two large groups of nations coming to blows while simultaneously making sure that their own allies don't stab them in the back. There's also a focus on the negative side of industrialization, especially with new weapons that make it easier to kill each other. Tanks, machine guns, and mustard gas go head to head against hydras, elementals, and dragon's breath. Biplanes and zeppelins getting knocked out of the sky by griffins and drakes, with tanks busting through the hides of ankhegs. Centuries old dynastic kingdoms making a fight against the newly risen industrialized nation states. It could be awesome.

The game doesn't have to focus on war either. There's plenty of adventure to be had in this war torn, pulp era world of imperialism. The world may be more connected and smaller, but there are still areas that need exploring. I think this could be fun. I've even entertained a WWII styled game with similar themes, and even a modern day fantasy game which I do want to blog about another time.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Apu: The Roar of the Earth (and some race design)

Born from the mountains of the southern continent of Thivola, the apu are a race of tall, earth humanoids said to have descended from the great mountain god, Etapu. Apu are very tall, averaging heights at 7', and have earthy colored skin tones. Grays, browns, dark greens, and blacks are very common among them. Their skin is rough, almost like touching shark skin, and their features are very angular and solid. They have straight hair that they wear at various lengths. Most apu keep their hair long and some tribes see this as a point of pride and prestige. Braiding is very common among the men and women. Basically, for looks, imagine goliaths from D&D with some Incan influences.
Source: D&D 5e Elemental Evil
Apu shamans tell of the birth of their race, as the progeny of their creator god, Etapu. In an era before time and people, the powerful mountain god slept beneath the waves. Aokah, the Celestial Caracara, saw the slumbering god under water and dove into the aether to pull him out and feast upon the god. Etapu was angered by this and went on a rampage, pulling out islands and rocks and even other sleeping gods. Each island and rock became a piece of the universe. When Etapu tired from his rage, he curled up and slept. His body became the world that we live on. As he slept, his dreams became reality. The birds, fish, plants... all creatures from his dream. The apu are the mightiest of his dreams, with the cunning and guile of the other mortal races as well as the brawn of their patron god Etapu.

Apu have a close relationship with the earth we walk upon. By simply touching the ground, an apu can gather rudimentary information about the area. What they see are simple echoes of who has gone by, and many times, the untrained apu doesn't have the focus to get more than a single piece of knowledge or two. Despite this, apus are often sought out to hunt down criminals and help with mysteries, as even the tiniest piece of knowledge can help with an investigation.

Apu are seen by other races as a bit emotionally reserved, but this is far from the truth, Apu experience emotions much like humans and elves and such, but extreme bouts of excitement, passion, or other emotional state causes the earth around them to erupt in a small earthquake. Given the destructive nature of this, many apu eschew the world and become aesthetics, trying desperately to seek discipline and calm to control their ability. For a strong race, a surprising amount of apu choose to become mages, clerics, or monks simply for the disciplined mind it creates. Despite any mental training, these earth shakes can still happen if the apu is hit with a powerful blow, though such a thing can backfire on the attacker if not careful.


Might of the Earth: Apu start with a +2 Strength.
Born Geomancer: The apu can make contact with the ground and roll a DC 15 Wisdom check to psychically see what has gone on in an area. These visions are muddled, but on a success can provide a single important piece of information about the area. A natural 20 adds another piece of information, painting the scene a bit more clear. This ability works on areas that touch the ground. Areas in the sky, on the sea, or a higher story of a building cannot be divined.
Earth Shaker: Whenever the apu suffers a significant emotional breakdown (failed moral roll, failed fear roll, GM discretion.) or is hit by a critical hit, the earth around them erupts. The apu and everyone adjacent to them roll a Paralysis roll. Failure means that you fail prone. For tactical maps, the apu's square and all adjacent squares are now difficult terrain.

On My Race Design Theory

I find that I prefer races as a beginning option, rather than as a class. I feel it allows more, cool options to play as, rather than restricting certain archetypes to a race (like a spellblade for elves) or restricting a race from a class (dwarven wizards are cool). Furthermore, I want to try and give races cool abilities that do more than just simple bonuses to rolls. This may not be completely balanced, which is fine by me, but I do try and have them at least somewhat comparable. I also don't want to put in something that will completely circumvent an obstacle. Darkvision is a good example of this. Level 1 adventures in the dark are completely negated by the ability to just see in the dark. Above, the apu's Born Geomancer doesn't circumvent investigation scenarios, but simply adds a new option for players to continue on with it. It's a nice little ability for what looks at first glance to be a more martial race. And Earth Shaker is a weird ability. I like weird abilities.

Finally, I want to stay away from what I feel are abilities tied to a culture. An example of this is in Pathfinder, you have the dwarf's goblin hatred ability, where they gain a bonus against goblinoids. It feels weird to me that no matter what, all dwarves in the world are just really good at killing goblins. I'd rather have something more biological or magic for them.

I think once I flesh out my setting more on the blogs here, I will give out some more cultural information about this race and the others in my setting. And hopefully, I've provided an interesting creature for DMs to use in their game. I made this with ACKS in mind, but I could see it working in 5e (maybe with some more bells and whistles, like a bonus to Athletics or something?).

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


In my setting of Anacaona, I try to keep things familiar yet different. You won't find elves or dwarves naturally (except in the colonial cities as immigrants) but I have similar creatures that are analogous to them. With this, I'll be talking about my goblin analogue, the onbu. I had made these guys up on the fly in the ACKS solo game I'm running for my girlfriend. Luckily, it was towards the end of the game, so I've had some time to make up some cool blurbs about them. Enjoy!

Onbu are grey, short creatures that live in the steamy jungles of Anacaona. These creatures are lithe and wiry, and are generally the size of halflings. Onbu have wider noses and black hair, usually worn long. Their bangs are kept short and trimmed. Tattoos and piercings are prominent among the onbu. The piercings denote authority. The higher the piercing, the more important the onbu is. The native tribes of humans, called Sulano, have long held that onbu are primitive and bad omens, and many don't take kindly to onbu making homes on their lands. Onbu are tribal and do conduct raiding parties, but it's not unusual or even unheard of to have good relations with a tribe of them. 

What makes onbu interesting is their natural connection to the Spirit World. Onbu can see and talk to spirits, demons, and ghosts like they were living people. This makes onbu guides very popular among the natives and colonists, as they can help grant safe passage or news from the spirits of the rain forests. Onbu shamans are fairly powerful spirit talkers, using their natural abilities of spirit speech to parley more magic from the spirits. Onbu shamans have a particular special ability to eat fever dreams and divine truths from them. This requires a special ritual where the subject takes powerful hallucinogenics to get them to dream vividly. The onbu shaman then devours the dream and for a period of time, is addled with madness. Once their period of madness is done, they can then deliver a proper augury to the subject. It's an intense ritual that is draining on the onbu shaman and can't be done often.

Onbu live in tribes in the rain forests of Anacaona. Many times you'll see them in borderlands and marches of a kingdom, acting as parasites on the area. Occasionally, tribes of onbu will gather together to create their own large commune. These onbu are enamoured by the trade and culture they see with the other base races and will eschew their tribal tendancies to create villages. It's not unusual for people to trade with these onbu hamlets. The native Sulano are less likely to, but many of the other native tribes and colonists are more willing. And several of the colonists will make alliances with onbu fiefdoms that they feel can be a thorn in the sides of the native kingdoms.

Onbu Stats
HD: 1
AC: 11 (Cotton Armor)
Attacks: 1d6 (macana), 1d6+poison (shortbow; save poison or take 1 ongoing until death or antidote)
Morale: -1
Spiritspeech: Can see and talk with spirits as if they were visible and normal people.

Onbu Shaman
As above. Give cleric or druid spells that are appropriate. If running ACKs, make them a shaman.
Dream Eater: The onbu shaman can eat fever dreams brought on by hallucinogens. After doing an hour long ritual, the onbu can cast divination once for the subject of the dream. The onbu shaman must rest for a night after doing this.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Stat Rolling Idea

I recently purchased the Black Hack after seeing a lot about it. While I'm not as enamored by it as everyone else seems to be, there are some points I like. I thought the way it does usage dice is cool and reminds me of my weapon degradation rules. The way they do rolling stats is interesting, as it takes into account if someone rolls a very high stat (15+). Reading it, I was inspired to do something similar, but for rolling low rolls. 

Sorry about your damn luck!

Rolling Stats

Roll 3d6 down the line as normal. Like in the Black Hack, if you get a 15 or higher, your next roll is made on a 2d6+2. If you roll a 6 or below, your next roll is made on a 2d6+5, then as normal afterwards.

This method helps to make it less likely that a player will have multiple stats below 6 and really helps to give them a chance to get a greater stat to make up for the low stat. So if you roll a bad STR, you at least have the chance of getting maybe a higher DEX.

Why 2d6+5?

Looking at the probability curves of 3d6 and 2d6+2, you'll see that the average of 2d6+2 is 1.5 lower than the average of 3d6. It allows for the average to come out lower to make up for the fact that you rolled really high before. Furthermore, 2d6+2 completely cuts out any result of 15+, since you already rolled that before. I decided to apply these same principles for rolling a higher amount. 2d6+5 has an average roll of 12, which is 1.5 over the average of 3d6. It also completely removes the results of 6 and below, making it easier to land something higher than a 10. Overall, I think this does what the original rule does. It helps to make an interesting character with some clear strengths and weaknesses and normalizes the rolls a little bit. Both of these help to make a character that's not a superhuman powerhouse nor a chump.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Survivor Series I: Weather Forecasting

Fun fact, before I decided to be a chef and go to culinary school, I went to college to be a meteorologist. I have always been enamored by the weather and decided I wanted to do that for a living. Sadly, I wasn't the best at it, mostly the math sections. You'd be surprised how much math we had to take. I think only the mathematicians beat us. But enough about that.

I've always loved tornadoes and got to chase them! (Source: Wikipedia)
When I started DMing 3.5 and later Pathfinder, I would incorporate a lot of OSR survival stuff into my games. I always focused a lot more on the Man vs. Nature battles as players would deal with wildlife, natural disasters, disease, and weather. Weather is awesome and a game changer, and most players don't expect to deal with the blistering heat or cold, let alone storms and tornadoes. One of the most memorable moments in a game was when a PC tied himself to a pole and survived a tornado going over them, all while screaming and shouting obscenities. This earned him a place of honor among the tribes of kobolds that saw what he accomplished and he became a hero to them.

Of course, when adding more survival stuff into your game, it helps to know a little bit about the rules as well as how it works in real life, especially in a world very different from our modern world. For today. it's weather forecasting. In Pathfinder, one can forecast the weather using the Survival skill. And I use this in my ACKS game too, with a 16+ roll to do it, but those with Survival gain a +4 to it. However, many of my players have wondered how, without modern equipment, did our ancestors divine the weather?

We have to remember that people didn't use the scientific methods that we use today. A lot of weather forecasting was pattern recognition, based on astronomy, observing animal behavior, and simply looking at patterns in the sky. This would be compiled into almanacs as weather lore. You can see a pretty good list of them on the Wikipedia article about it. You can use these or have them as inspiration to make up your own weather lore for your game. Remember, it's all based on observations, not rigorous testing. If a bunch of crows gather the night before a rainstorm, you can bet that people will assume that a murder of crows brings the rain. And with running a magical fantasy setting, maybe that is actually the case! There are more magic methods of forecasting the weather, Dowsing and haruspicy are some real world examples. The classical definitions of pyromancy and aeromancy are also good to use for divining the weather (among other things).

Forecasting the weather is an important tool if you make weather a decent obstacle. Players dealing with torrential rainstorms and the flash floods that come with them will value a survivalist's prediction in the future. Or, the players trap an enemy army in a terrible thunderstorm to weaken and gain an advantage on them. Anything is possible! The more you use weather, the more of an impact it will have. I generally use the Pathfinder rules for weather, since they are pretty robust, but use or make up whatever you like! For a generator, I like to use the Dodeca Generator here. I find it is a good weather generator that takes into account the previous day's weather as well as the climate.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sunder and Rust

Last month, I made a post about Weapon Degradation here. I wanted to expand a little bit and talk about sundering items.


To sunder a weapon or shield, you must roll an attack against the item. Small items like daggers or potions would be harder to hit (-4), medium items like swords and bucklers take a -2 to hit, and larger items like armor, staves and tower shields are much easier to hit and take no penalties.After the attack, roll a Strength check. On a success, the weapon is brought down a die level. On a natural 20, the die is brought down two levels. Depending on the item die below will depend on what you need to beat to bring it down a die level

Weapon Quality Die    Strength to Bring it Down
d4                                 6+
d6                                 10+
d8                                 14+
d10                               18+
d12                               22+

This makes high quality weapons harder to destroy. It also hopefully makes it a good tactic to weaken an enemy's weapon or armor, especially if they are hard to kill and do a lot of damage. Of course, this leads me to my next idea...

Rust Monster

DM's love him, the PC's worst nightmare is back, ready to oxidize your weapons until they crumble. When a rust monster uses it's feelers to destroy a metal item, roll a Blast/Breath saving throw. Failure means it drops a die step. A natural 1 means it drops two die steps. If your item is at a d4, it breaks.

I wanted to make the rust monster still dangerous, but a little more forgiving with its oxidation ability. That way it increases the tension that your weapon/armor is degrading, but you can still use it to fight it off while you think of something else to use on.

Killing PCs? Evil. Destroying their gear? Downright despicable! (3.5 Forgotten Realms)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Card Game Haul from FLGS

Went to the Adventure Gaming Store in Davie and boy, did my girlfriend and I get quite the haul

I've really enjoyed Sentinels of the Multiverse and I'm happy to have the latest expansion. Boss Monster was something new, but we've played a couple games of it and it is very fun.

For more RPG related news, Wednesday is the big tournament PPV for the World Wide Wrestling RPG I run on the VGCW boards. I'll definitely do a blog post about it in the coming days. Last week was a physically and mentally exhausting one at work, so I apologize for the sparse updates.

Monday, May 2, 2016

20 Man Royal Rumble Main Event? Oh Yeah!

So in addition to running an ACKS game, I also run a World Wide Wrestling game with seven people from a forum I frequent. The link to the RPG is here, while the link to the forum post about my game is here. Over all, it has been a very enjoyable experience, both as a fan of wrestling and a fan of RPGs. Many of the people have really enjoyed it as well, whether they are wrestling fans or first timers. I think that's one of the cool things about adding wrestling in an RPG format. Wrestling already supports the gonzo and beer & pretzel style of gaming. It's a natural fit. And while there's roleplaying and talking involved (as per any *World game), you can always just have a manager be your mouthpiece if you aren't so great at talking, just like in real wrestling. It's an amazing game and I think people really should give this a spin.

Anyways, a while back, I bought some funky dice and I've been wondering what I can use them for. Well, now that I have the go home show before our game's PPV event, I think I've figured it out. The PPV is called King of Kings, a bracket style tournament where seven people go in and the winner gets a title shot of their choice, when and where they want it, no matter the title. It's essentially like King of the Ring mixed with Money in the Bank for those that watch WWE.

Now I bet you are wondering why seven people instead of eight in a tournament? Well, that's where the main event of the show preceding our PPV comes in. It's going to be a 20 man Royal Rumble, where one person will be called in at a time to come into the ring and wrestle, until we exhaust the list of 20 entrants. To win, you have to eliminate another wrestle by throwing them over the top rope and having their two feet touch the ground outside. You do this until there is a last man standing. That winner will be getting a by in the tournament on the following game and go straight to the semi finals. The next six people will be put in the tournament and it'll go from there.

I plan on using the Funky Dice to do the random rolling for the Royal Rumble. I'll roll a d20 on the list of wrestlers and as I put more wrestlers out there in the ring, I'll step the die down. So if we have 11 people left to be called out, I'll roll a d11 to see who is next. I could use a deck of cards, but where is the fun in that?

I'll have to do a session recap for this come Wednesday. But, I am looking forward to it greatly.