Monday, 23 May 2016

Active Survival, Scars, and Afflictions

Down with Hitpoints!

hinted recently that I wanted to experiment with a 10hp cap on characters. Well I've played around with the figures and I'm going to try 3d6hp, so an average of just over 10hp, and absolute cap of 18hp for high-rollers.

If you're looking at this with general OSR systems as a point of reference, remember that Into the Odd's combat is different.

The fact that every attack causes damage works equally in favour of the PCs, and against them. Odd characters are tougher than Level 1 D&D characters because of what happens at 0hp. In most cases they're going to risk being taken out of the fight, but as long as they aren't abandoned they probably won't die.

A hidden advantage to players is that this damage system is more predictable than D&D. The chances of you getting one-shotted to instant death are pretty low.

So, in my experience, Odd Explorers go down quicker than some D&D Level 1s, but they don't die nearly so easily.

Currently the highest level of character in Into the Odd has 5d6hp, so putting the cap at 3d6hp is in line with a current mid-level character.

So why am I even suggesting this?




Active Survival

When I think of a successful, established explorer, I don't think of someone wading into danger because they know that their HP gives them a good buffer against death. I think of somebody that's seen danger, and knows how to tackle or avoid it. While they have plenty of resources to call on (followers, equipment), some impressive skills (special abilities and knowledge) and even some true oddities at their disposal, they'll still die if they get cocky or let their guard down.

They still fear the monster and the spear trap.

In short, their means of survival are active, not passive. It's not that the world has less chance of impacting them, but when it does they have more tricks to stay alive.

Oddities, especially disposable types like potions and bombs, can get you out of a tight spot.
Hired Help is a great way of keeping you away from death, when a common cause of character death is the TPK.
Becoming Odd is something I want to make more use of, and is the topic of the next post. Expect mutations and other nice things.
Union Rituals can give you all sorts of tricks.
Player Experience and Knowledge is the most proven way to keep a character alive.

With these tricks under their belt, you don't need 5d6hp to be a big player in the world.

Of course, you do get more HP than your starting d6. But for too long they've come without a cost.



Getting Grizzled: Scars and Afflictions

- When you pass a Save against Critical Damage by rolling exactly the number needed, you get a Scar.
- If you roll a duplicate Scar then apply it, if able, and also roll on the Affliction table.
- If you roll a duplicate Affliction then apply it again, if able, or else no additional effect.
- Your first Scar earns you an extra d6hp.
- Your first Affliction earns you your final d6hp
- You only get Scars from real, deadly combat, so forget trying to get your first Scar through training.

Scar Table
Roll the die the was used to deal the significant damage.
1: Shattered Hand - One of your hands is out of use until you get a Long Rest, after which it's fine besides looking a bit gnarled.
2: Shaken Nerves - You stammer, twitch, or shake, unless you use something to calm your nerves.
3: Lasting Pain - A nasty scar that causes intense pain if pressed on.
4: Battle Scars - A random limb (1-4) or half of your face (5-6) is badly scarred and you lose all feeling in it. If you roll this Scar a second time you also lose all movement of the affected area.
5: Gouged Face - A random part of your face is gouged enough to impair its use and look bad. Roll d6. 1: Left Eye, 2: Right Eye, 3: Ears, 4: Nose, 5: Teeth, 6: Jaw.
6: Busted Lung - Your breathing is always loud and you can't hold your breath as long as normal.
7: Extremity Loss - Lose a finger, ear, or other small part of your body that you could live without.
8+: Personality Disorder - People don't like you until you've put in time to bond with them.

Affliction Table
Roll the die the was used to deal the significant damage.
1: Organ Damage - A vital organ is in critical state. If you suffer any other Affliction it gives in, and you die.
2: Fading Senses - One of your senses is slightly dulled now and is completely gone if you suffer another Affliction.
3: Disfigurement - Your injury has left your face totally disfigured.
4: Splintered Mind - A specific element of this injury is stuck in your mind. Lose d6 WIL each time you're forced to relive it.
5: Lost Limb - One of your limbs is torn off or otherwise made useless.
6: Fractured Skull - You have trouble talking and making facial expressions. If you suffer this Affliction a second time your skull is utterly split open and you die.
7: Broken Body - You're reduced to walking speed and require a crutch or cane to go faster than a hobble.
8+: Shadow of Death - You shouldn't have survived that. You have nightmares of your own death until you next have to make a Save against Critical Damage. If you fail it, you die instantly. If you pass it, the nightmares turn to occasional instances.



Design Notes

Scars aren't something you want your character to get, but you certainly want the extra d6hp. I guess it encourages combat, and rewards getting beaten up, but only the first Scar is desirable, and I certainly don't imagine anyone's going to be chasing an Affliction.

Each time you make a Save against Critical Damage there's a 5% chance of a Scar, then varying odds that any further scars will lead to an Affliction. If anything, these percentages sound a little too low on paper, but we'll see how they feel in play. A scar every couple of sessions, and Afflictions being a big deal sounds fine to me.

A side-effect of this system is that, if you make some freak rolls, you could end up with a Scar, Affliction, and the full 3d6hp before the end of your first session. Even if this happens, this isn't a problem, as HP aren't a main driver in the changing feel and scale of the game. The changes are much more a result of finding Treasure and Oddities. A tiny chance of a new explorer coming back from their first expedition as a one-armed bad-ass is fine with me.

The goal is that this will tie Advancement to specific events of the game. I like to think players will remember that they got their second hit die at the same time the Crystal Lion gouged their eye out, or a beating from the headless cultists left them with a permanent stammer.

Impact on Monster and NPC Design

- As a rough guide, give Green NPCs 1d6hp, those that have seen action 2d6hp and a scar (not necessarily from the list), and veterans of action 3d6hp and a noticeable affliction.
- We'll cap Monsters at 18hp and see how we get on. With so many ways to make monsters tough, I'm not worried about them being fragile.

Ability Scores

Static for now, while I test this, but I want something in there to help round out characters that roll crappy scores. For the sake of symmetry, and because I almost did so in the first place, I'll probably be capping them at 18, just like HP, even for monsters.

No Country for Old Explorers

With all these characters picking up Afflictions, they'll get to a point where they want to semi-retire and send a protege out in their place. We'll look at how I handle that, and link into what happens when your character gets increasingly Odd.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Unions and Rituals

Unions and their Secrets
Anything from a club to a cult to an army. As a general rule they:
- Want your money and service
- Offer secrets that you want to be a part of
- Have a Cause



If you convince the Union you're on board with their Cause, they'll invite you along to a Ritual. This is either a load of pomp and ceremony, or a bureaucratic meeting.

If you can show that you've significantly contributed to the Cause, or just make a generous 10g donation, you'll be let into the true purpose of the Ritual for one night.

These rituals can be anything from industrial espionage, or sharing of knowledge, to full blown occult ceremonies. The many can call on powers the individual cannot. They can have one off effects, or leave the participants forever altered.

You'll have your own, but here's a couple, with their Cause in italics, and some example Rituals listed. They won't be performing Rituals every night, but they'll tell you what's on tonight and when the next instance of a known Ritual is planned.

The Arcphagers - For all that I eat, I must bring equal to Big-Eater.
Material Ingestion: Participants each eat a pure piece of an otherwise inedible material and have a bodypart of your choice turn to that substance.
Self Feeding: Participants each fish out a part of your brain with a hook (lose d6 WIL) and eat it to re-live any memory of your life in perfect detail.
Brother Gorging: Each participant brings a non-human corpse for the feast. If any of the creature's Ability Scores were higher than yours, those scores improve by one point. If the creature had any special abilities there's a 1-in-6 chance of you developing that ability yourself. 
Idea Consumption: You learn a technique whereby if somebody tells you something, you can eat the idea out of their mind causing them to forget it, unless they pass a WIL Save. 

The Tin Soldiers - Flesh is weak, Tin will protect Bastion at any cost. 
Man-Hunting: You join a man-hunt for a known enemy of Bastion. They're open to suggestions.
Flesh Shedding: Each participant sheds a part of your body and have it regrow in its natural form.
Bastion's Wall: You learn this battle stance. When you take up the stance in a doorway or similar space, nothing can move you, but you take damage as normal.
Service After Death: Recently dead are brought in and reanimated as a Mock Soldier.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Lifestyles of the Rich and the Odd

A Brief Note on Treasure and Oddities

I'm not about to give solid figures for how much treasure you should put in your expedition sites, but next time I'm going to try the following:
  • 1 Main Treasure that the group are expecting to be in there. The further away and more difficult it is, the higher value, but range from 10g for a mini-dungeon to 1,000g for something spanning worlds and multiple sessions. Make this Treasure interesting. Stick them at the furthest corner of the expedition site and you're good.    
  • 2 Side Treasures that the group will only know about if they've gone out of their way with research. Say 10% of the value of the Main Treasure Here, interesting is good, but they can be more straightforward in their nature. You can make these really well hidden to reward good play. 
  • Loot. Mundane stuff that just makes sense to be there (purses on corpses, furnishings and decoration, equipment for the function of the place) and isn't of huge value. Still, it's there. 
  • 2 Valuable Oddities that have the same value as a Side Treasure but are useful enough to fall into being Oddities, rather than just straight Treasure. 
  • As many other Oddities as you like, because they aren't really Treasure in this sense. 

Character Advancement

Okay. On G+ I posted some thoughts on advancement.

Summary:
  • Character Advancement isn't about rewarding players or making characters more innately powerful, it's about changing the feel and scale of the game the longer you play. 
  • These changes should happen through play, rather then through an end-of-session levelling up process. 
  • Arnold wrote some required reading on the topic way back. 
  • The goal of the game is to find Treasure. The more you find, the better you are as a player. 
  • Successful characters are going to get Richer and Odder through selling Treasure and encountering Oddities. 
  • Getting Odder means you're going to have more tricks up your sleeve to survive and impact the world. Oddities, curses, mutations. 
  • Getting Richer means you can buy stuff that helps you survive but also stuff like Detachments, Enterprise, Ships etc. that raise the scale of the game. 
  • For the purpose of this experiment, imagine there's no standard character advancement in Into the Odd. Ability Scores and HP can increase through other methods, and cap at 18 (yes, HP too). 

So, you've got your Treasure back to Bastion and sold it for a big money. What do you spend it on? At the Shilling level there's plenty to throw your money away on, but here we're talking gilder-level stuff. Trading in gold!

Existing Spending Options
  • Noble Weapon (30s*), Heavy Gun (1g), Modern Armour (50s*), and Horse (1g). The best combat gear you can get for just shy of 3g. I remembered these being more expensive! I'm clearly a big softy with prices, they should totally be at least 1g each. 
  • Luxuries (1g). You want to bet I can't sell some rich players a 2g hat?
  • Detachment (10g hire and d6g monthly upkeep). Here's where I envisage a lot of money going after a windfall.
  • Detachment Equipment (20x individual cost). If you really want a unit of armoured cavalry behind you, that's another 22g at least. Just give them muskets for 2g and hope for the best, I reckon. 
  • Enterprise (10g). If you give them some attention then you can make a steady income to pay those detachments. Of course, they're designed to cause as many problems as they solve. 
  • Cannon (2g). I won't ask why you want it. 
  • Real Estate (10g house, 100g factory, 200g fort). These are niche, but you never know.
  • Ships (100g Galleon to 2,000g Ironclad). Of course you don't have to own the ships you take on an expedition, but if you have the money I could see the temptation to take up the pirate life. 
What's Needed

Most of the big money stuff here is there to scale-up the game, which is great. But I want more that changes the feel of your actual character. Being a general of a thousand men feels different, and I don't want huge character sheets for established characters, but I think we can slip a few little personal boons in there. 

These come from people that want your Treasure, and people that want your Money. 

Patrons

It's easy to make selling treasure into an epilogue or prologue to the gameplay of a session. You found the Red Dog's Head Ruby, got it home without succumbing to its curse, and you sold it for 80g, now what will you spend that on?

Step it back and give the players some choice on who to sell it to. Give them at least two Patrons as contacts. Simply put these are immensely wealthy individuals or organisations that will take your treasure in return for money, but each will put their own twist on things.

Make your own, but here are some examples as a starting point. Each has the percentage of the Treasure's value they will pay and a positive or negative effect of dealing with them. 

Slerrance Tingeon-Larney
- Rich, preening, and unpredictable. 
- Treats you like the filthy wretches you are. 
- Will immediately offer 2d100% of the value for an item, and won't budge an inch on it. 


6th Bastiard Order of Vault-Keepers
- Secretive order that lock treasures away for the coming of their saviours. 
- Offer d20+80% of Value,
- If you go along with their beliefs and give more than one major treasure, they'll hook you up with Oddities at a price. 

The Pittance Society
- A society of former fat-cats that have denounced wealth. They'll treat you kindly if you appear poor, and with contempt if you appear wealthy. 
- Some loophole of their doctrine means they can't destroy wealth, so they spend it on Treasures and then dispose of them in elaborate ways.
- Offer 90% of Value but can easily be haggled up to 150%. 

Next Time: Personal Power
What exactly is the deal with Ability Scores and HP? Well you'll read about:
Joining Unions: The people that want your money. A twist on the idea of Orders I blogged about a while back. This is how you get more personal abilities, influence, and knowledge. There's clear room for overlap with Patrons here. 
Getting Grizzled: What effect does a career of exploration have on you, and what's happening in the downtime?
Getting Odder: Some expansion on how exactly you become more odd, besides the Oddities you can pick up and use. 
HP CAP WTF?: Scary, right? Especially when Enhanced attacks like a Backstab do d12 damage. I'll go into this next time and you'll see it's not as you expect.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Odd Treasures

With treasure, I'm pretty generous when it comes to giving both new and ongoing characters Oddities to play with, but I'm terrible at giving actual Treasure.



You know, something that has more value than use. The stuff that you're generally going to liquidate to fund your spending back in Bastion. Riches, Loot, Spoils. With Bureaucrats to bribe, Detachments to hire, and Enterprises to run, there's plenty to spend that money on.

I've often fallen into the trap that Treasure is boring, despite there being so much good stuff written to the contrary. If you make the Treasure too interesting then it becomes an oddity the players don't want to sell, and you end up with Oddity-rich, cash-poor characters. They have three different ways to time travel but can't afford a good meal.

Not innately a bad thing, but I want to tilt things back the other way. Here are some treasures to put in your expedition sites. I'll be working on the following principles:

The Key Principles of Odd Treasures
- Their value exceeds their usefulness.
- There's a reason they haven't been taken already.
- They needn't be complicated, but should provoke thought.

Big Stuff
The easiest way to (mostly) hit all three principles is to make it a big heavy useless thing that's worth money. I also like how it unifies the group, who have to work together to get this thing back to Bastion and split the profits.

Hordes found at the very depths of the dungeon sort of fit into this, but they're still kind of dull to me in their overwhelming volume. With so much stuff in one room it's hard to make any of it have any impact. I guess I'd just always rather use one giant coin than a million small, which brings us onto...



Coins and Jewellery
I'm guessing this is the most common form of D&D Treasure, but it doesn't work so well with Into the Odd. There are just more gold-loving monsters (usually humanoid) in the D&D world, so it makes sense to be able to kill the green guy and find a chest of gold. I've heard people lauding the effect of using exotic currencies in your game, but that does nothing for me.

Gems are barely more interesting, notable only really in their physical appeal, and need of a single wealthy buyer.

So there are times when I'll put a case of 20g or a ruby ring into an expedition site, most often on corpses found in really nasty places. I just find treasure items to be more fun.



d12 Interesting Treasures
Value is always given for the right buyer, usually not general sale.

1: Black Spine (30g)
Charred spinal column of a ceaselessly destructive giant monster, blasted with every weapon known to Bastion. Visibly regenerating by the hour if removed from its acid bath.

2: Crystallization Catalyst (10g per bottle)
No use on its own, but it's the missing link for chemists to recreate a terrible gas weapon not used for decades.

3: Collectible Sweets (50s each, double if in a set with all six flavours)
Antique boiled sweets now prized for their rarity and aged flavour. The flavours are fruit, herb, spice, meat, bone, and blood.

4: Dead-Spice Liqueur (20g for the 40oz bottle, or 1g for a 1oz measure)
An infusion of extinct botanicals that smell like a more intense mint. Comes in a needlessly fragile bottle. Value is slashed in half without the bottle.

5: Companion Lizard (10g)
A sapient chameleon that changes its personality to be the perfect companion for the owner. Highly sought after as pets for rich children.

6: Deep Silk (20g for the full roll)
Ultra black silk that can very easily catch fire, stain, rip, or any other complication you like.

7: Heaven Shrimp (1g each)
Harmless little glowing shrimp that are a delicacy, but only if cooked freshly. Worth nothing dead.

8: Disgusting Art (50g)
A lead sculpture of many creatures in violent union. One in twenty collectors find the piece strikingly provocative. The other nineteen are offended if you even bring it near them.

9: Opiate Fruit Seeds (1g each)
Walnut-sized seeds, their fruit is essentially a massively addictive drug that ruins lives. Dealers obviously want these seeds a lot.

10: Man-Egg (2g)
Appears as a stone egg to you, but apparently they're used in some sort of cloning process, where the clone is an improved version of the original. Whoever you sell it to will offer you a discount cloning (just 5g, down from 10g) instead of payment.

11: Cosmic Steel (5g per sheet)
Unbreakable panels of light metal around the size of a surfboard. Painfully cold to the touch.

12: Star Mask (50g)
It's a mask for some giant being, so it's the size of an elephant and twice as heavy.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Fallacies, not Mockeries, and Hitpoints

If Damage, Stress, and potentially Strain can all reduce your hitpoints, it further highlights the fact that HP are not your physical toughness. You could rename them energy or stamina points and you'd probably be better off.

Of course we all know this, it's 2016.

But I still get the occasional question about how it works.

Strawman Questioning Into the Odd Damage and HP

1: I'm a sniper and want to head-shot this opponent that has 12hp. My rifle does d8 damage so I'll never be able to down him in one.

Aside from the fact that this is an issue with standard D&D style roll-to-hit systems, called shots that would end the encounter should just be a regular attack. You're always trying to take your opponent out, so shooting for the head isn't really an interesting spin on the regular attack.

2: So I roll 8 damage, and take him down to 4hp. But my bullet didn't hit, right?

Generally, no. If your attack takes some HP off but leaves HP remaining then you've weakened or tired them but no serious physical harm. With bullets it could be a glancing hit or light flesh-wound.

3. But I have an anachronistic silencer, and I'm perfectly concealed, so if I miss him then why would he lose HP? He doesn't even know I just took a shot at him.

At some point you have to press the "it's a game" button, but I think we can still explain this. For starters, if you've really got the drop on them you should be Enhancing your attack anyway, so roll d12 damage. If you still take some HP off, but it doesn't make sense for them to become aware of you, then get creative. Maybe you miss and they just feel a shiver down their spine. Maybe your shot inadvertently causes them to wander into open ground to investigate that small noise. If you need to know whether you've been detected then there are cases for a DEX Save, a Luck Roll, or even a Dilemma if you're feeling fancy.

4. But I'm fighting this Star-Frog that's immune to earthly weapons, and I have one single bullet made from Stellar-Bone that would cut through his cosmic shell...

Okay here's where we hit an actual issue. There are highly specialist cases like this where you really need to know if a bullet hits. There's a case for including the situation in question 3 in here, but this "magic bullet" scenario is the only one I can really see posing a definite problem. It generally relies on:
- Fighting something that can only be harmed by a specific thing
- Having only a limit number of that thing

This isn't going to come up in your game all that often, and I'd go as far as to say I'd use it against player characters even more rarely.

The temptation is to say that the magic bullet only hits on Critical Damage, but then you've got a weird situation where the players are lifted out of the situation to play a game of counting down the target's HP until the probabilities line up and it's time to use the magic bullet. This could work, but remember in this case the target is immune to normal attacks, so you've got no way to wear them down.

With these situations I feel it's completely fine to bypass the normal attack system and go straight to a Save. In a Magic Bullet scenario the target gets a DEX Save to avoid the shot, or else suffers the major consequences of a hit.

Okay enough mechanical rambling about damage. Let's try and put Stress into practice.

Fallacies

Mockeries aren't just made by one person. The idea of creating false life has really caught on in Bastion and even parts of Deep Country.

Naturally there are going to be spin-offs.

The normal qualities of Mockeries apply to the Fallacies, but they won't self identify as Mockeries. In fact they won't admit to any sort of identity at all, just try to keep you talking.

The names given here are just for reference and so that you can roll d6 if you wish.

Type One Fallacy - False Thinker
STR 3, DEX 6, WIL 10, 10hp, No means of attack or movement.



- Wants to stop anybody doing anything, out of bitterness for her being stuck on a shelf.
- Exaggerate the consequences of your current action, causing d6 Stress if you try to defend your actions.
- If they cause Critical Stress, you fall to the ground with visions of the worst imaginable consequences of your actions,

Type Two Fallacy - False Servant
STR 4, DEX 12, WIL 12, 7hp, Tiny Hidden Dagger (d4).



- Offer to serve, squeaking out to cause d4 Stress to both you and himself if you refuse him.
- If they cause Critical Stress, they immediately turn on their incapacitated master and try to slit their throat with a tiny hidden dagger.
- If they suffer Critical Stress, they die in a melodramatic fashion.

Type Three Fallacy - False Seer
STR 8, DEX 15, WIL 10, 10hp. Feeble Bite (d4).



- Offer you a premonition (ridiculous, but possible). If you listen to it, you take d4 Stress every hour it goes unfulfilled.
- Delay you from your task by engaging in existential debates,
- If you suffer Critical Success at his hands, his life is sustained for another year and he burrows back underground,

Type Four Fallacy - False Warrior
STR 11, DEX 15, WIL 10, 16hp. Weapomised Broom (d6). 



- Bellow insults that hurt your very being for d6 Stress
- Grossly exaggerate his despair if you insult him back, taking d8 Stress himself.
- If you or him takes Critical Stress, the loser must give the winner an item of value (justified any way they can) before they can part,

Type Five Fallacy - False Judge
STR 10, DEX 15, WIL 15, 10hp, Gouging Beak (d6).



- Offer you a binary choice, and berate you for d8 Stress if you choose either.
- Takes d6 Stress if anyone picks an unmentioned third choice,
- Lash out with his beak if conversation is going against him,

Type Six Fallacy - False Saint
STR 16, DEX 4, WIL 18, 12hp. No means of attack.



- Cause d6 Stress each turn just by shining his annoying light on you, unless you bow.
- Takes d6 Stress himself if anybody does something truly selfless in his presence.
- If they die or suffer Critical Stress, they whistle loudly before popping in an explosion of light, leaving a glowing diamond (5g) behind.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Oddular Mechanics

I sometimes say that Into the Odd only has two mechanics, Saves and Damage. 

There's at least one mechanic hidden in the background, and a handful of others that I've been sneaking into some of my games. 

They're not core to the game, but you may have use for them.


Luck Rolls

From the player point of view they're just told to roll a d6 and aim high, preferably with a target number. Want to see if your poorly constructed boat makes it across the river? Roll d6 and on a 4+ it makes it. 

This is like raw RPG matter, and it doesn't really need any more explanation. From the Referee's side it can form the basis of wandering encounter rolls and other instances of chance. For things that are happening outside of any characters' control it's your bread and butter. 

Some elements of this have since drifted over to Saves (reaction rolls, initiative when you need it) and Dilemmas (a load of miscellaneous stuff that comes up) but it's still a useful alternative to bring out when you need it. 

Dilemmas

Give two choices. Players pick one, or try to get both by pushing their luck or expending a resource. It's barely a rule, just a good method for running the game. 

These have their own post already. It's another mechanic that players might not even be aware of, and have no real need to be. 

Not much has changed since my post. I like them, and need to keep reminding myself to use them, hence the snappy new name. I'm working on a few ways to make them come more naturally, but I don't want them to mechanise a load of actions that don't need mechanising. Sometimes you just do-the-thing, you know?


Contests

Brace yourself. Keep adding rules like this and your game will turn into Advanced Into the Odd.

Please don't actually call your game that. 

If someone is at risk, they get to make a Save to try to avoid the consequences. This is a d20 roll equal or under the relevant Ability Score to succeed. Standard mechanic of Into the Odd. 

If someone is in direct competition with another, it might be a Contest. They each roll a Save against the relevant Ability Score, and the winner is decided as follows. 
- If only one side passes, they win.
- If both sides pass, or both sides fail, the higher roll wins. 

So it's the old "roll as high as you can under your Ability Score" trick that you'll see quite a bit in OSR games. Nothing new, but how do I use it?

Contests of STRENGTH

Woo, grappling rules! 

If I wanted to run a proper brawl like some sort of Bastion UFC, I'd give the following options:
Strikes (d4 damage)
Play Dirty (d6 damage and chance of being disqualified)
Takedown (STR contest, the winner/loser has future attacks enhanced/impaired until escaped)
Escape/Submit (On the Ground Only, the winner escapes or forces a submission)

Four types of attack? What is this, Into the Odd 4e? 

it may be the most mechanically intensive fight I've ever suggested in Into the Odd, so it would be a rare instance of crunching things up for a fun event rather than a replacement for regular combat. 

If some giant tries to grab you then just make a Save as normal, don't resort to this mess. 

Contests of DEXTERITY

Into the Odd doesn't have move rates or a speed score. General movement is abstracted to common sense, and chases generally fit into one of the following:
1: One party is faster than the other, so the slower had better come up with a way around that, or else lose the chase. 
2: Both parties are a similar speed, so it comes down to who's got the better plan, or a DEX Save. 

Case 1 comes with its own challenges, but Case 2 particularly leads to having to decide which side has to roll the DEX Save. This is a perfect situation to use the Contest roll and eliminate that issue entirely. 

It's worth remembering that if you're on foot, running from a guy on a horse, you don't just get to roll the Contest because there's a mechanic for it. Case 1 still stands, so get smart. 

Contests of WILLPOWER

Right after I finished talking about using WIL Saves, let's look at some WIL Contests that might come up. 

You could use this for deception and persuasion, but I'd probably just make that sort of social maneuvering a Dilemma and use a Save if they choose a risky approach.

One place where it could be really fun is when you're really trying to break somebody's spirit. Taming a monstrous creature, or interrogating a suspect. A debate could work here in the right circumstances. 

Even better if you offer up nasty ways to Stress the target, and possibly reduce their WIL ahead of time.  
Ongoing Contests

If you want to zoom in on things makes it a Best of 3 contest, right? 

No. That's boring and lame. Don't do it. 

If it's really something you want to focus in on further then do it like I did with the brawl, or else make it into a Dilemma.

Contests of NO WAIT THIS IS STILL A SAVE

If you start using Contests for everything that involves two parties, you're making a major change to the game. I stand by my original reasoning for using static saves. 

As a rule of thumb, if something could work equally well as a Save or Contest I'd always use a Save for speed, simplicity and opacity. Especially if it's happening: within the mess of combat, multiple times, or to multiple characters. Keep Contests for those special instances you want to treat with special care.



Miscellaneous Mechanical Nuggets

These have cropped up in G+ discussion but don't think I've ever put them here. 

Deprivation
If you're deprived of food, water, warmth, or other vital needs, then you can't benefit from Rests. 

If it gets life threatening, you suffer d6 Damage per hour/day as appropriate to the severity (e.g. dehydration comes quicker than starvation). 

Weapon Effects
Some weapons and attacks list an effect with a target number for a special effect. If you roll above or below the target number as appropriate, apply the extra effect. For example:
Living Whip (d6, Tangle 5+)
Prototype Shotgun (d10, Backfire 2-) 

You don't need to create complex mechanics for these, just apply common sense. 
Be careful not to just make better versions of existing weapons here. Keep it for fancy stuff.

Combat Tricks
If you want to do something like disarm or trip someone in combat, consider whether a success here would end the combat. 
If Yes, that effect will occur only when you deal Critical Damage.
If No, the target gets to Save against the effect.

Stress
Stress is identical to Damage, but affects WIL in place of STR once the victim is out of HP. Critical Stress breaks the will a victim, but doesn't kill them. WIL 0 is an absolute breakdown. 

If you find a way to cause mental anguish to an opponent you may cause them d6 Stress.  

Strain
I'm yet to have call for a DEX equivalent to Stress, but if I ever refer to Strain that's what I mean. I guess paralysis or something.

The Great List of Into the Odd Keywords

A Note
Keywords lie on the slippery slope to a mechanical nightmare system, but we have a caveat that keeps us safe. The majority of the new keywords don't need to be known by the player, but instead are useful tools for the Referee to have in their pocket.

Save: Roll d20 equal or under an Ability Score to pass, avoiding something bad.
Damage: Damage taken comes off your HP. If you have no HP left, remaining Damage comes off your STR and you must pass a STR Save to avoid Critical Damage.
Armour: Reduces incoming Damage by its Armour Score.
Stress: As Damage, but replace STR with WIL.
Strain: As Damage, but replace STR with DEX.
Critical: When you take Critical Damage/Stress/Strain you are incapacitated until tended to. In the case of Critical Damage you will also die unless tended to.
Ability Loss: Takes immediate effect, dead at STR 0, utterly incapacitated at DEX or WIL 0.
Short Rest: A few minutes and a drink. Restores HP to full.
Full Rest: A week somewhere comfortable and safe. Restores Ability Scores to full.
Detachment: Ignore individual attacks smaller than a cannon. Enhance attacks against individuals. Break from battle on Critical Damage, wiped out at STR 0.
Contest: Both attempt a Save. If one passes, they win. If both pass, or both fail, the higher die wins.
Dilemma: A choice between two equally good/bad options that can usually be circumvented by a risk or sacrifice.
Enhanced: Increase to d12 Damage.
Impaired: Decrease to d4 Damage.
Deprived: No benefit from Rests until you get what you need. When it gets deadly, take d6 damage each hour/day as appropriate. 

Sunday, 17 April 2016

d6 Urban Oddities

Part of the reason I started using Oddities instead of Arcana was to blur the lines between equipment, environment, monsters, and NPCs.

What monster doesn't have the potential to end up as a resource on your character sheet? What bit of the environment can't be made mobile somehow?

It might sound like a stretch, but the idea is to put strange phenomena everywhere, rather than feel it has to be bound to a little item you can carry around.

Of course your starting Oddity needs to be a thing you can carry, but for the rest of the game just make odd stuff and let the players decide what they do with it.

Roll d6 to see what Oddity do you find in this bit of Bastion.

1: Bitter Water - Gigantic snake of pure water.
STR 18, DEX 18, WIL 12, 13hp, d8 Pressure Jet (can be toned down for gentle cleaning).
- Furiously blast away any dirt, which it is most likely surrounded by.
- Communicate in single words you can just make out amongst the splashing.
- Ignore any damage unless it would freeze/boil water.

2: Explosive Temper
The next person you encounter has this condition. If they get even slightly riled, their emotions boil up to extreme levels, eventually forcing them to make a WIL Save or else combust violently, burning to death. Anyone burnt by the fire of this conflagration is subject to the same condition, even if the fire has been kept for a long time or spread to other fuel (hint!). The only way to rid the body of it is to bathe in the icy waters of the polar ocean.

3: Aggressive Surgeon
STR 3, DEX 15, WIL 3, 4hp, Tiny (non-blast attacks are Impaired), Scalpel-Beak (d4).



- Spend a short rest patching up a recent wound (if it caused STR loss, restore half of that lost)
- Attempt to perform on anyone it sees, friendly or otherwise.
- For scenes of mass injury it will scream out like a siren, and a flock of surgeons will arrive.

4: Mock Forest
Twisting masses of collapsed pipes, discarded machinery, and dead vermin has somehow willed itself into non-organic trees, vines, and even Mock Fauna. Equal chance of neighbouring boroughs seeing it as a place of wonder, unholiness, or utter disinterest.

5: Spirit Buffer
Anyone dying in contact with this sealed glass tube has their essence trapped inside. As long as the tube remains in contact with them, they continue to live an unnatural life. If contact, or the tube, is broken, they die a sudden but painful death.

6: Unquenchable Fire Angel
STR 13, DEX 13, WIL 18, 13hp, Burning Onslaught (d10).



- Ignore physical damage, violently reject any fuel, and burn on pure will.
- Ask only two questions. "Who has wronged you?" and "Why are you worthy of Revenge?"
- Finally be quenched when it carries out a vengeance killing for a worthy being.