Showing posts from 2018

The Well-Adjusted Murderhobo

I have yet to meet a player who has not, at one point or another, taken part in Murderhobo behavior. As a kid who taught himself D&D at the age of 8 reading the 2nd edition Player's Handbook, I built a lot of dungeons with 10' x 10' featureless square rooms housing treasure chests guarded by orcs, and as a player never payed for an inn, a hot meal, or any type of service that a normal person would use. All my income went to implements of murder. But given that verisimilitude can be fun (to a point) and that OSR characters will often find a lot of treasure and have nothing to spend it on other than carousing or buying magic items from the inexplicably present economy built around dungeon crawling, let's give them a reason to care about the things that make us living, breathing people and not cardboard cutouts of munchkins murdering our way through a series of backdrops. If you'd like to apply some simple modifiers to NPC reaction rolls to incentivize this, here …

Old School d6 Skills versus 3e/Pathfinder d20 Skills

As a huge fan of LotFP and its d6 skill system, I wanted to take a look at one of the other most popular and celebrated skill systems. Third Edition Dungeons & Dragons d20 system was a turning point in game design, in my opinion- it changed most things to d20 rolls, had tight tactical rules, ascending AC, and a bunch of other stuff. Probably most importantly, the Open Game License, without which we wouldn't have the OSR. But the skills. Let's look at the skills. I'll be breaking this down into several categories, comparing the LotFP system to the 3e/Pathfinder system, and awarding points. Spoiler, LotFP wins, big fucking surprise. But this isn't a contest, it's an analysis (with a stupid point thing). 
Number and Function of Skills The LotFP skill system has a lean 10 skills, with Refs encouraged to create their own as needed. The 3e system has a plethora of skills (I list 38 here. Pathfinder has 28 according to, but that's still a lot). Here are th…

Free RPG Day Adventure Review: Skitter Shot Adventure for Starfinder

This free RPG day I grabbed my stuff and headed out to Black & Read Books in Arvada, Colorado. I took LotFP and Mutant Crawl Classics, and ended up running MCC after playing a Starfinder one-shot. I'd never played it before, and thought it would be fun. Afterwards, I grabbed the adventure, and I'll be giving it away, postage included, to somebody.

The adventure is basically the sci-fi version of those We Be Goblins adventures they've been putting out. The goblin FRPG day adventure is for level 6 gobbos now, which I assume means it's the 6th year running. Who the hell plays a level 6 one-shot game?

Anyway, this is apparently the launch of a new yearly tradition, with these considerably less cute Stitch knockoffs instead of the little green gobbos. Get em, Disney. Make them bleed.

Skitter Shot is for 4 first level characters, and pre-gens are provided in the back of the book, with full-color character illustrations. Pretty nice. It would have been better if they were…

Even simpler d6 saves- Swords & Wizardry style Single Saving Throw

So I decided I wanted to make all saves in my game use d6 instead of d20; then somebody pointed out Swords and Wizardry has a simple system that gives each class a single save. It's something I had considered including, but didn't want to destroy the sacred cow of the 5 save system in the same post I destroyed the d20 roll. But it's a great idea! Give each class their save- they all progress at the same rate (1/level) anyway under S&W, which of course fits well with my math. Every 3 levels, they gain a point. Some of the classes get bonuses to certain categories of saves (Magic-Users versus Magic and Magical Devices, Thieves versus Devices, for example). Easy.

All I had to do was make sure it was faithful to LotFP's starting values, which I did by finding the average of the 5 saves at level 1 for each class, then adjusting that to my d6 ranges. Also, Swords & Wizardry uses race in addition to class, so Dwarfs, Elves and Halflings don't have a save of their …

Games and Spotlight

When a group comes together to game we all want different things. Some want a story, some want a challenge, some want a social experience. When those needs are met, and more importantly when the group aligns and interacts in a way when they are met for as many people as possible, that's when you have a great game. Much has been said and written about how this happens- but don't worry, I'm here now to solve the entire thing for all time.

All games are unified by certain principles. The principles that some people think are completely anathema to certain playstyles are actually not, they just require more thought or more communication about how the mechanics function as part of the game.  Now a game like Ten Candles where burning and putting out candles are the methods of marking time and determining the story's stakes are very foreign to drawing lines on graph paper and rolling funny dice, but there's no reason you couldn't have a hell of a good time lighting ca…

Album Review: Sleep- The Sciences (w/ bonus Magical Narcotics table!)

Sleep is legendary. Considered by many to be the seminal Stoner Metal band, not only did they create a couple of monumental albums, but their members are fucking ridiculously awesome outside of Sleep as well. Matt Pike is the guitarist and vocalist of High On Fire, and Al Cisneros is the vocalist and bassist of OM. Both bands are among my favorites. In fact, I prefer both of them to Sleep (blasphemy!), and Stoner Doom is far from my favorite subgenre- I'm mainly only a fan of Sleep, Weedeater, Yob and Electric Wizard- but goddamn, this record took me by surprise.

Sleep's Holy Mountain (Full Dynamic Range Edition) by Sleep Sleep's Holy Mountain- not as heavy as this album or Dopesmoker, but still pretty, uh, dope.
Sleep broke up a real long time ago. Their last full album, Dopesmoker, which is basically the definitive Stoner Metal record, came out in 2003. They came together for a very good single in 2014 for Adult Swim called The Clarity, but I still wasn't sure if they…

Saving Throws as d6 Skills

D6 skills are fucking awesome. They're simple, calculable, probably the easiest die to read across the table, and easy to fill in on a character sheet. If you make sure to follow a few rules, you can avoid any common problems you might have, too. I made a post about that here. So I've been thinking, why the hell not use it for Saving Throws? D20 isn't bad, by any means. It's a calculable die and definitely the best substitute for percentile probability if you're ok with rounding a bit in the name of expediency. The only issue with Saving Throws is that they're descending when a lot of other things are ascending. D20 fixed this by with modifiers that went up every level and reduced it to three save types, but we do things differently here (unless you're playing DCC). But if we're condensing die types down to as few as possible while still trying to keep as close to the original, divinely-inspired Saving Throw values, we can do it pretty easily because th…

Review: The Barrow of the Old King (w/ bonus D6 Undead Characters!)

Podnoszenie czarów by LICHO
Polish black metal. Seems like all the best stuff is Polish these days.
The Barrow of the Old King is an adventure for all levels that can be found in issue #1 of the Undercroft, a zine published by Daniel Sell which has excellent content of all kinds for LotFP. It can be yours for 5 Great British Pounds + S/H, or as a PDF for just under $3.50. I ran it for my group over the course of 3 sessions, which you can read about here (sessions 15-18)

The adventure is location-based and meant to be compatible with all kinds of campaigns. Its default flavor is somewhat Celtic/Nordic, although it could quite easily be re-skinned to many other cultural flavors as well. Chinese or Mongolian springs to mind, as it has a terra cotta army-esque section.

The hook is a magic ring in the possession of the titular King, slayer of giants in times of old. The ring is a maguffin, with no particular powers or purpose, and could quite easily be subbed with anything else if desired. T…

The Old-School d6 Skill System

My chief design philosophy, and the way I play at the table can be summed up as "Memorable, Minimal, Metal." I don't like to juggle a lot of rules. The main elements of OSR games are combat and skill rolls. Combat rolls are pretty straightforward, so we're going to take a look the d6 skill system works, problems that may arise from it and how to solve those problems.

As someone who grew up with 2nd edition AD&D I was used to skills being incredibly granular and using a lot of different methods of resolution. It seemed natural to me, having first encountered that approach, that complexity and verisimilitude were the best rules philosophy. Moving on to 3e, it was better (blasphemy!), but there was still a skill for everything and they tended to discourage creativity through their strict codification of what was possible with or without a given skill.

By comparison, the d6 skill system is much more general, open-ended and quick at the table. Description and gamepla…