Friday, May 9, 2014

One shots, TPKs and hardcore Fate Dice

So, after buying a pair of hardcore Fate dice at my FLGS (see bottom of post), I decided to break a habit and join the local Thursday one shot. What followed was a lot of fun for me and a TPK for our party of 6. I may have been the reason for the TPK. I regret nothing.

We were sent by the king, as a squad of elite sorcerer-commandos (in, for some reason, leather armors and wielding short swords), to retrieve his kidnapped son. Apparently, a sorcerer more often attributed to myth than reality is actually real. Banished from the kingdom about 10 kings prior, with a slow turnover of kings, he... I think he vowed the destruction of the kingdom? Allegedly immortal but incapable of raising a mortal army, he has decided to summon demons with a ritual that requires royal blood. Enter us, as the ceremony can only be stopped right as it happens by the heroes.

It stands to reason to mention that the game had been billed as Classic D&D to me, sans actual D&D. As far as I'm concerned, that's codeword for "if one of you survives this, consider it a group win". I acted accordingly. This will factor in later.

So we raided the king's pantry and rode out several hours, leaving in the morning and arriving during twilight to the tower of Burtos the Black (or Burtos the Saint, the king got confused). This is a surprisingly short distance, but who am I to argue with the scenario?

The tower is surrounded by half a kilometer of a medium density forest. Sizable. The forest contained a camp of 40 trolls and the tower with an entrance guarded by 5 additional trolls. I suppose trolls of this amount don't count as an army?

My character was the only one to actually scout ahead, as the others bickered, leading to the discovery of the trolls and entrance. What followed was 45 minutes of additional bickering on what plan to implement in order to gain entry. To say the group was united would be wrong.

We gained entry with some clever illusions and found that the tower, inside, was barren of any and all lighting, furniture or decoration. Odd choice for The Tower of the BBEG. We climbed a nearly endless staircase leading to a ladder. The ladder had no landing (that is, below it was nothing leading to the lower iteration of the staircase) and led to a trap door with no one on the other side. We ascended, nearly lost one of our own, and were presented with another room, this time having no real proportions.

The room had a bunch of supermassive tiles and a stupid riddle about where you can and cannot step. The riddle we very easily grasped and as we moved forward on the tiles, we discovered a very large gap between one good tile and the next. This kind of threw a switch for me, since I dislike bad base construction.

At this point, things started to go wrong. One of the players decided to test what happens when you step on a bad tile and was rewarded with a massive stone crushing his leg into paste. He barely made the first jump across a gap. We later had a second gap and this is where things went worse. We lost one man to the first gap, since apparently a very healthy man cannot jump a 3m gap, much less one made smaller by the stone that scraped my ankle and broke it. I dislike  how this GM chose to interpret the die roll results.

The one we lost to the first gap had his knee crushed and he had become immobilized. I egged the party on to use him as a bridge, corpse or alive. We killed him but were unable to stop bickering long enough to remove his crushed leg above the knee and drag the corpse away. The one with the crushed leg was about to make the jump, after another player, who could cast Telekinesis, made the jump. As the prior was about to roll, I announced that I push him into the bad tile, to get crushed. My reasoning that he would make a fantastic bridge. Saved by telekinesis and having caused 2 stones to drop perfectly into a bridge, I thought everything was dandy.

And then the telekinesis caster decided to sneak up on me with an arbitrary die roll (which I could not resist because the GM decided) and kill me. I responded in the only logical way when a character I have no attachment to is killed by a character I have no attachment to. I used my Lightning spell to take her out with me. Death count went to 3.5. The player with telekinesis was oddly more mad than I thought she would be.

The remaining were two very healthy players with Wall of Flames and Force Fists spells. And a cripple.

They passed through the next to last door into an encounter with 4 goblins. I suspect that this sorcerer did not take a course in how to defend your base properly.

The encounter saw the cripple dead and the remaining characters to go down to 10% (wall of flames) and 50% (force fists) health. The goblins were played by myself and the telekinesis user and we tried to kill the others dead.

So the two remaining characters enter what turns out to be the final room, past the goblins, and see the sorcerer just about to stab the prince. Force fists are go and the dagger is knocked from the sorcerer's hands. He looks up and says (paraphrased): "You may have foiled my plans today, but this will be your downfall!" and promptly leaps out the window, the only one in the tower, and disappears, as force fists discovers when looking out. I had no idea it was that easy to disrupt a ceremony with no prerequisite conditions.

For some reason, after very little PC-NPC discussion with the prince, force fists throws the kid out the window, knocks out wall of flames and throw him out the window as well and then every corpse he could get his hands on follows suit. And then he jumps, getting himself killed.

And that's the tale of how I believe to have caused a TPK.

I think we all had fun, myself having most of it. The GM was pretty bad and the scenario kind of ridiculous and mundane, but it was fun. I doubt any of them would be willing to play with me again, though.

The aforementioned hardcore Fate dice. Note the lack of blank sides and the inclusion of a double Plus side and double Minus side.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Valoria d20-like - Character Creation, Classes and Advancement

So I said I'd post some thing about Valoria d20-like, so here comes some of it.
After I thought about what to retain from d20 games and what to ditch, I believe I have something solid now.

Character Creation
Among the things I've chosen to retain are the 6 attributes. They are not good, in my opinion, but they serve and they are familiar enough to get things moving quickly. Also retaining levels, HD and a relatively rigid class structure.
When creating characters, you first need attributes which range from -3 to 3 for humans. This is done in one of several ways:
  • Rolling 3dF is the best method, as it tends towards the center and provides a very easy way to generate a simple -3 to 3. Simulating 3dF with d6s is passable but not as good.
  • Rolling 3d6 for a point pool to assign from. Start from 0 and change as wanted, until all points are spent. Negative attributes give back 1 point per negative point (0 to -1 is 1 points, -1 to -2 is another point and -2 to -3 is a third point). Positive attributes require as many points as the score you're going into (1 requires 1 point, 2 requires 2 points and 3 requires 3 points).
  • A 12 point pool to assign from. Static and fine.
  • A standard spread, very likely 2, 1, 1, 0, 0, -1.
Notably, the low numbers on attributes have a very meaningful impact on rolling - much more than the 3 to 18 scale of standard d20 - but that I will cover in a later post.
After you have your attributes, apply any modifiers from racial choice, roll your HD based on race, choose your first class level and add anything the class gives you, like an HP bonus and advancement.

In Valoria d20-like, the choice of class is relatively definite and final. The class you choose at character creation defines the character very heavily and deviations become slight.
Unlike many other d20 games, classes in Valoria d20-like have a specific structure and interaction. The essential structure looks like a hexagon with a central vertex connected to all outside vertices. This structure defines who is neighbors with who and what type of multi-classing that class can do. In the center is the Jack (or Jane). The other six vertices act like a color wheel: primary colors are pure classes - warrior, spellcaster and rogue - while secondary colors are the complementary mixed classes to the pure ones - warrior-spellcaster, warrior-rogue and spellcaster-rogue.
The Jack is a unique class that has no attribute requirements. It's unlikely to ever become the core class of a character, but it is possible. Jacks advance in the smallest increments but do so much more quickly than the other classes.
The other classes require either double or triple the EXP than the Jack does, advance in larger increments and have attribute requirements.
Outside the structure there is a final type of class, tied to the "color" classes: specializations. Pure classes can specialize in only their own specializations and taking these specialty classes increases EXP requirements. Mixed classes may pick from their own special selection or from either of their pure neighbors. Jacks are unable to specialize, but may take more multi-class levels.

Advancement in Valoria d20-like is very simple: as you gain EXP, you invest it into a valid class (core class, multi-class or specialization). That EXP is taken from you and the cost of all valid classes goes up by 1 increment (2^[next level]*[base cost]).
Character receive their first advancement with their first level, so right off the bat. Each advancement provides Advancement Points, which may be spent on Primary Features, Secondary Features or Special Features. Primary and secondary cost 1 point each and special features cost 2 points, with the exception of the Jack.
Jacks receive 2 points, pure classes 3 points and mixed classes 4 points. Every specialization taken gives another point per level after it had been taken. Specialization levels don't provide points but rather give their special feature at the basest level.
There is no limit on how much of which features you take each level, except that you can't take the same feature twice in a level.
On the matter of multi-classing, you simply gain that level normally for that class, with all perks associated. The restriction is that you may not take more than a single multi-class level in any neighbor. Jacks may take 3 multi-class levels total while the other classes may only take 2. Humans receive another multi-class level to take.

I don't think I have anything else meaningful to share for now, so any comments and critique on what I have thus far will be very appreciated. Feel free to message me on Hangouts with any questions about the game.