Sunday, November 29, 2020

Sword of Truth Generator

What kind of Sword is it?
- 1d6
[1] Falcata
[2] Seax
[3] Katana
[4] Boardsword/Arming Sword
[5] Claymore
[6] Rapier

What is its Appearance? - 1d8
[1] Ancient, rusted or greened from decay. Just as powerful.
[2] Decorated with gold leaf, engravings, runes are fancifully carved. Jewel pommel.
[3] Brutish, simple and rough. Runes are carved with straight and hard precision.
[4] Finely crafted, though unadorned. Seemingly untouchable by dirt or grime. Silvery.
[5] It appears broken- the blade missing halfway up. It is restored just when it is needed most.
[6] Humble, simple. Looks like it could be a farmer's weapon.
[7] Made from a fantastic material; bright red iron or a creature's bone worked into a sword's shape.
[8] Glows even in daylight, wisps of power are drawn to it. It is a truly intimidating blade.

What do the Ancient Runes read along the Blade? - 1d12
[1] God Willing
[2] I Serve but the Good
[3] Render Unto
[4] The Riddle
[5] Tyrant's End
[6] Unerring
[7] I Shall
[8] Pursuit of Happiness
[9] The Wielder of this Blade shall be named King
[10] Hope for the Hopeless
[11] (There is no runes, instead the blade is polished to be a mirror. You see what you want to see.)
[12] Lion's Breath

What's its Special Power? - 1d8
[1] Can reverse time by 10 minutes, but just once.
[2] You can look into it and see whatever place you need to be the most.
[3] If you stab it into a corrupted thing it doesn't destroy it instead purifies it.
[4] You can throw it and it comes back to you.
[5] Everyone has heard of it and respects you just for having it.
[6] You can detach the blade and inside the handle is a holy object that's really important.
[7] Can hide the user's appearance, makes them look like an old beggar or something humble.
[8] Let's the holder fly.

Besides being really powerful, how do you KNOW it's the Sword of Truth? - 1d6
[1] Because it tingles to warn you when monsters approach.
[2] Because it can't hurt anyone innocent.
[3] Because bad people look away from it.
[4] Because it appears whenever you need it most.
[5] Because anyone struck by it admits to their sins and cannot keep their lies.
[6] Because when you swing it it shoots out a holy light beam.

What do you have to do to earn the right to carry the Sword? - 1d8
[1] It is so far away, so isolated, and so guarded by evil that simply retrieving it is enough.
[2] Solve the ancient riddle.
[3] You can take the blade freely, but an illusion will tempt you from the righteous path.
[4] Only those pure of heart can find it.
[5] Only those of the royal bloodline can take the sword.
[6] The blade is found rusted and worthless; is cleaned by unicorn's tears. That's the hard part.
[7] Kill the demon that lives in the sword, which is actually an angel that tests you.
[8] When you first take the blade, your inner demons materialize in a shadowy form. You must defeat the shadow, or else you will lose the blade and not get it back.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Vagueposting- Elements + The Three Elements

So I talked about elements before; if it be a sort of five elements thought experiment, elementally-challenged undead, or magic items often relating to the elements. I like elemental systems, in video games or tabletop settings. You can infer a lot about a fantasy world based on its elemental systems, if these elements be purely for a combat triangle just for game mechanics, or if they're actually a part of the world itself as the building blocks of everything.

Now most elemental systems fall either into the sort of “magical combat flavors” thing, at least in video games, or a sort of world and magical context thing. In a lot of games, elemental damage is pretty much exclusive to magic spells, which is the primary way that magical people or beings tend to fight. Other magic tends to be “typeless” or be like death damage or whatever, but elemental is usually its own set thing. In these types, elemental damage is usually just tied into specific skills, powers, or effects. In some every single elemental attack is almost identical, you start with a basic fire spell that is the same as the basic ice spell and they just deal different kinds of damage, or your weapons just deal different elemental types as bonus damage. This makes sense and adds granularity to a game's system, but it's kind of boring.

Then you have magic system which encompass all kinds of magic, trying to combine elemental basics into a wide-reaching magic system. Something like the game Magicka is a bit like this, or you can go for the obvious other example with the Avatar anime. In these examples, magic relating to the elements is more holistic, air magic can be used to fly or knock away projectiles, it doesn't just shoot lightning bolts or whatever. These systems can also include things like mixing two or more elements together to create sub-elements, which could theoretically do practically any magic effect you can think of. I tend to like these elemental systems, but moreso when they have that kind of magical realism or mythological feel; the magic of elemental fire isn't JUST fire, but also heat, light, maybe passion and rage somehow tied up in there a bit too. Ars Magica is a nice example of this, as is the Dominions game series; though both of these are not strictly all elemental magic systems.

Elemental Triangles/Quadrangles/Pentagnles
Fire, Frost, Lightning
So in a lot of games, Elder Scrolls and Path of Exile come to mind here, you have the three basic elemental types of Fire, Frost, and Lightning. I like this, it's simple and there is plenty of interplay. The issue here is they don't really have counters. Of course, they don't NEED to counter each other in a combat triangle, but a lot of media does this already and it works well for establishing a sort of basic, easy to understand system.

So for starters, you could say that Fire melts Ice, but Ice doesn't really “counter” lighting, unless it's in water form. Water as a magical element is more common in fantasy media like books and shows I feel, since in video game form it's harder to justify why splashing someone with water kills them. For this reason, I think ice is used as a stand in, though many settings put both under the same umbrella (or annoyingly, they are two separate categories.) Even if we say that Fire melts Ice, Ice absorbs Lightning, we're a bit stuck because Lightning doesn't beat Fire really. Unless you want to get really abstract and say that because Lightning creates fire, it's the master or creator of Fire. I could only see that working in something very hands off, more metaphysical then anything, not a spell or element based magic system- it just doesn't make enough gut-sense to work.

Then we could do it the opposite. Ice extinguishes Fire, but Fire doesn't really beat Lightning on its own, though the Ice/Water element makes sense to get beat by electricity. I think Pokemon starters may also be a good way to establish it; changing out lightning or electric for grass/plant/nature here could work really well. Fire burns grass, Grass drinks/absorbs Water, Water puts out Fire. Easy. The only problem here is you don't get evocative ice magic (unless once again, Water/Ice are the same element) and you lose out on lightning. Grass or Nature doesn't “feel” like blasty elemental magic in the same way as the other ones do.

Fire, Water, Earth, Air
The classic Greek elements. I like these. They're very common and everybody knows them, they shit inspiration. Characters can easily be tied to the elements, you can imagine a lot of useful utility spells and magical blasts based on these, the “bending” of these elements makes for great combat magic or just general flavor. These tend to fit under the second type of “system” that I described above; a sort of holistic magic system where all kinds of effects are made by these elements or by mixing them- pure Air or Water magic (just the element) tends not to lend itself to combat as well, and “Earth” magic as a combat school or class doesn't feel as satisfying since it tends to be “physical” damage and feels like the odd one out. Of course if this is the only way for mages to deal physical damage then it could be cool, but typically a magical wizard or elemental blaster guy should be doing some kind of specific elemental blasts against enemies that they are weak to.

Also I feel like mentioning here is most appropriate; I really like the concept of an “elementalist” conjuring or using all elements of nature. The term “elemental” here referring not to the vague, somewhat modern interpretations of the elements as abstract forces but rather as “the elements” as in the natural world, being outside, all that stuff. Ties in with nature magicky stuff a bit but this is one of my pet favorite interpretations that I see only extremely rarely. Stuff like making the sun beat down on the enemies or conjuring up mists to obscure vision not because you have power over abstract fire and abstract wind, but because those are the elements of nature that you can command. Also allows for more abstract elements that don't FEEL like cherrypicking as much as other elemental systems do; it feels less special-snowflake to have a magnetism wizard if they are channeling the magnetism as an “element” of the world, then if it was a side ability of a generic “metal elementalist”. This is an incredibly specific thing, I'm not giving any examples or explaining it well, but this is Vagueposting so you'll just have to deal with it lol

Fire, Frost, Lightning, Acid
This is a bit of a combination of a traditional four element systems, except with Earth replaced with Acidic or corrosion. Now pretty often you'll see this done but with Earth being “Poison” instead, a bit like Legend of Grimrock, but I have a few problems with it. First I think it works well in a video gamey sort of way, but it doesn't work on everything- you couldn't be much of a venom mage against things immune to venom like zombies, golems, and lots of other stuff that is common in fantasy. Secondly, being immune to venom is a lot more common then fire/ice/lighting at least in terms of average animals. Like there's no normal animal that is immune to fire, it would be something kind of rare like a demon or dragon, but most fantasy settings would have all snakes just conveniently immune to poison, or even entire races like snake/lizard people immune to it. Path of Exile sidesteps this by making their poison element “Chaos” which I kind of like, but it's a little vague in theme. As such, I think acid or corrosion works a little better. Also note I'm using poison and venom interchangeable, I know there's a difference, it's just the name the element is most commonly given.

However, one problem with Fire/Water/Air/Acid systems is that there's no easy or obvious triangle or what beats what. I do like using the more video game adaption for this, hence Fire, Frost, Lightning, and Acid all as damage types. I think this fits well since, as stated previously, “water” doesn't feel as aggressive as Frost and Earth is more physical damage then something like Acid would be, Acid or Corrosion or whatever you want to call it is pretty unique for that reason. However- what bets Acid? And what does Acid beat? One kind of minor interpretation is that Acid beats Fire and loses to Lightning. I personally like this because it implies that Acid could be in a liquid or smoke/dust form, which smothers the fire, but it's not a good fit. Even though there is no real reason this should be how it is, I have a sort of weird fascination with Lightning being the counter to Acid. Maybe in a fantasy world electricity or thunder just somehow gets rid of Acidic stuff. It fits the best in my mind; imagine dipping copper cables into a vat of acid and charging them up, the electrical shock causes the acidic stuff to change color, fizzle, suddenly losing its alkaline properties or even 'shocking' the acid back into pure water? 
I could see Lightning being the best element to kill slimes at least, which are commonly associated with corrosion. The electricity causes the slime to jiggle, sizzle, shrinking and size and hardened into useless left over minerals as the moisture was just boiled out of the poor thing. Why would that work better then an equally hot fire? Like I said, it's not a perfect fit but it is one I like.

The Fifth (Or Sixth) Element
This is a sub category of the above elemental system. The classic Fire, Water, Earth, and Air BUT with the fifth element. Typically, this element is Aether, Void, Prime, or some other ur-element, typically typecasted as “Arcane” damage or perhaps the divine alternative to the other elements. This usually has the rules of the fifth element being able to beat all the other elements, or does shit that none of the others can do, like messing with time, fate, magic iteslf, or the nature of souls. Under this category, we could also include the final element as being “Light”, sometimes with a “Darkness” counter. Sometimes one of them beats all the basic elements, but loses to the other weird element, which in turn loses to all the normal elements. The counter to the counter, if you will.

Eight Elements
Then, some people extrapolate the Four elements into 8, the combinations of each of the basic four into sub elements. Water + Earth = Mud element, Fire + Water could be steam or acid, you get the idea. I don't like this one as much as the other ones, mostly because there are to many elements and it feels a little too mathematical. I'm the type of guy who loves the idea of a “Mud” specialist wizard and would totally give them like magical healing sediments in holy mud they slather on people or summon mud golems and stuff, but sometimes the element is just the element, it's bending but a little less cool, playing a “Steam” wizard would just be lame unless you tied in technology and magitech into it to otherwise bulk up their boring moveset. (Pretty good idea for a GLOG Wizard class though.) Some people instead put in totally different elements into the Octagonal system- Lords of Magic with Order/Chaos and Life/Death along with the four elements is a good example.

Two Elements
This one is a bit of a wildcard. It's less common, most games aren't going to have two elements for something like a combat system, but a game setting or fantasy world might. This harkens back to stuff like the yin and yang, light and dark sides of the force, the light and dark worlds in Metroid or Zelda. It creates a duality. Once again, it's less for something you'd use in a game purely by itself, but in terms of a magic system that encompasses everything it works and is pretty inspired, though it can make a fantasy world feel a bit claustrophobic in a sense. I'm also intentionally avoiding very vague uses of this; you could argue that “man vs nature” or “technology vs magic” or “law vs chaos” could also count as two “elements” for our usage, but I'm keeping this to stuff that is usually conjured by magic or has a sort of chemical/physical/mathemagical properties in the world, less so vague elemental allegiances.

The Three Elements Idea (Background)
This is a concept of a three elemental system. My primary inspiration is coming from The Secret World- my favorite MMO. In that game, the basic materials you used to craft stuff were Metal, Fire, Water, and Dust- there were also glyphs and runes, but these enchanted items with specific effects and go beyond the scope of this essay. Metal was mostly just used for weapons and barrier potions though, the materials you used to craft your charms (equipped gear- since your clothes were all cosmetic in that game to fit with the modern theme), were the three elements of Fire, Water, and Dust. I'm going to extrapolate these into something greater then it was in the game.

Sidebar: I also just want to say I really liked that system for materials because it felt mystical and magical and occult in a way; perfect for that game an atmosphere. I love the high fantasy aesthetic with weird power crystals and I also love the mythological aesthetic of elemental energies being locked in objects that represent them, like still warm embers being infused with fire magic and the like. In TSW though, the materials went up in grades; Base, Imperfect, Normal, Sacred, and Pure. You had to combine 5 of a lower tier to get one of the next tier up. Most shitty enemies dropped Base and Imperfects of course, so it took a bit of grinding since each weapon or item took between 8 and 12 to fill an item in a slot, but it made sense since there wasn't a specific high end material you needed to craft these; you could just use any of the base materials anywhere.

I really like this crafting system and kind of wanted to use it in a game. Mostly because of how mystic it feels; for example you just have generic “Water” but with enough of it of a certain quality you can make magic charms that make people harder to kill. The “Fire” in your inventory never goes out, so is it like an ever burning cool flame or is it like an ember? Is it sealed away in an Orochi-Group container that somehow keeps it in perfect stasis until the time is right to use it? You obviously just can't pick up a handful of dust off the ground and use it for magical purposes; perhaps “base” dust means exactly that, the “base” element is just the stuff you'd find in the real world to some extent, and finding it on enemy drops and not having an unlimited amount of it is just a gaming abstraction.

But anyway this sidebar was just here to talk about how much I loved those tier names. It really gets a vibe going for me; even if you found PURE Water you'd hardly even know what it was, it would just look beautiful and entrancing, somehow cleaner then any other water you've seen, despite it just being water. Despite it just being a literal bit of dirt, the magical “Dust” you have is actually enchanted or infused with some kind of power somehow, and “Pure” Dust is extremely potent indeed. All of this is just very cool mental imagery.

I also like to imagine how the characters are actually purifying these; smashing them together with some sort of magical ability that destroys most of the matter to keep only the best stuff? Are they picking apart the best pieces or sifting through the elemental bits with greater and greater filters or magical methods to keep only the most pure pieces; slowly ascending in overall purity? Or is it some kind of magical combining ritual, where the parts are simply melded together and it reaches the next platonic ideal of its elemental type? Super cool.

The Three Elements
There are three elements that make up the cosmos. They were the first things; it was the three storms. The mighty typhon, the terrifying inferno, and the relentless dust-storm. Once these were calmed by the powers above, their distribute element was scattered and made into the world we know.

Fire burns Dust away, but is extinguished by Water.
Water chokes out Fire, but is lost to the Dust.
Dust absorbs and drains away the Water, but is burnt by Fire.

Fire represents all fire, celestial fire and worldly fire. It can be held in the form of a candle flame, a hot stove, a raging bonfire, and so on. It can also appear in gaseous forms like fumes or hot steam. It's pretty standard here, but is highly tied to things like aggression, offense, damage, and weaponry.

Water is water, obviously, both stagnant and flowing. The more pure water is, the more powerful it is in regards to elemental magic. Water can appear as mist, streams, or blasts as well as be magically potent just in its liquid form.

Dust is where things get interesting. It appears as a cloud, pile, or strewn about as a light covering. It tends to be very neutrally colored and easy to miss, but has magical powers all the same. When a Dust-user conjures Dust, it creates a cloud of swirling particles that may crackle and spark with electricity between them, or it could be blown outwards as a corrosive or blinding mist.

Dust is a quasi-element, a combination of Earth and Air in our normal four piece elemental system. Why? Because I think it fits better in our three element system, and here's why. For one, Fire needs to be beaten by Water in any elemental system, that's a given. It's easy enough to argue why Earth or Grass or Lightning beats water, as discussed above, but finding something that gets beat by fire that isn't a living thing is tough. Fire just likes to kill wood, basically, not much unliving fears the flames. However dust can kind of sort of be a mix of life elements; but with some more obvious offensive powers that don't dip into things like poisons or generic “physical” damage, though physical could also be used in the form of dust ball, dust wind, dust storm, throwing rocks around or getting hit with a tornado, etc.
Also the other reason I think Fire is a good fit for beating Dust here is things that are often considered dusty, like dusty furry creatures in the desert highlands or an ancient mummy, seem pretty flammable, even if that dustiness is just a side effect and not really the root cause of their counter.

Where is Air/Earth?
In this case, Dust IS Air, or rather a combination of Air and Earth. I really like this concept because, to me at least, I can see it in a video game or whatever. I can see the particle effects in my head; a swirling cloud of dust with electricity zapping between particles, just daring you to go inside. In my mind, I think a cloud of particles being able to be electrified makes sense enough, PLUS it makes enough sense that Fire burns it away. Of course realistically, dust or dirt isn't exactly super flammable, but it kind of fits in with that preteaching part of a human mind that knows that fire consumes things faster the smaller and more surface area they have. You could think of elemental dust a bit like a cloud of generic video-gamey dust particles, maybe made of saw dust or finely ground flour, which ignite or even explode very easily. Also; if you're on the fence about dust being tied in with electiricty, I've noticed a trend in games about having the desert level also be electrical themed for some odd reason. Maybe that's just my Breath of the Wild experience talking, but there's some kind of cultural spillover there.

You could also imagine the three elemental system as the “base” elements, with air being equivalent to the aether/void element in other games or worlds. Air is the element where all other elements came from, hence why I references it in the start of this blog post.

Why is 'Dust' so vague?
This is partially to cover up for the inadequacies of other elemental systems I have been writing about and, secondly, because it's kind of cool. Gives it a mystical edge. Water is already hyper varied and probably one of the most attractive choices for elemental magic stuff, Fire is strong but a bit straightforward. I will admit I am imagining this elemental system more in a video game context then a tabletop one, you can just imagine in a tabletop game “oh you conjure fire, ok whatever you want to do with it go ahead”. But in a video game things are more set and can be designed, discussed further down below. Another reason is to give it a wide angle to compete with both Fire and Water, which both have a lot of uses if a bit straightforward ones off the top of your head.

Second, I wanted Dust to be a combination because of how limited air magic tends to be. That may sound a bit crazy, but honestly it's true. The main powers of Air in most games or media is creating wind or air blasts, blocking arrows/air shields obviously, flight, and possibly controlling the weather; this is the capabilities of pure air with some thinking. Compared to fire which can cook food, work with metals, heat up cold people and many more air seems lackluster. Air is often tied in with lightning or storm, and while this is a good addition you'll notice that lightning is almost just as sparse. Beyond shooting enemies with it, lightning can only really be useful in a modern fantasy setting can make use of it, or often the lightning power has teleportation and/or telekinesis (magnetism usually) hooked into it somehow. Earth is a bit TOO all purpose since it's literally everywhere, but in this case we're limiting the earth-power of Dust to just dust, sand, that sort of thing.

How would you present the Elemental Attacks/Spells/Combat Moves(Video Games)?
You could imagine a bunch of different ranges, area of effects, damage upfront vs damage over time, and forms or appearances for Fire magic. Low level red and orange flames, shooting out in arcs or orbs. Higher level blue or white flames that are thrown as big fireballs or can raise walls and shields made of fire. The super endgame fire would be like bright yellow to gold or something- a type of hyper hot and powerful energy.

Water is a little trickier. As mentioned before, Water just splashes people and isn't really dangerous, and any magician or entity that can conjure a huge amount of water at once, enough to hurt or kill someone, could probably sweep away small buildings or flood big areas, making it very dangerous for lots of people or causing huge damage. Water's power doesn't really “scale down” well in an elemental system; Fire, Lightning, and Ice all can be imagined to be dangerous on an individual level, but Water? Not as much. Of course this is only counting the combat potential of these magic systems; water could be the worst in combat because it offers protection, healing, movement, or other various buffs or useful travel powers for people who master it.

Dust is the one I kind of made up for this article, though I will admit some inspirations of course. Wind and lightning attacks are of course closely related, as are generic “dust attacks” from things like Dwarf Fortress forgotten beasts, but usually these have to carry poison or something to make any kind of sense. It doesn't really have to make sense obviously, a video game boss could just flap a wing and deal damage if you're anywhere close to it and it makes enough sense and people accept it, it just isn't super satisfying or obvious the way the other elements are. I think a combination of the above works best; a character does an attack animation and lifts their arms, creating a cloud of smoke that flies at the player character. Maybe it deals damage or stun on a hit, or maybe it just passes through your harmlessly, but electrical energy will start to zap you if you move through it once its set up, or the magician swirls up a bunch of dust around them dramatically before unleashing a powerful chain lightning bolt, which leaves little particles in the air along its trail. It's pretty much the same as lightning as in every other game, but with some added utility.

This idea was mostly based on TSW and my desires to reinvent the wheel. Of course, I do think it's an interesting take on the subject, but I sort of would rather use this as a background for my fantasy setting instead of hard and fast rules. Instead of an elemental system, you are just told about the three ur-elements. But what do you know, a player steals some Sacred dust and is looking for more to find some pure; magical and spiritually cleansed dust they will no doubt use for some holy ritual... or perhaps for an unholy magical ceremony.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Ability Score Requirements for Weapons Concept

This blogpost is a concept for a ruleset restricting items based on a character's stats, either Strength or Dexterity depending on the item used. This concept therefore ONLY applies if you accept three other concepts along with it;

#1- Weapons are stronger. The normal range of d4 for minor weapons to d12 for really powerful weapons is the default (at least for “normal” weapons) in most games. As such, these rules thrive on weapons that are more powerful; weapons may very well deal 2 or 3 dice worth of damage of various sizes, combining together to make really strong attacks. You could also use this rule with the normal range of weapons and it would be fine (better even- changing less math and already fits into the basic conceptualization of the game's world in regards to the abilities of player-characters based on their attribute scores), but this blogpost contains a larger scope then that.

#2- Characters don't get extra attacks. The damage numbers to make these rules significant is much, MUCH higher then the damage of “normal” weapons you would see in a DIY or OSR game. The idea here is Fighters do a ton of damage and have other ways of dealing with multiple opponents, such as a mighty cleave (kill monster = attack next monster) or baked in multi-target attacks to the rule system.

#3- Characters have a method to improve ability scores. This improvement is either based on leveling up, a type of downtime activity or training as a money sink, or something that happens in the world or through a magic item treadmill. You can regularly make Rings of Strength and upgrade them as you progress in the game, to better equip stronger and stronger weapons. Of course, you don't HAVE to include this concept- but doing so means character creation will rule out a huge number of characters on a huge number of weapons, so it comes with the territory that you need a way to actually use these if you include them.

Finally; the purpose for outlining these three concessions above is to avoid the obvious complains about balance, change, or unfitting nature of these rules with how most people play OSR. I know. This isn't supposed to be directly bolted onto a game engine that can't support it. Don't assume so.

In order to successfully use a melee weapon, your Strength must be equal or greater than the highest possible roll on its larger dice PLUS one half the highest possible roll on all other dice.

For example, a d6 standard sword has a Strength requirement of 6. The d12+1 Magic Greatsword has a Strength requirement of 12. The Twinblade Katana deals 2d6-2 damage, so it requires 6+3 for 9 Strength. The Mighty Meteor Flamehammer deals 1d20+1d4 damage, so it requires 22 Strength.

In order to successful use a melee weapon, your Dexterity must be equal or greater than the number of damage dice the weapons deals times 4, MINUS the Magic/To-Hit Bonus of the weapon.

The standard d6 sword only has one dice, and as such only requires 4 Dexterity to use. The d12+1 Magic Greatsword has 1 die +1, meaning it actually only takes 3 Dexterity to use. Bloodsucking Razor Whips that deal 4d4 damage require 16 Dex to use. The Twinblade Katana example from above deals 2 damage dice, so it requires 2x4 Dex, MINUS the negative To-Hit value, meaning it really takes 10 Dex to use it correctly. The idea is a negative to-hit of an unwieldy or low quality weapon would also make it a little harder to handle.

Explanations – What's the Point?
The purpose for this ruleset is a bit more of a “holistic” way to generate requirements for Fighters or Fighter-Types to use powerful weapons, as opposed to something like weapon egos or what have you. Of course, in that context it only works for the absolute bare essential stats of the weapon; more of something you'd have in a purely combat engine game- it doesn't make much allowances for things like powerful at-will or daily powers or spells bound up in the weapon that would make it much more powerful then just raw damage.

The reasons why I really like it are two fold, the first is because it makes weapons feel really powerful. It encourages creative weapon design. I get the opposite argument and even agree with it myself sometimes; the idea that a +1 magic sword should be enough. You should be excited for that, it's a cool magic sword and your character gets it from hard work, it's not flashy or mechanically deep, it's part of the game that makes it feel cool. But at the same time, we have all these dice and we have stuck in our minds this concept of low damage numbers- a more delayed gratification in a way. Clearly the ability of a Fighter-Type to annihilate a powerful monster in two or three rounds with a really big, badass weapon is appealing to some, but not appealing at all to others. I want to mention here that this really isn't a post about stats as a mechanic, or game balance or anything like that.

Secondly; the idea of playing with stats. I often contemplated the concept of a classless OSR/DIY game focused entirely on character stats- there would be training or experience points used to get them, or perhaps items found directly in the dungeon like elixirs that permanently improved your body or mind, or magic blessings from the Gods won by your feats. If you wanted to be a Fighter you'd just keep improving your Strength- all class features and benefits that would belong to a Fighter are just gained gradually be improving your Strength. You can cast any spell you want, doesn't matter your class, just be smart enough to do it. Turning Undead isn't a class feature, it's something anyone can do with enough Wisdom, and the more Wisdom you have the more or better your healing magic becomes too.

What's the Inspiration for it?
I like the concept of big powerful weapons, but also ones that can be represented in the game world. The idea of fantasy with actual fantastical weapons; huge buster swords or flaming whip flails are really cool- but the drawbacks and difficulties to using them could be put into the rules using a method. I've been playing Monster Hunter recently and the idea of high level D&D characters using those gigantic, ridiculous weapons just seems like a perfect fit for a big Fighter or Barbarian.

Why those equations for each Stat?
This concept revolves around powerful weapons dealing loads of extra dice, or having really big dice. The idea is bigger, swingy dice mean higher Strength needed, but many and more reliable damage dice is more for a Dexterity driven weapon. There is also a bit of a one sided relationship with the scaling; there are weapons that require very high Strength but very little Dexterity, but all reasonable weapons that require high Dex will also require high to decent Strength. Partially for this reason the To-Hit bonus directly lowers the requirement for Dexterity for weapons is to reign it in a bit, since each dice of damage is a big step up.

Why does magical stuff increase Strength requirements?
This was one of my favorite aspects of writing up these rules, but you are free to ignore them. I prefer my games and settings more mythological inspired in a way; it felt natural that any kind of martial power requires Strength to wield. It's not a simulationist view of Strength, where Strength is only just your lifting capacity, but a more vague usage of the word Strength to include a sort of warrior spirit or killer instinct. Even if you are physically strong enough to hold a magic sword, the powerful blast of elemental energy or incredible sharpness is too much for you to handle.

What happens if you can't use a Weapon based on these requirements?
That depends. You could say that the character simply can't use it in a fight, or they fumble the weapon on a miss and drop it. Maybe they can use the weapon, but its maximum damage is capped as equal to their total Strength score. So even if you pick up that meteor hammer and roll a 19 or 20, you're only going to be doing your low Strength in damage. If you wanted to make it more minor, they can use the weapon but fumble and drop it on an attack roll of 1, or perhaps they damage the weapon on a maximum damage roll or drop it yet again- lots of ways to handle this.

What about class restrictions?
If you don't already have a sort of attribute score maximum in mind for classes (though naturally people will want to play classes with higher attribute scores in what the class is all about; ie only Fighters really care about having big Strength, so it's kind of irrelevant), you could just say that the biggest size die weapon they can use is equal to their class HD or less, with Fighters either being totally uncapped in this regard or getting a bonus at a certain level to say they can now use weapons that include a d12 or higher.

Why would weapons have a bunch of dice and sizes and stuff anyway?
This is a total opinion piece, not just this answer for this entire blogpost. Saying it's an “experiment” isn't much of a defense, but I think the core concept is interesting. Imagine it; a character rolls a bunch of die all at once to do a huge hit. Maybe they craft or find a weapon with a very strange manner of attack; it can swap between forms and attack multiple targets at once. The practiced user can use all of its skills to the fullest, dealing huge damage but requiring a great deal of skill and raw physical ability in order to use. Lesser warriors can't even imagine it- they would get killed in droves. It also is the primary way for the Fighter-Type classes to feel powerful and useful, at least in a game mechanic sense. Armor is almost totally reactive and most DIY shies away from things like daily powers or combat maneuvers set in the rulebook; as such a weapon is a nice gap between them. It has a bit more meat then a traditional game, but is still pretty simple and provides the Fighter-Type with something to work towards in their progression system.

Clearly, this would require a big rewrite of any homebrew ruleset, at least when it comes to “end game” gear. The basic iron and steel weapons are one dice affairs, simple to use. But you can already see how this could work in creating a more varied combat system. I also like it for the potential to create verisimilitude; One of my favorite Eastern weapons is the Naginata. It's a lightweight, two handed polearm with a sword-like blade on the end. It's descvribed as a “woman's weapon”, due to focusing more on agility over physical Strength. Using the above system, you could easily design the Naginata to be a 2d4 weapon. It's got higher average damage then a big 1d8 polearm, but less of a chance to do the maximum damage. But it also has a lower strength requirement- only 6 compared to the other hypothetical weapon's 8.

As we can use the above; you could imagine lighter or more “Dexterity” weapons having smaller dice but higher numbers of dice, with heavy “Strength” weapons having small numbers of really big dice. The material or quality level of the weapon could determine it's magic bonus; I once read a Goblin Punch post about that- +1 magic weapons aren't really deserving of the “magic” title. They count as magic and get a bonus, but they're really just made of a special material or are really well made- we could say that being made of better materials increase die size, for being heftier, where as materials that are finer and hold a better edge could be the magic bonus To-Hit.

There is also an interesting idea buried here; weapon dice and sizes of dice based on object or abstracted measurements in the game's world, as opposed to a more vague “killing power” potential. How would you stat a Halberd? Well, I think most people would deem it a 1d10 or 1d12 weapon. Two handed, pretty strong, all that. But what about this system? You can get a little creative. Maybe we say the Axe-head is a 1d10 for its sharpness and length, the war-pick side is a 1d6, and the spike on the end is a 1d4. So you can imagine in your mind how this weapon is actually used in combat; a ton of complex maneuvers and attacks using all of the weapon's parts. You could argue every weapon is stated in this way; each part of the weapon actually used as a weapon counts for an abstracted over-all attack. The double ended spear for example could be a 2d6 weapon- but a long spear or blade-staff with a smaller spike on the opposite end has different sized dice, like a 1d8 + 1d4 situation. Or maybe a sword with a heavier pommel that can use it for crushing attacks? The sword's damage of d6+1d2

What about ranged weapons?
Ranged Weapons are unfinished at the time of me typing this. Core ideas take a similar approach; perhaps the largest sized die of the bow is used as a Strength requirement; so some d12 warbow has to be used by strapping Strength 12 Yeomen, as opposed to d6 hunting bows used by wimpy elves. Perhaps a Dex requirement uses the same system, or the system as Strength does, or adds +1/2 all the dice sizes together to determine a minimum since Dex should be more important then Strength for ranged weapons.

While it's not exactly traditional, I also kind of like the idea of making bows deal no damage at all, all damage comes from the types of ammunition loaded. Instead their Strength requirement could be based on the magic item bonus instead, representing a heavier draw weight, and the bow itself only has a Strength requirement based on the range it shoots. Or one die is the bow's power, and the types of arrows or bolts have their own dice. If every single bow attack was a two die damage roll this would sort of suggest that ranged combat is more of a “Dexterity” affair. Obviously you can just ignore a Strength requirement at all for crossbows since they're mechanical, but I could see an Intelligence requirement instead for using the machine- or at least its maintenance.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Chaos Medallion Generator

Within the Wastes of Chaos, the energies of the chaos gods and beings of discord condensate. In these places, the laws of nature are suspended or outright ignored. Beyond giving birth to discordant creatures and strange races who share almost nothing in common with the mortal races of men and elves, the chaos wastes are also known to produce magical items from the aether.

Unlike other forms of natural magic, these items come into the world fully formed. Even moreso, they defy the expected result of condensed mana; a crystal or odd plant? No- instead these artifacts appear manufactured even though they come from nothingness. These are called the Chaos Medallions.

The Chaos Medallions only grant their effects to those who wear them proudly, either on an amulet strung around the neck or fastened to the outside of their armor on their chest. Also, anyone who wears an amulet, chaotic in alignment or not, will garner the interest of the chaos gods. You must roll for a random mutation if you use the amulet for more then a week.

Roll once for each category.

Shape- 1d4
[1] Star. Has an odd number of points. +1 To-Hit
[2] Round. Incredibly smooth, a perfect circle. +1 to AC
[3] Cross. Right angled cross, but not all angles are 90. +1 Initiative
[4] Object. Roughly shaped like a Random Object. Grants a 1st level spell most fitting the object, can be cast once per day. If shaped like a stool, Floating Disc. If an urn, Conjure Water, etc.

Medallion Material- 1d6
[1] Bronze. Channels the warriors of old. Enemy shields explode when you hit them.
[2] Obsidian. Take half damage from Fire.
[3] Green Glass. Gain +2 to saves against magic.
[4] Chalk. Bearer may leave a chalk mark on anything they touch. Anyone who sees it knows it was left by a champion of chaos. Only washes off with holy water.
[5] Pyrite. Grants the wearer and aura of majesty, +3 to reaction checks the first time you meet someone. Every day after that, they find you intolerable, -1 to all reaction checks.
[6] Blue Orestone. Unshaped ore, only found in the rolling hills of the chaos lands. Its effect for the medallion is to grant the user immunity to all polymorph or transformation spells, except those sent by the chaos gods or self inflicted transformations.

Medallion Power- 1d8
[1] Ice Power- Half damage from Frost. Conjure snowstorms if it's cold enough to see your breath.
[2] Blast- Wearer may emit blasts of chaos energy. Never misses. Deals 1d6 damage. Unlimited.
[3] Aggravate- The wearer may make any wound they inflict by a spell or attack an aggravated wound, which never heals unless they allow it. Unlimited uses, one wound per target.
[4] Skeletal Servant- You have a pitch black skeleton that is always right behind you. Does whatever you want, counts as a 2 HD undead creature that cannot be killed or turned.
[5] Stiltwalk- You can stretch out your body into a long, gangly form. Reach high places or travel fast but you keep your same hit dice and strength, just stretched thin. Save when hit or topple.
[6] Mirror Compartment- The Medallion has a clasp and can be opened up like a locket. Inside is a mirror; making someone look in the mirror reverses any spells they have prepared that day.
[7] Chaotic Power- Grants a surge of chaotic power. Wearer gains +1 to ALL rolls for the next hour, and heals 3d6 hit points. Their alignment shifts a step towards Chaotic Neutral, or just Chaotic. If you're already Chaotic, you lose -1d4 Wisdom permanently.
[8] Mercurial Essence- The bearer can touch any object and change it into a closely related object once per day. Sword to axe, shield to plate, gravel to beads, etc. Enchantments are also altered slightly to fit the new object's form. Magic objects remain magic and mundane items remain mundane. Transformation is permanent, unless object is brought under a constructed pyramid.

Medallion Relief- 1d20
[1] Starving wretch of a man cowering under an umbrella. It is raining fruit.
[2] Dog eating dog eating dog eating dog. There's a cat on a throne, laughing.
[3] Inside view of a tiny cabin. Outside window shows fire, the fireplace is snowing.
[4] Magician with his head on backwards, balancing on a vertical sword. The crowd is sleeping.
[5] Bowl of noodles. Snakes hold chopsticks and lick at the broth. The snakes are crying.
[6] On the front of the medallion there is a hole. The back side is flat and solid- there is no hole.
[7] There is a cloud and lightning bolt. The lightning bolt is striking a daisy.
[8] Human baby is being fed from a drinking horn. The one nursing it is a goat.
[9] Dead guy. The wound he died from changes every time you look at it.
[10] Rough drawing of a lute being played by a hand coming in off canvas. Not centered.
[11] Rough drawing of the amulet itself. The drawn amulet bears the image of a stern face.
[12] Upwards pointing arrow.
[13] Side view of a man bent over. He's puking out a spear, which is disappearing off frame.
[14] Heavily ornamented with cross-hatching and straight lines. 50% chance to be a map.
[15] Spilled chalice.
[16] The sun, moon, and some stars resting on a patch of dirt. In the sky is a river.
[17] Extremely detailed relief of a grass field. The perspective is amazing, every grass blade is fully realized in and in correct proportion to each other. Only the wearer can see the dying ladybug.
[18] Fine depiction of a bird with crossed out eyes, which looked stamped in after the creation of the medallion with a rough iron tool. This despite the medallion's invulnerability.
[19] There is a simple geometric symbol, curved around a central blank spot.. Everyone thinks it looks like a silhouette of a different race's head; some see the race they hate, some see their own.
[20] Man proudly holding a freshly crafted sword with hourglass pommel. The same man just behind him with the same sword, raising it to kill himself.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Fox Raiding the Chicken Coop Rules

Red whisker, come to play
home from home, never stay.”

Every Fox has two scores, Cleverness and Hunger. Cleverness is how clever and quick the fox is at both breaking your defenses and evading capture, and Hunger is a changing score based on how many of your chickens the Fox will kill when it gets in the coop.

Every Fox starts with 1d6 Cleverness and a Hunger score of 1 or 2. Every season, the Hunger score increases by +1. Of course, the Fox is eating more then just your chickens, this is just a vague approximation of it getting more and more desperate of eating whatever it eats out in the forest, and getting more and more confident about its hunting.
The exception to this rule of during the Spring, where female foxes raise young. If the Fox hunting your chickens is a vixen, increase hunger by +1d4 so she can feed her kits.

The Fox's cleverness is directly countered by your defenses. The chicken coop itself counts as 1 to 3 based on if it has a door and how well made it is. Stationary defenses, such as locks, doors, chains, walls, barriers, scent markers, scarecrows, minor magical sigils and so on grant +1 defense. Active defenses, such as active spells, guard dogs or human watchmen, or having a cockrel among your hens count as +2 defense each.

Every time the Fox succeeds at raiding your chicken coop, its hunger is sated this season. The Fox's hunger drops to Cleverness score if it was higher, and otherwise stays the same. You have a bunch of feathers on the ground and missing chickens.

Every time the Fox fails at raiding your chicken coop, its Cleverness increases by one.

When the Fox has become too dangerous and troublesome to deal with with a few simple defenses or guard dogs; you need to go on a hunt. You must take a number of fox hounds equal or greater to the Fox's cleverness, or else it will slip away. Other hunting rules include tracking, shooting, and dealing with elves screeching at you about “animal cruelty” or something- make these up yourself. 

Monday, November 16, 2020

20 Suspicious Murderer Search-Engine Entries

wikipedia [missing person's name]
[2] soundproofing materials fast shipping
[3] plastics can't be melted by acid breaking bad
[4] industrial wetstones ebay
[5] forensic files watch online
[6] what stores sell drain cleaner in bulk
[7] most common month for house/business foundation repair?
[8] heavy metal hours playlist
[9] best way to clean up blood hospital employee
[10] most realistic detective stories
[11] how to hide files on computer
[12] safety features on modern appliances
[13] how long do businesses keep their security camera footage
[14] how to remove
[15] youtube unlisted videos policy
[16] average human visibility at night
[17] does antifreeze still taste sweet?
[18] most harmful corrosive foods for your teeth
[19] safe doses of strictnine
[20] porn

Friday, November 13, 2020

Simple Dice-Pool Zombie Grappling Rules

If your survivor is about to get grabbed by some zombies, use this rule.

Adult, healthy, and well fed survivors roll 2d6. If they're weaker, only 1d6
Add +1d6 if the survivor is wielding a proper zombie killing weapon, like an axe or baseball bat.
Add +1d8 if the survivor is wielding a badass zombie killing weapon, like a sawn-off or chainsaw.

Every zombie in the group rolls 1d6. Special infected, like acid blood or Tanks from L4D, roll 1d8.

Roll all dice simultaneously. Highest number on a single dice wins. In the event of a tie, the highest number of dice rolled total wins. If the survivor wins, they get away. If the zombies win, they get in a bite or you take one wound or lose a life or whatever.

If you can't find enough dice to roll for the zombie's dice pool or if its statistically ludicrous for the survivor to win, they just die. Huge groups of zombies just rip you apart.

Note: Yes, it's intentional that you can't be bitten by a group of zombies if you get a lucky roll of 7 or 8 on your big weapon die. This is to represent your guy running through a crowd of zombies blasting and sawing them all to pieces without getting bitten. Yes, it's also intentional that most rolls will end in ties of 6, meaning that the zombies will always succeed if there is more then three of them at once.

Example: Rodney gets cornered by a group of undead, who press at him from all sides against a wall. There are 5 zombies. They roll 5, 5, 4, 3, and 2. Rodney swings his bat and gets a 6, 3, and 2. He gets away. That was a very lucky escape, Rodney.

Also if the survivor has a really shitty weapon like a knife or rifle in close range they roll a 1d4 for their weapon instead. Same for really shitty zombies like crawlers or weak ass skeletal zombies, they just add +1d4 to the hoard's dice; still adds to the hoard's deadliness but they're much easier to escape from in small numbers. Also this combat system has nothing to do with actually running around and shooting zombies or fighting zombies in a big army against a shield wall of survivors or anything cool like that, it's just a little grapple rule.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

8 Goblin Shaman Spells

What's the first Magic-User your PCs will fight? Probably a goblin shaman, right? Maybe a bandit spellcaster I guess, but something like an orc or ghost or elf is a bit too powerful and high fantasy for the level they're at, wouldn't you agree?

Well I don't think that goblins should cast the same spell as people should. That's dumb. What kind of goblin knows
Sleep or Magic Missile? They don't. They're fucking goblins. If your PCs run into a shitty low level goblin spellcaster; roll 1d8 on this table to determine their spell.

8 Goblin Shaman Spells

[1] Repulse - 1st level
This spell is the opposite of Charm. It works much the same way though. The shaman casts this spell on themselves and become instantly offensive to the eyes, ears, and noses of everyone around. Their voice seems shrill and annoying, their face becomes ugly and warts highlighted, and their smell is amplified to noxious levels. Goblin shamans often wear masks or hoods to hide their face before they cast their spell, revealing its effects with a dramatic flair.

Essentially, this spell works like Charm in the sense that nobody wants to mug you afterwards, but it's not because they think they're your friend but instead because nobody wants to get near you. Hirelings must make a morale check to attack (with melee) or loot the shaman.

[2] Enflamed Mucus - 1st level

Goblin version of a weak offensive spell. Uniquely, it can be used in a grapple. There's no incantation or somatic components- you just sneeze. Your snot comes out in a larger then normal mass with an incredible heat, like burning oil. It can light flammable things on fire, usually the ends of torches or wads of cloth goblins may use as projectiles on occasion. Also, goblin fire arrows.

If you're grappling a shaman and they cast this; you must save or drop them from the surprise of getting snotted on with fire. Deals 1d2 damage, or however much the burning object would do.

[3] Flying Shadow - 1st level

This is a weak curse cast by goblins, and one of the only reasons they are feared. When cast, this spell creates a flying shadow that flies towards the target's face. If the target succeeds a save, their vision is darkened as though everything around them is dark and shadowy, but they can still dimly see. They get -2 to hit with melee attacks and -4 to hit with ranged. If the target fails the their save, they are blinded for 1d2 exploration turns until their vision returns.

[4] Maggotmail - 1st level

This is a defensive spell shamans can cast on themselves or on their warriors. It has a range of about a stones throw. When cast, a swarm of maggots will appear either out of a nearby pile of trash or underneath the target's clothing and bite each other- they hang on to the target and form a suit of armor made of their squishy bodies.

The target of this spell gains +4 AC until they are hit three times (maggots are all squished) or they are hit with a torch or other source of fire damage (the fire scares away the maggots). It takes one round for the armor to form when this spell is cast, so it may be possible to kill the target of the spell before the maggots create their barrier. In which case, the maggots just start eating the corpse instead.

[5] Ice Touch - 1st level

The most powerful offensive spell known to the average shaman. This spell requires a melee attack. The goblin touches you with a hand as cold as ice. The victim takes 1d6+1 damage as the cold rushes through their body. If you are killed by this spell your corpse falls to the ground very cold and still- this spell actually creates corpses very suitable for raising the undead and was probably stolen from necromancers by the goblins.

[6] Acid Piss - 1st level

This spell grants the shaman a full bladder of pissy acid to pee out. Unlike the name, the “acid” isn't really very dangerous to living things and can't be used as an attack, it's a slow acting thing more effective against the inanimate. The goblin can use this spell akin to a Wizard's mark, but instead, they pee a frowny face on the dungeon's bricks somewhere and it gets burned on. Can also be used to escape from ropes or cages- they just pee on the lock. Obviously, this spell is a little more useful for boy goblins then girl goblins.

[7] Count - 1st level

Goblins aren't good with math. This spell helps with that. Instantly counts a large number of similarly sized objects that the goblin can see, or does basic math on something you can see or sense. The spell's result is returned inside the goblin's mind- meaning it can be cast in stealth. For example, a goblin shaman could cast this on a camp of sleeping adventurers to see how many there are, since he's not smart enough to count the boots and divide by two (but it still won't count the Rogue that snuck up behind him on his watch). Also commonly used by goblins to see how much treasure is going to be stolen from them by bigger, meaner monsters.

[8] Bravado - 1st level

Goblins are cowardly creatures. This spell helps with that, and is a staple in any large scale goblin attack. The shaman must use a drum to cast this spell, which works best if made of human skin. The drum is banged as a goblin howl is echoed- the goblins are inspired to fight and put aside their cowardice for but a moment. All goblins who can hear the song gain +1 morale.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Vagueposting- Boardgamification

I've heard a few interesting design philosophies (or more accurately, interpretations of design philosophies) from certain old school games. Back in the olden days of OSR, which was much before I was even alive, the game was smaller in scope. You can see this represented in the rules; Elves are immune to Ghoul Paralysis because in the game's scope, Ghouls are the specific threat with paralysis. There's less of an interest of holistic, setting or in-universe concepts. It's very game first. The same interpretation could also be said of the original five saving throw categories; these were almost supernatural luck or defenses against specific threats, not a full character breakdown or abstract saves that can be called into question for anything related; saves vs dragon breath or breath weapon specifically works against dragon breath. It's not a dodge, it's your defense against dragon breath.

I think this concept, which I am hearby naming Boardgamification, is something I want to explore more. I'm 100% sure this has a different, better name somewhere else, but until I find it I'm sticking to it. Let's define the term a little bit. Boardgamification is the reverse-engineering of a tableop game system or storytelling system which tries to break the game into core components, make them specific and as simplistic as possible, and rebuild the game with a similar tonal fidelity as to the original. You're trying to make your tabletop games play like board games, and not good board games, but the Ameritrash board games from your childhood. You know, that Dracula board game where you have to find the holy water, stake, and garlic to kill Dracula not because they do anything special or have associated mechanics with them that would make them a good fit to defeat him, but because that's what is used to kill Dracula.

HOWEVER, it should be stated here that this is not trying to make D&D or various roleplaying systems into board games. That's not the point, this is very much supposed to be about tabletop games. I like tabletop games; like many of you I'm sure, I got my start in this hobby by making up my own rules for board games I owned; opening up the idea space. In RISK, cannons could shoot from a territory away. It had nothing to do with the game balance or concept that a cannon was just ten regular soldiers; it was a cannon. I also know that “artillery” is the real term for these pieces, but I don't care. They're cannons. They shoot.

For the optimal, platonic ideal of a roleplaying game then, we could see the ease of rules and learning that a board game might have, in combination with the unlimited idea space and universe-sharing of a tabletop game. These two ideas are not mutually exclusive, but they don't mesh well either. The more you codify into rules the less arbitration you allow, but the more arbitration you allow the less it feels like a solidified “whole” ala a board game. I don't think it will be possible, or even necessarily desirable, to actually accomplish “Boardgamification” of your favorite tabletop game, but I felt like writing on this topic, and have several elements or suggestions as to how one could do it.

Make Things Binary (Combat)
I think one element of Boardgamification is the removal of game elements that have multiple states or variable values such as hit points, modifiers, currency values, etc. Monsters are either beaten, or beat you. There isn't a long battle sequence or blow-by-blow combat. There can be random chance here, such as with a simple contested roll adding a stat or character/combat value, but this takes away the directness of a cardboard token.

I think in the same way, the flat out denial of characters to do certain things (but on the flip side, ability to always succeed certain things) is an important element. If you try to Boardgamify a tabletop fantasy adventure game; you could take out combat stats entirely. Note: I'm using D&D classes, races, and archetypes for these examples but you could take this idea for anything.

Wizards, Hobbits, Lantern-Boys; these are noncombatants. They will get punked by a giant rat. It's not something to be ashamed of, that's just their place in the world.

Thieves, Elves, Hirelings; these can fight basic enemies. They can defeat skeletons, slimes, a lone wolf or goblin. Pairs of giant rats or a single venomous snake.

Then you have your Clerics, Dwarves, and Fighters. These can fight. They can defeat an Orc, a pack of wolves, a gang of goblins, a giant spider or wyvern.

Notice we're not caring about the individuals here. It doesn't matter if the Fighter has a bit more strength then another fighter, or has better gear or a bit more experience. It's like a set breakpoint of strength. Imagine in your mind the amount of strength and fighting skill a human could accomplish; this becomes your benchmark. But do you know what humans cannot defeat? Ogres. Dragons. Wizards. Powerful creatures or beings that go beyond what a normal person is capable of fighting in combat. It operates on horror movie logic; the monster of that caliber cannot be harmed by normal means, you have to find a special way to beat it. The combat system is abstracted to either one on one combat duels, or is kept at that abstract level. Doesn't matter if your party has three fighters and a bunch of hirelings or whatever; a band of orcs will beat you. No normal person can overcome an army that greatly outnumbers them. If an ogre is chasing you down, you can't beat them. You might be able to send a warrior in long enough to distract them, but all of your warriors put together will just get clobbered; you might injure the ogre or make enough time for others to escape, but you cannot achieve a meaningful victory. You can't kill it or make it retreat from you force of arms.

But even here we can see the gameplay and create interplay. The Wizard is weak and feeble, but can fry an ogre's brain.with a lightning bolt or blow up a room full of Orcs. The Thief isn't as powerful in combat, but can kill anything a normal human could kill with a sneak attack and a good stab; like a Wizard. This still applies to the fiction in the genre; a thief could sneak up on a Wizard but not an elf archmage; their long ears will hear you, or their magic is so advanced they can sense your presence. Maybe Fighters can equip the magic weapons that let them beat things beyond the keen of normal men; no human can beat a dragon, but with the magic lance they can. Clerics fight pretty well, but are the only force your party can muster to destroy a hoard of zombies or is the only person who has any defense against evil ghosts and intangible threats.

Make Things Binary (Saves & Spells)
Once again; I'm using combat as an example because it tends to be the most complex part of a game. But you could apply the above to anything. Only thieves can climb walls. Only Clerics can heal people. Only Monks can cross rivers by running over them, or know the tea-ceremony protocol to avoid upsetting the Emperor.

In the same vein, traps and saving throw style mechanics can also be removed or stream lined. Instead of a modifier or roll-under saving throw number, you could just pass or fail based on your character. Of, you're a Thief? You disarm the trap before it goes off, allowing for player skill and interaction or not, without needing to roll anything. This is also an element where leveling up or progression systems could come in; the higher level you get, the more you can automatically disable. Maybe thieves don't automatically disable traps but can bypass all of them without getting hurt, making them good at exploring but not always being able to clear the way for their fellows.

I also like the idea of traps and saves being conditional and direct. They do as they are written. You have a Dexterity of +1? You don't fall in pit traps. You have a Dexterity of +2? You can't get hit by blade traps. If you fall in a pit trap it hurts your feet and makes you move slower/makes wandering monsters more likely. No hit points or damage, just an arbitrary effect that lasts for the rest of the dungeon. You could pretty well match the tone and pacing of a traditional dungeon crawler with this; characters lose limbs and take wounds even if they don't have hit points, like a stack of status effect cards you'd shuffle into your personal deck in a deckbuilder like Slay the Spire. You just get worse as it goes on. The hole where you stick your arm in just cuts your arm off, that's it. The magic trap saps your mind, making your clumsy and stupid. Now you can't read; no spells or scrolls. It's that simple.

Spells work under the same effect, but I feel that in a system like this the one exception could or should be magic. Magical effects could have a degree of randomness, rolled by the DM in secret, just to keep things spicy. If you're not a Wizard trying pretty much any spell is a deathtrap. The DM might give you a 10 to 15 percent chance to successful cast the spell. Once again, the negative effects of enemy spells or failing your own spells is a set condition. Your life force is drained, take a hit or fight as one combat “class” weaker as per the binary combat rules as above. You get cursed, enemies target you first or you are subject to bad stuff. The spell goes haywire; anyone in your party without fire protection is toast.

Magic Users cast spells the best of course, and spells in this context could be items. Spells don't have levels or scaling, they just do what they do. That was always one thing I liked from the boardgame, Talisman, which I'm sure many of you played as an intro to or even at the same time as playing tabletop games. Talisman had different random event spaces or adventure cards where you could get “spells”. Certain characters in that game just always had spells or a certain number of spells; but even a troll with 1 craft or a warrior or amazon could still get a “spell” from a random event and just hold on to it. I also love how even that game has a Wish spell; the Demigod card is probably one of my favorites. Wishing with restrictions in a game like context like that is so much fun. I love the design of it, even if it is bloated trash. Also, I'd consider Talisman's combat to be about the absolute limit of complexity for tabletop Boardgamification; but I do love the disparity between regular and psychic combat.

Progression from spells could also work in a similar manner as above. Apprentice Wizard? Fireball can kill anything a Fighter/Cleric/Dwarf can kill. Master Wizard? Can destroy giants or dragons (who aren't red!), as the biggest threats in the game. I personally like lightning bolt as the single target killer in this game's context; I didn't set out to write another game based on Boardgamification though we're getting pretty close here.

Less Numbers
This is a similar but less extreme version of the binary success or fail states. Instead of hit dice, just have hits. Creatures with 2 HD now can take two hits before they die. Weapons and armor is adjusted similarly and player-facing mechanics don't have to be the same as enemies! Enemies just take two hits to die, but they deal their normal attack damage and effects to the party members- would make it feel less like the DM is picking on a single player if a monster keeps trying to kill just him.

Players can pick their weapons for boosted effectiveness for killing stuff. Swords and Axes deal 2 hits worth of damage each hit from the sharpness. Blunt weaponns like maces only deal 1 hit per turn, but it has an armored piercing conditional effect. Two handed weapons deal an extra hit worth of damage and get to go first. Maybe the special powers of Fighters in this system is they can deal one or more hits worth of damage, where as everybody else cannot. You could also tie this into a randomized to-hit roll, same with a d20, but this time fighters deal one hit on a miss and two hits on a hit, where as everyone else deals zero to one damage on their rolls.

Instead of having a ton of stats or attributes for characters, you keep them simple and direct. You instead fold the stats into the other mechanics of the game. This is something I am quite proud of from Dickhead Barbarians, a game I made that is rife with Boardgamification. Ice Warriors are just immune to fire and get an extra wound, thus they are extremely tanky. Cannibal Giants can intimidate enemies and, as such, are even more combat monsters then they imply. Dickhead Barbarians also featured random chances to get wounded and specific item counters to it; helmets don't increase an abstract AC value but instead grant damage to a specific threat in the form of slingers, who aren't super common nor have a high chance to wound you in the first place. As such, you could easily see helmets as a sort of late game bonus or way to optimize your army once more important items have been purchased.

Folding in probability into the mechanics of the game as above I think is another huge step. There is a lot to be said about designing games with probabilities in mind, if they be fair or unfair. That's something I want to explore more in the future.

Specific Use Cases
Typing up Dickhead Barbarians had me thinking specifically about use cases, especially for items. On the one hand, this is very tightly woven with the concept of Boardgamification and, in my opinion, very thematic and cool. Magic stuff especially- anything that can bend the rules in a game with very rigid rules becomes unique and interesting. Rope can only be used for climbing down pits, lets you explore areas with your limited resources. The map just prevents a “getting lost” random event or condition, weapons only allow you to hurt specific enemy types that are otherwise immune to attack. Nobody questions how your character can carry and use an axe, sword, bow, and magic sword. That's not really the point.

But on the OTHER hand, this concept hurts some of the openness of tabletop games in general. Why can't you use the rope to tie up prisoners, or the axe to help chop down a tree? It's part of the tabletop experience to allow that kind of freedom. It creates a disconnect between tightly woven rules and in-universe suspension of disbelief. Why can't the cannons shoot?

One solution to this issue could just be how rules are presented in tabletop game rulebooks. Every item in the equipment list is not listed just as itself, but as though it is an independent game piece with its own specific use. Rope is not listed as per price by the foot and that is all. In that context, the player is supposed to infer what rope does from the game and universe; it's a tighter fit for roleplaying and saves space in the rulebook, but doesn't fit with our ideal of Boardgamification. So instead, list rope as “lets you descend safely from walls and cliffs.” It now has a specific use. BUT the players can still use it in another capacity. You can tie a piece of meat around the end and drag it as a lure for a monster, or use it to tie up prisoners, or to make some hackjob armor that you wrap around your body with metal plates. It's still open for roleplaying, but in the context of the game and rules it's still a game piece.

Another example of this would be weapons. Touched on earlier; different weapons aren't presented in this hypothetical rulebook with stats or weights or anything. The spear isn't a d6 weapon with reach and versatile weapon. The spear just “Keeps charging enemies from hurting you.” This gives it a use, a specific advantage to carry it around, but it doesn't have combat stats or powers to be specifically considered at all times for a character's “build”. Some games, like Dungeon World, already sort of have this because of the abstraction of damage; your damage dice is primarily based on your character class, not your weapon, stats, or skills. As long as you have a “weapon” in our game, you fight to whatever degree you can, but each weapon is like a tool with a specific use.

Rules Transparency
However- all of this above hints at a certain concept. The entire idea of presenting upfront the use of weapons/spells/items/characters and so forth, the exacting and specific counters that each monster or threat has, the limited and reduced scope of the game (Elves are immune to ghoul paralysis) all hints at a certain concept; rules transparency. There is very limited room for incomplete information in a game like this. You wouldn't even want it, as it would be the same as an experience board game player beating a rookie with no experience and doesn't even know what all the cards do. The DM has little room to hide information from the players in terms of how to beat or deal with whatever they are facing- they can hide WHAT they are going to run into, but not how to beat it or what it does because by its very nature doing so would upset the game.

As such, we could safely say a game like this is very much like a collaborative experience. It's a bit like a board game; isometric and viewable from a distance. You can see past the walls on a game board, they're 2d and just drawn on. You have complete information. You may not know what's coming next, but you know what it does if you read every card in the box.

The concept behind this game then is one where all the players know what's going on, or have a good idea. But that doesn't necessarily mean a long tutorial session or having every player DM the game at least once to get an idea. The game's rules can be inferred and understood by the general understanding of reality- that I think is intended in all tabletop games to an extent, without trying to bog this in a realism debate. The understanding that a piece of armor protects you from damage is well understood; it doesn't actually matter how the armor is used to protect you, that can be rewritten to accommodate the game. But if you used it to enhance damage or combat value instead, it might be a bit tougher to teach and understand on a first playthrough.

DMlessness & Design
Another aspect of Boardgamification is, with a lack of needing arbitration and having a more refined scope with known entities in the game space, you remove the need for a referee. Perhaps not remove, but reduce. The game could be run as a collective with multiple players, as long as all of them were on board with what they wanted out of the game and had a rulebook to help guide them.

While I haven't actually played it myself, Kingdom Death has a similar concept going on with its monsters. You fight specific monsters multiple times; each monster has a pattern of attacks that change and evolve during the course of the campaign. The monster's attack deck is seeded with specific cards that are more or less difficult or situational hard for the players to deal with. In the same way, we can use randomness-within a set construct to enhance the game and stand in for a lack of information. Of course, this game follows a trend in a lot of other “modern” boardgames where there are legacy mechanics, hidden booster packs of content within the box that are opened as the game progresses, and are often explicitly stated to be used in a game blind so the players have no idea what to except. The “Dungeon Master” of the game is still there, but an ethereal designer that leads itself to an air of impartiality and wholeness.

This also leads into the concept of a game feeling whole and complete, which is a unique thing that only boardgames and certain tabletop games really end up “feeling” like. Games without need or even implied use of modules or homebrew material; they can stand on their own. This is of course a false messiah, it isn't necessarily better that the game is “done” in the box in that sense, but it just feels more whole in a way that is satisfying. This is one of the reasons why I like writing complete games so much on my blog- WASTED, Flashbang!, Dickhead Barbarians- I really enjoyed being able to publish them on here even if they aren't necessarily as good as a traditional tabletop campaign in terms of quality. These are so fun to make, I feel, because of the wholeness of design. Every part feels legitimate and warranted in the game, it isn't just a part of a boundless or hazy fantasy landscape that you invent in your mind. I'm not saying I don't like tabletop campaigns or endlessly tweaking my homebrew, because that's still a great joy- there's just something special about a complete, full thing being made and presented to everyone. It's Boardgamification, finished and ready to play.