04 April 2020

Lockdown Challenge Day Seven: Electric Bastionland

The Sinuous Strands of Synchronicity — or was that the Cryptic Chains of Coincidence? Anyway. I’ve selected Into The Odd as my role-playing game of choice for instalment No.4 of the Lockdown Challenge. And I’ve just discovered that Electric Bastionland, a more advanced version of Into The Odd, with more careers†, and especially more background detail about the mysterious city of Bastion, is available for free on the author’s blog.

I have a feeling that the game is more clearly rooted in the dieselpunk or social science fiction genre now. We also know why the adventurers do what they do— they collectively own money to a vicious loanshark or debt collector and they must delve into the most dangerous areas of Bastionland to scavenge valuable stuff to sell it and pay off their debts. (Note: I can see a cool re-skin of the game set on Jakku where player characters are scavengers trying to purchase their way out of that shithole of a planet).

† Appropriately, careers are now called failed careers

Jaynee, Stu, and the paper-boy
(Accident by Jan-Wes on deviantart)

Failed career: Newspaper Intern
STR 13
CHA 13
Hit Protection 3
Loose change £1
Equipment: a notepad
Unarmed attack: D4 damage

Lackey: Stu
Hit Protection 1
Weapon: Crowbar (D6)

Animal: a slow disowned lizard (2HP)

A paper-boy that has nowhere else to go (DEX 15, 2HP) blindly obeys me.

03 April 2020

Lockdown Challenge Day Six: Call of Cthulhu 6th edition

The player character I’m generating today is actually not really for the Lockdown Contest... I genuinely need a new Call of Cthulhu 6th edition investigator, since mine died during the last session.

We have been playing a mash-up of Masks of Nyarlathotep and of Horror on the Orient Express since 2015 and, believe it or not, we are halfway between Kenya and China, and I’ve only lost two investigators. Meaning the one I’m generating today is only the third one. Fellow CoC enthusiasts who have been through the many horrors of the Masks campaign will know what I’m talking about.

via British Hong Kong FB
Behold, then, William Tratman. William works in the Hong Hong Police, more precisely for the Water Police, specialising in anti-piracy work.
William is stationed at the Water Police Station at Tsim Sha Tsui (尖沙咀) but his service is usually aboard a sailing gun-boat.
William has been corresponding with his friend Cedric Brackenbury [my previous character] and knows about Jackson Elias and the whole backstory behind the Masks campaign.

Name: William Tratman
Occupation: Detective
Birthplace: Durham
Sex: Male
Age: 39

STR 16
DEX 12
INT 13
CON 12
APP 12
POW 15
SIZ 12
SAN 75
EDU 16
Damage bonus +1D4

Sanity points 75
Magic points 15
Hit points 12

Investigator Skills†

Bureaucracy 40%
Language, Own (English) 80%
Language Other (Cantonese) 50%
Archaeology 5%
Occult 30%

Forensics 30%
Dreamlands Knowledge 15%

Library Use 45%
Sneak 40%
Conceal 35%
Listen 55%
Track 50%
Psychology 40%
Hide 50%
Spot Hidden 70%
Alertness 85%

Fast Talk 44%
Contacts & Resources 60%
Interrogate 40%
Persuade 35%
Etiquette 52%

Handgun 55%
Dodge 40%
Fist/Punch 70%
Navigate 40%

†These are from the French edition of Call of Cthulhu 6th ed so they may differ from what you’re used to.

02 April 2020

Lockdown Challenge Day Five: the Willow Sourcebook

I have something to confess: for this fifth instalment of the ‘Lockdown Challenge’, I have cheated. The game I’m generating a character for does not exist.  Or rather, it does exist, but you have to read between the lines.

The year is 1988. At the time, there was no Open Gaming Licence, no D20 craze, no OSR, no retro-clones, nothing. In 1988, the only way to publish a gaming supplement that uses Gary and Dave’s rules is to have it published by TSR, period. Anything else is illegal.

So what the Willow Sourcebook (written by Allen Varney and published by Tor Books) does is that it is presented as a setting for a role-playing game that is never mentioned, never made clear, never described in the book itself. As I have written above, you have to read between the lines.

The book basically presents the world of the ‘Willow’ film (races, geography, history) and then stats all the characters from the film using the inexistent, unnamed RPG’s stat blocks. By analysing all the stat blocks, I have sort of managed to reverse-engineer the chargen system.

Without further ado, I present to you Arthemain, a Senkadi druid. Although the only druids in the film are evil, the sourcebook explains that there also exist neutral druids, called the Senkadi.

Class: Senkadi druid
Skill-level: 1
Alignment: Neutral

Strength: 9
Dexterity: 11
Constitution: 10
Wisdom: 14
Intelligence: 11
Charisma: 12


Thick robes and unarmed combat training providing Armour Class 7

Pass without trace
Predict weather

Animal friendship (strength 1)
Warp wood (strength 2)

Weapon: fights bare-handed, damage 1D6

Druid stones inscribed with magical scratchings (equivalent to a spellbook)

Lockdown Challenge Day Four: Into The Odd

For today’s post, I was trying to find something even more minimalist than yesterday… That’s how I realised I don’t actually own many games with curt character sheets.

The closest I could find was Into The Odd (Lost Pages), a role-playing game with a mysteriously reduced background, in which the aim of the adventures is – apart from enjoying the adventures themselves – trying to discover what the whole setting is really all about, because it is but shortly outlined (at least in the free version I have). Is it steampunk? fantasy? set in the modern era? earlier? later? It’s really hard to say. And that’s what makes it so interesting.

Chauncer is a street urchin from Bastion’s slums. Bastion is the big city mentioned in Into The Odd. Apparently it is a huge, sprawling, and multi-levelled city that the adventurers are supposed to loot. Getting there seems always tricky though.
Chauncer has only known poverty and loneliness in his life and he’s determined that this should change. The sooner, the better.

Name: Chauncer
Experience level: Novice

Strength 6
Dexterity 14
Willpower 13

Hit Points 6

Dagger (D6)
Fire oil

31 March 2020

Lockdown Challenge Day Three: 17th Century Minimalist

Pookie’s review of 17th Century Minimalist by Games Omnivorous watered my mouth so much that I almost immediately impulse-purchased the PDF of the core rulebook (well, at USD6.90 it was an impulse purchase I could afford).

I’ll let you read Pookie’s review (who always does a better job at reviewing games than anybody else), but in a nutshell 17th Century Minimalist is Lamentations of the Flame Princess sans the magic rules, and with a few clever bells and whistles that firmly root the game in the grim plague- and war-afflicted Europe of the 17th century; hit points, for instance, never increase. So I may have found the perfect game – at last! – to play in my tentative early modern setting for weird fantasy role-playing (described here).

Anyway, the Lockdown Challenge is about generating a new character with a different role-playing game every day, so on to character generation!

Background: Zoltán was born in Upper Hungary. Although a fervent Protestant, he enlisted in the armies of the Habsburg and saw action against the Turk. After a bad wound at the battle of Keresztes left him one-eyed and scarred, Zoltán decided that he’d spend the rest of his life caring for no one but himself, and started improving the acts of legerdemain one of his uncles had taught him when he was a kid.
Class: Illusionist
Level: 1
Max Hit Points: 6
Main ability: Charisma
Weapons of choice: small weapons
Experience points: 0
Reputation: 6

Luck 6

Languages: Hungarian, German, Turkish

Special abilities
Déjà Vu: add extra die to the initiative bag
Weapon Clumsy: disadvantage on all non-small weapons
Entertaining Crowds: may gain experience and SP, or be beaten up by the crowd
Performing Tricks: can do tricks of current level or below

Armour: cloth armour
Main Weapon: pistol

Starting Equipment
-    Two daggers
-    One whip
-    One pistol & ammunition (D10)
-    Grenades (D6)
-    10 SP
-    Bag of tricks
-    Tricorn hat

30 March 2020

Lockdown Challenge Day Two: Usagi Yojimbo 2nd edition

Day Two of my Lockdown Challenge (a new character generated every day). Today: Usagi Yojimbo 2nd edition (which is really the 3rd edition, but the second by Sanguine Games). I participated in the crowdfunding campaign and the character I’m creating is based on the final PDF backers have received.

Usagi Yojimbo 2nd edition is “Powered by the Apocalypse” – which I still haven’t grokked – but I am creating a character following the chargen chapter nonetheless.

Name: Akira
Species: RABBIT (of course!)
Initiative +2
Negotiation -1
Righteousness -1
Schooling =0

Social class: Samurai
Unique move: Stalking
Attack move: Bushido

Quirk: Unpredictable

Katana (Melee; Aim, Riposte, Sweep; 侍)
Wakizashi (Melee; Bind, Riposte; 侍)

29 March 2020

Lockdown Challenge Day One: Monsters! Monsters!

Lockdown Challenge Day One. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be doing this but anyway. I’ve decided to post every day a character generated for one of the role-playing games I own, whether in dead book or PDF format (given the amount of games I own I think the coronavirus will tire of all this before I run out of role-playing games).

Today: Monsters! Monsters! the role-playing game in which you play a monster, preying on innocent villagers and killing the adventurers the villagers have hired to get rid of you. You also get bonus adventure points if the villagers you kill are female with high charisma. It does sound sexist but it’s a good Old School game from 1976; actually a spin-off of Tunnels & Trolls with very little in terms of new rules – it’s mostly new races.

By the way Monsters! Monsters! is currently being crowdfunded for a new edition with a new layout, new art, and many more monsters! Quick! Only seven days left!

OK, on to the character. Let me introduce you to Keeper of Secrets from the Unfathomable Past (but everybody just calls him ‘KoSfUP’). He is a Naga from the Trollworld Nagalands. He is usually employed as a mercenary but he enjoys cooking and secretly dreams of writing a human flesh cookbook.

Name: Keeper of Secrets from the Unfathomable Past (KoSfUP)
Type: NAGA
Height: 5'11" (1m80)
Weight: 190 (86kg)

Level 1

Strength 12
Mystic 39
Intelligence 24
Luck 13
Constitution 24
Dexterity 26
Charisma 11
Speed 6

Combat Adds +15
Adventure Points 0

Unarmed combat 3D
Weapon: scimitar (4D)

Leather Armour on human part of the body (3 hits, weight 150) + snake scales on snake part of the body (7 hits, weight 0)
medium shield (5 hits, weight 450)

Magic: Bladesharp - doubles damage for 1 rnd (cost: 4 pts)

Talent: Bores people to Death (INT)

27 March 2020

Basic Role-Playing SRD and OGL – At Last!

The Basic Role-Playing System, the common ‘engine’ at the heart of most Chaosium role-playing games, has at last its own System Reference Document (SRD) and its very own Open Gaming Licence (OGL), different from that “other” open gaming licence.

On top of the bare bones rules of the Basic Role-Playing System, similar in size to ones from the early Chaosium booklets, and in scope and content to the ones within the “Big Gold Book” (pictured on the left), the Basic Role-Playing SRD also contains guidelines for publishing content under the Basic Role-Playing Open Gaming Licence.

The Chaosium web-site provides a lengthy explanation of what is allowed and what is prohibited via the BRP OGL. The SRD itself may be downloaded as a PDF from here.

I hope these new tools will spur game designers to create BRP-compatible role-playing games and adventures!