An Idea is Born

A long time ago, I set up my blog to enable posting by sending an email. It has been a while and with version 6.0 of WordPress, I wanted to see if it would still work.

The other reason for this post is that I am trying to piece together a Choose Your Path campaign setting where the DM and players get information about regions of the campaign world as they explore them. For example, the party is on Pella's Column, if the party travels to explore the Miasma, there is some information in the Pella's Column document to get the first adventure going. In the DM's section of that document, there is basic information about the Miasma with information about getting the detailed document about the Miasma. After the initial game session in the Miasma, the DM sends a request for the detailed document.

(click to embiggen)

The Miasma document is a sourcebook for that area and provides hooks for other areas of the larger world. It is big enough for several sessions and introductory material for several other places connected to the Miasma. The process repeats when the party encounters one of those places.

What prevents a DM from just asking for everything all at once?

You can't move backwards, the adventure always moves you forward. Once you enter the Miasma, you can't move backwards to Pella's Column. You can move within the Miasma or move forward to new places.

It is possible to move around until you can move towards Pella's Column, but that will take at least two or three other encounters before a document will connect you back to Pella's Column.

Is it railroading? Yes and no. You always have a choice of where to move forward. You lose the choice to move backwards. However, as you move to new places, you discover way to revisit areas. After visiting enough areas, the DM will begin to ask the party "where do you want to go?" allowing for more direct ways to travel around.

A DM request will immediately send a digital file so that the DM can prep. If possible, I would like to also send a physical booklet/zine/pocketmod as a physical reference. I imagine the physical components functioning like the 2e Monstrous Manual with the ability to add to a 3 ring binder. (A dude can dream, can't he?)

Anyway, that's the idea. We'll see where it goes from here. What do you think?

Five dice showing 4, 5, 5, 2, 6

Doubles and Lonely Dice

This is the description I found on the troll dice roller website about a novel dice mechanic. An anonymous person was experimenting with an idea for a GURPS magic system using the site. The mechanic was documented this way:

Experiment with a custom magic-system in GURPS using HP as blood sacrifice, using 2-10 d6.
Doubles, triplets and above count as their value, lonely dice only add +1 per dice.
a roll with 5 dice [4,5,5,2,6] will make 1+5+5+1+1=13.

I immediately played with various numbers of dice and wrote scripts for d8s, d10s, and d12s. Yet after all that, I was drawn to 5d6. It reminded me of Dice Throne and ultimately Yahtzee. I had to admit that I was drawn to this idea using 5d6 because of the endless games of Yahtzee and Kismet I played as a kid. That shared memory makes this dice mechanic feel intuitive through repetition.

This is the point where my co-worker would say that my Nerd is showing.

When I began looking at the probabilities, however, it inspired me for possibilities in my home game with the kids, retroclones, and various other games. For the curious, here's a handy table.

At this point, my co-worker would use their teacher voice and talk about all the work they need to do.

The next few posts are going to explore how this dice mechanic can be used in 5e and other role-playing games. It not only provides an interesting sub-system, but it can be a part of the world-building. Specifically, I'm going to look at using this to build a bolt-on and hopefully simple way to make magic different.

Keith made these. Aren't they cool?

Six and Twenty Rune System by Keith Mathews

I mentioned a rune system in my last post, so I received permission from the author to talk about it in detail. Please read Keith's post here. I'll return to my thoughts on the Words of Power system in a later post.

In the Basic Fantasy facebook group, Keith Mathews posted about a rune system he developed to make magic require experimentation to gain new spells. The idea is that a wizard using this option is not a part of a formal school, but more of a hedge wizard or DIY dabbler.

Before going into the details, if you are unfamiliar with Basic Fantasy, the key thing to know for this system is that the game has six spell levels. There are supplements that add 0 level and 7th level spells, but the standard game has six.

The System

Six and Twenty is not Keith's name for it, it's mine. The system is based on six runes. Using three of the six generates a spell. This creates a possible 120 permutations, each permutation is a spell. To make tracking easier on the GM, the runes are numbered 1 to 6. There is no effect or keyword tied to a rune, it is only the sequence of the three runes used that determines the spell.

The first rune determines the spell level, the next two determine the spell. If I choose the runes 1,4,6 I have a 1st level spell with whatever spell I assign to it. The system provides for 20 spells for each spell level. Considering that BF has 68 Magic-User Spells (and 48 Cleric spells, if you want to include some or all of them), there's plenty of room to add in your own spells. Keith also suggested that you could also make some of the permutations 'bad spells' that create a magic mishap. For example, using 3,4,2 in sequence will always generate a poisonous smoke bomb centered on the caster.

I created a chart of the 120 permutations grouped by spell level and began to fill in the 1st level spell spaces with BF spells.

Starting with 1st level BF Spells

I decided that I didn't want to use Cleric spells or make the other slots magical mishaps. Instead, to add to the weirdness and the sense that magic is dangerous, I'm going to use Space Age Sorcery by Hereticwerks (it's free). It also has only six spells levels on its spell lists, so it should fit the system perfectly.

Here's my updated list:

Now with Added Space Age Sorcery Spells

If you're not familiar with Space Age Sorcery, here is the description for the Melt spell:

Caster gains the ability to liquify metals and alloys on touch, affecting up to one pound per level. This spell can be used to sculpt metal into new shapes, should the caster have some aptitude or talent for such things. It can also be used to inflict 1d4 damage per level on metal-based lifeforms, golems, robots and the like, or to make spontaneous modifications to the hull of a ship, etc.

Some spells cause cranial swelling, alien globs, and even weirder things. It's just the thing to convey that magic is dangerous and strange.

Once I fill out the other possibilities, I have a list of 120 spells that PCs can discover. Again, encourage the PCs to experiment with the runes to discover what each combination can do.

You may have noticed that I had a column for DM Name. Per Keith's suggestion in his post, I plan to let players name the spell based on the description that I provide to them. For my own sanity, I have the name listed in the books while still providing a chance for players to own their spells.

Final Thoughts

This is a fun system to play with. Feel free to use other BF supplements to add Druid or Illusionist spells. If you use other supplements that add 7th level spells, you could add them into the entries for 6th level spells or create a special 7th rune that activates only for high level wizards.

Let me know if you want my full list.