Category Archives: Game Mechanic

S.M.A.R.T. RPG | a (draft) rules light 1D6 RPG system

>> Edit: Abbreviations expanded out to hopefully help readability

>> Edit2: K Yani kindly prepared a (readable) PDF version of the below system; downloadable from here: image_preview  SMART System v01

A little while ago I posted about retrofitting the 1e Surprise Mechanic as a combat system, and teased (blog link) about making a RPG system from this. So here goes:

smart rpg log

^^ Despite the name, I don’t appear to have the wherewithal to remove the boarder around the above image ^^

The PC has 5 stats:

SSkill, basically fighting skill (or other physical prowess)

MMagic, ability to cast magic etc.

AArmour (used to reduce physical damage)

RResilience (basically health; 0 is unconscious, -1 is dead)

TTrickery / Thievery (specialist type skills)

1st level & advancement
At first level the PC gets 3 points, where 1 point must be used in S(kill) & R(esilience). So 1 free point to spend on the any stat.

On levelling up the PC gains +1 to spend on any stat

There is no limit on the stats except, A(mour) may not exceed 3

Players decided if they have done enough to level up.

Combat
Player rolls a D6 and if it is equal or lower than their PC’s S(kill), they hit, and do D(amage) equal to the die roll. A roll above S(kill) is a fail.

D(amage) is reduced by opponent’s A(mour); but never lower than 1.

D(amage) reduces the opponent’s R(esilience) by the same amount.

Example 1: a PC with 4S(kill) rolls 3 on a D6, which means they hit for 3D(amage). The opponent has 2A(mour), so overall the opponent receives 1D(amage).

Example 2: a PC with 4S(kill) rolls 5 on a 6D, which means they fail to hit.

Magic
PC can cast a number of successful spells per day equal to M(agic).

Player describes spell effect PC is trying to achieve.

Spell is successful if the D6 roll is equal or lower than M(agic). A roll above M(agic) is a fail.

Damage done; and/or duration of spell; and/or number of opponents affected by the spell is equal to the (successful) die rolled.

Example 3: a PC with 4M(agic) rolls 3 on a D6, which means the spell works, and works for 3 “thingos”, where the thingo is:

(i) 3D(amage) done by the spell (e.g. for a fire blast spell); and/or
(ii) works for 3 rounds (e.g. for a bar door spell); and/or
(iii) the spell effects 3 opponents etc. (e.g. for a sleep spell)

Example 4: a PC with 4M(agic) rolls 5 on a D6, which means the spell fails.

Class & stat interactions
There are no classes per se; but as the PC becomes more specialize, this comes at a cost to the advancement of their other abilities.

Levelling costs:

For every 3S(kill) points spent, -1T(rickery)
For every 2S(kill) points spent, -1M(agic)
For every 3M(agic) points spent, -1S(kill) and -1T(rickery)
For every 3T(rickery) points spent, -1S(kill) and -1M(agic)
For every 1A(mour) point spent, -3M(agic) and -2T(rickery)

So multi-classing is costly compared to a single specialization, and so is probably only worthwhile when the primary stat exceeds 6, and so further advancement in the primary stat is not effectively useful. Then again, improved R(esilience) is always at no cost.

Comments on monsters /opponents
A monster with 6S(kill) is a BEAST, like a dragon. So, each increment in a stat should be thought of like an exponential increase.

So, to put a marker down, here are some examples:

Orc – S M A R T: 1 0 1 1 0

Ogre – S M A R T: 3 0 2 2 0

Dragon – S M A R T: 6 3 3 9 1

Comments on magic items
Plus weapons will distort the D6 game mechanic quickly, so in this system a +1 is a big modifier! So, probably best to imbue magic items with useful properties rather than simple pluses.

Well that’s it.

Final words
I’ve never really been interested in writing an RPG system (perhaps it shows), but I was prompted to bring this together after receiving a message to my podcast. Clearly, it’s rules light and would not suit power-gamers. What interested me, was how a simple mechanic (i.e. the Surprise Rule in 1e) could be used as the basis for a game. That is, one simple D6 roll determines the ‘hit’ and the ‘damage’ outcomes.

What do you think? It’s certainly not been play tested! If you try this system, I’d be interested to hear any feedback.

– – –

Me on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea, and my procedural Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown.

Simple-ish Mass Combat/Battle Rules

Hopefully these rules are simple enough once the base concept is understood. They are also intended to be fairly deadly, and so hopefully these rules will resolve battles relatively quickly.

Mass combat

Overview
Units are treated as single combatants, they have Unit Health (UH), Unit Attacks (UA) and Unit Damage (UD) per hit done. The units are largely a macro-version of the monster/troop within the unit.  The following is explained with reference to the following three reference units:

Reference units:

Unit 1    105 Human spearmen (HD1, AC7, NOA 1, DA1-6)
i.e. unit stats –> 105 UH; 11 UA; 10 UD

Unit 2    20 centaurs (HD4, AC5, NOA 2, DA1-6;1-6)
i.e. unit stats –> 80 UH; 16 UA; 10 UD

Unit 3    1 T-Rex (HD18, AC7, NOA 3, DA1-6;1-6;5-40)
i.e. unit stats –> 18 UH; 6 UA; 20 UD

Quick summary of unit stats

UH = Total HD of unit
UA = UH/10 (rounded to nearest whole number) x NOA
UD = usually 10 UH damage is done per hit (but powerful monsters could do 20 or 30 UH per hit)

So, UH equates to the ‘hit points’ of the unit, UA equates to the number of attacks of the unit and UD equates to the damage per hit made by the unit. UD is the only thing worth pre-determining, as everything else is done on the fly.

Unit stats

:: Unit Health (UH) of the unit is equal to the total HD of the unit, i.e.:

Unit 1 – 105 UH (i.e. 105 x 1HD)
Unit 2 – 80 UH (i.e. 20 x 4HD)
Unit 3 – 18 UH (i.e. 1 x 18HD)

:: Unit Attacks (UA) of the unit is equal to UH divided by 10, and rounded to the nearest whole number and then multiplied by the troop type’s Number of Attacks (NOA):

Unit 1 – 11 UA (i.e. 105 UH ÷ 10 x 1NOA and rounded up)
Unit 2 – 16 UA (i.e. 80 UH ÷ 10 x 2NOA) i.e. centaurs get two attacks per round.
Unit 3 – 6 UA (i.e. 18 UH ÷ 10, rounded up to 2, and x 3NOA)

:: Unit Damage (UD) per successful attack made is determined on a power scale, i.e.:

10 UD    (where the maximum damage possible divided by NOA is in the range 1-10) – i.e. normally the case

20 UD    (where the maximum damage possible divided by NOA is in the range 11-20) – i.e. for powerful monsters that can do damage in the range 11 to 20 hps

30 UD    (where the maximum damage possible divided by NOA is in the range 21-30) – i.e. for very powerful monsters
etc.

So:

Unit 1 – 10 UH (max damage i.e. 6 ÷ 1NOA = 6) –> ‘normal’ damage category
Unit 2 – 10 UH (max damage i.e. 12 ÷ 2NOA = 6) –> ‘normal’ damage category
Unit 3 – 20 UH (max damage i.e. 6+6+40 ÷ 3 gives 17) –> second damage category

Combat Method

:: Treat combat as one unit fighting another, e.g. treat a unit of 105 humans fighting a unit of 20 centaurs as Unit 1 fighting Unit 2.

:: Wipeout rule – if a unit loses initiative and is whiped out in the first round, the wiped out unit still does half damage on their adversary

:: Defeat Morale – check unit morale if the unit suffers more UH damage than the other side

:: Decimation Morale – check unit morale if the unit lost more than 50% of their UH in one round

:: Defeat and Decimation Morale tests are independent of each other

 

 Examples using AD&D combat tables to resolve combat (to hit rolls not shown)

 Example 1:
Unit 1 attacks Unit 2 (in this scenario Unit 1 is lucky and wins initiative each round):

Round 1:
Unit 1 has 11 Unit Attacks
only 3 attacks hit; and so do 30 Unit Health damage
–> Unit 2 is reduced to 50 UH (i.e. 80-30=50 UH)

Round 1 cont…
50 UH of the remaining centaurs in Unit 2 fight back; they have 10 Unit Attacks (i.e. 5 x 2NOA)
6 hits are made; and so do 60 Unit Health damage
–> Unit 1 is reduced to 45 UH (i.e. 105-60=45 UH)

The humans lost the combat round taking the most UH damage, and lost more than 50% of their UH in a single round, and so need to take a Defeat Morale check and a Decimation Moral check. They pass, but is luck truly with them?

Round 2:
Unit 1 with 45 UHs gets 5 Unit Attacks
2 hit; doing 20 Unit Health damage
–> Unit 2 is reduced to 30 UH (i.e. 50-20=30 UH)

Round 2 cont…
Unit 2 with 30 UH fights back, they have 6 unit attacks (i.e. 3 x 2NOA)
3 hit; doing 30 Unit Health damage
–> Unit 1 is reduced to 15 UH (i.e. 45-30=15 UH)

This time Unit 1 does not make both morale checks, and they flee for their lives.

Example 2:
Unit 1 attacks Unit 3 (in this scenario Unit 1 wins initiative):

Round 1:
105 humans have 11 Unit Attacks
only 3 hit; doing 30 Unit Health damage
–> Unit 3 is reduced to -12 UH (i.e. 18-30= -12 UH)

Round 1 cont…
Because the T-Rex lost initiative and is destroyed in one round, it still does half damage:
18 UH of T-Rex gets 6 Unit Attacks (i.e. 2 x 3NOA)
6 hits are made; doing 120 Unit Health damage (i.e. 6 x 20 UD)
but this is halved to 60 UH damage due to the initiative rule mentioned above
–> Unit 1 is reduced to 45 UH (i.e. 105-60=45 UH)

While the human spearmen bravely seized initiative and destroyed the T-Rex, it was at a high cost. Indeed, despite winning the clash, they failed their Decimation Morale check (i.e. they lost more than 50% of the unit in one round) and so left the field believing they had done more than their fair share of the slaying in this battle.

Example 3:
Unit 1 attacks Unit 3 (but in this scenario Unit 3 wins initiative):

Round 1
18 UH of T-Rex gets 6 Unit Attacks (i.e. 2 x 3NOA)
6 hits are made; doing 120 Unit Health damage
–> Unit 1 is smashed by the T-Rex in a terrifying display of power

Round 1 cont…
Because the Humans lost initiative and were destroyed in one round, they get to do half damage in return:
105 humans have 11 Unit Attacks
only 3 hit; doing 30 Unit Health damage; but this is halved to 15 UH
–> Unit 3 is reduced to 3 UH (i.e. 18-15=3 UH)

In destroying the swarm of pesky humans, the T-Rex is very badly speared in hundreds of places. Even if it made its morale check, 3 UH does not qualify for a UA point (i.e. 3 divided by 10 (and rounded to the nearest whole number) x 3NOA is 0 UA). The hefty beast limps off the battle field, but not before chomping down on a few of the chewy humans.

Finally
I suspect that there are already some pretty good mass-combat rules out there. But, … I thought I’d have a go at my own (before getting cross-polinated by other people’s ideas) … you know, for the fun of it.

– – –

InHotS the cover imageMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea, and my procedural Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown.

Do QR codes make interesting mazes, dungeons or cavern complexes?

Do QR codes make interesting mazes, dungeons or cavern complexes?

Next time you’re stuck for a maze or cavern complex, look no further than the back of your Cheetos packet …

Two examples below made using an online generator:

1. Here’s the QR code for Expedition to the Barrier Peaks:

Expedition to the barrier peaks

2. Here’s another maze-like complex (but where does it go????):

QR maze 2 - CLDT

That’s it.

– – –

InHotS the cover imageMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea, and my procedural Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown.

AD&D Surprise Rules & Repurposing them as a combat system

I listened to ChgWiz’s (Michael Shorten’s) The Dungeon Master’s Handbook podcast about 1e ‘Surprise Rules’ and wondered if it could be converted into a simple combat system (or used for anything else); and why the Surprise Rule makes the DEX stat useful to non-thieves.

Recap of the 1e Surprise Rule (as understood)

This is how I understand the Surprise Rule in AD&D to work:

1. Roll for surprise if one or both parties might be surprised.

2. Surprise is like an attack roll, it’s your ability to surprise your foe (it’s not like a saving throw, i.e. a chance to avoid being surprised). So the chance of being surprised is based on your foe’s ability. Personally, I think players should roll to surprise their foe and the DM should roll for the monsters to surprise the PCs (often it’s done the other way around).

3. By default the base chance to surprise anyone is a roll of 1 or 2 rolled on a D6.

4. But, some creatures are better at surprising; for example, Bugbears surprise on a roll of 1, 2 or 3 on a D6; and Giant Owls surprise on a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 on a D6. Wow, Giant Owls have 4HD, so they are in effect a bit like flying ogre ninjas.

5. This is the neat bit mechanically (at least I think so). The above roll not only determines if you are surprised (great), but also gives the duration of the surprise. So, it’s doing two things with one roll (i.e. (i) determining if you are surprised and (ii) how long you are surprised for; and all in one roll).

The below table gives the duration of the surprise indexed to the die roll on a D6 for three creatures:

sup 1

So, it’s a bit like the game “chicken”, the aim is to get as close to the maximum number of rounds without going over. So a roll of 3 for an orc is no use but for a Bugbear it’s the best roll.

6. Now for the wrinkles. Some classes can reduce the number of rounds they are surprise for. So, for example a ranger reduces the number of rounds they are surprised for by 1 round. This applies to them and to the group they are in. Therefore, the above table now looks like this when a ranger is present:

sup 2

That is, the number of rounds has been reduced by 1 round in each case. So, a roll of 1 is in effect the same as not being surprised. Not surprised is shown in the blue region whereas the green region is where the time being surprised is reduce to 0 rounds or fewer (i.e. the PC’s reactions counteract the surprise).

7. More wrinkles. If a PC has a high DEX score they can get a RAA bonus, which again is used to subtract from the rounds they are surprised for.

sup 4.png

So, if a thief with 17 Dex (RAA of +2) is in the above party (i.e. with a ranger in it) the table for the thief now looks like this:

sup 3

So, this thief is in effect never surprised by Orcs or Bugbears, but for Giant Owls on a roll of 4 or 5 can be surprised, but for no more than two rounds. This gal has the reactions of a cat. However, a DEX bonus only applies to this PC and not to the group as a whole.

... but, but, why a roll of 4 or 5 on a D6 instead of a roll of 1, 2 on a D6 – same odds right? True, but under that system:

Thief surprised on a roll of 1 or 2

Party surprised on a roll of 1, 2, 3 or 4.

So, on a roll of 1 on a D6 means everyone including the thief is surprised for 1 round, but on a roll of 4 on the D6 the party is surprised for 4 rounds and the thief for none. So sometimes the thief and party are equally surprised or the party super surprised and the thief not at all. Seems illogical. Under the system explained above, the thief is always 2 rounds better off than the party no matter what the roll is (hence more consistent).

Sometime I feel like I’m torturing myself.

Scenario 1

Imagine the party describe above is swooped down on by silent Giant Owls in the dark. The DM rolls to see if the party is surprised (the owls are ambushing so they do not need to roll for surprise). The D6 is rolled a 4 comes up. Therefore:

The party is surprised for 3 rounds (4 rounds minus 1 for the ranger bonus = 3 rounds).

The thief on the other hand is only surprised for 1 round (4 rounds minus 1 for the ranger bonus and minus 2 for her RAA = 1 round).

Scenario 2

For argument sake, let’s say the party slips off a cliff and lands in a giant owl nest. This time both the owl and the party might be surprised.

A D6 is rolled for the party who get a 3 this time. The party is surprised for 2 rounds, except the thief who is in effect not surprised.

A D6 is rolled for the Owls who get a 2; so, the owls are also surprised for 2 rounds.

Net effect – everyone is surprised for two rounds, except the thief who gets two rounds of action. She of course decides to use her 2 rounds to make good her escape.

Summary

:: Mindset: Roll surprise like an attack. Players roll to surprise their foe and the DM rolls to surprise the party (i.e. on the monster’s behalf).

:: Surprise is a fun rule.

:: It also makes DEX a useful stat for non-thieves. Think of the acrobatic fleetfooted fighter that can slash a foe to death before their opponent can even draw their weapon. This can be much more useful than a +1 or 2 HP per level when buffing the CON stat. Likewise, a nimble unflappable magic-user who can get off a spell (or run for it) before the open-jawed orcs can say “whod dat?”. Finally, high DEX thieves become more effective (even deadly) in combat, perhaps even getting in the fabled back-stab while their opponent struggles open-mouthed to comprehend the threat. Worse still, a negative RAA can add time to rounds the PC is surprised for. In the reverse, a PC with 3 DEX could be surprised for a total of 8 rounds by Giant Owls on a roll of 5. I can’t see anyone surviving that kind of onslaught.

Wow… that ^ was longer than intended!

Learning lessons / Repurposing AD&D surprise rules as a combat system

I think I’ll save this post in full for another day.

But basically: you roll to hit by rolling equal or below your skill (like in Surprise). If you hit, you do that number of HP damage (like the rounds of surprise). If you have armour (or defensive magics), you can subtract units off the damage (like the RAA bonus).

E.g. a monster has a skill of 3, and they roll a 2 on a D6. They therefore do 2 damage. The PC is wearing heavy armour and so can subtract 1 off the damage. The PC therefore takes 1 damage. So, hit and damage is determined in a single roll.

Of course, a combat system like this needs proper scaling (e.g. PCs gain 1 damage per level, or can spend this on fighting skill, magic etc.). I have some crude ideas, and maybe I’ll pull my finger out and expand on this later.

– – –

InHotS the cover imageMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea, and my procedural Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown.

Hex Flower Game Engines | an overview and some thoughts

Background:
For about the past year I’ve been blogging on-and-off about Hex Flower Game Engines (they are like a random table but with a memory). For example here and here.

Download
I decided to bring together a lot of what I’ve learnt about Hex Flower Game Engines and their design in one place, in a downloadable .pdf document.

The document can be downloaded from here: image_preview  Link

This document is not intended to be prescriptive, but it might be a good jumping off point if you are interested in the topic and/or want to make your own Hex Flowers.

Screen clipping:
And here’s an outline image of the document:

Overview image.png

Cover image:

Hex Flower Game Engines Cover

– – –

Me on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping, well this ^

Seven Days in the Duchy | a campaign weather resource

Incidentally, it turns out this is my 100th blog post.

I listened to Michael “Chgowiz” podcast on weather (link), and thought it might be useful to prepare a live 7 day forecast for some Köppen climate weather classifications.

Please see this post: https://goblinshenchman.blogspot.com/2019/11/seven-days-in-duchy.html

Screen-capture:
Here’s a sample screen capture of a 7 day forecast for a Desert Campaign:

desert.png

Premise:
The idea is that a DM can use the selected real-world forecast to be the actual weather in the DM’s campaign world. The DM need only pick a climate that best matches their campaign world and use that. Since the forecasts are live predictions, they will track real-world weather, and as such, they will be up-to-date and ‘realistic’.

So why am I using Blogger for this post? This is because I couldn’t get WordPress to run the weather scripts … my IT skills are baseline …

– – –

InHotS the cover imageMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea, and my procedural Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown.

Race & Class Hex Flower Generator

Race & Class Hex Flower Generator

This is just a fun way to generate random Race and Class combinations for PCs (or even NPCs) using a Hex Flower.

Maybe this is a good excuse to play a class-race combination that you would not normally try?

Some things that interest me about it

:: In the end, this idea is a sort of demonstration of  a causality pathway when using Hex Flowers with a limited number of steps, i.e. the first result (e.g. “Half-Orc”) then leads on to only a limited number of possible results (e.g. “Fighter-Assassin).

:: This idea also explores a D6+D8 navigation mechanic. A D6+D8 navigation mechanic offers 14 outcomes (not 12 outcomes, i.e. when using 2D6); mixed dice of this kind gives a broader bell-type curve (e.g. when compared to 2D7); navigation has also been arranged to give a left-to-right “symmetrical” probability structure (rather than skewing to the left or right as when using my ‘normal’ 2D6 setup);  and the option for navigation to remain in the current HEX (i.e. on a roll of a 9).

Preview and download
Please see below for a preview. A PDF version can be downloaded here: image_preview  R&CHFG

Race & Class Hex Flower Generator - Cover v1.png

More on Hex Flowers
You can read more about these Hex Flowers here

Some Hex Flower Examples here

– – –

InHotS the cover imageMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea, and my procedural Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown.