Category Archives: Opinion piece

” R ” is for Religion [[ OSR ]]

I recently posted about what I think is common to, and so is, the OSR (link), and why your ‘faction’ of the OSR is a self-fulfilling prophesy. That is, your OSR is THE OSR because you liked that faction of the OSR, and that is the reason why you subscribed to it.

Recently I’ve been thinking more about this factionalism in the OSR. [[Edit: Reddit has pointed out that ‘Faction’ is perhaps a bit too strong – so, when I say ‘faction’ please read this to mean ‘hot spot’, ‘gravitational well’, ‘leaning’ or ‘wing’ etc.]]

I think this factionalism in the OSR is a bit like Religion.

Whatever faction of the OSR you first encountered (and the people in that faction) will heavily influence what you think the OSR is, and importantly if this was an attractive or repulsive experience.

If your first experience of the OSR was rules-as-written-TSR-era D&D – then that will probably be your (OS)R, especially if you liked it or hated it. If your first experience of religion was hyper austere Calvinism, then that will shape what you think “R” religion is. Again, this might be what you are after or you might hate it. Later discovered “R”s are clearly deluded/imposteRs. Or, of course, you might drift from one “R” to another overtime as you become more enlightened. Some “R”s may be tolerant of other “R”s, but others may be very intolerant of other the “R”s.

Anyway, if you want to hear a more expanded view on this (I was going to write the whole thing out, but I need to recover some time in my life) – please see my podcast:
https://anchor.fm/ghench/episodes/139—-R–is-for-Religion–OSR-e1rjg1u/a-a8vedcu

(yes, I have a podcast)

:O\.

– – –

Me on DriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural:
:: High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea,
:: Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown,
:: Dungeon/network generator – In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous

Advent(ure) Calendar | 24 Days of Festive Dungeoneering

A (hopefully) fun festive idea – an Advent Calendar Dungeon (‘Advent(ure) Calendar’).

Open a door each day to see what’s behind the door.

See if you survive to Christmas.

Simply scan the QR code on each door to see what lies behind … 

Spoiler – I’ve not written all the rooms yet!!! See if I survive to Christmas too …
:O\

AC Capture

>> PDF <<

Idea inspired by the good works of Atelier Clandestin.

Just want the links not this infernal QR rubbish? 

– – –

Me on DriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural:
:: High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea,
:: Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown,
:: Dungeon/network generator – In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous

Do you even OSR ? | Response to Oct-OSR

I’ve recently been listening to lots of Oct-OSR podcast and I began to wonder why I find myself more often than not agreeing with what seem to be different/divergent statements about what the OSR is.

So, I had a bit of a think and tried to put a pin in it.

Some say the OSR is playing in a 70’s style (or at least what they think happened back then), others say the OSR must be mechanically compatible with 70s D&D, others think it is an ethos or is the DIY scene etc.

Can these all be OSR, can the OSR really be this broad?

Perhaps yes, if these are all views/movements that represent ‘dials’ in the OSR that people can dial up or down. So, when peoples say OSR is “X”, what they really mean is “X” is what is important to me in the OSR. The other stuff (that is not “X”) is not so important to me, and perhaps negligibly important. When enough people have the dials set at the same-ish position, then you begin to generate a gravitational well that draws in more adherents. This gravitational well may even become sufficiently distinct to gain a new identity like the NSR movement/wing.

So why these gravitational wells in the OSR?

I think what is important to you in the OSR is what drew you into the OSR in the first place. It is likely that what drew you into the OSR was a contact with an “OSR” (be it a person, group or product). If you liked that “first-contact-OSR” you joined the OSR. If you didn’t like that “first-contact-OSR” you left or never joined the OSR, and probably warned others off the OSR. That “first-contact-OSR” will therefore have strongly coloured your understanding of what the OSR is. Of course, the bigger the gravitational well of an OSR wing, the more likely it is to be a person’s “first-contact-OSR”, and so these wings of the OSR grow.  

So, bringing this together – what do I think the OSR is?

I think the OSR can be as broad as the various people say it is. People naturally think the OSR can’t be that broad. But, I’m not so sure. I think the OSR is like a thin membrane capturing all the OSR gravitational wells and movements derived therefrom.

To me, I now lean towards thinking that the OSR is … a non-conformist movement (like the Arts and Crafts movement) where free-thinkers do ‘RPGs’ in the way they want to, and do not simply accept what corporates like WOtC (or other main stream commercial publishers) said RPGs are, e.g. currently 5e D&D.

I think the OSR was kicked off (began to crystalize?) when people read D&D 3/4e and said: nooooooo, I’m not playing D&D that way!

But, what do I know!

:O|

– – –

Me on DriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural:
:: High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea,
:: Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown,
:: Dungeon/network generator – In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous

Solo RPG idea | Sticky labels with QR codes

Recently I have been wondering if this idea might be fun – just a slight extension of an idea I had before.

Solo adventure kit

  1. Sticky labels with some QR codes, the QR codes lead to pages that describe an encounter
  2. Dungeon map, or page with lots of interconnected tunnels but no rooms

Solo Kit 1

Play

Solo player peels some of the labels off the sticky sheet and adds them to the map page to create a random dungeon. This can be as you go, or beforehand. Hopefully, with this set up, the encounters will be surprising to the wouldbe DM-Solo-Player.

Solo Kit 2

Perhaps in a journal type game, these QR codes lead to blank google pages where the solo player can make a record of what happens.

A more dungeon-y embodiment:

Solo Kit 3

Solo players could build up a database of encounters/rooms. Want to help build a QR Living Dungeon, then please go to: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/2/folders/1alkSwiib2kAHhJdb2PAj3sRjBuJHTNav

But, to see what’s there already (or just want some free stuff to vibe off), here are the (first?) 20 random room encounters I made:

20 QR random rooms

image_preview Get a better quality PWYW PDF version. Or, just want 20 unexpected rooms without the QR codes (20 Unexpected Rooms)

:O)

– – –

Me on DriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural:
:: High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea,
:: Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown,
:: Dungeon/network generator – In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous

Field Guide to Random Table Design in RPGs | Video walk through

Just a video walkthrough of my ‘Field Guide to Random Table Design in RPGs’ (which recently turned Copper Metal Best Seller on DriveThruRPG):

Background: 

I saw this post by the well-known blogger, podcaster and RPG great Judd Karlman.

It got me thinking about random table structures, and so I wrote this:

FGtRTDCover

The idea here is to consider how to make/tweak random table structures to suit your RPG needs. It probably overeggs the pudding. However, if this might be of interest, please check it out.

Snap shot:

Snip FG

– – –

Me on DriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural:
:: High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea,
:: Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown,
:: Dungeon/network generator – In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous

Field Guide to Random Table Design in RPGs

I saw this post by the well-known blogger, podcaster and RPG great Judd Karlman.

It got me thinking about random table structures, and so I wrote this:

FGtRTDCover

The idea here is to consider how to make/tweak random table structures to suit your RPG needs. It probably overeggs the pudding. However, if this might be of interest, please check it out.

Snap shot:

Snip FG

– – –

Me on DriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural:
:: High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea,
:: Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown,
:: Dungeon/network generator – In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous

Ramp, Flat Ramp, Hill & Lone Mountain Type Random Table Formats

I saw this post by the well-known blogger, podcaster and RPG great Judd Karlman.

It had a table type I had not seen (or at least noticed) before, a D6 (well D3 really) x 2D6 table (reproduced below with Judd’s permission – see link above to see more):

Judd Table

This table is like three 2D6 tables next to each other, so instead of being a peak (‘bell’) curve with a 2D6 probability structure, it sort of has a “ramp-like” probability structure:

1. Ramp Type; Dx × 2Dy (in this case D3 × 2D6)

1a Ramp Table1b Ramp Table chart

This led me to think about related formats:

2. Flat-Topped Ramp Type; Dx × Dy+Dz (replacing the 2D6 with D4+D8 to flatten the ‘peak’ out):

2a Flat Topped Ramp Table2b Flat Topped Ramp Table Chart

3. Lonely-Mountain Type; 2Dx × 2Dy (in this case 2D6 on one axis and 2D6 on the other):

3a Lonely Mountain Chart3b Lonely Mountain Table Chart

4. Rounded Hill Type; 3Dx × 3Dy (in this case 3D6 on one axis and 3D6 on the other):

4a Hill Table4b Hill Table Chart

Applications?
There are lots of ways these random table formats could be used, but of course it can be seen with the last two examples, even with just D6s the number of outcomes increase massively, and the edges will be very rare (in the Rounded Hill example a centre roll is 729 times more likely than a ‘corner’ roll and you have (theoretically) 256 possible options. But of course, you can band the results together a bit like Judd did with their example to reduce the outcomes. So, with reference to the heat map you could have 3 or so zones (red, white and blue etc.) equating to probable, rare and very rare outcomes etc.

Not got much more to say, just putting this out there as a possible tool, and I’m sure I’m not the first to think of these other examples, but I’ll post anyway!!

:O)

– – –

Me on DriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural:
:: High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea,
:: Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown,
:: Dungeon/network generator – In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous

Quantum Ogre meet Schrödinger’s Troglodyte | Chekhov’s Gun – adventure design vs play

I recently read about Chekhov’s Gun. Here’s what the web had to say about it:

“Chekhov’s gun is a dramatic principle that states that every element in a story must be necessary, and irrelevant elements should be removed. Elements should not appear to make “false promises” by never coming into play.”

It made me wonder: does Chekhov’s Gun have a place in RPG adventure design?

My answer is: Yes, but mainly no-ish (helpful!).

LT:DR ~ The key difference here is that a traditional story is fixed, whereas an RPG session is not.

Planned adventure

A planned adventure normally has a framework from where a story can collaboratively emerge. This framework should include things (dare I say ‘Chekhov’s Guns’) the DM hopes/expects the players to interact with. The ‘guns’ might be NPCs, monsters, magic item, weird stuff, traps etc.

However, an RPG session is not a fixed story (railroading, story arcs and Quantum Ogres aside). An RPG session is more like a sporting event, where nobody, not even the referee, knows the final result until the game is played.

It is a well-known cliché that the players will miss/ignore ‘important’ NPCs or plot hooks and obsess over what appears to be a trivial detail (e.g. a captive goblin becomes an important and loved NPC rather than simply more dungeon XP fodder; and the DM did not plan for this). In the end, the DM might not expect or like the story the players ‘write’ within the DM’s framework, but nonetheless it is the emergent ‘story’. Similarly, another cliché is the DM stealing players’ table speculations and fears, making those speculations the new reality e.g. a player wonders if the sword contains the essence of the disgraced paladin? Yes, yes, it does now! 

So, the DM can plan ‘Chekhov’s Guns’ in their adventure, but it is only through play that these becomes real.

Erhm … the blog title said something about a Quantum Ogre vs Schrödinger’s Troglodyte. Here goes:

Schrödinger’s Troglodyte

Quantum Ogre (sort of) meets Schrödinger’s Troglodyte

In essence, the Schrödinger’s Cat experiment can be used to describe every (non-scripted) RPG session ever played.

As a recap, in the Schrödinger’s Cat experiment there is a cat in a box, the cat could be alive or it could be dead. It is only when we look in the box we discover if the cat is alive or dead. So, before we look in the box, the cat has the property of being both alive and dead.

A planned RPG adventure is just like the Schrödinger’s cat experiment, where the box is the adventure. Before the players interact with the adventure (the box) everything planned by the DM is not fixed.  It is only after the players interact with the adventure (the box) does anything become real and so fixed.

So, if the players explored 15 rooms of a 20-room dungeon, skipped the boss troglodyte room, leave and never return, then for now, only those 15 rooms are real. Dare I suggest that only the things the PCs interacted in those 15 rooms are the Chekhov’s Guns (from the story POV) and everything else including the boss troglodyte might as well not exits (from the story POV). At best those things the PCs missed exist in a Schrödinger’s Cat-like state of not quite existing.

The Quantum Ogre is the anthesis of the Schrödinger’s Troglodyte, because the ogre comes into existence regardless of the players’ interaction, and so deprives the players of the ‘game’. Not only is the Ogre in the box, it will also climb out and find you! Fixed story arcs and railroad adventures are no more than a Quantum Ogre in plot form. Fixed ‘Chekhov’s Guns’ are also no more than Quantum Ogres.  

So, in RPG adventure design nothing really exists in the RPG world until the players interact with it, in emergent play the players (predominately) decide what is important and hence what the ‘Chekhov’s Guns’ are. Other things in effect fade into obscurity (unless revived by the DM later in a later session) and so are not really ‘false promises’. In adventure design, perhaps the best policy is to create lots of interesting situations and let the players figure out what is important to them and roll with it; embrace the uncertain existence of Schrödinger’s Troglodyte and shun the (perhaps misnamed) Quantum (tunnelling?) Ogre.

Nothing is dogma – Quantum Ogres can have a place (but hopefully only exceptionally).

To conclude, I suspect I’ve told you nothing new, but that said, until you read this post you existed in a state of both knowing and not knowing that.

:O|

(PS don’t argue with me, I have PhD in particle physics <– not true)

– – –

Me on DriveThruRPG

DxDy dice mechanic | … e.g. D4D6

Math(s) warning: If you are a mathematician the words I use below may well be formally inaccurate, sorry!

Trad-game warning: I can imagine that rolling a die to see how many dice you roll will be an unwelcome idea in some circles – it’s OK, I’m not the D&D police, please feel free to ignore this idea.

I stumbled onto this recently (it may be well known to others) and hopefully I’m not just inadvertently regurgitating something I’ve read elsewhere.

If for example you roll D6D6s (i.e. you roll a D6 to see how many D6s you are going to roll and sum) you get a weird probability profile that has a weird leading spike:

triceratops in profile 3

For some strange reason it reminds me of a sleeping triceratops

It certainly looks nothing like a standard 6D6 roll (flatter and pushed leftwards as well as having the leading spike):

triceratops in profile 3a

The ‘at least’ number is almost linear for most of the graph as compared to 6D6:

triceratops in profile 3b

Here’s the idea again, but where some other combinations have been done (again weird leading spike):

triceratops in profile 1

Here’s a mismatched pair  D4D10 and D10D4 (spike more pronounced when fewer dice are in the mix – perhaps not too unexpected):

triceratops in profile 2

Application in gaming?  I’ve got nothing! But …  perhaps one day it might find a place!

You’d need a probability structure that runs from 1 to the end number, has a leading spike, a flattish mid-section and then tails off as you approach the highest numbers.

OK – with that in mind and shooting from the hip here as I’m typing this up – a new way to roll stats (where we invert the thing to favour high not low numbers):

triceratops in profile 3c

So compared to 4D6 drop the lowest, 19-D2D8 is more likely to give 17s and 18s.

Here it is again but vs 3D6:

triceratops in profile 3e

Here’s also 19-D3D5 (no 3’s and the chance of a 14 to 18 is much higher than 4D6 drop the lowest):

triceratops in profile 3d

I guess I’m not seriously advancing this as a replacement mechanic for rolling stats, but that said, statistically it’s not completely ludicrous (unless I’ve made a mistake) …

Perhaps you can think of a better use case?
No? OK, not to worry!

:O\

– – –

Me on DriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural:
:: High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea,
:: Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown,
:: Dungeon/network generator – In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous

D6(6)6 table | … D66 table with probability gradient

Content warning: If you are a mathematician the words I use below are bound to be formally inaccurate, sorry!

Origins:
I saw this post by Sofinho, which I thought was interesting (you should check it out). To cut a long story short, it led me here:

A D66 table with a probability gradient:

% each cell new

So the chance of rolling 1,1 is 0.5% and the chance of rolling 1,6 is 6.9%.

D6(6)6 Rules

  • Roll 3D6
  • Keep the highest & lowest rolls to make a D66 style dice
  • Order these two dice how you like; or if that bothers you (perhaps you worry about an unconscious bias), order the two dice low to high if the removed middle roll is odd, else the other way round

Examples

  • 6,5,1 becomes –> 1, 6
  • 2,5,2 becomes –> 5,2
  • 4,2,3 becomes –> 2,4

Below is the same table as above, but normalized so the lowest value is 1:

Normalized new

So rolling a 1,6 is 15 times more likely than rolling a 1,1.

Below is basically the same as above but where each cell is given with reference to % above/below a (standard homogeneous) D66 table, which is about 2.8% per cell:

% above below standard d66 new2

So cell 1,1 is 2.3% lower in probability than if this was  a standard D66 cell.

Conclusions

  • The diagonal ‘spine’ is disfavoured
  • The top right and bottom left directions are more favoured (so, a 1,6 or 6,1 roll is 15 times more likely than any double)
  • For probability, moving up/down gives the same result as moving right/left (so moving downward from 1,1 to 1,6 is the same as moving left to right from 1,1 to 6,1.
  • Moving diagonally does not change the % odds, so rolling a  1,1 is the same % as rolling a 2,2 or 3,3 etc.

With this probability structure understood, you can create D66 random tables that are less homogeneous.

– – –

>> This is where you should stop reading, as I go (more) tangential below << 

  • For now if you ignore half the table (in this case ignoring the results above the diagonal spine) there appears to be a series of tiers (e.g. 1,1 to 1,6; 2,2 to 2,6; 3,3 to 3,6 etc.):

666 1

These tiers are not equal in size, each starts with a low % and increases as you move along the tier away from the diagonal spine. So the tier 1,1 to 1,6 is bigger than the tier 3,3 to 3,6 – I suppose there are also diagonal tiers, again not of equal size but in that case each step in the tier has the same %.

These sort of tiers made we wonder – can we use this method to make a series of tiered random tables?

City encounter/reaction tables
Examples are always best, so I’m going to consider a way this method could be used to generate random reaction encounters in a D&D type city.

In this case, I’m going to link the tiers to social class in the city, using this colour code:

3. Class key

So the above tiers would be:

4. Option 1 n

half table

3. Class keyAgain, for now I’m only considering the lower half of the table (so not the greyed out area).

In this case the beggars/riffraff/lowest class tier interact most often with the PCs (21.3% of the time, i.e. whenever the first roll is a 1), whereas nobles rarely interact with the PCs i.e. only on a roll of 6,6 (0.5% of the time).

As for reactions, the nobles  only have 1 reaction state, which in this case is probably indifference (at best).

However, the beggars/riffraff tier have 6 reactions states i.e. 1,1 (0.5% of the 21.3%) to 1,6 (6.9% of the 21.3%).  So while there are 6 reaction states, 1,6 is the most probable reaction and so this should be the most common reaction state (e.g. asking for money) and 1,1, should be quite unusual (e.g. giving the PCs a gift or perhaps attacking them).

So perhaps the above structure makes sense in a dodgy market bazaar area (or slums), where beggars/riffraff are going to be out and about, and where other people including nobles might be out looking for something unusual/special (but on their guard, i.e. with 1 reaction state).

If you inverted the social structure (so the nobles have the 6 reaction states and are common), perhaps this makes sense in an upmarket retail area (or in the royal court) , where beggars/riffraff are going to be circumspect. Perhaps in the royal court the single riffraff state is a person intent on the redistribution of wealth.

Now if we bring in the rest of the table we blanked off earlier, you get the same tiers but in this case they also move left to right not just up/down. Perhaps the portion above the diagonal spine could be negative reaction states and below the diagonal spine could be positive reactions states e.g.:

12 the bizzar again

3. Class key

42%                  28.2%              17%                 8.8%                   3.2%              0.5%

OK, looking at this – that’s a lot of beggars/riffraff approaching the PCS in this city area, so perhaps swap town’s person for either beggars or for the merchants … ? That said, perhaps town’s folk are the decent kind of folk that stays well away from disreputable freebooters like the PCs.

Another option is to keep the greyed off area as a “no significant encounter” option.

Other uses …
The above is the first idea that sprang to mind. There must be other uses – tiers/kinds of random wilderness encounters,  etc … or (probably for the best) just ignore tiers and populate the D6(6)6 table in a manner that takes account of where there probabilities are high/low.

I’m still not the RPG police …
If you don’t like this idea (and I’m just thinking this through) you don’t have to use it …

– – –

Me on DriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural:
:: High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea,
:: Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown,
:: Dungeon/network generator – In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous

Hit Points replaced with ‘Usage Dice’ ?

image_previewPDF version here with UD tables (it’s PWYW just in case you want to encourage such tomfoolery)

EDIT – the below paragraph is just to pick up on some FAQ/comments/feedback:
:: the UD roll replaces the damage roll – so there is no net increase in dice rolling
:: Yes, to reflect combat the UD target number is dependent on your PC’s class and level
:: the UD target number changing with level is no biggie – HPs change with level too
:: it’s not very complex, you just replace ‘Max HP’ and ‘Actual HP’ boxes with UD boxes
:: Agreed, UD and HPs are not ‘realistic’, they are just game mechanics
:: This is still a thought experiment so work is still needed (see healing and monsters)
:: Some people think UD requires more bookkeeping – I find this an odd conclusion 
:: IMO drama is at the heart of UD, it makes each hit a meaningful threat to PC life
:: Some people don’t like Usage Dice (UD) mechanic, and they never will

Usage Dice (UD)
As I understand it, in the Black Hack you don’t track things like individual arrows. Instead, you use a ‘usage dice’ (UD). At the end of the relevant turn, you roll the UD: if you fail, you move down one UD, otherwise you keep the same/current UD.

So, if the UD is a D10 and you fail you move down to a UD = D8. This is repeated until you get to a D(minimum) e.g. D4. A fail on the D(minimum) means that the “resource” is used up.

Applying this to Hit Points
Why – who wants to track pesky Hit Points (HPs) anyway …?

More seriously, the thing that is most ‘fun’ (IMO) about UD is the uncertainty of when the ‘resource’ will expire. Adds a dash of tension.

Hopefully, it makes wounds more significant and so meaningful …

This idea tries to address these points. So:

  • No tracking individual HPs
  • Tension – will the PC progress a significant step to death on a successful hit
  • Each wound is significant; PCs of the same level can take the same number of significant wounds before death (except high level fighters and clerics, who I’ve given a bonus ‘fortitude D2 usage die’ to – think Boromir peppered with arrows and fighting on)

… and I also hope this would make combat a more scary option for players

The below table gives the UD and target number for each PC by class and level:

HP Usage Dice Table

This is so under/overpowered right?
Hopefully I’ve not screwed any of the maths up! Spreadsheets can go wrong!

I compared this UD system with HPs in AD&D for the classes over the levels.

Base-line: To do this, I worked out average HPs a PC would have based on HPs if rolled i.e. rules as written (RAW.HP)

I then brute force modeled in Excel (1000 runs) out how many successful ‘hits’ on average  would be needed to reduce a PC to death using this UD system, awarded 3.5 HPs per damaging hit (i.e. mimicking a DA=D6).

For example – a first level fighter has a D4 UD and needs 3+ to avoid damage (50;50). But if they pass they get another go. In theory they could avoid damage from 10 successive hits (but the probability is low). So I needed to add up all the little pieces.

Anyway … I basically worked out how many hits a PC would be able to take on average (over 1000 runs) and compared this to how many hits a ‘standard’ AD&D character (of the same class, with ‘average’ HPs, taking ‘average’ damage) could take:

Usage die for HP vs Normal HPs - how many hits can you take on average

If I’ve not made any mistakes … (???) … then this UD method is not far off the standard HP method on average.  There are a few blips, but no system is perfect.

So, other than having stark and unsettling jumps towards death, the UD system appears to track well enough to AD&D (on average).

In case anyone is interested, this is effectively the same sort of thing, but expressed as % compared to the AD&D base:

percentage of base

Small differences in ‘hit’s are magnified as % at lower levels.

Example of UD combat?
Belorgt is a 7th level fighter and is unwounded, so  use UD = D8, and to avert damage from a hitting blow they need to roll 6+ on the UD8.

So, a roll of 8 means the hitting blow is averted; so keep the same UD (6 : UD8)

However, a roll of 3 would mean a significant wound was received and they would move down one UD. They would now use UD of D6 and need 4+.

Another hit means the UD goes down to a D4, needing a 2+ to avoid a hitting blow.  Man, this is a bad day, it’s a 1! For a thief or magic-user this would be the end!

But, thankfully, Belorgt has deep reserves and can fight on despite 3 nasty wounds – however from now on it’s 50:50 if they get another blow!  The bonus ‘fortitude UD’ is a D2 and Belorgt needs a 2 every time (or an even roll)! The next failure means: incapacitation, mortally wounded, or death etc.

These PCs are too squishy
You’ve modeled against RAW HPs – I normally give PC extra HPs, and what about CON bonuses etc. Maybe just bump the UD up one level, so treat a 3rd Lv fighter as a 4th level fighter on the tables above etc.

Other things that I have not really thought through ….

Monsters
Perhaps progress as Fighters where HD = Lv
Or, as guidance on a UD monster system: adding more UD means they can take more wounds before death, lowering the target numbers makes them tougher.

Powerful attacks (e.g. breath weapons)
A fireball doing 6D6 might be considered 6 successful attacks each needing a UD save.
A giant’s tree club doing 2-12 = 2 successful hits, each needing a UD save?

Healing
Hrmmm …each ‘HD’ worth of healing restores one UD? I think that is probably too easy to revert the much larger effect of dropping down a usage die.

Or, perhaps better  – wounded PCs need to roll against current UD: a fail (I say fail because this reflects the symmetry of going up or down the UD from the current health position) and they jump back to the previous UD so a UD D4 jumps to a UD D6 etc. So if the UD is a D6 with a target of 5+, a roll of 1-4 from that position represents a change in the UD – so with healing it goes up one UD to a D8, and for a wound the UD goes down to a D4.

Perhaps, with a fail, as a consolation, the target number on the current UD is lowered by 1, e.g. so a 4+ on UD6 goes to a 3+ on UD6. So, this mimics powerful and milder healing.

Some damage wearing?
I’ve not done the maths  – but I suppose the target number could be eroded every time a successful hit is saved, but never more than the maximum number of the UD. So if the target number is 6+ on UD8 and a hit is made and a save is made using the UD, then the new target number becomes 7+ on UD8, if this happens again it’s 8 on UD8, if this happens again it remains 8 on UD8. A fail of course reverts to the UD6.

Levels 11+
I ran out of energy for those, but I see a D10 coming into play!

Constitution bonus
Option 1 – add the D2 UD bonus on at Lv1
Option 2  (which I prefer) – give the PC 1 or 2 ‘CON points’ to spend between full healing, the points can be ‘spent’ to nudge a just wound (fail) roll into a pass roll. So if you need a 4 on a D6 to avoid a wound and you roll a 3 you can spend a CON point to nudge the roll to a 4.

That’s it.

– – –

Me on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural:
:: High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea,
:: Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown,
:: Dungeon/network generator – In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous

QR kidding me ( ’tish-boom’ ) | QR code random room encounter table (… add your own?)

I made this recent post about using QR codes to make a random encounter table.

I thought it would be fun to take this a step further and make some random room encounters.

Ideally, it would be great if others could add rooms to the QR index and sort of make a living table with new rooms being added over time (to people do collaborative things anymore?).

At the very least here are 20 system neutral-ish fantasy dungeon non-balanced encounters that you could drop into your dungeon (or solo game). In some ways this table acts like a QR drop-die table. In this case your phone scans the table at random, (instead of a die landing on a picture).

Want to help build a QR Living Dungeon, then please go to: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/2/folders/1alkSwiib2kAHhJdb2PAj3sRjBuJHTNav

But, to see what you are getting (or just want some free stuff to vibe off), here are the (first?) 20 random room encounters I made:

20 QR random rooms

image_preview Get a better quality PDF version

:O)

– – –

Me on DriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural:
:: High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea,
:: Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown,
:: Dungeon/network generator – In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous

QR Codes – Random (OSE) Monster Table | Another oddball idea for you …

Drop die tables are interesting. How about a QR code version? Move your phone about, and pick a code at random with your camera to select a random output. Might be fun for solo adventures for a bit of additional drama?!

For the hell of it, I’ve made a Random (OSE) Monster Table. You could vary the size and/or the frequency of the codes in the table.

QR Capture bg

PDF

Other ideas: Make a map and instead of room descriptions add QR codes to each room linking to webpages that give the full room description etc.

– – –

Me on DriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural:
:: High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea,
:: Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown,
:: Dungeon/network generator – In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous

Insect Crawl | Procedural Method for Insect Colony Point Crawl

Update: When this blog was young, the below was posted as a blog ‘page’ and not as a blog ‘post’. I’ve deleted the ‘page’ and prefer to keep it on my blog as a blog post.

A template can be downloaded from here

This template is designed as a ‘point crawl’. The chambers and passages can be any shape or size, may go up, down or undulate.  The map can be imagined as seen from above (e.g. Example 1) or from the side, in profile (e.g. Example 2).

Method:

It should be fairly self explanatory from the template alone, but just for completeness:

(i) Template
Start with the template below (i.e. the colony has an entrance level + 4 Zones)

(ii) No. Chambers
Roll number of chambers in each Zone. The idea being that the monsters get tougher in the later zones.

(iii) No. Passages
Roll number of passages connecting the chambers, i.e. = No. of chambers + D5

(iv) No. Concealed Entrances
Roll number passageway entrances which are concealed (D12-10, i.e. uncommon)

(v) Join up the Dots
Join up the chambers using the number of passages

Colony Template

cte

– – –

Example 1 – Riverbank Giant Ant Colony (above view):

CE1b

The ‘faded’ circles are chamber not used from the template (e.g. Zone 2 only has 3 out the possible 5 chambers). These could be Tippexed out, or ignored.  Please also ignore the L and N, these are artefacts left over from another project! If you must know, these are where the colony connected to other systems.

– – –

Example 2 – Mound Giant Ant Colony (side view)
Note – This is the same as Example 1, but showing a different arranging of passages

CE2

– – –

Example 3 – Giant clay wasp nest clinging high up on a cave wall (side view)
Note – This example generated fewer chambers and one concealed entrance (shown in green)

CE3

Suggestions

:: Don’t get too hung up on the procedural ‘rules’, nothing will get broken
:: Start by making a path from the entrance to the Queen
:: Don’t make a path to the Queen that is a straight line (… boring!)
:: Don’t make it necessary to pass through every room to get to the Queen (… a drag)
:: Ensure there is more than one path that leads to the Queen (… more interesting)
:: Ensure the shortest path to the queen is not too long or too short – aim for 5 to 7 chambers

Random Encounters

The above is an off-shoot from a more complicated (probably a too complicated) project. If people are interested, then I’ll add some random tables!

Edit: For now you could use this Excel sheet to generate random encounters: Link
Preview:

Hengine

STR modifiers | Precise Strike -vs- Bludgeon Attack (options)

I was listening to the Wandering DMs podcast the other day. They were talking about STAT modifiers and how most STATs often have two associated (main) benefits. For example CHR stat might give a reaction adjustment and limit the number of henchman a PC can have etc.

It made me think about (in AD&D at least) how STR gives a ‘To Hit’ modifier and a ‘To Damage’ modifier, i.e.:

It made me wonder if there should be an option for a fighter to also have a precise strike option and a bludgeon attack option.  The idea is that the PC sacrifices power for precision or the other way round.

So the PC can use both bonuses in the above table, or they can choose to (i) double the To Hit bonus (and sacrifice the To Damage bonus) or (ii) add the To Hit bonus to the To Damage bonus (and sacrifice the To Hit bonus).

Example: a Fighter with 18/51 STR gets the above bonuses, or they can do a precise strike at +4 (with no damage bonus) or a bludgeon attack with no to hit bonus but at +5 damage.

So, if fighting something really stealthy/armoured a precise strike might be a good option; but fighting a huge slow moving blob, maybe maxing out the damage on an easy hit might be the way to go.

That’s it. Nothing special here, but these options might give the fighter a few more tricks to draw on.

– – –

InHotS the cover imageMe on DriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural:
:: High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea,
:: Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown,
:: Dungeon/network generator – In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous

‘D20/D21 bell curve’ | … strange things excite me!

… is it just me, or is this ‘D20 bell curve’ a thing of beauty:

D20 bell

Anydice.com use output ((d4+d8)-(d6+d6))+10

Made from: (D4+D8)-(2D6) +10 = range 0 to 20
Could also use 2D62D6+10 (view; but you need to colour code your dice, or something).
Edit: … or perhaps better still:  4D6-4

Yes, it really runs from 0 to 20, not 1 to 20 … but I still like it. So, it’s more of a ‘D21 bell curve’ really, but don’t spoil my day!

Is this something that everyone knows? If so, please tell me this kind of stuff already !!!

– – –

InHotS the cover imageMe on DriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural:
:: High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea,
:: Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown,
:: Dungeon/network generator – In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous

Large D6 dice pools | adding more swing with ‘harmonic’ equivalents

A while ago I posted this: Non-Homogenous Random Table and this on ‘split-dice‘ and even more here. The below builds on some of these ideas.

Content warning
If you are a mathematician the words I use below are bound to be formally inaccurate, sorry!  If you are sane, the below content is more than likely to be extraordinarily unnecessary, and probably useless, except perhaps in the most specific kinds of circumstances, sorry!

Thanks
Thank you anydice.com for making this lunacy possible (<– please consider donating to this great resource).

I did this thinking, and I decided to post it here in case anyone ever wonders about the same, at some point, and finds this post, however unlikely that might be …

Never to be deterred by a hopeless cause, I began to wonder about D6 bell curves using lots of D6s.

I think this began because I supposed that dice pool games using large dice pools sum all of these D6s, but upon reflection, I suspect that is not the case.

Anyway … I began to think that the result of summing lots of D6s would be boring because it’s bound to return mostly the same number, i.e. the peak area of the curve. So, how to add more ‘swing’ to the curve, but to retain the same overall range?

To cut a long story short, there are sort of “harmonics”, where you can (i) roll the same number of dice and (ii) the overall result range is the same, but (iii) where different groups of dice are rolled … these different sets give different probability profiles.

For example:

(i) Homogeneous D6 dice set (ii) ‘Harmonic’ equivalent  set Result range:
2D6 D8+D4 both give 2-12 and use 2 dice
3D6 D10+2D4 both give 3-18 and use 3 dice
4D6 D12+3D4 both give 4-24 and use 4 dice
8D6 D20+7D4 both give 8-48 and use 8 dice

The rub here is that using split dice (i.e. “harmonic” dice sets) give bell curves with more swing than a regular homogenous dice sets. The bigger the gap between the dice sizes in the non-homogeneous dice, the more swing there is. Below compares (i) D6 sets and (ii) their ‘harmonic’ dice set equivalents and (iii) overlapping the ends of (i) and (ii) for ease of comparison:

211

(i) Anydice: output 2d6 output 3d6 output 4d6 output 8d6

212

(ii) Anydice: output d8+d4 output d10+2d4 output d12+3d4  output d20+7d4

213

(iii) Anydice: output 2d6 output 8d6 output d8+d4 output d20+7d4

So, if you want to flatten a D6 bell curve, simply replace the number of dice with one of the non‑homogenous equivalents above.  I won’t bore you with more graphs (at least for now), but take my word for it, the biggest D-number you can introduce in the ‘harmonic dice set’,  the bigger the flattening effect. So, if you want to replace 8d6 with a ‘harmonic set’ equivalent you are better off using D20+7D4 rather than two sets of D12+3D4 (see table above for these ‘harmonic’ equivalents).

So, we have 2D6, 3D6, 4D6 and 8D6 covered (i.e. the rolls where there are ‘harmonic’ equivalents) – but what to do with 7D6? Good question. You could use D12+3D4 plus 3D6 (i.e. replacing the biggest harmonic set). You could even go on to replace the 3D6 part of D12+3D4 plus 3D6 with the harmonic set D10+2D4 (but this extra tweak adds little benefit).

But, there is an even stronger way to flatten the curve: use D20+7D4 and subtract D6. What we are doing here is going to the next largest ‘harmonic’ (equivalent to 8D6) – but to bring the dice range back into alignment with 7D6, we are subtracting a D6. Below shows this:  the top line is 7D6, the middle line is D12+3D4+3D6 (and D12+3D4+D10+2D4) and the bottom line is using this subtraction method:

311

Anydice: output 7d6 output d12+3d4+3d6 output d12+3d4+d10+2d4  output d20+7d4-d6.

In fact, this ‘subtraction’ method can be used even a few steps further backwards,  before it starts to give ‘wayward’ results. Here’s (i) homogeneous D6’s (ii) non-homogenous dice to replace the largest D6 set (iii) the D20+7D4 plus/minus D6s to give/restore the appropriate dice number:

411

(i) Anydice: output 2d6 output 3d6 output 4d6 output 5d6 output 6d6 output 7d6 output 8d6 output 9d6 output 10d6

412

(ii) Anydice: output d8+d4  output d10+2d4 output d12+3d4 output d12+3d4+d6 output d12+3d4+2d6 output d12+3d4+3d6 output 1d20+7d4 output 1d20+7d4+d6 output 1d20+7d4+2d6

413

(iii) Anydice: output d20+7d4-6d6 output d20+7d4-5d6 output d20+7d4-4d6 output d20+7d4-3d6 output d20+7d4-2d6 output d20+7d4-d6  output 1d20+7d4 output 1d20+7d4+d6  output 1d20+7d4+2d6

Basically, the D20+7D4 plus/minus D6s is the strongest way to flatten the curve, but (obviously) is quite complex, and after subtracting more than 2 or 3 D6s starts to give results that extend beyond the normal range and/or can give a negative number, i.e.:

d20+7d4 plus/minus D6s method In place of: % Exceeds end ranges
(doubled to cover both ends)
% which is Zero or less  
output d20+7d4-6d6

output d20+7d4-5d6

output d20+7d4-4d6

output d20+7d4-3d6

output d20+7d4-2d6

output d20+7d4-d6

output 1d20+7d4

output 1d20+7d4+d6

output 1d20+7d4+2d6

2D6

3D6

4D6

5D6

6D6

7D6

8D6

9D6

10D6

25.16    (50.32)

15.46    (30.92)

7.84      (15.68)

2.89      (5.78)

0.6        (1.2)

0.04      (0.08)

21.26

9.65

2.83

0.37

0.01

So you can subtract about 3D6s before the subtraction method gives an appreciable chance that a result will extend beyond the normal range, or give a number zero or less

The big picture is you can start from a bigger ‘harmonic’ set and subtract one or more D6s, as opposed to starting from a smaller harmonic and adding one or more D6s … if you can tolerate all the mathematical jiggery-pokery that is!  Phew.

A final piece of craziness, sort of building on this idea – if you’ve ever wanted a D100 bell curve, well you could try 5D20-20D10+108!

511

Anydice: output (5d20-20d10)+108

This curve is centred between 50 and 51 and the chance of exceeding 100 or being below 0 is 0.25% each way.

Did you really read all that? Well take a Chuffty Badge you lunatic!

One day, this might be of interest to someone!

– – –

InHotS the cover imageMe on DriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural:
:: High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea,
:: Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown,
:: Dungeon/network generator – In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous

Wrong doubles | using 2D6 ‘side double’

Sometimes I see a 2D6 random table which includes a rule about doubles; usually if the two top faces are a double (i.e. the same number) then something unusual happens, e.g. a wildcard event.

Snake_eyes_with_Chinese_dice

What I don’t especially like about these ‘double’ rules is that these ‘doubles’ don’t feel independent of the main result. For example, ‘snake eyes’ or a double 6 are usually the worst and best result and always a double. So, you can’t get a ‘snake eyes’ without triggering the wildcard event. And maybe that’s OK.

Suggestion
… but, here’s a suggestion … roll the 2D6 (as normal) but also pinch the dice together so two faces kiss. Then look at the two faces that are opposite the kissing faces. If those opposite faces are a double, then trigger the wild card.

These ‘side doubles’ are more or less independent of the main result on the top faces, i.e. about 1 in 6* (although if the top faces are a double, then the probability rises (I believe) to 1 in 4, which seems app to my mind).

* For reference, in case it is not obvious, ignoring the side faces, getting a double on the top faces is 1 in 6.

‘Side double’ example:
If the below 2D6 are brought together (along the yellow arrows) such that the two faces are kissing. Then, the faces opposite the kissing faces are a ‘side double’, i.e. a ‘double 2’ (pink arrows). In this case it is just happenstance that the top faces are also a double (snake eyes).

kissing 2D6

This idea has its roots in this blog post: http://tarsostheorem.blogspot.com/2020/04/dice-are-statblocks.html

More on the maths
Please see: https://discourse.osrrpg.com/t/wrong-doubles-using-2d6-side-double/1136

– – –

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Hexing that alignment grid

More on Hex Flower design – please see my Hex Flower Cookbook

Related to a side project (out next year …); but also mainly for fun:

7F34D614-F6BD-4EDB-8BBA-C7BB103981DA

Blocks of good and evil and the yin-yangs of law and chaos …

– – –

Me on DriveThru. At the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural dungeon generator using Hex Flower game engines: In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous. It’s PWYW and close to being ‘Silver Best Seller’ on DriveThru.

Simple-ish Chase Mechanic | 2D6 race to a target

TL:DR: A simple-ish chase mechanic using 2D6 / 3D6. Not fully thought through, and I suspect something like this has been done before … ?

Pursuit_of_a_ship..._Wellcome_L0049890

Relative separation of parties
Determine the initial relative separation separating the parties (between 2 to 12):  if this is a random encounter, roll 2D6 to set the relative separation. The ‘separation’ could be nautical miles, 10s of feet or perhaps even bar stools in a tavern! 

The two outcomes

:: 2 (or less) = caught / on top of each other
:: 12 (+) = escaped / far away

The chase
Each turn determine if the relative separation between the parties increases or decreases. To do this, roll 2D6:

:: if the roll is below the current relative separation, the separation increases by 2 units;
:: else the current relative separation decreases by 2 units (i.e. the parties get closer);
:: optionally, a tied roll means the relative separation stays the same

Repeat until the ‘caught’ or ‘escaped’ result is obtained.

Speed
One party might be faster than the other, if so roll 3D6 (instead of the 2D6 above):

:: if the pursuer is faster, select the highest 2 rolls;
:: if the fleer is faster, select the lowest 2 rolls

This is effectively an ‘advantage/disadvantage’ mechanic.

Conditions
Conditions, like wind speed, could come into play (e.g. a row ship chasing a sail ship). If so, perhaps add a +/- 1 modifier.

– – –

Me on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural:
:: High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea,
:: Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown,
:: Dungeon/network generator – In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous