Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Print Friendly Versions of Conversion Docs

The sidebar now has a link to a separate Google Docs folder that contains printer-friendly versions of conversion docs, created upon request. While only my Birthright 5E Revised exists in a format easily cleaned of its background parchment texture, the others were still built in GM Binder and thus I applied a style to it that stripped out the parchment background.

Formatting should be maintained, but please let me know if they look squirrely in any way.

May your dice always critically hit.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Birthright 5E Revised

Whew! Hi, I'm alive! I've been busy the last couple months working on this. I hope you enjoy.

It should be accessible via this link or in the sidebar; it connects to the old version and overwrites it entirely. The change list is enormous and I didn't keep track of every little thing I tweaked, but the gist is as follows:
  • Rebalanced all races/ancestries.
  • Reworked all blood abilities and derivation passives in a sweeping and complete fashion to make them easier to understand and have fewer flat-out bad choices.
  • Revised a number of domain actions.
  • Allowed both RP and GB to contribute toward bonus success chance.
  • Clarified terminologies across the board.
  • Renamed some confusing terms.
  • Reworked languages that were erroneously referenced; who knew that my boxed copy was missing that card?
  • Cleaned up Garradalaigh patron warlock (and removed erroneous references to the term "pact").
  • Fixed up plenty of errors in the Waging War section.
  • Added provisos for attacking holdings in your own territory (since that uh, came up... don't ask).
  • Added a new section for optional mechanics, which for now includes Tournament game rules; archery, jousting, melee, and racing are included here and kept fairly abstract for quick resolution.
  • Added more campaign options and optional rules for how playtest parties played the game.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Sidebar Links Update

Short update to say that I've moved over all GM Binder sidebar links into Google Docs. I was hoping to save a step of saving/reformatting every time I made a change and then maintaining a separate upload, but browser and OS inconsistencies producing undesirable errors were proving frustrating to troubleshoot.

The good news is that the direct links to PDFs should avoid most of that, even though my layouts aren't exactly what I'd call professional -- I'm a writer and designer by trade, not a layout guru.

Anyway, if you see buggered up stuff, let me know in the comments and I can see about addressing it. I believe everything should be kosher with those links now.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Playtest Post-Mortem: Marsupialmancer's Initiative

I'm not a flake, you're a flake. Nuh uh, shut up.

Yesterday, on the evening of Memorial Day, I roped a few friends into Roll20 to do some live-fire testing of my homebrewed initiative rules (you can download them on the sidebar, or get them directly here). Note that this linked version includes changes made by virtue of this playtest, broken down below.

We focused primarily on Counting Initiative, which I was the most fond of, but feared the complexities it would introduce. Three combats of varying difficulty, player count, and monster count helped me give the system a shake down that was much better than my internal playtesting.

The playtest characters were all third level, and consisted of players from all levels of experience with 5th Edition and RPGs in general. At least one had never played 5th Edition before last night, but had plenty of experience with 1st and 2nd Edition as well as some other fantasy RPGs. Several were extremely experienced and I could rely on to break the system over their knee.

For clarity, the pregenerated characters I gave them were a human (variant) champion fighter, a mountain dwarf berserker barbarian, a half-elf lore bard, a human (variant) thief rogue, and a halfling (lightfoot, but reflavored as kender) hunter ranger.

The results were very promising.

As a quick TL;DR, Counting Initiative is designed to give players a little more tactical fidelity if they don't have to or want to take every conceivable action available to them. When rolling initiative, you roll a single d6 and add no modifiers (Dex-focused characters already get a whole lot, so while this does devalue Dex, I didn't think it was too awful). Operating under the six second round paradigm, the system assumes that a bonus action, a regular action, and a move counted for six ticks making up a round. Thus, if you took all three of those, your initiative count advanced by six.

However, if you didn't want to move, for example, you only took the Attack action while standing toe to toe with a monster. Thus, you only move up three ticks in the count. You can go again when the count reaches your current count plus three.

There's a handy-dandy chart. Since most DMs I know do their own turn tracking, this didn't cause players to do any more mathing than they usually did unless they wanted to optimize their actions.

Example: Aspira the Aspirant rolls for initiative and gets a 3. The DM rolls for the monsters, who get a 5. Aspira is first in the combat, and acts on count 3. She moves to close the distance (2), and uses the Attack action (3). Her count moves to 8, and when 8 happens, she goes again. 
On count 5, the monsters act. Under Counting Initiative, all monster turns take six ticks regardless of what they do, to save DM headache. At the end of their turn, the monsters' next action is on count 11.
On count 8, Aspira goes again. She uses the Attack action to fell her current opponent (3), moves to the next in line (2), and uses Second Wind as a bonus action to heal some damage suffered from the monsters' attacks (1). Thus, her count advances to 14.

I was really worried this would introduce a lot of complications to the battles, but it ended up playing out very elegantly. The players correctly cited some intended effects; turreting or standing and swinging made you go more often, while movement and using extra actions slowed you down. Dual wielding weapons, by virtue of requiring a bonus action, helped provide some more incentive to wielding a two-handed weapon (less chances to crit, can suffer from whiffs a lot harder -- I know about Great Weapon Mastery, so give me a bit to get to that).

Readiness -- that is, the act of being able to use bonus actions and reactions -- ended up playing out quite smoothly as well, so players couldn't just spam 1 count bonus actions every tick of the combat. That is, you had to take any action before reactions and bonus actions were "ready" again -- even movement wasn't enough.

That said, it wasn't all wine and roses. The system has some bumps that need to be ironed out.

Firstly, ranged characters that were amply protected and did not need to move could be murderous turrets. Acting every three ticks can set up situations where you go twice before the monsters go again. When paired with feats like Sharpshooter and certain class abilities, archers could become extremely deadly. Melee didn't feel quite as scary here because they already tend to be at the most risk, being up in the face of monsters trying to claw their faces off.

Regarding Great Weapon Master fighters, my impetus for not rating them as high on the per-tick deadliness scale as a comparable Sharpshooter archer is due to needing to move to close to new targets. The archer can turret if not given pressure to relocate, whereas the frothing barbarian needs to wade through a sea of blood and steel to get to the next victim of the hewing greataxe.

Since the system already assumes that cantrips are 3 tick actions, and other spells are 4 tick actions, it felt logical to change it so melee attacks are 3 tick actions and ranged attacks are 4 tick actions. There's a bit of necessary aiming involved, so narratively it at least made some sense.

Second, monsters were too slow. Waiting 6 ticks to go again exacerbated some of the doubling, but I didn't want non-Legendary monsters to involve piles of disparate turn tracking when there were more than a couple monsters on the board. Thus, after a bit of throwing spaghetti at the wall, I think the comfortable magic number is 5. This would also be modified by certain creatures who are traditionally associated with being extremely quick (like some small fey, or kobolds) act every 4 ticks.

Third, small movements felt too punishing. The dreaded specter of the five foot step (or shifting, for 4th Edition alumni) reared its ugly head. Rather than provide a sliding scale of movement cost, it's probably simplest to have movement of only five feet cost 1 tick, while anything greater (including standing up from prone) to cost 2.

This also might lead to a slight buff of the Athlete feat, where by virtue of rules-as-written it would decrease the cost of standing up from prone to a 1 tick action (Athlete, among other things, allowing you to stand up from prone using only 5 feet of movement rather than half).

The playtest also did not adequately test spell durations and start/end of next turn effects. I would want round two of testing, with the above changes, to involve a bit of that for more rigorous review.

All in all, this was a huge success as far as the playtesting went. I am eager to see what comes next.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Moving stuff over to GM Binder

I've been made aware that Homebrewery is no longer supported and my stuff could disappear any day. Thus, I've moved everything over to GM Binder, the tool created to carry the torch in Homebrewery's wake.

Old links in archived entries will probably still point to Homebrewery until such time as it kicks the bucket. I will NOT be going through to update those because the sidebar has all the up to date links. If you note formatting issues, let me know! Keep in mind GM Binder, like Homebrewery, works best in Chrome.

If all else fails, you should be able to grab a PDF of it from the link provided.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Tools, Crafting, and Research Rules

I emerge from the tomb of ages to supply you with a thing made for my homebrew setting games, but which might have use in your own material.

(I'm not dead, just blasted with a million things to do. Urban Arcana and the adventure module are still in progress.)

Enjoy it here, constructive critique is welcome. I'm certain I retread some ideas explored elsewhere.

As it relates to some potentially-unclear things:

  • I use an injury track system in my homebrew, which is what the tonics that cooking produces are meant to help with.
  • The "based on product" values for the potions and magic oils use a chart I have in my DM guide for the setting, but can generally be spitballed as 1/4 the cost of the potion/oil on the open market.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Urban Arcana: Tools of the Trade

This one'll be short, it's been a hectic week in the game dev mines.

The section on modern tools is somewhat harder to design than I expected. We have a lot of crap that we mess with from day to day, and picking and choosing what qualifies as an actual tool proficiency is difficult at best. Still, I think I was able to narrow it down to a few categories to start, with leave to shrink and grow as needed.

Still, there's a huge gulf of knowledge between a layperson and a true master with a given tool, so I felt the length and breadth of modern tool knowledge should also have associated augmentation. As always, first drafts, feedback is welcome, et cetera, ad nauseum.

Cars, vans, and small trucks are included under this category. Alternately, you can be proficient in driving motorcycles and other similar equipment. Most people can drive a car with minimal training, so this proficiency includes practiced handling, diagnosing simple issues, and performing minor maintenance such as changing the oil or testing the battery. 
The real marvel of the modern world, computers control almost every aspect of our daily lives. Though anybody can use basic functions of a computer, actual proficiency includes diagnosing issues, installing or replacing hardware, basic coding, and realizing that the median state of an Internet browser is not a sliver of window beneath a dozen malware toolbars. 
Heavy/Construction Equipment
While a layperson might not know the difference between a backhoe and a bulldozer, a person with this proficiency can correctly spot and operate most common construction equipment. You are also trained in the operation and handling of large hauling equipment, from semi trucks to heavy machine transports. This proficiency is separate from automobiles due to the vast difference in handling requirements, as well as the specialized training that goes into operating the mechanisms associated with the vehicle. 
Small Aircraft
With this proficiency, you are capable of piloting simple small aircraft such as a prop plane or a weather chopper, as well as perform minor maintenance. You also understand the assocaited flight jargon and can communicate with air traffic control to help direct aircraft. 
Small Naval Craft
This proficiency includes everything from marsh boats and speed boats to small sailing ships. You can articulate nautical charts and perform basic navigation, as well as help guide other vessels into or out of harbor. You do not require this proficiency to use basic water craft, such as jet skis or the like.

To facilitate greater understanding, I've also created a feat to go along with it.

Advanced Training

Prerequisite: One modern tool proficiency 
Effect: You increase your Intelligence score by 1. You choose one modern tool with which you are proficient. You are considered a master with that tool and can operate equipment with a greater learning curve or with restricted access. 
Automobile mastery allows you to either drive extreme performance vehicles or understand advanced mechanics. You will require mechanics' tools to perform standard jobs, or a facility with appropriate lifts to perform advanced repairs and upgrades. 
Computer mastery allows you to perform feats of hacking and hardware modification. You must have access to appropriate programs, platforms, and connections in order to hack into devices. 
Heavy/construction mastery allows you to either coordinate and manage large construction or transportation projects for large organizations, or to understand heavy machine mechanics. You will require appropriate tools and facilities to perform associated repairs. 
Small aircraft mastery allows you to operate advanced aerial vehicles such as passenger planes. Alternately, this mastery can give you the knowledge to operate military aircraft. 
Small naval craft mastery gives you the knowledge required to fashion your own water craft given tools and materials, as well as navigate by primitive means.