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. 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Initiative Junk

I've spent some time over the last week working on the Birthright adventure module and Urban Arcana, but also cranked out some stuff based on various discussions I've had with people regarding initiative. As many know, it was a hot topic in the D&D fanbase a couple months ago when Mike Mearls put out his Greyhawk Initiative variant. I'm personally not a fan of it, but whatever works at your table is fine.

I've fired a few ideas at the wall here, and there will also be a link up on the Completed Projects sidebar (see its new location on the right side). Neither has been road-tested yet, and both are inspired by other endeavors.  Counting Initiative is based off an idea presented by the 2nd Edition of Hackmaster, which goes into frankly absurd levels of articulation that are not well-suited to a 5E table. Group Initiative is just an update of old D&D rules, and I'm hardly the first person to suggest it.

Really, this packet is something I put together for my groups as an easy reference, but figured they could be useful as a discussion piece. I wanted to run some sessions for testing these at some point. Counting Initiative in particular seems like it could be troublesome in a lot of ways, particularly as it relates to tracking spell durations (something 5E has thus far avoided apart from "concentration" and "start/end of next turn"). Spells with such durations would basically be added to the initiative count under this system and "tick" every time their number comes up.

Group Initiative is the simplest and least intrusive, and probably the way I'd actually suggest groups do things to keep the moment-to-moment activity going. It would suck if you have a group that can't decide what it wants to do on the best of days, though.

Anyway, have fun with it. Constructive feedback is welcome.