Archive for the ‘Game bits’ Category

So for the first time, I get to play Dungeon World as opposed to running it. Naturally, this meant that I had about five classes I wanted to play. I settled on the Barbarianand I’m not gonna lie: I love this dude. So much that I’m emulating that most horrific of gamer habits — “Let me tell you about my character!” — in blog form. Also, anything in bold below is an actual element I had to choose off of the character sheet, Because Dungeon World is awesome like that.

My barbarian’s name is Sen Bonebreaker. Casting-wise, he’s played by Jason Momoa, rocking a haircut that’s somewhat Drogo-ish, but less kempt and more similar to that of the Ragnar dude from Vikings.

Sen hails from Lemuria, an island that is staggeringly advanced both technologically and magically. It’s also somewhat sterile and passionless, and has cut itself off from the rest of the world for millennia. Wild-eyed Sen never quite fit in, and when he responded to losing an intellectual debate by breaking the nose of his opponent, his people finally chose to exile him to the savage world beyond their shores (i.e. the somewhat more traditional fantasy world wherein the game is set). He was cast out naked, with only the mighty thews granted by his culture’s advanced biomagitech to protect him, so in the decade he’s wandered the world he’s taken to wearing whatever scavenged clothes he can find, while occasionally stopping to teach others the ways of his people. (Sadly, he’s not exactly a great teacher, so it’s usually more along the lines of him shouting at them to stop shitting in the same river they use for drinking water.)

Sen’s other notable feature is what most perceive to be a collection of strange tattoos, but what is in reality a subcutaneous nano-pigmentation system that alters color and shape depending on Sen’s whim, and is a key component of his homeland’s language. It’s why his people didn’t remove the “tattoos:” doing so would’ve been considered a profound mutilation, on par with tearing out his tongue. They did, however, cause a single glyph to be permanently displayed on his forehead: the glyph for “EXILE”. To those around him it seems no more than an odd affectation, but to any Lemurian it’s as if he’s perpetually shouting his status at the top of his lungs.

Sen has spent most of his exile wandering and searching out mortal pleasures, fame, and glory, all of which he considers his due, and none of which bring any real amount of responsibility. He’s lately taken up with Tharkay the elvish battlemaster, Jax the slayer, and Marlow the thief, and has found a strange sense of kinship with them. Glory awaits.

If I get to play Sen long enough, I may end up taking the For The Blood God move, and having the entity in question be some kind of Lemurian blood-borne AI. In any case, I’m very much anticipating the first real session of play.


I’ve been running Dungeon World for a few friends recently, and we played our second session on Friday. This meant that, in preparation for the session, I needed to write up a campaign front and an adventure front.

And as prep goes, the process was straightforward and evocative: I was able to easily come up with material that was fantastic (in content and possibly quality) and useful at the table. The importance of the latter bit cannot be overemphasized.

For example, I almost skipped the bit about coming up with custom moves. I mean, it was only our second session, right? But I went ahead and made three of them, and not only was it nowhere near as difficult as I’d feared, but all three got used. And damn, did they enhance the game.

Here they are, with some commentary on how they showed up in play.

When you slay the goblin king and there are other goblins about, roll +STR or +CHA.

On a 7-9, pick one:

  • They flee.
  • Enough stay to give you three answers about the dungeon, but the others swear revenge.

On a 10+, they declare you their new king.

Our Fighter, Hawke, is now in fact the new Goblin King. After the adventure, hee rolled into town with a dozen of the little oddly loyal bastards in tow.


When you are poisoned by the drow swordmaster, roll +CON.

On a 7-9, choose two:

  • You don’t take damage.
  • You don’t have to Defy Danger to take an action.
  • The damage from the poison doesn’t ramp up. (Starts at d4, caps at d10.)

On a 10+, you can either act normally and remain poisoned, or shake off the poison and choose one from the 7-9 list.

Both Hawke and Jack the Thief got poisoned, but luckily for them the drow was a cooling corpse by the time they needed to roll. Unfortunately for me, I misread my own 10+ result, and told Hawke to choose two, which makes no sense at all. Ah, well. Overall, though, I like this one, and will tuck it away in case they tangle with drow again.


When you pick up the Vision of Io, you know its name. Roll +WIS.

On a 10+, you treat it as you would any highly valuable object.
On a 7-9, hold 3. Hold can be spent, one-for-one, to:

  • Let someone else handle the Vision.
  • Ignore one of the Vision’s commands.
  • Take +1 forward when following one of the Vision’s commands.

When you follow one of the Vision’s commands, mark XP and roll this again.

Jack snagged the Vision — a small crystal orb — and made her first roll, but unfortunately for her it gave a command that went with her own instincts: “Don’t tell anyone you have me.” She did so, which prompted another roll which she totally failed. Thus, she’s now hiding the thing from her party members, and the next command will be irresistible.


I’m a bit disappointed that our Cleric, Blossom, didn’t get to interact with these. But then, she got a ton of information about the history of her religion, and she just openly declared her faith — and her willingness to help petitioners — to the entire artifact-fueled boomtown of Gnaw’s Edge. So I think everybody’s life will be interesting enough for at least a few more sessions.

And pretty much the entirety of the adventure front, and a good chunk of the campaign front, came out at the table. But in total, I’m sure it took me far less than an hour to write up both of them, and create Gnaw’s Edge using the Steading rules. (The town is so named because it’s built into the side of the crater that marks the ruins of a great Arkhosian city, destroyed in their war with Bael Turath. The crater is a mile wide, a mile deep, and is quite obviously a single, gigantic bite taken out of the surface of the planet. When the Turathi summoned a magical weapon of mass destruction, they did not fuck around.)

I’m loving this game.

Technoir is a game that’s really gotten its hooks into my brainmeats lately.* Considering its subject matter adapting it to do Shadowrun seems almost too obvious, but that’s not stopping me.

First off, we need a verb for spellcasting. CAST just doesn’t do it for me; SLING is tempting, but I’m not sure the slang is right. Maybe just MAGIC? It’s arguably a verb. Whatever you call it, though, it covers spell use and spell resistance, like other verbs.

Metahumanity is just a series of training programs. You’re a Dwarf? You get FIGHT, OPERATE and DETECT, plus your choice of adjectives like stocky, canny and gruff. (Or some such; I haven’t worked out the exact lists yet.) These would be restricted such that, while you can take the same Metahuman program twice, you can’t take two different Metahuman programs.

Spells are Objects, purchased as such and with appropriate tags. Cheaper spells work like guns and armor, more expensive ones like cyberware. There is magical splicing, for when you need to ramp up your nervous system with eldritch speed. Wherever possible, you’d use the extant “backend” for the mechanics, and re-skin for a more supernatural flavor; the kinds of adjectives you can inflict or bestow will go a long way, here.

Spirits, elementals, and totems are Connections. They’ve got their own agendas, but they’re glad to teach you spells or make your skin bulletproof for a price. Like Spells, spirit and totem favors would have a more otherworldly flavor: they Deal for momentary charms and hexes, Fix you up with new spells, Splice magic into your flesh, and give you Rides through secret and arcane paths.** What I dig about this is that the way Connections work means your spirits and totems are likely to get wrapped up in the plot along with your PCs.

It’s a start, anyway. I’d like to play Technoir straight up once, before hacking it. But this stuff was burning a hole in my synapses and its safer here, I think, until I can find a way to use it.


* That link’s to the Kickstarter, this one’s to the beta test documents; the Player’s Guide probably provides the best primer to the terminology used in this post.

**  Gods help you if you decide to Date one.

Because that’s what I’ve got on an early Saturday morning.

Enjoy the weekend, y’all.

I’m presenting this here for comment and peer review.

One of the PCs — a paladin of Erathis, let’s say — has gotten themselves into a fix. Somehow*, they’ve gotten separated from their party and surrounded by bad guys with ill intent. Orcs, for example. Luckily, they’ve got a magical horn or other means of letting their friends know they’re in trouble. The question is, will said friends get there in time to do anything other than mourn?

Here’s how it plays out:

Set up the battle-map with the lone PC facing down a bunch of minions, four for each PC currently running to help. (So if there are four total PCs in the party, twelve minions works). Roll initiative for everyone: all PCs, plus the minions, plus three more (see below).

For the lone PC and the minions, play the battle out as normal. For the other PCs, on their turn they each have to work their way through their own private Complexity 1 skill challenge to determine if they get to their friend’s side, and how long it takes them. Be pretty flexibile with which skills they use, with two restrictions:

  • Each character can only use a given skill twice.
  • By the gods, they describe what they’re doing. It should fit into the setting of the scene, be it woods, deserts, a crowded city, etc.

The specifics of the challenge are as follows:

  • Four successes from a PC gets them to the battle, going on their turn next round.
  • Three failures means they don’t get there until after the fight’s done. (They can use the downtime composing eulogies.)
  • Each of the first two failures should also result in either a -2 to their next check, or the loss of a healing surge. Use whichever fits the description of the skill check better.
  • Aid Another is allowed, but since each character’s dealing with their own skill challenge and time is of the essence, it’s not the best idea. However, when a PC rolls a success, they have the option (with appropriate description) to give their success to another PC. So if the dwarf fighter succeeds, but thinks it’d be better for the elf ranger or human warlord to get on the scene first, he can use that success to move that along; the dwarf doesn’t get a failure, but it’s gonna take him longer to get there. The recipient, in turn, will likely arrive sooner.

And here’s why that matters:

  • In round 5, two standard monsters** arrive on the scene to back up the minions.
  • In round 6, their boss (an elite) arrives to mop up. If the lone PCs’ friends haven’t arrived yet, things are gonna get ugly.

Be sure to use the MM to your advantage here and bring some fun new bad guy abilities into play with these three. After round six you’ll probably know who made it to the dance and who didn’t, so the fight itself needs to be interesting.

Obviously wrinkles may develop. If the PC eliminates the minions before their friends or the new baddies arrive, let them take an action or two to prepare for both sets of reinforcements. If the PC drops before friends arrive, I’m always of the opinion that a dying (but savable) PC is more interesting than a dead one. Some disagree, and some like to have it both ways. Do what works for your table.

In any case, this encounter has the potential to be very, very rough: for a party of four, we’re talking the equivalent of seven standard monsters, plus the skill challenge. It can obviously be tweaked to be less — or gods help them, more — deadly, but there’s some precedent to making this kind of thing a major turning point in a game.

* And let’s be honest: it’s probably because they did something foolish that they thought would be in the best interest of their god, their civilization, their city, or some such. You know the type.
** These are the folks you were rolling initiative for back at the start of the scuffle. I always get a special kind of joy from openly telling the player in charge of the initiative list to include unknown bad guys in the order. It gets everyone at the table so excited.