The Party as a Mirror for the world

I ran into an interesting phenomenon when running my bi-weekly Infinity: The Roleplaying Game. The game itself was a kickstarter and is currently shipping (check out the quickstart), though that’s not what this post is about.

By default, in the Infinity RPG, characters come from very different backgrounds, from the hyper-capitalist hyperpower PanOceania or the Neo-Anarchist megaships of the Nomad Nation to the rugged backwater nations of Ariadne or the cloning vats of Aleph, humanity’s sole AI. However, as per the standard design of the game, the characters will be working together in a supra-national team, usually dealing with crises that threaten the stability of humanity as a whole. This of course results in wildly different personalities and loyalties, something the game loves to play with. You see, there’s a layer placed on top of the normal special operations, diplomatic wrangling and rooting out alien infiltrators that the game usually deals with.

Get down john connor!
Just a normal day in the life of an Infinity character.

Every character has a handler (or more) that represents the interests of the nation state they ostensibly are loyal to. These handlers will provide side-missions to the character and that character alone. And that is where it gets interesting.

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Checks, Saves and Rolls: When?

No post on my homebrew system this week. That has been shelved for a few weeks until I can get a proper writeup of the system as it stands done.

Instead, this week, I’m going to try and answer a question that has plagued roleplaying games since the dawn of time: When to roll dice?

“Roll for initiative, suckaz!” – Tiny Tina, Borderlands 2

You might think this an easy question to answer.. After all, most systems spell out explicitly what to roll dice for and when. That is, until you start reading a little more into them and you find out that everything’s not quite so cut and dry.

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[Homebrew] Bye Bye Twelve-Sided Die

Last week I talked about my ideas for an stat system for the RPG I’m designing. Since then, I’ve talked to a few people about my ideas and I’ve had a proper think on the subject. I ended up doing some mock rolls and firing up the old spreadsheet to get an idea of the probabilities and as it turns out, it’s not really workable. If you’re interested in the process, you can see some of my notes here.

A sad D12
Pictured, a D-12 after learning they would not be used in a roll-under system.

What I ended up realizing is that for a roll-under system like what I had in mind, good old D12 just doesn’t have the range necessary to be a good fit for a roll-under system. The delta between a 50-50 chance and nearly impossible to fail is only 6 points and given that I want characters to at least feel competent, that puts the range of stats characters can have in a very narrow band.

So, keep what I learned, throw everything else under the bus and start over. I suspect that will become a theme as I write this system. Come up with an idea, give it a test and then chuck it out for sucking. So on to idea v0.2

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Muscled fighters and brainy wizards [Homebrew]

Much like we talked about a few weeks ago and the week before┬áthis week, we’ll be talking about homebrew game systems. Specifically, about a system I’m designing myself. Last time, I figured out more or less what I want a basic combat cycle to look like.

However, I have no way to test if it’s any good without some dice to roll and stats to roll then against. So that’s what I’ll be trying to figure out today. In my system, what makes a wizard smart, what makes a fighter strong, what makes my fighter stronger than your fighter.

Warrior, Mage, Rogue! The triforce of adventuring parties.
Warrior, Mage, Rogue! The triforce of adventuring parties.

That’s right, we’re talking stats today, gentlefolk. Strap in, it’s going to be a wild ride.

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The Hands of Tenzin

This week, i’m trying something different. I’ll be doing a writeup of a class variant for my own D&D 5e game. One of the characters is (was) a member of an exclusive sect so it seems only fitting that they’d get a unique class variant.

And as an added bonus, I get to use these sweet powers for my adversaries, her former sisters in arms, when they inevitably come for her.

Images of a tree in four seasons.
Four seasons, Four hands, Four elemental domains. Man, this Tenzin guy sure likes his fours.

A bit of backstory on these ladies (and rarely men). The Hands of Tenzin are a group of spellcasters who serve the king of Aracea. They are responsible for keeping the magical energies of the world in check and as representatives of the god Tenzin, are expected to guide the seasons where neccesary.

Everything clear? Cool, let’s dig in.

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Combat Cycles [Homebrew]

Last week I talked about wanting to run a specific kind of system that doesn’t seem to exist yet and why I would be building a new system to accommodate my white whale of a playstyle.

This week, I’ll be taking a closer look at an actual combat encounter, how I’d like it to play out and how that might work mechanically. But first, I’m adding something to my set of guidelines.

A picture of a 12-sided die.
Poor, underused D12. You’ll get your time in the sun.

– I’d like for my system to use a D12 as its primary die.

Why the D12? because the poor D12 is criminally underused and I like the way it looks, that’s why. On to the rules crafting.

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Homebrewing thoughts

For this week, I thought I’d do something entirely different. For the last 25 or so post, I’ve talked about how to run existing games, how to deal with players and topics in specific ways and what sorts of tools you might have in your belt.

Home brewing ingredients
No, not that kind of homebrew.

This week, I’m doing something entirely new. I’ll be talking about home-brewing and house rules. Not in abstract way or from a meta perspective. No, I’m going to try and present you with some thoughts I’ve had on a combat system. It’s not complete or even compatible with most games but I figured it would be a fun write-up and possibly a fun read.

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So you’ve given the predator stats

Aka, If it bleeds, we can kill it!

(i recommend putting this clip on in the background.)

Imagine the following.
Your party is being stalked by some unseen foe that has just managed to decimate an entire village and its fighting force with some fiery form of magic missile. This ‘wizard’ is an absolute beast in hand to hand combat and it has managed to stay invisible throughout the entire ordeal. Having a seemingly impossible acrobatics skill and perhaps even multi classing a few levels in monk for having such an impeccable physique. Earlier when you tried to find this person, they manged to trick you using a form of ghost sound to mimic the parties cleric. A master of multi attack, fist weapons, staves, glaives…..throwing weapons like stars, chakrams, nets, daggers and traps that not even your base 14 perception and survival combined would pick up. Seemingly leaving no trace in the wild, so perhaps also having a class in druid or ranger, though the sheer amount of strength and knowledge of weaponry would suggest a fighter or a barbarian.

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Custom GM tools

Last week we talked about the standard tools in a GM’s metaphorical toolkit. This week I want to touch upon two additional tools for your belt, though these take a bit more work to get set up and are a lot more specific to your game.

A world map
A map of one of my game worlds, lovingly illustrated by one of my players. The lines depict travel for the first quarter of the campaign.

This means they’re not nearly as portable as the good old ‘use a notebook’ but when used properly, they can have a huge impact on your games. The two tools I’m talking about are custom character sheets and world visualization tools.

Let’s dig in.

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