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Just want to remind everyone that I'm doing posting at blogger now instead of livejournal. Keeping two places up at once was a bit irksome, so I picked one.

Here's the link to my Blog.

I'll keep this place open and perhaps post a thing or two every now and then as a back-up were something to happen at Blogspot.


Advanced Adventures #14: The Verdant Vault of Malakum out

Advanced Adventures #14: The Verdant Vault of Malakum is An OSRIC(tm) module designed for 4-6 adventures of levels 8-10 written by Alphonso Warden.

Well over 2,000 years ago, there existed a vast jungle kingdom ruled by a man called Malakum, who was descended from a long line of mage-kings. Like his regal forebears, Malakum ruled with a stern hand and possessed a pitiless, cruel nature. The sadistic liege was greatly feared by his subjects particularly because of his unnatural fascination with plants of every species. He enjoyed performing magical experiments on his own people in which he grafted onto their bodies various plant parts, in most cases killing his victims outright and at other times producing hybrid abominations. The mage-king also perfected various and sundry magical ointments and poisons extracted from plants, which he always tested on his unwilling subjects. It was therefore no surprise that Malakum’s people tired of his rule and mounted a rebellion, assassinating him and almost all of his advisers virtually overnight. Without a ruler, however, Malakum’s subjects soon reverted to savagery and eventually fled into the heart of the jungle to live out the remainder of their lives.

Fortunately for Malakum, his tomb had been completed several years before his death. Immediately after the mage-king’s demise resulting from an obsidian dagger cut to the throat complements of one of his former servants, a few surviving members of his priesthood were able to smuggle his body out of the palace for internment. After spending several weeks preparing their liege’s corpse with exotic oils and powders, these priests placed Malakum’s mummy in his tomb. Their grisly task done, the priests fled into the jungle with the rest of the citizens of the city, and vanished into history. The tomb of Malakum has remained inviolate all these centuries…

Advanced Adventures #14: The Verdant Vault of Malakum is available at our website. It will hit FLGS shelves soon, and if you prefer PDF go to Your Games Now  for a downloadable copy.

Layout-Draft Done for S&SS

Finished the layout-draft of S&SS yesterday. Unlike most companies, we rarely commission art concurrently with writing and instead do so at the end of the cycle. Now I get to do all the art direction for the new game and work on the character sheet and the freebie adventure we're going to put out in PDF form when the game's released.

Sorcery & Super Science - Introducing the floating dice system

Howdy all, time to get a bit under the hood of Sorcery & Super Science, our upcoming role-playing game of post-apocalyptic adventure. Without further ado, lets look at the system.

Conflicts in Sorcery & Super Science are resolved using the floating dice system. In this system there are no defined difficulties - the success or failure of any action is based upon the relationship between the PC and the task. Sorcery & Super Science uses a multitude of dice when rolling these conflicts- 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 16 and 20-sided. If you don’t have a d16 handy, 2d8 will work in pinch.

Most conflicts are ability conflicts: tasks that are successfully performed based upon a primary ability of a PC measured against the primary ability of an NPC or against a difficulty of an action. There are seven primary abilities ranging in value from -4 to 20. A rank of 0 is considered the lowest human rank and a rank of 8 is considered human maximum. The majority of people fall within the 1 to 3 range. Such is considered average, with 2 being the most typical rank.

In a primary ability conflict, the PC’s ability rank is added to the NPC’s ability rank. This addition determines what die is rolled to resolve the conflict and determines the target number for success. For example a PC with a rank 4 ability is in conflict with an NPC who also has a rank 4 ability. Adding the rank values (4+4) results in an 8. Thus, 8 is the die rolled (a d8) and the target number for success is also 8. The player would then roll a d8 and add the PC’s rank 4 ability to the roll and any result of 8 or better is a success or even a greater success.

The terms greater success and success are used throughout Sorcery & Super Science. When rolling conflicts, a result that is equal to the number needed or 1 point greater is termed a success while a success that is 2 or more points higher than the highest number on the die is termed a greater success. A 10-11 is a success on a d10, while a 12 or above is a greater success. On a d8, a success is 8-9, and a greater success is a 10 or higher and so on.

Dice determination is always rounded down if the sum of both numbers is not equal to 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 16, or 20. For example, a d12 is rolled for a conflict between a rank 8 and a rank 5, a d6 is rolled for a conflict between a rank 4 and a rank 3, a d16 is rolled for a conflict between a rank 9 and a rank 10 and so forth. The d4 is the lowest die that can be rolled and any totals resulting in less than 4 result in rolling a d4.

Some conflicts may result in die totals greater than 20. In these cases roll a d20 + the next appropriate die to determine the outcome. For example, two legendary warriors engage in battle. They both have a Combat 12, resulting in 24 as the sum of their abilities. This means they should roll a d20 and a d4 when engaging in their conflict. To continue with another example, a Combat 12 and a Combat 17 would result in rolling a d20 and a d8, as you always round down to the nearest die even when rolling high-powered conflicts. In addition, as abilities can also be negative numbers, some conflicts force the use of Fortune for any success chance. Fortune and its uses will be discussed later.

The following list provides many examples of the different types of conflicts you’ll find in Sorcery & Super Science. Some terms in the examples will be unfamiliar, but as you read through the rules further, these terms are explained. If there’s something you don’t understand right now, just be patient, they will be explained later. The list is rather long, but that’s to drive the system mechanic home (it’s quite a bit different than what we gamers are used to) and to show that there are many different ways to use the single mechanic.

Example of a Conflict (combat): A character is trying to hit an NPC in hand-to-hand combat. The character has a Combat 4, while the NPC has a Combat 2. The GM adds the two abilities involved in the conflict to determine how difficult it is to succeed. In this example the total of Combat 4 and Combat 2 is 6. That means that the character trying to hit the NPC will roll his attack roll on a six-sided die. If he rolls a 6 or higher after adding his Combat rank to the roll, he will have hit the NPC. The same is true for the NPC who also needs a 6 or higher to hit the character, but who only adds his Combat of 2 to the conflict. In this example the player has a significant advantage in the fight.

Example of a Conflict (difficulty):
A character is trying to climb a cliff. The GM offers the player the choice to use either Strength or Agility for the conflict, and the player chooses Agility as the character is more dexterous than strong. The character’s Agility is 4 and the cliff has a difficulty rank of 8 for a Strength climber, but only a difficulty rank of 6 for an Agility climber. Luck is on the side of the player! An Agility 4 and a difficulty of 6 results in a 10, so a d10 is rolled. The player rolls a d10 and adds 4 to her roll. If the sum is 10 or higher the character successfully climbs the cliff.

Example of a Conflict (skill set): A character is trying to remember what ancient Detroit was famous for in order to guess a password protecting a sealed factory. The character has a History of the Ancients (Advanced) 3 skill set. The GM determines that the question requires an advanced threshold, which the character possesses, and is has a difficulty of 6. The player’s 3 and the difficulty of 6 results in a d8 roll. The player rolls a d8 and adds 3 to the roll. A result of 8 or higher is a success. If the character only had History of the Ancients at the (Basic) or (Intermediate) threshold, he would automatically fail because the question was above his skill set threshold.

Example of a Conflict (covert): A character is trying to sneak her way past some guards. These guards have been told to allow no one passage and are on high alert, so the GM determines the difficulty at 12 and there’s also a -3 to the roll. The player chooses to use her Reason 4 ability to logically determine the best way through the guarded area. A Reason 4 and a difficulty of 12 results in 16, so a d16 is used. If the result of the roll after applying the -3 modifier is 16 or greater, the guards are unaware of the character sneaking past their post.

Example of a Conflict (sense): A character is trying to find a hidden passageway. The GM offers the player the choice to use either Reason or Intuition for the conflict and the player decides to use his Reason 3. The passageway is a Reason 6 or Intuition 4 normal sense conflict (as opposed to an extraordinary sense conflict). A poor choice on the player’s part, but what’s done is done. A Reason 3 and a difficulty 6 result in a d8 roll and an 8 or higher results in locating the hidden way. Had the hidden passage only been detectable through a sense not available to the normal character (say it had an infrared heat signature), it would have been an extraordinary sense conflict, and the player would automatically fail if he does not possess the Heightened Senses power at the Advanced or Ultra thresholds.

Now that all the examples are done, let’s shorten the floating dice system to the following 5 steps:
1. PC ability (or skill set) rank+ NPC ability (or task difficulty) = target number and what type of die rolled
2. If the target number isn’t a die, round down until you hit a die to roll (13 becomes d12, 18 becomes d16)
3. If the target number is 24 or greater, use multiple die instead of a single die.
4. PC primary ability + rolled die result = > target number (success) or < target number (failure)
5. If a success is 2 greater than the target number, it is termed a greater success.

That’s the floating dice system! That’s the core mechanic and all conflicts in Sorcery & Super Science are resolved in this way. Notice how in the examples the GM can determine the difficulty of different conflicts based upon what ability is used by the PC. The GM can also throw in modifiers to the roll with -‘s making success harder and +’s making success easier. Note that because the system uses a target number it is possible to make success impossible for a PC by making a large enough minus. Since 2 is average human rank, a modification of -3 or greater means that, on average, a normal human cannot succeed at the task. However, Fortune (this concept will explained later) can always be spent to allow even such difficult tasks a chance of success.

The Verdant Vault of Malakum finished.

Just got the last bit 'o art for Alphonso's latest Advanced Adventure, The Verdant Vault of Malakum. I think Peter Mullen outdid himself this time - one of his best works, IMO. The detail of the shading is wonderful. Malakum is Advanced Adventure #14, and should be availing in PDF and print in June, 2010.

S&SS v5 update

We're on the 5th revision of Sorcery & Super Science now and I've spent the past few days working heavily on it. Close to 40 new items are down on paper, and I've a few more robots to create as well as other monsters before finishing the list of magical artifacts to a publishable level. I'm really grooving on the writing and think there's a whole boatload 'o fun in the rules. Hopefully, v5 will be done by the end of this week - then on to more editing and thoughts of art and layout. Exciting times for us here at XRP.

Convention Game

I'll be running a game at NTRPG Con on Saturday morning. I'm working on a new Advanced Adventure for it (should see publication as #19) called Down the Shadowvein. It's a continuation of Matt Finch's excellent Pod-Cavern of the Sinister Shroom, but it will a fully stand-alone adventure for 3-5th level. Below is the descriptive text.

You carefully load your canoes and launch into the fast-moving waters of the underground river named Shadowvein. The Pod-Caverns of the Sinister Shroom behind you, the veracity of the map that is to be your guide into the dark unknown will soon be tested. Hopefully what is written is accurate, but if it is not, your wits, wile and brawn should serve you well as you journey down the Shadowvein!