Player Feedback form

Many years ago I used printed feedback forms for games I ran. Mainly because I had so many games going when I was a kid that I couldn’t keep track of who had been on what adventure and what group they went on it with. Well I just stumbled onto that feedback document in my google drive. At some point (probably around 2005 or 2006) I wrote it up sometime last year I must have uploaded it to google with all my other gaming notes. So here it is, edited and updated as a google form. I am sharing to see how well it works, and how it compiles the information. I think in the future I will be requiring these for XP rewards. It sure used to help a lot when I had a binder full of them sorted by campaign.

WEAPON MASTERY 2017

These are the Weapon Mastery rules that I use for my Labyrinth Lord game. They are  very stripped down version of the rules from BECMI (Master set and Rules Cyclopedia). You can use them in pretty much any OSR clone. The rules have seen five yearly revisions in our game, and will likely see more. They are not focused on realism, but rather on emulating the classic Weapon Mastery rules without all the complexity of target types and defense matrices.  If you have any thoughts or suggestion please comment below.

WEAPON MASTERY TRAINING

Characters must choose what weapons they are able to use proficiently. Each Weapon Mastery slot can be used for any weapon choice the character wishes, so a magic-user could choose dagger and battle axe for her two Mastery slots. These initial Mastery slots must be spent on different weapon selections.

  • Dwarf Class, Elf Class, and Halfling Class begin with Basic Mastery in all weapons they are capable of using.
  • Fighters, Paladins, and Rangers begin with 4 Mastery slots.
  • All other classes begin with 2 Mastery slots.

All characters gain an additional Mastery slot every three levels (3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th, etc). These additional Mastery slots can be used to train with new weapons or to increase the Mastery level of a weapon you have already trained with by one tier (Skilled to Expert for example). In either case, a character must seek out an Expert (or better) trainer and study under the trainer for a week or more. Each week of training costs a variable amount of gold based on the level of Mastery sought. A student can only advance one Mastery level at a time, and may only be training one weapon at a time. Each increasing tier of Weapon Mastery grants bonuses and maneuvers as follows;

  • Untrained (No slots), -4 to hit.
  • Basic (1 slot); normal hit and damage rules.
  • Skilled (2 slots); +1 bonus to hit, criticals on a natural 20, maneuvers.
  • Expert (3 slots); +2 bonus to hit, criticals 19-20, maneuvers, increased damage.
  • Master (4 slots); +3 bonus to hit and defense, criticals 18-20, maneuvers, increased damage +2.
  • Grand Master (5 slots); +4 bonus to hit and defense, criticals 17-20, maneuvers, double increased damage +4, despair.

There is a chance even after time and money has been spent, that the character will fail to advance, leaving his Mastery slot still open. After each week a student must make a success roll, if the roll is failed the student loses the time and money invested in training that week, but gains a cumulative +10% bonus to his chance of success on the following week. The trainer must have an equal or higher level of Mastery than what the student seeks to learn. An Expert trainer grants no modifier to the student’s chance of success, however a Master grants the student +10% to his chance of success, and a Grand Master grants the student +20% to his chance of success. During the training the character can take up to one week off for each four weeks of training. Any more time away from training will cause the character to fail entirely. Often this “time off” will be in doing quests for the Master trainer. Note that with the cumulative bonus to the chance of success for each week of failure, all persistent students will eventually succeed. In a pinch a Skilled trainer can teach a student, but the chance of success is only 1% and typically no money is exchanged.

  • Basic, Requires 1 success at 100 GP each week of training. Chance of success 80%.
  • Skilled, Requires 2 successes at 250 GP each week. Chance of success 60%.
  • Expert, Requires 4 successes at 500 GP each week. Chance of success 40%.
  • Master, Requires 8 successes at 750 GP each week. Chance of success 20%.
  • Grand Master, Requires 12 successes at 1,000 GP each week. Chance of success 10%.

WEAPON LIST

Axe (hand), 1d6 slashing, Throw, Critical Stun.
Club, 1d4 bludgeoning, Critical Delay (includes torches and blunt objects).
Dagger, 1d4 piercing, Throw, Critical Damage.
Light Flail, 1d6 bludgeoning, Disarm.
Heavy Flail, 1d8 bludgeoning, Disarm, Two-handed.
Light Hammer, 1d4 bludgeoning, Throw.
War Hammer, 1d6 bludgeoning, Critical Stun, Two-handed.
Lance, 1d6 piercing, Charge, Set, Reach 10 ft.
Mace, 1d6 bludgeoning, Critical Delay.
Morning Star, 1d6 bludgeoning, Critical Stun, Two-handed.
Light Pick, 1d6 piercing, Critical Delay.
Heavy Pick, 1d8 piercing, Critical Stun, Two-handed.
Polearm, 1d10 piercing, Deflect, Reach 10 ft, Two-handed.
Quarterstaff, 1d6 bludgeoning, Critical Delay, Deflect, Reach 10 ft.
Spear, 1d6 piercing, Charge, Set, Reach 10 ft.
Bastard Sword, slash/pierce, Either Longsword or Greatsword.
Long Sword, 1d8 slash/pierce, Deflect, Disarm (includes scimitar and cutlass).
Short Sword, 1d6 slash/pierce, Deflect, Disarm (includes rapier and saber).
Great Sword, 1d10 slashing, Critical Stun, Two-handed.
Trident, 1d6 piercing, Critical Skewer, Set, Throw.
Whip, 1d4 slashing, Critical Delay, Entangle, Reach 10 ft.
Ranged Weapons
Crossbow, light, 1d6 piercing, Increased Range, Critical Delay
Heavy Crossbow, 1d8 piercing, Increased Range, Critical Stun (reloading takes a move action).
Dart, 1d4 piercing, Increased Range, Rapid-fire (includes shuriken and throwing knives).
Javelin, 1d6 piercing, Increased Range, Critical Delay.
Longbow, 1d8 piercing, Increased Range, Critical Stun.
Shortbow, 1d6 piercing, Increased Range, Critical Delay.
Sling, 1d4 bludgeoning, Increased Range, Critical Delay.

EXPLANATION OF TERMS

Maneuvers are different for each weapon (deflect, entangle, etc). Either you attempt a maneuver or else it happens automatically whenever you roll a Critical, depending on the maneuver.

  • Increased Damage: instead of using the listed damage for a weapon you used the next higher die. (1d4 becomes 1d6, etc).
  • Double Increased Damage: roll additional dice and add the damage modifier once (1d4 becomes 2d6+modifier).
  • Defense bonus: a proficiency bonus to the character’s AC as he uses the weapon to block, parry and threaten attackers.
  • Despair: or once per encounter a using a move action to make a flashy presentation with the weapon, the wielder can force all opponents to make a morale check. Opponents who fail must attempt to flee on their next action, cowering if this isn’t possible. If a cowering opponent is attacked it will fight back at -4 penalty, until an opportunity to flee presents itself. Despair only affects opponents with greater than animal intelligence, who are not immune to fear (no golems, animated undead, insects, etc). Despair also occurs anytime the character rolls a Critical on an attack.
  • Charge: If the attacker moves at least 60 feet in a straight line they may attack in the same action and the weapon deals double damage (multiply total damage result by x2). Any weapon can be used in a charge (move action) but they do not deal double damage without the Charge Maneuver (lance & spear). Note that a charging attacker suffers -2 defense until their next action.
  • Critical: a natural 20 rolled on the attack causes a critical hit from a Skilled wielder. The damage rolled is multiplied by two after all modifiers. Increased levels of Weapon Mastery increase the chances of scoring a Critical. Maneuvers with Critical in the name occur in addition to this extra damage.
  • Critical Delay: when a Critical is rolled to hit the target will act last (even after two handed weapons) until the end of their next round.
  • Critical Skewer: when a Critical is rolled to hit, in addition to dealing damage the attacker may leave the weapon in the target, who must take an additional 2d6 damage each round until it is pulled out (strength check by attacker or target).
  • Critical Stun: when a Critical is rolled to hit the target is delayed and is at -4 to hit until the end of their next round.
  • Deflect: in addition to regular attacks, you can counter attack ONE incoming blow each round if you you can beat the attacker’s hit roll (compare against AC hit). At Expert you can attempt to Deflect 2 different attacks, 3 attacks at Master, then 4 at Grand Master.
  • Disarm: on a successful hit, instead of dealing damage the attacker can force target to drop a weapon or item held. The attacker can also opt to Disarm on a critical (in addition to dealing damage).
  • Entangle: on a successful hit, instead of dealing damage the attacker can entangle the target who then cannot take move actions until it uses an action to escape (save vs. Paralyzation) or somehow breaks the weapon.
  • Increased Range: each of this weapon’s range increments is increased by +10′ at each mastery level starting with Skilled Mastery.
  • Multiplying Damage: roll damage and add modifiers, then multiply the total result. If you ever have to multiply damage more than once you increase the multiplier one step. A weapon with x2 damage from mastery and x2 damage from a charge would deal x3 damage, and if the wielder was using a potion of giant strength it would be multiplied again for x4 damage total.
  • Rapid-fire: the attacker may make one additional ranged attack with this weapon. At increased Mastery levels you may make more attacks (+2 attacks at Expert, +3 attacks at Master, +4 attacks at Grand Master).
  • Set: as a move action this weapon may be set vs. a charging opponent. The Set attack is rolled before the Charge and deals double damage (multiply total damage result by x2). If this incapacitates the charger then the charge attack is cancelled.
  • Throw: this weapon may be thrown, short range 10’/ medium range 20’/ long range 30′. At increased Mastery levels each range increment is increased 10 feet (short 20′ at Expert, short 30′ at Master, then short 40′ at Grand Master).
  • Two Handed: this weapon requires both hands. The character cannot use a shield, and always strikes last in combat, during the melee step of the End phase. Two handed weapons are typically too big for a halfling character to use.

last revision 04/4/2017

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GM Bully – feedback

I really like this video and I think you should go and subscribe to this guy right away. But I disagree on two points, and I disagree strongly enough that I felt I needed to talk about it.

1. I like it when players add to the story and try to drive it in their own direction. It is a great source of ideas for me and I don’t mind giving them narrative control like that since I know they are getting what they want out of the story. If what they are trying to add to the story doesn’t fit, like a magic shop on an island of cannibals for example, then I let them know that. If they persist after that, they are nagging and “bullying”.

2. I know that losing control over your only playing piece in the game is terrible. but many games, especially older games enforce this. If you are playing a fantasy game and a mage charms your character, or you are struck by a fear effect in a horror game, then you are compelled to act in a certain way, or not at all. Sometimes it isn’t obvious to the character why this is happening. Sometimes the source of the compel is unknown and finding out about it is a part of the mystery. If your GM says “you feel an overwhelming sense of dread of dread as you approach the gates and you turn away from them in fear” then you as a player should ROLEPLAY that out and go with it. Don’t ever assume your GM is trying to ruin your fun. There is a reason for whatever they are doing although it may not be apparent at that moment. Few things are worse than having to give away metagame facts (like invisible spellcasters or cursed items) just because a fussy player wants an explanation to a situation where they feel you “must” be breaking the rules. Don’t be that player. Wait until a break to bring it up. Let the GM know it bothered you, and if you aren’t satisfied with how it is handled, let the GM know that too… out of game. Maybe your playstyles just aren’t a good mix and you should not be gaming together. Whatever the case, there is no good reason to throw a fit and ruin the fun and immersion of everyone else in the game.

I am looking forward to seeing more videos from How to be a Great Game Master, and I would like to know what YOU think about the topic. I will be watching the comments on Youtube, or you can talk about it here. I am sure there are plenty of people reading this thinking “you should NEVER take away player agency over their own character”. So go ahead and shout it from the rooftops. I will be watching for it.
Game On!

What Video Game Roleplayers Should Expect At A Tabletop RPG

Aurican's Lair

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So as the title suggests, this is going to be an Educational topic for new players to the great hobby of Tabletop Roleplaying. This article is NOTgoing to be a “Tabletop RPG’s are better than Video Games” article or be a “Video Game Players can’t play Tabletop RPG’s properly” article. I too am a video game player and my intent here is to simply point out what a person who has only experienced Roleplaying through the virtual experience of video games can expect when they finally join a tabletop game. This will be in regards to any Tabletop RPG, but, for this article I will use a lot of examples from high fantasy games such as Dungeon’s and Dragons.  Also alot of these examples will be from what I have seen over my experiences.  Everyone’s experience will be different, but these will be helpful to anyone.


Backstory

question mark head.jpgVideo games…

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Ravenloft Scions

Ravenloft scions

What if the people who thought they escaped Ravenloft never really did? What if instead, mental projections manifested from their thoughts and ideas reached out from Ravenloft near areas where the dimensional boundaries were weak? These thoughts could be made real by the same reality altering powers which first spawned Barovian from Strahd in the first place. These are the energies which the plane uses to shape and reform itself to accommodate all the new lost souls who get pulled in. The powers which manifest the mists, allowing the sentient pocket dimension to tap other worlds for more souls.

So the mental projection, a perfect facsimile of the character, emerges from the mists feeling they have escaped from Ravenloft! But have they? There would still be the original soul, trapped in Ravenloft. That character would emerge from the mists back in demiplane of dread. Possibly in another location. They may not even realize they were still trapped. When they figured it out, it would just seem something went wrong, and they never really escaped. What they wouldn’t know is that no one ever does.

Instead, whenever a character leaves the mists there is a chance they send out a fragment of themselves, a scion, to another reality. The first scion would presumably be sent to the character’s home plane. It would be an exact duplicate of the character and no mortal magic or science could discern otherwise. However, each new one would be different than the last and be sent to a different reality. But the more times the characters try to escape, the more scions they make. The differences would start becoming more noticeable, different backgrounds, social positions, powers, alignment, items, etc.

The Lords of Ravenloft would rarely escape the mists, if ever. These are exceptionally evil souls which the Demiplane of Dread feeds on to create new realms. If the characters were to ever run into a scion of a lord of Ravenloft it would most defiantly exist in its home reality, and would be a perfect copy of the original entity. Deviation in the scions only occurs after multiple copies.

Others, including heroes of great renown, might try escaping again and again. Eventually giving up and submitting to a life in Ravenloft, waging war with its dark pawns. Each time they tried to escape they would have created another scion of themselves, in yet another reality. All these alternates scattered among the multiverse explains so many remarkably similar characters.

For example, Fistandulus from Krynn, Elminster from Faerun, and Etienne D’Ambreville from Mystara. All three of these characters are ridiculously powerful wizards with direct relations to gods of magic, avatars, chosen ones, etc. Consider the possibility that these characters are all scions of the same archmage trying to escape Ravenloft. We know that Etienne and his entire family came through an amber mist from Averoigne, a gothic horror France. And we know that they then disappeared again with their keep Chateau D’Ambreville through the same mist, only to later reappeared with a new chateau similar but different to the previous one. What if they never really escaped Averoigne? What if Averoigne is a realm of Ravenloft (based on the fiction of Clark Ashton Smith) and each time the residents of Averoigne thought they escaped, they instead they created another duplicate? Arch-mages across the multiverse who are immortal avatars of magic.

Sometimes a character in Ravenloft dies while there are scions out there in other realities. The demi-plane would recall one of its scions, typically the lowest generation, to take the character’s place. The scion would eventually realize, if not immediately, they are back in Ravenloft. Most often with anyone who was nearby at the time. They would probably start looking to escape again, possibly succeeding in creating more scions. This constant loop serves to draw more souls into the mist for the demiplane to feed and grow.

Compare the original Ravenloft adventures for the first edition of the game to the second edition material, and the third edition material, fourth edition, fifth edition. Ravenloft keeps changing and growing, feeding on the fears of its inhabitants and shaping itself to the evils of its Lords. Keep in mind however, the Demiplane of Dread doesn’t always follows the rules and nothing here is beyond its power to overcome. Weird things can happen, and if Ravenloft has need of a situation it could create the conditions whether it follows this format or not.

I think this not only explains a lot of things, like why people who have been to Ravenloft always end up going back, but it also gives to potential to create alternate versions of characters and even run dead characters by switching alternates.

These ideas come from partly from Marvel comics, with Kang and his alternate selves, or all the alternate spider-man incarnations. Partly from Star Trek with its alternate realities and the energy ripple in Star Trek: Generations. And of course ideas developed in countless games of Ravenloft game ran by fantastic DMs, including Dan Walsh, Mike Paulhus, Rob Cast, Ron Studley, Eddy Boswell-Correa, Evan Johnson, and others.

Here is an example; In a game run by Dan Walsh, we had the chance to escape the Mists of Ravenloft. There were two portals out, but only one was real. One portal led to a grassy hill, on a sunny field, with a peaceful hamlet in the background. The other one led to a raging storm-tossed sea; in the distance was a ship which didn’t look to have much of a chance against the storm. The heroes argued about which portal to take and ended up parting ways. The ones who went through the village portal found themselves still in Ravenloft. The scene was darker on the other side, the sky was gray and the buildings were worn. The mists are cruel and deceiving. The others found that they had escaped onto a ship, but that ship would eventually make its way back to the Demiplane of Dread. Ravenloft never really lets go of you.

None of this is meant to challenge any copyrights or intellectual property. I am just a very grateful fan who loves gaming and sci-fi/fantasy. Thank you to all the original creators and to the excellent Game Masters I have had the privilege to play under.

How Fate Works

How Fate Works006

I just had a conversation with someone about the Fate RPG, and I hit some points that I would like to share.

Fate uses Aspects instead of crunchy mechanics. Think of a large power armor suit. It would be;

  • Big and bulky powered combat suit.
  • Full sensors and life support for 3 days.
  • Has a long-range missile weapon system.

That is it. That armor is statted out and ready to play now. During the game, any time you would say “yeah but I am in this big and bulky powered combat armor”, then you spend a Fate point token to get a +2 or a re-roll of the dice. Simple right?

So it’s more about how well you describe your stuff, and how important that stuff is to you in game. If you have ever seen Guardians of the Galaxy, StarLord’s walkman is just as important to him and to driving the story, as his blasters or his jet boots. If you want your “Pet Slime Beast” to be as important as your blaster rifle you can put that in as one of your Aspects. Whenever you spend a Fate point token to tag your “Pet Slime Beast” in the story, it grants a +2 or a re-roll to the task at hand.
PLAYER: “but he lets stay for free because he can’t get over how cute my pet slimebeast is and couldn’t bear to turn us out into the cold… right?”
GM: “okay you get a +2 and the innkeeper lets you stay the night”.

Characters are made as a group because other people can tag your Aspects to give you Fate point tokens that you can use later for more bonuses. So someone could to tag your “Big and Bulky” power armor to say you can’t get around to them in time. You get a token that you can use for a +2 or a re-roll on something later. It is super fast playing and easy to grok once you let go of looking for stas and limitations that other RPGs have trained us to do.

The game uses funky dice, but it’s basically 4d6,

  • 1 or 2 is NEGATIVE,
  • 3 or 4 is NO MOD, and
  • 5 or 6 is POSITIVE.

So if you have +2 in Computers, and a “Neural Interface Jack”, your total modifier is going to be +4 with those tasks. You are typically going to get a Result of +2 to +6, with your actual skill (+4) being the most common result. It is possible to roll +4 or -4 and generate a Result very different from your skill (computers + neural interface + high roll could generate a result of 8!) But it is very rare. Tasks aren’t as swingy as a d20 game, if you are good you are typically always good. On the virtual game table everything is rolled with [[4df]], and I have set up a button to click to generate this result.

There are other facets of the game, such as Approaches and Stunts, but once you know how Aspects and dice work, you are ready to play. And now you are…