Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hello, Handsome...

Social Combat

I'm trying out Courtney's rules for the Gameable NPC (and considering buying his book, although the price is pretty steep). One thing I see about this set of rules, however, is that it presents the game of social interaction within a fairly neutral framework. In other words, the NPC has not decided one way or another about the players, and so there's not really a "Social Combat" aspect to it. When a character has already decided on a confrontational stance, though, there should be a gameable way to convince/seduce/deceive/intimidate the NPC into changing their mind (or, at least, not following through with their original decision).

Here's what I came up with:

  1. Set the Social Resistance Value (SRV) between 1 and 9, depending on circumstances. Bribing the city watch to let you go before they bring you in would be a 5 or 6, say; convincing the king that you're not in his bedroom to kill or rob him would be a 9.

  2. Determine the opposed attributes. Common ones would be:

    • Deception: CHA vs. INT
    • Seduction: CHA vs. WIS
    • Debate : INT vs. INT
    • Oratory : CHA vs. CHA (when two characters fight for the sway of a crowd, for instance)
  3. Determine the Present State Penalty based on the current Social Resistance Value:

    • 1-3: -1
    • 4-6: 0
    • 5-9: +1
  4. Each side rolls 3d6 against their own relevant attribute. Compare the roll to that attribute's value:

    • Over: No result
    • More than 2 times: -1 success
    • At/Under: 1 success
    • One-half : 2 successes
    • One-third: 3 successes, etc.
  5. Move SRV up or down by the difference in successes. E.g., if the PC gets 1 success and the NPC gets -1, move the score down two points. On a tie, move the value up by one.

  6. Adjust the SRV by the Present State Penalty, determined in step 3.

  7. Repeat until the SRV = 0 or SRV = 10.

There's a little work to be done with this; for one thing, there aren't many options for players other than what kind of contest to enter (deception, seduction, et al), and possibly when to bail out. Failure on one front (say, deception) might suggest taking up another (say, seduction).

I'm thinking there might also be actions to take (flatter, threaten, go off on a tangent, bribe, etc.) that may have a bonus if they succeed and a penalty otherwise, and tying those actions to the NPC and situation. Also, the SRV can move up and down a lot, and might not resolve for a long time. GMs could consider adding a time limit to the process.

Nonetheless, the basic mechanism seems sound to me. I'll give it a try on my next game and see how it works out.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

OSR Means Simple Rules, or Something

Everything should be made
as simple as possible, but no simpler.
-- various attributions

The current state of rules for my OSR game:

I start with Labyrinth Lord, except I use the 1st ed. AD&D/OSRIC hit dice for character class and weapon damage. Which character classes to use is still a fluid concept, including race-as-class. Thieves are still a conundrum, because I like Procedural Lockpicking and feel that many of the listed thieves' skills can be performed by anyone, although I'm intrigued byDyson Logos's 2d6 thief skills table.

Speaking of skills, I don't use them. Everything is based either on a character sheet ability, the resourcefulness of the players, common sense judgments, or a die roll as determined below.

AC ascends, and starts at 10. I use the Dex bonus to hit, and add the Str bonus to damage, for both missile and hand-to-hand combat. Intitiative is individual, roll 1d10 + Dex modifier.

Saving throws are mapped from Castles & Crusades, except the base number is determined by the saving throw in Swords & Wizardry. I add a modifier to the roll based on class, any attribute bonus, and selected prime attributes" (from C&C, but with different values), and use the C&C mapping of old-school saving throw types to new (e.g., "Breath Weapon" = Dex).

Anything not covered in the rules that can be resolved as a yes or no question, I use a d20 and a save. Anything where success can be measured in degrees, I use either a generic 2d6 table adapted from the Moldvay/LL "reaction roll" table, or 3d6 (or more) vs. some attribute. The latter is more likely to be used in contested challenges.

Magic use is per Holmes, plus a bit of 1st ed. Material Component fluff. I use the Holmes scroll creation rules so my low-level M-Us can have a little more firepower. I have two house-ruled exceptions to spell use: Read Magic and Detect Magic are both innate skills of Magic Users, although it takes 10+ minutes to use, whereas casting them as spells is near-instantaneous.

I have my own set of grappling rules. Combat maneuvers are like Telecanter's, except I use a saving throw to determine whether damage is taken or the maneuver succeeds. Languages are also per Telecanter, although I have a slightly more detailed way of handling them. Encumbrance is per Lamentations of the Flame Princess, which is also mentioned in the Telecanter document.

It's that simple.

cheers, Adam

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Melody In Your Name

I call everyone "Darling" because I can't remember their names.
-- Zsa Zsa Gabor

One of the things that has turned otherwise interested parties away from Tunnels and Trolls is the silliness of the spell names. One of the reasons Ken St. Andre gives for the names is that, at the very least, they are more memorable than their counterparts in other games. Although that may be true, it can ruin the atmosphere of a gritty, swords-and-sorcery flavored game if, when faced with some shadowy apparition from the netherworld, your wizard calls, with a flourish: "Oh, Go Away".

(As a side note, it seems like it's easier to make a 'serious' game silly than the other way around. Worth pondering, that.)

Following is a list of Level 1 Spells from the 5th edition, along with suggested translations.

Detect Magic: Sense Magic
Lock Tight: Holdfast Portal
Will-o-Wisp: Glimmerlight
Knock Knock: Unbind Portal
Oh There It Is: Expose Hidden
Take That, You Fiend: Vexing Smite
Vorpal Blade: Keen Edge
Oh-Go-Away: Repulse Foe
Teacher: Instruct
Hocus Pocus: Ensorcel Staff

Some of the names aren't so silly, as you can see by the list above, but if the impetus behind "silly" names is to make them more memorable, I suggest that these alterations would do that, without compromising the atmosphere of the game.