07 May 2020

Finished with Aetherjack's Alamanc

I finished the 6th issue of Aetherjack's Almanac. Well I finished it last week. Probably should have blogged about it then for like MARKETING METRICS or some shit.
That project and the whole Rona thing are why I'm not blogging as actively as I usually do.

Shit was getting rough for me before that which is why I let High Fructose slip away for a while. Not that I've really felt like blogging that much. Blogging feels real "G+ era OSR" to me and tbh, I'm kind of sick of that brand of the OSR in general.

Ætherjack’s Almanac Number 6 Iridium Frigates & Cybernetic Corpses

24 April 2020

Do the Spelljammer Helms of 2e Spelljammer Drain Spells?

Let's read what the Concordance of Arcane Space says, which is the book of rules for 2e Spelljammer.

Using a helm prohibits any spell use by the character withing that 24 hour period. As soon as a wizard or a priest sits on the helm and becomes aware of the ship, he can cast no spells of any sort until he can rest and regain spells. In effect, the helm "drains" the helmsman of all his spells the moment it is activated.

1. using the helm stops a caster from casting for 24 hours and until they can rest and, importantly, regain spells, implying that the spells are expended for the day.
2. while "drains" is in quotes, it does set up a parallelism of how the helm works.

Don't wait for your favorite publisher to write the rules and content you want and need

The other days I was joking about how Dan Sell, that guy what publishes Troika, is going to snipe me with OFFICIAL rules for golden barges playing the humpbacked sky. Turns out that he has about 2 years of OTHER stuff that's being written for Troika.

1. This makes me glad I've already been doing that on my own.
2. And is contrasted with how WotC has been operating wrt Spelljammer

Part of the broader conversation is that fans of Spelljammer have been crying out, begging even, for 5e adaptation and updating of the old 2e setting and rules. Which is FAIR. But it's been almost 4 years since Storm King's Thunder, which had the first inkling of Spelljammer, and since then a small handful of things for doing Spelljammer in 5e, the Githyanki astral skiffs with vaguely explained helms, and the full rules for a spelljammer helm buried in a $50 dungeon module.

I don't know how many 5e players have updated 2e or 3e SJ rules to 5e or done their own, and what amount of them are also the same who are clamoring for official content. This is only quasi-relevant to my next point though.

Back to me and Dan talking about golden barge rules and the extreme outside chance he will be writing/publishing rules for it anytime soon, and this fits in with the players of the big dog game, D&D, wanting their D&D in space fantasy. Which is in part, that there are folx who would gladly play a Troika spelljammer game.

19 March 2020

A hoopla over drivethru affiliate links

I saw some whinging on r/rpg about undisclosed affiliate links. OMFG

Literally every bloody link to drivethru on my blog is a fucking affiliate link because if I have to direct traffic to them because 1) you only buy through them or 2) that is the only place to buy a specific product, then I fucking want some damn compensation for said traffic direction and therefore advertising.

So if I have to send folx to that fucking rent seeking site then i want my damn <$0.10 a game.

The inanity of it all too.

12 March 2020

Goblins and Orcs are Dwarfs

My joke aside that dwarfs are just orcs with shitty fashion, I think should you look back to the past as far as D&D and fantasy rpgs in general treated them, ignoring to an extent actual folklore, fairy tales, and myths, that from goblin to dwarf there is a continuum of dwarfishness.

Goblin:"...are fair miners, and they are able to new or unusual construction in an underground area 25% of the time."
Orc: "...are accomplished tunnelers and miners. They note new or unusual constructions underground 35% of the time and spot sloping passages 25% of the time." (surprisingly I cannot find anything that notes orcs are excellent weaponsmiths in the 1e MM)
Hobgoblin: "...are highly adept at mining, and they can detect new construction, sloping passages, and shifting walls 40% of the time."
Dwarf: "...are good (50% to 75% likely) at detecting passages which slope upwards or downwards, sliding or shifting walls or rooms, new construction, approximate depth, or unusual stonework."
Gnome (sigh): Like seriously, they are just shorter better dwarfs.

2e AD&D
Goblin: "They are decent miners, able to note new or unusual construction in an underground area 25% of the time..."
Orc: "...are skilled miners who can spot new unusual constructions 35% of the time and sloping passages 25% of the time. They are also excellent weaponsmiths."
Hobgoblin: " They are highly adept at mining and can detect new construction, sloping passages, and shifting walls 40% of the time."
Dwarf: grade and slope of passage 5 in 6, new tunnel construction 5 in 6, sliding/shifting walls or rooms 4 in 6, stonework traps, pits, and deadfalls 3 in 6, depth underground 3 in 6.

Gnome (sigh): Like seriously, they are just shorter better dwarfs.

The basic versions, Holmes, Moldvay, and Mentzer, omit all but the combat relevant abilities of all these creatures as monsters, with only the Dwarf class as being noted as having mining related abilities.

Orcs of Thar would be the place I expected to have more filled in on these, including kobolds and other monstrous humanoids. But the bits it has on what they are good at are only as far as you use the "optional" skill system, unlike say dwarfs who still get their mining bonuses on top of the optional skill system, should you use it in your BECMI game.

What does this mean? Roughly, goblins, orcs, and hobgoblins are just the same monster, with different hit points. Even though they have significant differences as far as their flavor text is concerned. Likewise you can expand this through to dwarfs and gnomes. I also think that not only did removing mechanical support for them being miners, removing descriptive text of them all being miners sort of was a bad mistake. Now goblins are all sneaky murder babies like halfings; hobgoblins have sort of leaned from the vaguely into a more overt orientalist view of honorable militaristic goblins
 (Pathfinder hobs became mostly "samurai" when that alt class came out), and orcs are savage berserks. I find it interesting is all.

07 March 2020

[KICKSTARTER] Unconquered

Alright so a friend of sorts has a kickstarter for "Unconquered: a bronze-age sword & sorcery & sandals & sci-fi tabletop role-playing game about journeys in an infinite universe."

If you're a frequent reader of my blog then you know that at least half of that is exactly my shit.
A better run down of what all is in it:
Skyremes (that means triremes that fly in the sky and space)
Space Crows
Guns you can load with devils
Seaweed Cyclops
Mercantile Arguements over Fruit
Gods to shoot

It's based on that game a lot of OSR folx seem to like? Knave? With a nice big ole declaration that it is directly compatible with all the common OSR games, ie BX.

Not only are these already good reasons to back this kickstarter, but it's a setting and game written and illustrated by marginalized folx. And for me, and really you should care too, is important for these reasons:
It's less of the same generic whitelandia europe pastiche.
It's fresh perspectives.
It looks like it will actaully be useable as is, unlike say some of the more auteur OSR creators, not gonna name names but he likes to write verbose highly idiosyncratic stuff that requires more work than is worth to use at the table.
It's a good fucking chance for all you other white folx that talk about welcoming and inclusive you are in a material way.
It puts more money into the hands of people writing new content end statement. I know there are some real popular folx that get all pissy about folx trying to make a living or even some case off of writing games, but folx need to eat. Being able to eat and make rent leads to much better creative works. And the condensing attitudes of better of bloggers is just the same kind of shit leveled at yall growing up.
And fucking community copies. He's making it so there is a way for folx who are hard up on cash have a shot at buying his book.

Like I've been stoked about this whole project since before the kickstarter launched.

And if you want more information. He did a Q&A the other day. Transcript here.

06 March 2020

Featured Review of "Maiden of the Shrine of the Snubbed One & Friends"

Over on DrivethruRPG Endzeitgeist reviewed my little satirical background zine, "Maiden of the Shrine of the Snubbed One & Friends.
"...the most savage satire I’ve seen in the guise of a RPG-supplement; it is somewhat crude, deliberately scathing, and certainly not for everyone."
You can read the full review on their site. Or on the page for Maiden & Friends on DrivethruRPG.

You can also purchase "Maiden & Friends" on itch.io.

If you're wondering what happened to the two removed backgrounds, I turned them into creatures, see 'Trying to Make Functional Satirical Monsters', since shitty people shouldn't be backgrounds to play, but rather shitty things to deal with. I might do more shitty people in RPGs creatures, and might even write up miens for them.

04 March 2020

joesky tax


Having read this, you must pay the Toll.

[Rough Draft] Guns vs Dragons

(This should be considered a partial ramble as it is likely large portions of this introduce thoughts with no follow-up)

How to start?

Sparked by the continuing and rarely evolving nerd wanking on guns vs armor in D&D; as well as the continuing and rarely evolving nerd wanking on armor as armor class vs damage reduction, and the general gun worshiping masturbation, some ideas and things I've noticed.

Recently, in part due to all of this shit, I've reconsidered my general thought that a D&D combat round is 6-10 seconds in favor of the ancient 1 minute round, acknowledging that I haven't bothered in the last few years even defining how long a round is when I GM D&D, treating that whole concept as an abstraction.

So we're traveling back in time to AD&D to take a look at Gygax's section on Boothill<>AD&D conversion section. If I feel spicy, we might take a look at the Gamma World section, which should also be relevant to Metamorphosis Alpha.

A brief rundown of Boothill. In Gygax's words it's wargame is in a different plane from normal wargames. It's based on individual characters in the Old West. Considering this is 1975 and D&D had just come out, it's an rpg described in terms of being a wargame. It has a whole character gen and advancement thing going on. And <drumroll> also can be played without a referee, ie it's a GMless rpg.

Digression aside. Boot Hill is an Old West rpg, even if it doesn't call itself one at this point in its history. But it has different stats and shit. Hence the rather involved conversion notes in the AD&D DMG.

Why am I doing this? Guns my friends. More importantly, what did Gygax himself think about how guns would work in (A)D&D. So to me, seeing how he suggests they be converted into AD&D should be enlightening.

I don't know how enlighting going line by line etc with this whole section will be, so to condense it, the first bit is converting ability scores, to include levels as Boot Hill has no levels.

Because it will be relevant, an AD&D character's dexterity is equal to their Boot Hill Speed score as a percentage. Boot Hill uses percentile rolls to generate scores, so an AD&D character's Speed will be between 3 and 19 for a Slow to Average Speed. Gunslingers they are not.

So we skip through all of that until

He says to use AD&D turn sequence UNLESS everyone is using guns, in which case use the Boot Hill turn sequence and first shot determiniation (FSD). By the way, Boot Hill has a whole section in its combat rules for determining who get's their shot off first. And if you are using AD&D turns, Boot Hill characters out of armor with guns get a +1 initiative.

Boot Hill has a chart just for First Shot Determination. The factors for it are Individual Speed, Weapon Speed, Surprise, Movement, and how Wounded a character is. Additionally, wearing AD&D armor penalizes FSD, ie heavier armor makes you slower on the draw which makes sense.

AD&D rounds are 1 minute long.
AD&D and Boot Hill ranged weapons have rates of fire, eg a bow is 2 (1 arrow every 30sec), a sling is 1, and a heavy crossbow is 1/2 (1 bolt every 2min). We're supposed to take the ROF for all the guns from Boot Hill to use as written with no penalties WITH the OPTION to allow for up to DOUBLE the ROF with a cumulative -2 penalty for each additional shot. Finally, the time it takes to reload them is one segement per round, which seems a bit fussy considering that the crossbows don't have such a note.
Boot Hill revolvers and repeaters have a ROF of 3, 1 shot every 20 sec seems like a long time, even with a single action revolver. For comparison, an M16 rifle in semiautomatic mode has a sustained ROF, which is considered the most efficient ROF in ideal conditions, of 12-15 rounds per min. So yes is it POSSIBLE, in that people have done so in the real world, to fire a SAS revolver so fast it can be emptied in 8 sec accurately.

There is next a table for FSD that also serves as a Weapon Speed Factor=AD&D ROF=Boot Hill Weapon (Speed) Class; followed by the table for modifying FSD by AD&D armor worn.

Now my favorite table(?)
Which lists penalties to hit for heavier armor, with the call out not to consider Dexterity modifiers to AC, which I hate because it's an inconsistent wording from the prior table which specifies AC due to armor worn. I'm open to discussion on this part. But my reading of this is again that heavier armor worn negatively impacts using Boot Hill guns.

"Each hit causes damage as follows, several weapon hits from the same weapon being computed separately:"
Then the table lists weapon ranges that totally in line with AD&D weapons, from 1d4 (derringers) to 3d4 (canister shot from a cannon). For comparison, a halberd and two handed sword do 1d10 vs Small and Medium targets, which is the same as only the Boot Hill shotgun. Other shoulder arms (rifles to include the buffalo rifle) do only 2d4.
Dynamite does 4d6 with no save, or alternately 6d6 with half on a saving throw.

And that is it as far as the numbers and stats. We conclude with a reminder that anything not covered here can be extrapolated from this guide and/or boot hill.

Things not covered that are covered within AD&D are different damage ranges for small or medium targets vs larger targets, space requirements and hit modifiers based on target's armor. TBH I never used space required or adjustments by AC back when I was playing AD&D as a kid, and I'm not sure how many folx actually did. My read of that particular omission is that Gygax didn't think they were relevant.

In conclusion, (A)D&D has (incomplete) rules for (19th century) guns. Armor only matters in as far as it penalizes the use of guns. And guns do damage well within the bounds of AD&D weapons. Take aways are that these are based on one of two factors, these are games of action/pulp heroics, inspite of how grim and gritty a lot of grognards like to make out old school d&d, by virtue of how hit points are defined and increase with experience, and Gygax was a history nerd and insurance underwriter, so from that perspective he likely had an idea on the relative lethality of firearms in real life. That is also implies that the c. 14th century military technology of AD&D, particularly armor of all classes, is on par with 19th century guns actually contradicts the one western I can think of, A Fistful of Dollars, which contains a rifle shooting holes in a full of armor, making this relevant to the final showdown. This is possibly the most authorative information I've seen for guns in (A)D&D until the 2e PHB, HR4 Mighty Fortress, Red Steel, Red MAsque, all which display degrees of gun wank worship, partial armor penatration, exploding dice and massive damage. Which by the way, are also rules for guns that already exist for OSR games.

A cleaned up straight forward version of gun rules for D&D based on Boot Hill and this conversion; as this partially fits with some of the complaints I've seen about hit point inflation between 1e and 2e.

I have previously done other writings on guns, including stats, that were roughly within this range of things.

Gun Rulz for Basic D&D:

Firearms (not including field pieces such as cannons or gatling guns):
Name/Damage/RoF(Capacity)/(range & modifiers)Short/Medium/Long
Old West (AD&D DMG & Boot Hill)
Derringers 1d4 1(1) (per barrel) 20'(+2)/40'(+1)/100'(+0)
Cap & Ball Revolver 1d8 3(6) 50'(+3)/100'(+1)/240'(+0)
Single & Double Action Revolvers* 1d8 3(6) 60'(+3)/120'(+1)/300'(+0)
Long Barrel Revolver 1d8 1(6) 80'(+3)/160'(+1)/360'(+0)
Scattergun 1d8 1(1) (per barrel) 40'(+1)/60'(+0)/100'(-1)
Shotgun 1d10 1(1) (per barrel) 60'(+2)/100'(+0)/240'(-1)
Civil war carbine 2d4 1(1) 120'(+2)/360'(+1)/1,000'(+0)
Civil war rifle 2d4 1(1) 180'(+2)/460'(+1)/1,300'(+0)
Civil war repeating rifle 2d4 3(7) 150'(+2)/400'(+1)/1,200'(+0)
Standard rifle 2d4 3(15) 200'(+2)/500'(+1)/1,500'(+0)
Standard carbine 2d4 3(12) 120'(+2)/360'(+1)/1,000'(+0)
Buffalo rifle or Standard army issue 2d4 1(1) 300'(+2)/600'(+1)/2,000'(+0)

Any 19th cen or later firearm can be full reloaded in one round, regardless of the number of bullets/shots.
To hit penalties while wearing armor:
Light (Textile/Leather): -2
Medium (Mail): -3
Heavy (Plate "Mail"): -4
Very Heavy (Suit/Field Plate): -5
Magical Armor (Any Type): -2
Optionally apply an additional -1 penalty for using a shield as well.

Late-Medieval/Early Modern Age (2e AD&D HR4 A Mighty Fortress)
Arquebus 1d8 1/2 50'(0)/100'(-2)/300'(-5)
Caliver 1d8 1/2 40'(0)/80'(-2)/240'(-5)
Musket w/ Rest 1d8 1/2 60'(0)/120'(-2)/360'(-5)
Musket 1d8 1 65'(0)/130'(-2)/390'(-5)
Pistol 1d8 1 15'(0)/30'(-2)/45'(-5)
Belt Pistol 1d8 1 15'(0)/30'(-2)/45'(-5)
Horse Pistol 1d8 1/2 20'(0)/40'(-2)/60'(-5)

Rate of fire for early firearms is treated the same as for medieval missile weapons.

Optional Rules:
Damage by target size ala AD&D.
Vs Small and Medium
As listed
Vs Larger and larger
Derringer 1d3
All handguns 1d6
Shotguns 2d6
Carbines 1d6
Rifles other than buffalo rifles 2d4
Buffalo rifles 2d8
All pre- and early modern firarms are as listed.
Higher Rate of Fire for 19th century and later firearms:
As this assumes a 1 minute round, you could allow up to double the ROF, with all additional shots having a -2 penalty per extra shot fired, ie 3 extra shots is a -6 for those 3 shots.
Note1: Some or all of these rules can be discarded based on how much you want firearms to be different from "normal" weapons. In a way these rules likely work best with old west guns being treated as foreign or ancient technology, thus justifying the different rules.
Note2: This assumes variable damage, which is a simple change. All other things are the same, just change them all to 1d6 for damage.
Note3: A crossbow is 1d6 1 80'(+1)/160'(+0)/240'(-1). Even if all firearms deal 1d6 damage they have clear advantages in range and rate of fire.
Note4: 1e AD&D has range penalties at 0/-1/-2, whereas Basic is +1/0/-1. 2e AD&D is 0/-2/-5.
Note5: I stepped down the damage for the guns from HR4 to bring them within the bounds of the 19th cen guns, justified by them being much lower velocity projectiles.
Note6: The Boot Hill conversion has reloading take a segment per bullet, this is only time this comes up for reloading ranged weapons. My feelings is that it's intended to allow a revlover to be reloaded in one round

Watch Out! That Goblin Has A Gun!!
A ridiculous quickdraw combat subsystem when all combatants are using guns.

02 March 2020

BX is adequately good enough

There is this magical secret occult knowledge.
You can change the rules of games you own.
No one is going to bust your kneecaps for heresy.

Them: Game is bad Me <staring at their copious houserules on using the reaction roll table for other things>: Have you considered changing the rules you don't like?
Also Me: or have you just considered...shutting up?

29 February 2020

[A sorta Review] Aetherjack's Almanac Supplement J1: Dexterity Space Travel

Last night I asked in the Melsonian Arts Council Discord if anyone had done any theater of the mind or gridless ship rules, mostly on account of finding that someone was disappointed in issues One and Two of ÆTHERJACK’S ALMANAC for have math and hexes, and I want more people to play Troika! & know that people want more Spelljammeriness for sailing the Humpbacked Sky in golden barges.

So my friend Jared just spat out some slightly shitposty but also very cool space travel rule involving flicking a token on a map, Aetherjack's Almanac Supplement J1: Dexterity Space Travel. Not only does it include the dexterity based token flicking travel rules, it has a space whale, and nifty random encounter table, suggestions on things to draw on the map, and a "you left the map" table. I recommend it on it's own merits because it's a very tactile and physical idea, even if you find a replacement for the dexterity aspect the idea of just eyeballing and handdrawing a map feels very core Troika! If you know what I mean.

While I'm not 100% going to ditch my own much more technical interplanetary rules, it does solve a problem I have. That being, how do I fit Cosmic Crawl with MY rules. J1 just sidesteps that. I can draw out or printout a larger copy of the map and use its travel rules in this sphere. Which is also very Troika! and OSR (and also Spelljammer but that's a whole other blogpost about rigidly adhering the core box rules for different crystal spheres). Spheres don't all have to follow the same rules and laws of physics.

You can support Jared on his Patreon and his Itch.

You can see my prior sorta review of Cosmic Crawl here.