Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Blast from the Past

I'm a total, unabashed 80s fan. When Breakdance Sensation 1984 played, I was 14 years old, and loved breakdancing (my thing was Electric Boogie). Born and raised in Germany, I witnessed the rise of the Neue Deutsche Welle music firsthand, and by God, I loved it, all of it.
I DMed the first roleplaying game of my life in 1984, with the first and legendary edition of 'Das Schwarze Auge‘ (The Dark Eye). It was love at first sight.
It was the same year when I started my full-contact martial arts path – many injuries, many sparrings and many brawls later, I'm still active and teaching. This, too, was love at first sight.
In many ways, to me the 80s were (and still are) the epitome of comfort, emotional security and careless freedom. I had my first crush on the girl next door, what a strange and wonderful feeling. My parents got it together, and after many years of struggling and fighting, rediscovered their love for each other. I discovered Alan Watts' books and zazen meditation that same year – and they changed my life in profound ways.
For these and so many other reasons, the 80s mean a lot to me.
...and right now, I'm listening to a digitized version of a K-Mart Reel to Reel from May 1988. Because, to quote Marie Kondo, 'it's sparking joy'.
I wish y'all a beautiful, beautiful Tuesday. Take care, and know you're loved.

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Black Hack 2e: Crab-Man class

Click to download.

I'm a huge Yoon-Suin fanboy, and when our current Amber campaign is over, our brave heroes will continue their adventures there. With TBH 2e, things will go very smoothly.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

minimalAmber: playing Amber Diceless WITH DICE (ha!)

minimalAmber
Norbert G. Matausch

1. Creating characters
1.1Choose your character class. The number in parentheses is the number of specials you may pick. Then, determine your Attributes.
Prince of Amber(2): walked the Pattern, I understand Shadow Technology, have Shadow Resources, I have a Sword that never gets lost


Pick one or roll 1d4: 1 Strong as an ox; 2 Tough as nails; 3 Master of Warfare; 4 Psychic Bulwark
Pick one or roll 1d4: 1 Stronger than average; 2 Can take a blow; 3 Good Warrior; 4 Strong Psyche

Pick one or roll 1d4: 1 Weak; 2 Fragile; 3 Clumsy; 4 Weak Psyche

(all weak attributes are still better than the average human)

________________________________________________________________________________


Wizard of Amber(2): I walked the Pattern, I can cast Spells, have Shadow Resources, I have a Sword that never gets lost
Pick one or roll 1d4: 1 Strong as an ox; 2 Tough as nails; 3 Master of Warfare; 4 Psychic Bulwark
Pick one or roll 1d4: 1 Stronger than average; 2 Can take a blow; 3 Good Warrior; 4 Strong Psyche

Pick one or roll 1d4: 1 Weak; 2 Fragile; 3 Clumsy; 4 Weak Psyche

(all weak attributes are still better than the average human)

________________________________________________________________________________
Chaos Knight(3): I survived the Logrus, have Shadow Resources, I’m a Shapeshifter

Pick one or roll 1d4: 1 Strong as an ox; 2 Tough as nails; 3 Master of Warfare; 4 Psychic Bulwark
Pick one or roll 1d4: 1 Stronger than average; 2 Can take a blow; 3 Good Warrior; 4 Strong Psyche

Pick two or roll 1dtwice: 1 Weak; 2 Fragile; 3 Clumsy; 4 Weak Psyche

(all weak attributes are still better than the average human)

________________________________________________________________________________
Trump Artist of Amber(2): I walked the Pattern, I can create Trumps

Pick one or roll 1d4: 1 Strong as an ox; 2 Tough as nails; 3 Master of Warfare; 4 Psychic Bulwark
Pick one or roll 1d4: 1 Stronger than average; 2 Can take a blow; 3 Good Warrior; 4 Strong Psyche

Pick two or roll 1dtwice: 1 Weak; 2 Fragile; 3 Clumsy; 4 Weak Psyche

(all weak attributes are still better than the average human)

________________________________________________________________________________
Chaos Mage(3): survived the Logrus, can cast Spells, I’m a Shapeshifter
Pick one or roll 1d4: 1 Stronger than average; 2 Can take a blow; 3 Good Warrior; 4 Strong Psyche

Pick two or roll 1dtwice: 1 Weak; 2 Fragile; 3 Clumsy; 4 Weak Psyche

(all weak attributes are still better than the average human)

________________________________________________________________________________
Chaos Artist (3):survived the Logrus, I can create Trumps, I’m a Shapeshifter
Pick one or roll 1d4: 1 Stronger than average; 2 Can take a blow; 3 Good Warrior; 4 Strong Psyche

Pick three or roll 1dthree times: 1 Weak; 2 Fragile; 3 Clumsy; 4 Weak Psyche

(all weak attributes are still better than the average human)

________________________________________________________________________________

1.2 Starting Level
You start on Level 2.


1.3Scope of Powers: what might be possible 
Pattern
  • move through shadows: 
    • Shadow Walking (change one detail after another)
    • Royal Path (only travel through shadowsyou like)
    • Hell Ride (the shortest path through shadow = greatest danger)
  • Shadow portal: lead others through the shadows
  • Pattern as shield against attacks (logrus, magic) 
  • Finding things, beings and situations in the shadows
  • Shadow time: slow and fast shadows
  • Manipulate shadows (you have to move)
  • Make probabilities occur and/or influence
  • Blood curse ("By the Pattern of Amber, I curse…")
  • Changing the laws of nature/magic laws of a shadow
  • Recognize disturbances in the shadow (e.g. when a real being is pulled through)

Logrus
  • Requirement: strong will and 100 percent chaos blood
  • Logrus tendrils are always clearly visible (black)
  • recover from mental stress
  • Hang up/save spells on logrus tendrils
  • Manifest and control Logrus tendrils
  • Use Logrus tendrils as mental weapon/tool (influencing creatures and shadow material)
  • Use Logrus as shield
  • travel through the shadows: "very difficult" (Merlin); one forcibly makes one's way through the shadows, whereby one must mostly follow the local topographical conditions --> slowly and laboriously; therefore mostly winged beings are used as messengers
  • Pattern contact: extremely painful for logrus users

Magic
  • difficult to use, when used against patterns or logrus, it is only one third as strong
  • Magic is bound to the respective shadow and is very difficult to access from one shadow to another.
  • short one-word spells (Power Words)
  • the more variables in a spell, the longer it will take for it to be deployed

Trump
  • Painting, drawing, making trump cards
  • on any reasonable surface
  • one-time (quick sketches) or permanent (family trumps)
  • trumps of persons or landscapes

Shapeshifting
  • Pick two basic body shapes
  • Close wounds, assume further body shapes
  • Primary form: Survival form of the shape-shifter ("demonic" looking), best form for survival
  • Transforming body parts
  • Create a blood creature: from your own blood; the creature has a small spark of the creator's power. 
  • transform your own aura/change your personality
  • maybe even shape other beings?


2. Playing the game
All characters can use Trumps.

2.1 Players
Describe what your character is doing. Roll 2d6. A 5 or 6=successful. +1d6 for advantage of any kind (item, high attribute, superior tactics etc). -1d6 for disadvantage of any kind (low attribute, hinderance). Do NOT ADD dice results. Simply look for Fives and Sixes. Never roll more than 3d6. Never roll less than 1d6. Roll when you try to hit, to evade, to do stuff, to save your ass. The DM will tell you when and why.

2.2 DMs
Play the world and everything in it. Roll for it, if necessary. Success in combat=reduce health by 1 point or narrate what happens (high health=they can take a good amount of damage, low health=weak). Major successes are possible (you decide when it happens and what happens). Likely success: don’t roll dice, it happens. Unlikely success: roll dice. Impossible: don’t roll dice, tell the players what happens. Skills are likely, except when impossible. All rolls change the situation.

2.3 Non player characters
DM, if it’s required, create specials for your npcs (just like character classes). If not, wing it.

2.4 Leveling Up
When it‘s dramatically appropriate, a character reaches a new experience level. They may then pick another special from their own list (or, with your OK, from another), or the DM creates a new one for them.

(...)

2.8 Optional rule: Dilemma Die
Recommended for action adventure games. Introduce an additional die, the Dilemma Die. That’s a d6 with one side marked with a flash symbol. Roll the Dilemma Die with your other dice. If you roll a flash, something negative happens in addition to what’s going on, and it doesn’t matter if the other dice show a success or not.
2.9 Optional rule: Mass Combat
Against a superior opponent (in numbers or in ability): disadvantage
Against a vastly superior opponent (in numbers of ability): impossible
Against an inferior opponent (in numbers or in ability): advantage
Against a vastly inferior opponent (in numbers or in ability): likely

Friday, March 22, 2019

Playing Amber Diceless... with dice.



We started our new Amber campaign a few weeks ago. The first couple of sessions went well, as expected – to me, as GM, they also felt... a bit boring. Instantly, I felt teleported back to a time more than two decades ago, when we played our last Amber game. Some sessions were outstanding, while others felt pretty average, nothing to write home about.

While 28 years ago, playing Amber Diceless with dice was preposterous (and author Erick Wujick told everyone just how stupid the mere idea was), some things have changed over the years. I have come to like, even love, the randomness of dice in roleplaying games. I welcome their unpredictable results with open arms. There's nothing more boring, more stale, than NOT rolling dice in rpgs. The OSR has done this to me, and I'll be eternally grateful for this.

There are a few things in Amber Diceless I just can't stand any more:

  • Being ranked first in an attribute guarantees you'll always be the best in this stat. Fucking boring.
  • Walking The Pattern was described as enormously dangerous and potentially fatal in the novels. This inherent threat was completely neutralized in Amber Diceless. All you need is Endurance of at least Amber rank, and you're safe. At least, no diceless GM worth their salt would even think about killing your princeling for walking The Pattern. Fucking Boring.
  • As someone who has been practicing and teaching reality-based self-protection and military combatives for more than 30 years, I know that randomness is a factor in combat. In a diceless (and even more, randomless) game like Amber, this is simply swept under the rug. Fucking boring.
  • Intrigues and cabals and conspiracies in the novels were on medium pulp level at best. The meat of the stories lies in the adventures and heroic deeds of Corwin and Merlin, the protagonists. Amber Diceless glorified the intrigue part, while every single Amber player I know liked the adventure part at least a bit more than the backstabbing. Adventure rpgs without random generators are Fucking Boring.  
So, I'll play Amber With Dice. This is the rough version of the rules I'll be using:
  1. Create characters as usual.
  2. Convert the Amber stats to Olde House Rules' brilliant Blood of Pangea format. In a nutshell, the most important rule is this:
  3. Warfare/Psyche:
    In combat, roll 2d6 (as per the Blood of Pangea rules) and add a combat bonus:
    Human: +0
    Chaos: +1
    Amber: +2
    10: +2, one free reroll
    20 +3
    30: +3, one free reroll
    40: +3, two free rerolls
    50: +3, three free rerolls
    60: +3, four free rerolls
    70: +3, five free rerolls
    80: +3, six free rerolls
    90: +3, seven free rerolls
    100+ 3, eight free rerolls
    etc
  4. Strength:
    Human: Might 1-2
    Chaos: Might 3-4
    Amber: Might 8
    ranked: Might = 8+(STR/4)
  5. Damage
  6. Better Damage
    2-6: 0
    7-9: 1
    10: 2 (maximum damage possible for non-fighters)
    11: 3
    12: 4

Rettet das Internet – stoppt Zensur in Deutschland

This is a blog in English, but the following topic is too important:

Ich habe gerade die Petition „Stoppt die Zensurmaschine – Rettet das Internet! #Uploadfilter #Artikel13 #SaveYourInternet" unterschrieben und wollte dich fragen, ob du auch mitmachst.

Unser Ziel ist es, 6.000.000 Unterschriften zu sammeln und dafür brauchen wir Unterstützung. Hier kannst du mehr über die Petition erfahren:


Vielen Dank!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Black Hack boxed set. Duuuuude.












Breaking my (strict-ish) social media silence for an important public service announcement:
The Black Hack boxed set arrived. Fell in love (again). Beautiful. Thank you, @David Black. Plus: Holy shit, it's so cool.
That is all. Please continue.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Thundarr! ...and how easy it's to play him in proto-D&D games



I love playing with rules that are older than D&D. Chirine ba Kal calls them "pre-school" rules, I prefer to call them proto-D&D, though they don't resemble D&D as most of us know it; names are smoke and mirrors, anyway. One thing that especially the old guard of roleplayers criticizes frequently is that most modern gamers read rulebooks instead of "real books" (novels, non-fiction works). I play other systems, too. But one of the many reasons why I keep coming back to proto-"D&D" is because it's so easy to turn any description of any character into a gameable asset.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

From OSR to The Indie Hack: an experiment

I'm writing several games at the moment – which, of course, results in snail-like pace in terms of progression. But that's how I'm wired, and that's that.

What I'd like to try today is to convert a character class I wrote for one of my games (Darkworm Colt, an rpg based on Into the Odd) to Slade Stolar's brilliant "The Indie Hack". Let's see how this goes.

First, the character class in its natural format:


Elven Berzerker
Feared in all the lands.
Faithful only to their savage gods.

You get: Elven Darkblade (1d8), Runes of Rage, Talking Skull of your Ancestor
Sample Names: Khorzak, Yonkath, Urhuuz, Gorgo, Rilukk, Bolar

What do you know about yourself?

HP
1
Rage is the gods‘ gift, so when you fight, there are no survivors. Ever. Make WIL save to stop the slaughter when there are still beings left. Failure doubles the damage you inflict.
2
Cold smile. Successful WIL test with Advantage to intimidate.
3
That tattoo on your forehead might be a demon.
4
Blood is life, so drink it from the skulls of your enemies. Regain d4 hp.
5
If anyone ever knows your true name, they gain the power to give you one order – once. 
6
You fight better with blades. Roll with Advantage for damage.


How would this look like in The Indie Hack?

Like so:




The Elven Berzerker 

You are feared in all the lands. The only ones you are faithful to are your savage gods.

Questions (answer 2): What is it your gods demand? What have you done to be feared? Who was the mightiest opponent you have ever sent to the Cold Realm?

Class Attributes: Tough [+1], Precise [0], Clever [-1]

Natural Aptitudes (choose 1): Intimidate, Endurance

Positive Details:
- Master of Blades (you can fight with any kind of blade) 
- Blood Drinker (Spell: drink some of the blood of a slain enemy and remove one hard detail) 
- Rage (Skill: Roll Clever challenge to stop fighting when there are still living beings near you; if you fail this challenge, you have to continue fighting, and you inflict double negative details till there is nobody left) 

 You start with: Elven Darkblade (Lifeless /5), Talking Skull of your Ancestor (Mute /3)