Thursday, January 31, 2019

Roger Zelazny's map of Castle Amber and surroundings

This was part of the original serialization in Galaxy magazine.
(Galaxy, Volume 39, No. 2, pg. 101)

So, so, SO COOL!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Our Amber Diceless campaign (so far) in gifs

Our new Amber campaign: the checklist

This game corresponds/inspired by Zelazny's elements from:
First Series___Second Series___5 Short Stories___
ADRPG version___Own version___Other___
All Zelazny Writings   'Purist' approach for above source___

In this game, Elders relate to Characters & Their Children:
Distant___Guarded   Neutral___Mixed Reactions   
Determined by Points spent___Dangerous___
Distant Affection___Benevolent___Other___

Attributes are compared by:
Ranks___Points   Equal___Other___
Attributes are ranked at a base:
Human 1.0 Chaos_2_ Amber_4_ Amber Ranked +6
listed in order of opportunity for initiative and Attribute speed

Endurance: regeneration, stamina, and raw power
contests of life and existence by method:

Psyche: arcane senses, mental strength, and intangibles
contests of will and magic by method:

Strength: senses, hand-to-hand, and physical
contests of matter and form by method:
Body Art___Mass___Other___All   

Warfare: planning, artifice interactions, and counters
contests of strategy and manipulation by method:

Stuff: reactions, cues, and drama
contests of destiny and harmony by method:

Powers are compared by:
Ranks___Points    Equal___Psyche___Other___
Partial powers are allowed for:
Base Powers___Advanced Powers___Other___None___All   
Advanced Powers are allowed for:
Base Powers___GM created___Other___None___All   
power, game cost, requirements, availability in game universe

50 note: amber blood, minimum Endurance 0, unique
Broken Pat
25 note: includes 5 pt Bad Stuff, rare

45 note: requires shaping, very rare
Mad Logrus
23 note: not trans-shadow, includes 5 pt Bad Stuff, rare

40 note: rare
Static Trump
20 note: uncommon, common in Chaos

Items & smArtifacts
(varies) note: must include backstory legend, item ranks are used, GM must be consulted, rare 

35 note: minimum Endurance Chaos

Use the rules from the old Trump Call zine 

20 note: SLOW, not trans-shadow, common

Power Words
use Sorcery instead

Other Items
Trump use with Family is?
Dangerous___Guarded   Common___Trivial___
Place Trumps?
Rare   Uncommon___Common___
Normal Trump connection is?
Mental___Visible/Audible   Physical___All____ 

Deadly Force expected most often at level?
Mooks   NPCs___Walk-ons___
Canon Cameos___Elders___PCs___

Axis of Conflict expected to be?
Characters___Enemies    Powers___Puzzles___Crisis___

Pathological methods and means by characters expected?
Villains___Monsters   Characters___

Shocking, offensive narrative expected?
Rare    Uncommon___Common___
Genre    None___

GM's role planned as?
 Helper Resource___Neutral Narrator___Entertainer___
 Storyteller___Equal Partner    Minimal___

Extra Creations
by the GM for the game

Pre-Gen Characters

Non-canon Elders
none so far

Unusual Powers

(Thank you to Arref Mak for providing this handy checklist)

Monday, January 28, 2019

Amber Diceless: nope, no Everway rules

Character sheet I whipped up for the Amber 17
Canon Attribute system. 600 dpi, A4 format.
So the Everway rules for Amber turned out to be not quite what I was looking for. I wanted to stick with the old Amber Diceless attributes, but I wanted a system that treated the Amber Diceless powers more like attributes. The solution is Aref Mak's super-elegant and deep Amber 17 Canon Attributes system. Those rules treat powers as attributes, as well. Very freeform, and at the same time, really perfect to play characters that stay close to Roger Zelazny's description in the books.

Don't get me wrong: Amber Diceless had Mr. Zelazny's blessing, so there for sure is no reason to say it's badwrong fun. But what you can say is that introducing more attributes and simplifying existing rules will work at least as well as Amber Diceless.

The day is today. In a little less than 10 hours, we're playing Amber again. At last. It already feels like coming home.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Amber Diceless: our new campaign – played with Everway rules

We're starting our new "Amber Diceless" campaign on Monday. After a 20-year hiatus, we're finally playing Amber again. But not with the Amber Diceless rules. This time around, I'll be using the Everway rpg rules.

Everway has been a reliable source of fun for us for a very long time. Ever since the game was published (1995), we've been using it (on and off) for a lot of different genres: Hong Kong action, Shadowrun, Cyberpunk, heroic fantasy, horror.

"Patterntech" is the name of the campaign, and it starts the player characters on Shadow Earth, set a hundred thousand years from now. Cross-shadow movement exists, but to the characters, it's hyperspace travel. Magic has made a frightening comeback, and there are old gods that have awakened from their dreams.

The player characters all start in one of the many Houses of Nobility. They have no clue what Amber is, what the Courts of Chaos are, what Pattern is, what the Logrus means, and so on. These are secrets that will be discovered in due time. For now, all they know is, they're living in Terra City, on planet Earth, with a dozen different routes into hyperspace (=adjacent Shadows).

We're using the Everway rules, with a few tweaks. The biggest and most important rule change is the Attribute Auction, or better: Element Auction. 100 points, just like in the Amber Diceless rules. When the bidding war is over, I divide the scores by 5 to get down to Everway level. With the rest of their points (20-sum), they're going to by their Powers, artifacts and creatures.

Everway, and Amber as well (when played like Erick advised) is essentially a freeform game. And that's right up our alley. I'm stoked!

Here's the audio teaser I made for the game. It's in German, but I think it sounds pretty cool.

****** EDIT

Well well well... change is the only constant, they say, and they're right (whoever they may be). Something about the rules did not feel right, so I tweaked and tweaked... and, finally, dropped them altogether.

What I'm using now is Arref Mak's super-tight 17 Canon Attribute system, an elegant and genius twist of regular Amber Diceless. It rolls attributes, powers, artifacts, sorcery and all the other subsystems of ADRPG into 17 attributes. You can model the books really well with it, way better than the original four attributes plus powers. I had Aref's system sitting on my harddrive for, what, 12 years. And today, I finally remembered them. Perfect, and they go well with the Everway Fortune deck.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Fabulous Heart of Mekron: my personal OSR game

I've done it. I finally wrote my own personal D&D variant. It contains everything I like, including a super-quick and fun mass combat system. Have fun – and let me know how you like it!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

My personal D&D

Here we go. My personal D&D. Have fun.
Roll 3d6 in order for STR, INT, WIS, CON, DEX, CHA.
No ability modifiers
(from necropraxis)
dH = Hit Dice of class
Roll 2dH twice for beginning weapons; re-roll duplicates if desired.
  1. Hand axe (can be thrown)
  2. Club, cudgel, or truncheon
  3. Sling (ranged)
  4. Dagger (can be thrown)
  5. Quarterstaff
  6. Crossbow (ranged) 8. Short sword
  7. Long sword
  8. Short bow (ranged)
  9. Mace
  10. Battle axe
  11. Spear (bulky, can be thrown)
  12. Long bow (bulky, ranged)
  13. Halberd or other pole arm (bulky)
  14. Two-handed sword (bulky)
Roll dH for beginning armor.
  1. No armor
  2. Shield
  3. Leather
  4. Leather & shield
  5. Chain
  6. Chain & shield 7. Plate
  7. Plate & shield
Roll d20 four times; re-roll duplicates if desired.
  1. Holy water
  2. Wolvesbane
  3. Belladonna
  4. Garlic
  5. Small mirror
  6. Mallet & stakes (6)
  7. Small hammer & Iron spikes (12)
  8. Grappling hook & rope (50 feet)
  9. Tinder box & Torches (6)
  10. Lantern & flasks of oil (3)
  11. Ten foot pole
  12. Rations
  13. Tent & bedroll
  14. Fishing gear
  15. Lockpicks
  16. Book, pen, ink
  17. Riding horse, tack, saddlebags
  18. Mule, tack, saddlebags
  19. Canoe & paddle
  20. Ancient super science battery
Batteries will have a limited number of charges. The referee should track charges secretly.
Each PC begins play with
Two sets of travelling clothes Backback
Belt pouch
Water skin
3 empty sacks (for loot, of course)
2d10 gp
Additional equipment is rolled on the equipment table above (4d20, as specified). Any class can use any weapon or armor (though armor decreases movement through encumbrance and penalizes actions requiring fine motor control); characters do dH damage.
A skill that is related to your class and/or background has a better success chance. Referee determines what to roll.
Saving Throw (d20)
Fighters: roll equal to or under Level+4
Magic-users: roll equal to or under Level+5
Other player characters: roll equal to or under Level+6
Monsters: roll equal to or under HD+5
OR use Stat Checks
Unarmored: AC 0
Cloth: AC 1
Leather: AC 2
Studded Leather: AC 3
Chainmail: AC 4
Splint mail: AC 5
Full plate: AC 6
Shield: add +1
Group initiative: each side rolls 1d6, higher roll goes first (determine who goes when), lower goes last; draw=simultaneous attacks; roll initiative each round
To-hit rolls (d20)
Calculate Attack Value (AV)
Fighting-men: 10+(Level*2/3 – rounded)
Magic-users: 10+(Level/3 – rounded)
Other player characters: 10+(Level/2 – rounded down)
Monsters: HD+10
To hit: roll 1d20 ABOVE target‘s AC, but below or equal to your AV
Critical hit: roll exactly your AV; double the damage you roll
Stat checks
Option 1: Roll either 1d6, 2d6, 4d6 or even more, equal to or under the stat
Option 2: Roll 1d20 equal to or under the stat
Option 3: Roll (1d20 + 1 or more points bonus if the stat is high + Level) equal to or higher than 15
Option 4: Roll 2d6 + 1 or 2 points bonus if the stat is high equal to or higher than 9. Increase/decrease as needed
Pick a class. Every race that‘s not a human gets some modifiers to stats.
Fighting-man: Starting hp 10; HD 1d8; Damage d4 per Level (either roll all d4s against one opponent, or distribute them between foes; only one to-hit roll for all dice).
Magic-users: Starting hp 6; HD 1d4; Damage 1d4. Start with 3+Level Spell Points.
Others: Starting hp 8; HD 1d6. Damage 1d6.
Creating classes
base class on one of the three base classes; give them an interesting twist.
Importing other character classes
Use the perks/special abilities of any character class. Gain a new perk every few levels. Be creative.
Spell Points: Level+3 magic-users; cast spell for free, then save vs. WIS or INT to see if the spell drained your energy. Fail this roll and lose the spell level in points. You can cast every damn spell you can lay your hands on, and spells might be written, etched, tattooed or memorized – same game mechanic.

# of attacks: 1 (1-4 HD); 2 (5-9 HD); 3 (10-14 HD); 4 (15+ HD)

Attack Value: HD+10
Format: HD, armor, powers, equipment
Damage: 1 HD, or eyeball it
Special abilities are triggered when monster rolls a critical hit
1XP per GP, round weird totals to account for monster killed, 2000 then twice the new number for every level, +10 000 per level above 9. Add 1 HD. Maybe gain a new perk.
Common sense
Establishing prices
(ideas: Zak S., Necropraxis)
Number of letters in one item: price in standard coinage of your world (Gold standard? Silver standard?)
Negative adjectives decrease price: reduce price by # of letters; if price=0, reduce the type of currency one step down (gp>sp>cp), then continue subtracting copper pieces based on the remaining unused letters in the negative adjectives. If you bottom out of copper, well good luck, it's trashed.
Large bulk purchases/sales of mundane items: roll (2d6+3) x 10% x list price.
Establishing treasure
(stolen from:
Use this die progression: d0/d4/d6/d8/d10/d12/d20/d100
To generate the value of a hoard:
Roll a d6. This tells you the number of significant digits in the hoard's value. If you plan to feature hoards of 1 million gp or greater in value, you may adjust the die type upwards as you please.
To generate the value of specific items in the hoard:
Roll a d8 and a d4. The d4 tells you how many significant digits in the item's value, and the d8 tells you which die type from the above progression to roll for the leftmost significant digit (the "head"). If an exact value is required, based on a use of the Appraise skill or whatever other method you prefer, roll 1d10 for each remaining significant digit. "0" on the d10s is read as zero, not ten.
e.g. You roll a 6 on the d8 and a 4 on the d4. This means the item is worth roughly d12 x 1000 gp. The d12 comes up 10. The item is worth roughly 10,000gp. A PC uses the appraise skill, so 3d10 are rolled, generating 3, 0, and 5. The item is worth 10,305 gp.

One continues using this process until the total value of the individual items in the hoard has the same number, or greater, as the number of significant digits in the total hoard value.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Ten thousand Buddha Palms – the action rpg

You haven't been waiting for it – but here it comes! Ten thousand Buddha Palms, my new action rpg. It's built for Hong Kong, Hollywood, Bollywood, Korean and every other type of action movie you can imagine.

All you need is your trusted rpg dice, some poker chips and pen and paper. Kick butts, take names!
(Easily combinable with minimald6 games).

Click here to download the single page format.

Click here to download the page spread format.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

HeroQuest as a roleplaying game

On New Year's Eve, we played a few sessions of HeroQuest, the old MB board game that everyone is still in love with because it is the best game ever made. I went in with the intention to morph it into a full-blown tabletop roleplaying game. Success came easily.
  1. Grant each adventurer type one or two special abilities or skills.
    These can either be freeform, or you can pick one of several freely available supplements for my minimald6 rpg and use those: Creatures & Classes, Deeds & Doers (not a supplement, but a major, major inspiration for minimald6), or Deeds & Doers Expansion.
  2. Keep the HQ combat system.
    It's quick, simple and fun.
  3. But change the order of play.
    In regular HQ, each player, including the Evil Wizard player, gets to move and act in order. In rpg-ified HQ, one player rolls a d6, the Evil Wizard player as well – the side with the higher result gets to act first (ALL characters; players will have to determine who does what), then ALL characters of the other party move and act.
  4. Remember how trap doors work in HeroQuest? Use this as saving throw for all non-combat moves.
    When a trap door has been detected, an adventurer can leap across if the player rolls one Combat Die and it doesn't show a skull symbol. There are three skull symbols, two white shield symbols and one black shield symbol on a Combat  Die. This is how you turn the board game rule into an rpg rule: To be successful, an adventurer rolls TWO combat dice and has to roll a white shield.

    If in a situation, the adventurer has an advantage of some kind, roll THREE combat dice instead of two. Remember, all you need to roll is one white shield.

    The same in reverse applies to disadvantages: Roll ONE combat die instead of two. Roll a white shield, and you're golden.
And yes, these few minor twists turn the HeroQuest board game into full-blown minimald6
Oooooh yeah!