Category Archives: DIY Projects & El Cheapo Gaming

The Year in Review: 2021

Man. It’s been one hell of year. We thought that just may be things would get better but a lot didn’t. But enough about that. What happened here on the blog and it’s associated places on the web?

Let’s stick the more positive things that happened. Two Copper Bestsellers on DrivethruRPG. That’s pretty good for me. Blog traffic steadily increased from last year by about 15%. The odd part of that is that I just gave up cross posting to various Facebook Groups in July and it didn’t make any difference. I took a little time and started looking more closely at the posts in groups and the activity. In general, if a post was actually about gaming like a review or actual gamable content then it was crickets. If it was about the outrage of the day then people would come out screaming. And it just isn’t things I posted. It didn’t matter who posted it. Outrage click bait just seemed to drive Facebook.

Wizards just want to have fun.

What else happened over the year? Well, I pulled the plug on the podcast. Yeah, that’s kind of negative but the amount of time I was spending doing that took away from blogging and just didn’t seem to be the most efficient use of my time.

I also want to give out some shout outs to the things that I think were the coolest.

The coolest game that I stumbled upon has got to be Barbaric! It’s quick, easy and simple.

The coolest RPG App is Owlbear Rodeo. I know it’s been out a while and fought going virtual for way too long. But it’s become my go to VTT.

And finally, an honorable mention goes to Kanka.io. Once again, I’ve fought going online with a lot of my RPG stuff. After playing around with it for a couple of months, it’s the one I like. Handy for getting the campaign fluff out to a geographically challenged gaming group.

I know that this is short post. Like others, I ‘m getting ready to kick 2021 ass to the curb and give 2022 a stern, warning look. I got crazy plans and some even crazier predictions for next year but you’re just going to have to wait until next week for that.

Till then HAPPY NEW YEAR!

YARC Tweaks and Such

Ah yes. Last week was busier than expected so not much got done on the old blog but I did have the chance to scribble down some notes and then sort of put them together to make more sense. Plus, I’ve been working on a version of YARC for my players and I did promise that they’d see the rough draft in December so been working on that.

As I was organizing and making handy little tables something occurred to me about Proficiency Bonuses from 5E. Sure, it’s easy but in the back of my mind it didn’t make sense. Let me explain. A 1st level Fighter and 1st level Wizard each have a +2 Proficiency Bonus with a dagger. Yes, the Fighter does have better fighting related stats but, in my mind, this works out that they each have the same amount of training. And that makes no sense. Same goes if look at Thief and another character with Stealth. Skills are supposed to the Thief’s thing, so why does everybody else get the same bonus. OK, before you go all crazy on me, I know there all sorts of boosts in 5E based on the character’s class. But this ain’t 5E. It’s my own crazy hack that’s inspired by some 5E mechanics.

So what did I do about this? Well, let’s split up that Bonus. Characters have an Attack Bonus, a Skill Bonus, and Spell Casters have a Spell Bonus. Let’s start of with Attack Bonus. Fighters get a +2. Thieves and Clerics get a +1, and Magic-Users get a +0. For a Skill Bonus, Thieves get a +2 and everybody else gets a +1. And if you’re seeing the pattern, Clerics and Magic-Users have a +2 Spell Bonus. Now, how does progress as a character gains levels? Same way as in 5E, the first +1 is at 5th Level. And there are some opportunities to increase that along the way depending on you class.

There’s another little tweak I added. Originally, there were only four Saving Throws. I had combined the Death Save ala 5E into the Save versus Poison and Disease. After some thought, I came to the conclusion that Death don’t care and it should be it’s own Save that no class get’s a bonus to but an individual character might.

And that’s it for this week. I’ve got lots more crazy notes to type up.

What the heck is YARC?

I’ve been posting about YARC a lot so I figured I should make this Sticky Post to explain what the heck it is.

First, it’s a neat little acronym: Yet Another Retroclone. And it’s a little call back to “Bree Yark!” Google it. It started years ago as a little side project to put together different parts of various retroclones that I thought were cool but it’s evolved over the years.

YARC is now my own fantasy heart breaker, garbage punk rock, basement dweller Franken-game. I figured why not? Grab whatever mechanics that I liked from whatever game or whatever edition. Go ahead slay a couple of those sacred cows and mold it into what I and, hopefully, my players will enjoy. Astute readers will see the DNA of various ideas and concepts pop in there.

It’s very much an attempt to make play fast, efficient, and fun! And it’s very much a living project. I don’t think that it will ever be “done”. New rules and ideas pop up all the time. Things that might have worked get replaced with other things. And sometimes. Things just don’t work.

So hang on and have some fun. Roll the dice. Kill the monsters. And laugh.

There Comes A Time…

You get to a point in your life where you just don’t care what the in-crowd is doing or their opinions of you. You’re comfortable with yourself and you aren’t afraid to go off and do those things you just want to do.

I was sitting back and catching my breath the other day and I thought, “I really don’t care about editions or whatever the cool thing of the moment is.” I don’t that if a specific retro-clone is the hot thing of the day. I don’t care if this this thing that all the cool kids are playing.

Sure I’m willing to look and take interest in a new game. Heck, I may even be inspired by some of its mechanics. I’ll even run it or play it and enjoy it. But where does all of my real passion rest?

It’s in hacking rules and making a Franken-Game that may not be perfect but it’s got the stuff that I think is fun. I don’t need to apologize or justify this. But if you’re not playing by a specific edition’s rules then you’re not really playing D&D. Yes, I am.

Through out the editions, the very basic mechanics have remained basically very close or at least with recognizable origins if you take the time to look close enough. With the rise of the OGL, there have been hundreds if not thousands of new and interesting ideas. You just have to go out and find them and bend them to your will and take the good ideas that you like and put them all together for that game that’s just right the fit for you and your group.

Go out. Do it. Never apologize for it. The only people you owe anything to are those that at your table not some gang on the Internet.

Remember. Have fun. Roll dice.

The Tale of Two DM Notebooks

For a long time, I used a single DM Notebook. It was notebook to rule them all. It had the campaign notes, adventure notes, and house rules. But I think it’s time to graduate up to two notebooks.

This is my current DM Notebook and “At The Table” Reference Folder. Yes, DCC has some of the most awesome gaming art out there. My DM Notebook contained the complete house rules, campaign information, and adventures notes. My DM Folder of Doom! had combat cheat sheet and a gaggle of handpicked or home grown random tables. Pretty much everything I needed at the table. But things have grown and more stuff has been added. There’s more campaign details and more handy charts and tables. So it’s getting a little bit disorganized. So it’s time to take these apart and put them back together.

First, my main big DM Notebook. This is going to be mainly reference with the complete house rules, setting notes, reoccurring NPC’s, custom spells, and a few select magic items. I’m playing around with a couple of those online campaign managers. While these are good in theory, I’ve been finding that they want details that I’m not really planning on using and don’t have a place for some details that I want.

Second, there’s the Big Book o’ Tables. Over the years, I’ve accumulated and written bunches of these. Some I really like. Those are going to end up in this notebook. Everything from wandering/random encounters, random NPC names, what’s on the body, loot/treasure, and what’s in the room, carousing events, and so on.

Since I don’t use a DM screen but I do want some charts handy. I always do a cheat sheet. This what’s at the ready when things moving fast in the game. Things like crit and fumble charts, reaction rolls, and so on. Stuff that’s used often and needs to be on hand to keep the game moving.

If you’ve gotten this far on this post, my best bit of advice for any DM is to have a DM Notebook. Heck, even have two. These are valuable tools for your game. But the most important thing to remember is that your DM Notebook is never done. It’s always a work in progress.