We wrapped our last campaign this weekend. I was running a 5E game based on the Xoth rules changes. It was a lot fun. But I did rush the end because the players were excited the next game and we had a new player waiting in the wings.
The campaign wrapped up with PC’s exploring the ruins of Atlantis and facing down the big bad. Kalia the Avatar of Yig. My original idea was for the party to head back to where it all started a face her there but to speed things up, the showdown happened in the ruins. The PC’s got the crap beaten out of them and the faithful NPC that had been with them since the beginning got killed. The fun part was the one PC. Let’s face it the player didn’t roll badly at character generation. He just didn’t roll well. The character didn’t have any really good or bad stats. Just mostly average. So there were rare instances when the character got to stand out during the rest of the campaign.
Not so in the finale. He’s the one who scrambled up the carcass of the ancient dead snake monster and grabbed the mystical dagger which was the only thing that could kill the Avatar of Yig. He’s the one who spent two rounds sneaking into position to get every advantage he could. And he’s the one who rolled that Nat 20 on the killing blow against the major villain. I couldn’t have written it better. Now on to the next thing.
What’s up for the next campaign? Well, we’re going back to basics so to speak. For rules, it’s time to really kick the tires on my YARC ideas plus throw in a few tidbits. I’ve pulled in the influence of a lot of different games as well as some crazy ideas of my own. So we will see what happens when the dice finally meet the table.
I gave them a choice of three different starting areas with only a brief description of each. They chose a place called Border Keep. I know you’re smart. You get it. And I think only one of the players does. Sure I’ve ran it about half a dozen times and each time it was different. Now, it’s time to tweak it more and head back into the Caves of Chaos.
Yes, it’s a rare Saturday post. Why? It’s Caroline Munro’s birthday. The Queen of Hammer Horror. I think it’s odd for me to do two birthday posts in one week so I decided to do Carla from Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter as a character.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much about Carla in the movie but there’s a Captain Kronos comic where the character is much more developed. I admit that I haven’t read them but like Hollywood, I’m going to let not reading the source material stop me. The internet gives me enough.
Another thing I’m going to do here is roll the character and built her according to whatever the dice decide. I’m going to assume that she’s at a level where she’s had some training by Dr. Grost so I’m doing her as 3rd level. For a class, I decided on Rouge/Bard. Decent at combat and a flexible path to use knowledge and other tricks to win the fight and stay alive. So here we go.
Carla (3rd Level Human Rogue/Bard) Alignment: Neutral
Everything I’ve posted about YARC has been player facing stuff. This is where the whole tone of any game really happens in my opinion. It’s the options that are available for the player character that make things move. And that part is basically done. The players have a draft of the rules and it will be time to start rolling some dice in the near future. But now I want to start looking behind the screen and stuff to make the life of the DM easier.
One of the most useful axioms is that monsters and NPC’s don’t have to follow the same rules as player characters. Sure a DM can use that to cheat and just outright kill or outshine the PC’s but the true intent is to make the DM’s job easier. The less time that the DM has flip through rule books or try to puzzle out a page long monster stat block is time away from actually keeping the excitement up. This where so many of the old school games shine. Easy and to the point monster stat blocks.
If you remember from the early posts, another goal of YARC to make it so that the DM could grab just any old school adventure and quickly and easily convert it while running it.
If we boil monsters down to their most basic, there’s three things that become the core mechanics of monster: HD, AC, and Damage. Hit Dice are basically a monster’s level. It’s how many Hit Points they have plus how powerful they are overall. Sure you could roll for HP but I’m running a standard of 5 HP/HD. As far as Attack and Save Bonuses. That’s the HD. Armor Class can be just from what’s listed or compare it to what the AC might be for a player character and if you’re using a source that only has Descending AC the just take 19-AC to get the Ascending AC. Damage same thing. Just use it or think of it in terms of the what’s available to the player characters. Then adjust or run any special abilities as needed. No this isn’t a scientific approach. It’s a lot of instinct and what feels right. So let’s make a freaky swamp monster
It’s pretty tough for single low characters but it’s going to go against a whole party. Let’s give it HD : 3. So it’s got 15 HP and +3 to Attack and make any checks and Saves.
It’s got a tough rubbery hide. Let’s say that’s about leather armor so AC: 12.
Its got long nasty claws. Those are sort of like daggers but it’s really strong so let’s make damage: 1d6.
It’s a Freaky Swamp Monster so it needs a couple of freaky powers. It lives in a swamp so it should be aquatic. I know let’s make it a stealthy predator so give it Advantage on Stealth type checks in a swamp. And last let’s give it a Swamp Gas power. It’s a fog that blinds and disorients everybody but it.
Now, I know that for higher HD monsters the HD as bonus thing breaks. So I’m running with a max bonus of +10. So a HD 18 Demon Lord would have only a +10 and 90 HP. It’s a good max while it does make the monster powerful without being overpowered plus anything with that many HD is going to have really nasty special abilities that really won’t depend on hitting high level characters in combat.
And those special abilities are where a lot of monsters shine. Don’t even thing putting those into a paragraph or a sentence for use at the game table.
IMHO, too many monster books are just too damn wordy.
Let’s talk about NPC’s a bit. Unnamed, and unimportant NPC’s basically use a monster stat block. That city guard, random pickpocket, tavern keep, or merchant. They are all going to be 1 to 2 HD and might not ever be seen again or you might need even any combat stats for them. And that’s an important note right there. If an NPC isn’t going to get into combat then you don’t need stats for them.
Here’s a confession. Vasha of the Night Market is an NPC that I’ve used in two campaigns. At the very least, the player character know up front that she’s a powerful magic-user. With even the smallest bit of research, they learn that the city elders let her do pretty much whatever she wants. She’s the only person that the head of local Thieves Guild actually fears. It’s clear to the players that if they do something stupid then eight kinds of hell is going to come raining down on them. I’ve never made any kind of stat block for her.
But if that NPC is the big bad. Oh hell yes. Go crazy and make that cool stat block. And make one’s for NPC that are reoccurring that you just need to have them go into combat either with or against the player characters.
Then there’s that special time that you want make an NPC with a whole sheet just like a player character. Always keep one of those in reserve.In case a player doesn’t show up or even if there happens to an extra player show up.
I know this has been a rambling post. So it’s time for me to shut up. I’ve got a game to prep for this weekend.
And here’s the Freaky Swamp Monster
HD: 3 (15 HP)
Advantage on Stealth
Swamp Gas: Blocks vision further than 10 feet. Save Vs Magic or Confused.
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.
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.
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.