I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.
- William Blake
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
2020 retrospective (blogging, publishing and gaming)
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Chaos Factory EVERYTHING - Christmas sale!
I'm dropping by to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! A great 2021 to all!
This is our second e-mail - ever! As we promised, our emails will be rare - no more than once a trimester. If you want to hear from us more often, follow Chaos Factory Books on Facebook!
In addition, we are making a holiday sale: the bundle with all RPGs we ever wrote has now 55% discount on top of individual discounts.
That's 12 PDFs for $14.99.
Here is our entire "Christmas tree"; click the link below to get to the sale and see what each PDF is about!
As always, if you already have something on the list, the price is even lower. We will keep this price until the beginning of 2021.
Merry Christmas and Happy holidays to all!
I'm not sure this is my last post on 2020 in this blog, so I'm wishing you a great 2021 in advance!
Sunday, December 20, 2020
Bows are nearly useless (unless you're an expert)
Friday, December 04, 2020
"Common law" versus "Civil law" in game design
Civil law systems have their origin in the Roman legal tradition. Civil systems vary widely, both in procedure and substantive law, so conducting research on a particular nation's civil law system should include looking at that nation's specific system of law, but they do have some trademark characteristics. Nations with civil law systems have comprehensive, frequently updated legal codes. Most importantly, case law is a secondary source in these jurisdictions. France and Germany are two examples of countries with a civil law system.
Common law systems, while they often have statutes, rely more on precedent, judicial decisions that have already been made. Common law systems are adversarial, rather than investigatory, with the judge moderating between two opposing parties. The legal system in the United States is a common law system (with the exception of Louisiana, which has a mix of civil and common law).
The idea of civil law is basically "think of how the law should apply in abstract, pass a law and then enforce it". In game design, this would be thinking of a cool feat, comparing it to existing feats, and adding it to your game before play-testing it.
Common law would be the opposite approach: play the game until you reach an impasse. Resolve the impasse. If the problem arises again, you already have an answer, which might be enough or might be superseded.
There is also this:
Customary law systems are based on patterns of behavior (or customs) that have come to be accepted as legal requirements or rules of conduct within a particular country. The laws of customary legal systems [...] are often dispensed by elders, passed down through generations. [...] Oftentimes, customary law practices can be found in mixed legal system jurisdictions, where they've combined with civil or common law.
In RPG-land, these are the rules we used because they were always like this. Falling damage ("d6 per 10 feet") is a good example. It is not particularly realistic or deliberate, and it's basically unchanged from OD&D to 5th edition because nobody cared to change it.
Wednesday, December 02, 2020
SlaughterGrid (OSR adventure - Mini Review)
Saturday, November 28, 2020
Tasha (and D&D 5e?) is for experts... and beginners. Is 5e OSRish anymore?
Sunday, November 22, 2020
Curse of Strahd Guide, IV - Hitting Strahd in the allies (Strahd is the land; the land is Strahd)
In my campaign, the (slightly murderhobos) PCs became paranoid (not entirely unreasonable), managed to save Ireena and find the sun blade, but the rest of the items were in the castle and, according to the cards, they got NO allies (which obviously made them more paranoid).
Monday, November 16, 2020
The Dead in the Woods
Saturday, November 14, 2020
How thick is your armor (5e D&D)?
If your Dexterity is greater than your Armor Class, you are wearing "lighter" armor. If your Dexterity is smaller than your Armor Class, you are wearing "heavier" armor.
Sounds quite obvious, but it took me a while.
It is not easy to do, however. AC 15 can mean that someone is really agile, or that he or she is wearing chain armor. Likewise, when a monster has AC 15 (natural armor) it could be anything - from the tiny stirge (AC 14) to the large troll (AC 15).
Having a specific type of armor (leather armor, plate armor) indicated is a bit better, although you'd have to create specific rules for each kind of armor (there are twelve, plus shield), or memorize in which categories each armor fits (light/medium/heavy) or reverse-engineer the monster's AC to find out how heavy the armor is*.
* Notice that someone with Dex 18 might have AC 16 using light, medium or heavy armor - although in this case you might assume the armor to be light. Curiously enough, one of the main downsides of heavy armor (and some kinds of medium armor) is giving you disadvantage to stealth - but, again, you'd have to memorize them to to know if a monster has disadvantage.
But if we use the formula indicated above, things get a lot easier. Now it is obvious that the stirge's natural armor is lighter than the troll's, and the Tarrasque's carapaces in a lot heavier than both.
With this formula, we can create easy house rules, such as "slashing weapons deal more damage on a critical hit against light armor". This is just a start.
It doesn't solve all our problems - there are still a few outliers, and some instances where Dexterity is equal to AC (but not enough to create a "medium armor" category by itself), oozes might be a problem, etc. But it is simple and efficient... which is all I need right now.
Sunday, November 08, 2020
10 OSR Lessons from Darkest Dungeon (part II)
Monday, November 02, 2020
10 OSR Lessons from Darkest Dungeon (part I)
Saturday, October 31, 2020
The BEST damage type in D&D 5e
Acid. The corrosive spray of a black dragon’s breath and the dissolving enzymes secreted by a black pudding deal acid damage.The main difference between them is...
Bludgeoning. Blunt force attacks—hammers, falling, constriction, and the like—deal bludgeoning damage.
Cold. The infernal chill radiating from an ice devil’s spear and the frigid blast of a white dragon’s breath deal cold damage.
Fire. Red dragons breathe fire, and many spells conjure flames to deal fire damage.
Force. Force is pure magical energy focused into a damaging form. Most effects that deal force damage are spells, including magic missile and spiritual weapon.
Lightning. A lightning bolt spell and a blue dragon’s breath deal lightning damage.
Necrotic. Necrotic damage, dealt by certain undead and a spell such as chill touch, withers matter and even the soul.
Piercing. Puncturing and impaling attacks, including spears and monsters’ bites,
deal piercing damage.
Poison. Venomous stings and the toxic gas of a green dragon’s breath deal poison damage.
Psychic. Mental abilities such as a mind flayer’s psionic blast deal psychic damage.
Radiant. Radiant damage, dealt by a cleric’s flame strike spell or an angel’s smiting weapon, sears the flesh like fire and overloads the spirit with power.
Slashing. Swords, axes, and monsters’ claws deal slashing damage.
Thunder. A concussive burst of sound, such as the effect of the thunderwave spell, deals thunder damage.
Some creatures and objects are exceedingly difficult or unusually easy to hurt with certain types of damage.Bludgeoning damage, for example, is good against skeletons, as they are vulnerable to this type of damage. Fire elementals are IMMUNE to fire and poison damage, so they take NO damage at all from these sources.
If a creature or an object has resistance to a damage type, damage of that type is halved against it.
If a creature or an object has vulnerability to a damage type, damage of that type is doubled against it.
Monday, October 26, 2020
Railroads (and some sandboxes)
This definition is important, as you will see below.
RPG adventure modules (and campaigns) can have several types of structure, two of which are mentioned more often: the railroad and the sandbox.
(Until the end of this article, I will argue that these words describe MOMENTS in the adventure, not adventures)
A "railroad style" adventure is one in which the characters never leave the pre-defined tracks in the adventure. That is, the plot goes from A, to B, to C, to D, regardless of what the characters do.
So you could already say that "railroads are not role-playing games". After all, players don't make relevant choices. It may be a theater, the narration of a story (sometimes shared), it may even be a way of TEACHING RPG, but it is not RPG, strictly speaking.
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
DTRPG's Halloween gold run - free stuff!
Almost all of my own products are 25% off due to the sale, since I write mostly dark fantasy stuff.
In addition, you can get free stuff on the site by clicking on the pumpkins, hats, ghosts, bats, etc. Just click all the menus to find icons such as these:
I found some good stuff already: Xas Irkalla, Stranger Stuff (TinyD6) and some things I didn't know.
Sunday, September 27, 2020
Curse of Strahd Guide - Part III - Minimum resources
However there's already a huge trove of fan-produced stuff for the campaign online, for free. Because of that I have little to add, other than a few links and comments.
In fact, there is so much good material out there that's what I thought it would be more useful to do the opposite: tell you the bare minimum additional resources you need to run this campaign. Because there's so much decent stuff online bet you could run this company forever, but I'm guessing this is not your goal.
Some of the essential stuff you need is in the official DM's screen. Now, I don't use or recommend using DM screens, but that's the subject for another post. The material contained in this screen, however, is very useful to have in hand. One might even guess that some of this was left out of the book on purpose... But they wouldn't do that, right? I mean, you can find some of this stuff in the book, but it is badly organized. See this rant if you want to know what I mean.
Anyway... Let's take a look at this.
* Lists of random encounters for Barovia and for the Castle, with page numbers.
* A few maps of the castle.
* A map of Barovia.
* A list os locations in Barovia, in alphabetical order, with page numbers.
Each marking represents one hour of travel, AND one check for random encounters (yes, I tweaked things a bit). Of course, you could also number and describe in advance each of these places... But this is not necessary.
Why do distances matter? Because you should never be out at night in Barovia. But that's the subject for another post.
But anyway, this is enough to get you started:
- Two good maps - one for players, the other for the DM. Notice that the map can include the next two bullet points.
- An alphabetical index of locations, with page numbers (or write them down in the map).
- A guide for distances in Barovia.
- A copy of the list of encounters; add a copy of pages 29-33 (encounters) to avoid flipping back and forth.