Combining Dungeon World attribute checks with LotFP skills, badly

The Problem

As noted in D&D attributes, equal random generation, and skills, I’ve introduced Dungeon World -style 2d6+(attribute mod) rolls to my LotFP-based game.

Complication — LotFP already has a skill system. And it’s not clear how my attribute rolls should relate to it.

The LotFP skill system only covers a small set of activities…

lotfp_skills

… and most characters are terrible at them — their chance of success is a flat 1 in 6, regardless of level.

So I could just drop LotFP skills?

Continue reading “Combining Dungeon World attribute checks with LotFP skills, badly”

Equal 3d6 — a computer program to roll characters for you

As I noted in my previous post, I want to generate random character attributes (Str, Dex, etc). But I want them to be balanced — I want characters to differ in their talents but have the same overall ability. There are many ways to do this (e.g. see a discussion of such on rpg.net), but the natural way for me was to write a computer program to do it.

The rules

  • Characters consist of six attributes in an order
  • Attributes are rolled on 3d6 and modifiers calculated on the Mentzer/BECMI scale that LotFP uses
  • Each generated character is checked against an acceptance rule. If they pass they go on the list to print, otherways they are discarded and a new one is rolled in their place
    • Default rule is “modifiers must sum to +2”
  • The program is set to produce a fixed number of characters per run. It will keep trying to generate them until it has that number
    • If the acceptance rule always returns false, the program will run until the end of time

The code is set up so most of the above are easy to change and experiment with.

Continue reading “Equal 3d6 — a computer program to roll characters for you”

D&D attributes, equal random generation, and skills

Context

Immergleich’s rules are based on Lamentations of the Flame Princess (LotFP), and so it inherits the following:

  • Character attributes (the D&D set of Str, Dex etc) are randomly generated — 3d6 in order, roll again if modifiers sum to less than zero, player may make one swap.
    • I like this — it makes character generation a “let’s see what I get to work with” rather than a pure act of design. It cuts through overthinking and it pushes players to try concepts they would instinctively avoid. It helps to cue up players that my game is about rolling with situations, not about grinding through fair challenges for a fixed-schedule reward. It probably discourages the mechanical-optimisation-oriented players who won’t do well in my game anyway.
  • There are no direct rolls of attributes or their modifiers — there are attack rolls, saves, and skills rolls, some of which are modified by attributes
  • It is implied that you use the common OSR approach of resolving most challenges through player creativity assessed by GM judgement. Outside of combat, most challenges don’t involve rolling.
  • There are skills, but they only cover near-impossible things e.g. climbing a sheer surface. Most characters are stuck with a 1 in 6 success chance in all skills; only thieves (“specialists”) can improve them.

Problems

  1. Although PCs are never very weak (the roll-again rule prevents it), some PCs are stronger than others (it’s not that rare to have your modifiers sum to +5)
  2. Even if PCs end up with a balance of overall scores, some attributes are much more useful than others (e.g. Int is almost irrelevant)
  3. I don’t like the pure creativity-and-judgement approach to problems. When failure is a possibility and would be interesting, I like to roll.
    • I particularly like to use rolls to skip over complicated interactions (with objects or with NPCs) and get straight to the result
  4. Attributes are underused.  They’re right there on the sheet, concisely describing characters in ways that make obvious sense to many players, yet most of the time they are only used indirectly. In some situations where they sound like they’d be relevant, they’re not used at all.

Continue reading “D&D attributes, equal random generation, and skills”

Reading, Writing and GMing — reprise

Status: after several revisions, I think this is fairly accurate.

In an earlier version of an earlier post, I complained about Dungeon World’s writing, and stated some of my GMing goals, thus:

As with the art, the writing is sanitised, soft-edged, politically correct. It’s like the authors are very nice people who don’t want to offend or upset anyone, and so are watching their every step. I am not like that — I am not so nice, not so left-wing, not so keen that everyone has a good time.

As a writer and GM, my goal is to piss in your mind. I’m not here to make you happy — I’m here to fuck with your neurology in a way that might stimulate new impressions. I don’t aim to be nice — I aim to be raw, vital, and unique. I aim to fire up, not to sooth; to generate, not to heal.

I think the way that I expressed that has been an obstacle to understanding. Part of the problem was that I wasn’t clear; part was that I blurred two things that I fact approach very differently. I’ve now revised the previous post so that it’s clearer, but I think it will also be useful to explain in more detail what I mean.

Continue reading “Reading, Writing and GMing — reprise”

Trouble at the (Steel) Mill

Immergleich Bleak Herald, 6 April 936 —

“…  Resentment among the factory workers is at an all-time high, particularly in South Steel where yesterday’s riot took place…

… Leah Tornes, the owner of several affected factories, said this morning “I’m not sure what the strikers are hoping to achieve. I mean, one of my assembly lines produces door and window hinges, cheaper than any old-fashion craftsperson could. Do the strikers not have doors and windows? Do they not want them?” ...

… Raoust Prul, a foreman in Burne’s Metalworks, expressed disquiet at the level of recent anger “It’s messed up, some of it, crazy, paranoid. Yeah, work here’s often shit, but people are talking about the machines being oiled with human fat, and about them being designed to ‘accidentally’ pull workers in. That kind of thing. And it’s not just the people you’d expect… I know some solid guys who’ve turned into ranting loons. Hell knows what’s happened to them.” 

Feedback on feedback

Immergleich players may remember being asked for feedback some time ago. They may remember a form with the headings below. They may remember having views. Two months is long enough to wait — I respond!

Name

This varies too much for meaningful analysis, except that there were five names, all unique. Some were plausible, some were not.

Roughly how many sessions have you played (of the 16 I’ve run at the time of writing)?

Between 4 and 12, with a mean of 8.

How much does Immergleich rock your world?

Continue reading “Feedback on feedback”

News in Immergleich around 25 March 936

In the Walled City Gazette

“Traum Baues, always a strange and controversial figure, has made a final addition to his mystery by being found dead yesterday morning at his home in Rock End. The Rock End Collective have refused press access to the body, but an inside source say Baues was “all wrinkled up, like a paper bag”, and an alleged eyewitness spoke loudly of a “great flying shape, like a bat that’s been run over by a cart” before throwing herself into Corpse Flow.

Baues, whom rumour suggests told fortunes by inserting living beetles into living entrails, had been living in Rock End since he was forced by …”

(job J12 is no longer available)

In the Bleak Herald —

“… the removal of this longstanding job advert was done without fanfare, but it was not lost on observers that it constitutes a significant admission of defeat. After all, as the major grain merchant Chancia Freels said yesterday “Seeing the Grain Authority effectively cede its sub-basement to the Rat Cult is rather like seeing a cat surrender to a mouse. What hold do the Rat Cult have over them? And should I take my grain somewhere else?” “

(job J11 is no longer available)

And in the Panick

ANOTHER BOOM-BOOM BOOM

A medium-sized EXPLOSION last night shook the HOUSE VERDUN estate. Two stable boys and a bricklayer were KILLED, and a large wooden block hit Petunia Verdun in the BREASTS. Experts on house politics say they really don’t know who was behind it, but it’s possible that IT WAS THE NOTORIOUS DR BOOM-BOOM. It is not clear what he wants, or IF EVEN IF HE WANTS ANYTHING AT ALL, and even though he’s was probably paid to do it by another noble house, it could be YOUR HOME next.”