Monday, 11 February 2019

Merc Teams for Mothership

Roll once and read across OR roll once per table

Secret Mutants
Hostage Recovery
Religious Extremists
Prison-Gang - escaped/ex-cons
Non-lethal only
Only Job We're Good at
Networked into hive-mind
Family Legacy
Hereditary Semi-Chivalric Order
Just a Job
Guerrilla Warfare
All Androids
Pursuing Traitor
Skin impregnated with Vantablack
Special Forces
Bleeding Edge
Gene-modded for Animal Traits

Gear Definitions - the below PLUS any Mission Critical Gear (e.g. explosives, laser cutters, hand welders, etc)
Vacc Suit, Crowbars, Foam Gun, Hander Welder, 1 Laser cutter per Dice of size, Nail Gun, Rigging Gun, First Aid Kit, Electronic Tool Set, Pain Pills,
Vacc Suit, SMG, 1 Combat Shotgun per Dice of size, 1 Frag Grenade per Dice of size,  Revolver, Vibechete, First Aid Kit, Bioscanner, lock-picks, pain-pills,
Vacc Suit, SBD, SMG, 1 Combat Shotgun per Dice of size, 2 Frag Grenade per Dice of size, 1 Pule Rifle per dice of size,    Revolver, Vibechete, First Aid Kit, Bioscanner, lock-picks, pain-pills, 1 stimpack per dice of size, binoculars,
Vacc Suit, SBD, Pulse Rifle, 1 Smart Rifle per dice, Frag Grenades, Revolver, Vibechete, First Aid Kid, Bioscanner, Thermal Goggles, lock-picks, pain-pills, 2 stimpacks per dice of size, binoculars
Bleeding Edge,
ABD, Pulse Rifle, 2 Smart Rifle per dice of size, frag grenades, revolver, vibechete, bioscanner, lock-pciks, stimpack, access to bespoke equipment tailored for the job specifically (e.g. android-disabling charge delivered via Pulse Rifle grenade)

Skill / Instinct / Hits

Irregulars 25/25/1
Basic 30/30/1
Elite 40/40/2
SpecOps 50/40/3

the correct abbreviation of Mothership is MoSh and anyone who says otherwise is lying to you

Thursday, 7 February 2019


tl;dr give your monsters/factions hard numbers (or dice if so inclined) to represent their numbers - and when players kill representatives, reduce the number accordingly. By tracking this, and having monsters respond intelligently, you lean more into the combat-as-war element, both in a "rewarding the players for smart tactics" and "the players are against an intelligent adversary" way.


Most modules and content and such have encounter tables. If it's half-competent* the encounter tables will relate to denizens of the area. 3d4 Orcs in layer 1 of the dungeon, or whatever. Usually, there will be a central location/s where these creatures nest or have established a base. 5d6 Orcs plus Grognog the Biggun. The assumption is sound - an intelligent band of creatures will have wandering patrols, foragers, security detail or whatever.**

So, your players hit a random encounter of a patrol of orcs, and kill them. Cool. Then it happens again. And again. You've dispatched ~18 orcs - a sizable war-band if encountered all at once. And yet they keep coming, unchanging. That's dumb.

With only slightly more book keeping, you can massively change how this plays out, and introduce dynamism and reactivity to your game using some of the most basic nuts-and-bolts level stuff.

First up - decide the total strength of a given group. I tend to just use numbers that "feel right", but if you want to do it from a more game design perspective, remember that you're going to be spreading it out somewhat. Again, dice are useful for this because it naturally gives variance. Then spread these about their keyed locations - say we've got 60 Orcs in this dungeon. so 5d6 of these, plus Grognog, in the central chamber (so about 30). Then we'll have the surrounding 4 chambers with smaller guard groups, say, 2d4 each (about 4 orcs each for 16 total) This accounts for about 75% of our force, which seems like a nice number to have "at base". The rest of these are assumed to be the orcs out on patrol - "on" the encounter table.

Nothing you wouldn't do before - you could do it the other way round, and place stuff and then tot it all up and add about 25%.

Whenever you encounter and kill orcs, reduce that from your total count. Assuming each patrol is about an hour, that's the players lead-time before HQ realise something is up - and take action accordingly.  What they do depends on their individual personality, but this is a decent framework for humanoids of decent intelligence.

After the first patrol goes missing, "clump" all patrolling orcs into one group - increasing the dice/hard number of orcs left patrolling on the encounter table. This is them consolidating their forces to avoid the same thing happening - furthermore, they will be actively looking for what happened to the previous patrol - so you may no longer need the Why column.

If this patrol is then defeated, again, reduce your sum total of Orcs. They no longer send out patrols - this is important and interesting. Players *should* notice the absence of orcs, AND they've effectively made moving around in the environment much easier for themselves - direct reward for succeeding in those encounters.

However, back at base, the Orcs will be mobilizing, either drawing all forces into a single room OR shifting the central group out to reinforce the boundary, setting up a signal (warhorn?) to alert others and draw them to that room.

By having a signal, you also give players more toys to play with - they can try and kill the "alarm orc", or cause a distraction, drawing defenders away from other routes to the central chamber - which is really cool if you're doing gold-as-xp, allowing them to cause a distraction and dash for the loot.

Eventually, this state of heightened security will be relaxed, and patrols will be resumed - albeit with lesser numbers. You'll have to re-divvy up numbers - I suggest reinforcing patrols by "taking" dice from the most populated rooms. What this means if your players can harass and skirmish with the larger body, using the advantages of mobility to eliminate the orcs piecemeal, negating their advantage of numbers.

Eventually, if this continues, the Orcs will be critically low on numbers - leading to an attempted retreat - about 25% makes sense. (Again, if that's their nature - oath-bound guardians of the Orc God Idol probably won't leave, but will probably begin calling for reinforcements from further afield.)
This is another opportunity for the players to try and get clever, hitting the orcs during a retreat, when many are burdened down with all their supplies and goods.

If there's orcs unaccounted for between dice and hard-numbers - these are stragglers, survivors, deserters. They might still appear on the encounter table, but generally will always be attempting to flee or hide.

The above looks long but it's pretty intuitive - just think about actions, don't get lazy, do a tiny bit of book-keeping and reap the reward.

*unless, obviously, the incongruity is the point
**make your encounter tables 3D - gives far more variety, and avoids the issue of "okay you're travelling and see some orcs on the road roll initiative and fight" - also lets you pack buckets of setting detail into the table - orcs pursuing orcs? morale issues?
 (Overland Travel Only)
3d4 Orcs
Patrolling Territory
Amidst scrub brush and trees beside the road.
2d6 Wolves
Ruins of a wagon-train, long abandoned.
1d4-1 Ogres
Waiting in Ambush
Recently razed farmstead.
2d4 Grub-bugs
Pursuing (roll again on what)
Around/Centred on a watchtower
1d8 Fungal Hosts
Fleeing (roll again on what)
Atop a small hill
1d4 Talking Spider Swarm
Looting/Eating Bodies (roll again on what)
Overgrown, untended field.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Swyvers Playtests

Do you like being a criminal?

Do you like being hunted like a hound down city streets?

Do you like dying, gutted with a rusty shank?

Do you like cowering in fear?

Do you like taking other people's stuff?

                                  SWYVERS PLAYTESTS NOW RECRUITING
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Saturday, 2 February 2019

Monitoring Growth

Cults, diseases, republicanism, COMMUNIST FERVOR, whatever - you gotta track the THING that grows within a host population because reasons:

Take your map - chunk it loosely. So, a city becomes a collection of district chunks, a kingdom regions, continent realms (if lots of small ones) or regions (e.g. East and West NotFrance). All chunks are assumed to be connected to adjacent chunks unless there's like, mountains and stuff in the way. You can work it out.

Pick a chunk to be ground zero - put a d6 there. This represents the presence of the thing.

Every [time interval, as dictated by scale - cities might be days, kingdoms weeks and continents months] roll all the dice on the map. Anywhere you roll max, up the dice size in that chunk AND all adjacent chunks, with those with no dice gaining a d4.

Dice Chain:
(change colour after the d10 tipping point)

0 -> d4 -> d6 -> d8 -> d10 -> d8 -> d6 -> d4 -> 1
(no presence)                                                           (whole population)

This nicely simulates the spread of something, at first struggling to spread but then hitting majority and landsliding.

You can change up how virulent the thing is by increasing the range - so, the top 2 results, top 4 or whatever. This can also simulate activity by players/other parties to fight/bolster the spread, increasing or decreasing the margin of success.

You could also have things go backwards when you roll a minimum result - again, especially if people are actively doing things about it. 

Monday, 7 January 2019

Viking Raid Campaign

Using a low-power, low-magic system*, being goddamn Vikings is a pretty strong sandbox campaign opener:

  • Not knowing about where you're going despite living in the world, whilst still allowing you to give meaningful rumours/information for players to plan their next moves around.
  • Immediate cultural driver for players to go out there and get involved for glory & gold.
  • Have hirelings (boat crew) and replacement characters from the word go
  • Discrete adventures/delves as each individual raid - keep going until you fill your longship.
    • Allowing for logical downtime & investment & carousing with your ill-gotten-gains.
  • Actively engaging with different cultures for trade/raiding, weapons and "unlocking" new race/class options.
    • Want a good sword? Damascus steel is hard to get, but you could sail down there and take it...
  • Make religion and language an active component
    • Converting to Christianity allows access to more ports to sell your booty, but causes disfavor back home
    • Hiring/capturing translators becomes really important, especially for some of the longer-range trips you might take
  • Give different regions a living mythology - go and kill all the different flavours of dragon
    • Each region can have it's own unique magic system so it always feels different
  • Fallen Empire archetype fulfilled by the Western Roman Empire
  • Expedition planning, if you're into that sort of shit
  • Finally use all those sick water monsters
Look at this shit they built a boat and sailed it around

*So basically Swyvers