Thursday 17 November 2022

Thinking about them spells

Internet connection is not so good these days, energy system had taken a hit from russian missiles, so it needs some fixing and rebalancing and whatever. 

Meanwhile I'm thinking about picking a magic system for my players. 

Vancian magic: spells are basically monsters that you stuff in your head, then release when the time is right. In Dying Earth wizards could remember, say, four very powerful spells or five-six less potent. Which is a nice touch. 

Things you can do when you need a quick spell: read a book. You can also write a rune on something which acts like a permanent spell, basically creating a magic item.  

Ways to learn a new spell: you don't learn spells. You collect them. 

Magic points: you have, like, 50 points, you can cast a 5-point spell 10 times or a 10-point spell 5 times or a 20-point spell twice and then you can do one 10-point or two 5-point spells, you get the math. 

Things you can do when you need a quick spell: drink a mana potion, or something like that. 

Ways to learn a new spell: read it somewhere, or have someone teach it to you - whatever, after you learn it, you know it.

D&D magic: kind of like Vancian but instead of "have four strong ones or five weak ones or eight completely pathetic ones in your head", you have "five of level one and four of level two and two of level three", and also you need to carry spell components which can be expensive or disgusting or stupid or all three at once. And also you can have more than one of the same spell in your head at the same time, which kind of follows the monsters analogy but feels ridiculous to me.

Things you can do when you need a quick spell: read a scroll, destroying it permanently (it would be kind of cool if you could do that with your spellbook pages, wouldn't it?). 

Ways to learn a new spell: you don't learn spells. You write them into your spellbook, copying them from scrolls or other spellbooks.

D&D sorcerers' magic: kind of like D&D wizards' magic but more messed up, you have the spells in your head, permanently, but you can cast this specific amount of spells of this level and then you have to rest. Kind of having your headmonsters trained, so after you release them, they come back into your head. 

Things you can do when you need a quick spell: I honestly don't remember. Scroll thing probably works, too. 

Ways to learn a new spell: you can free up some space in your head by forgetting one of the spells you know, and let another spell take its place. The more I think about it, the more it sounds like some kind of freaky Spidey-Black-Costume-like symbiosis. And it means that the spellcaster gets to do all sorts of stuff with the spells, but the spells also get something from the spellcaster. I wonder what. 

I must say I like how the sorcerer thing can be fixed and twisted. I'll probably try and go with it and see what happens.

Monday 14 November 2022

Playing Usagi Yojimbo in Ukraine: to Hell and Back

Still shocked by the news of Kevin Conroy's death. 

And the war is still going on - there are successes, I finally uncorked the grape soda that I was keeping for the day of Kherson's liberation, but still, it's been eight years. 

And there's more stuff that doesn't really help. 

So it was nice to once again get together and play some tabletop RPG. 

Currently, our options are either fantasy China, or fantasy Japan. Fantasy Japan means Usagi Yojimbo + whatever I manage to drag from other games. Fantasy China means that I'm playing characters who have no idea what's happening and why they're here. 

This time, I dragged in two Cube World modules - "Hell on Earth, and also in Hell", and "The Defense the Ruined City".

"Hell on Earth" is a two-parter. I hope to use the first part later on. The second part is "A Small Hell" - the party goes down, and meets the demons. 

There's the sloth demon, who's my favourite NPC now, because he lazy, talks slowly so you can think of stuff to say, and actually is not so bad for a demon. 


 There is no reasonable doubt about whether the Sloth Demon smokes weed.


There's the hellhog, who's a pig - the characters didn't actually get to meet him, but they heard him chomp and slurp and comment on the nutricious value of souls through the wall. 

There are just some neat moments that help create the athmosphere, like what's the floor made of and what the huge statue looks like and whether the bottomless pits are truly bottomless (they are). 

Two things to say about our players: 

1) when they crawled out of hell, the first thing they did was re-seal the doors to keep the demons inside; 

2) when they found out that they've crawled out in a city that's under siege, and will be attacked at dawn, they immediately considered the option of just returning to hell and waiting there until the attackers leave.

Because they found themselves locked in the Battle of Ruined City. 


Undead samurai is not quite happy to meet you.

The cool thing about bringing Cube World stuff to Usagi Yojimbo games is that Zak actually made up some modules for fantasy Japan, and Ruined City is one of those. There's an old lord who found something interesting in the city, there's an ogre witch who wants the lord dead, and there's a curse that had fortunately provided the ogre with an army of undead. The lord has an army, too. 

If you like a little wargaming in  your tabletop roleplaying now and then, look no further. There are some tips about how to work with the troops and how to do the battle. And I used none of those, because, as I said, I'm still not in my best shape. So the party just did the thing when they go out to find and kill the enemy commander (mind you, they had a plan and preparations and all).

Note: Zak's modules can provide the most entertainment if you play them when you're not depressed. When you're depressed, though, they're a good distraction, so win-win anyways. 

The witch is tough enough to make a fight interesting, yet winnable even for a very low-magic group like ours (I mean, Usagi Yojimbo doesn't have a magic system). 

Considering my love to returning to the scene of the crime, maybe we'll have the Second Battle of the Ruined City somewhere in the future. And we'll do it the proper way.

Saturday 5 November 2022

Not playing tomorrow...

 ... due to real life happening (not war-related). 

So I've been thinking about one of my favourite DIY D&D tricks, Zak's Lucky Numbers Kung Fu

Players liked it. By which I mean, they remembered that it's a thing most of the time, and went "AHA!" whenever they rolled it. 

And more than once they said "Oh! I rolled my kung fu number! Can I use it?" and I said "Well, you're rolling for charisma, so I dunno, unless you want to push your new friend out of the window or steal his purse or something..." 

So I thought, why not build up on that? Okay, it's a kung fu lucky number when you're fighting - it can become a stunning feat of agility when you're on the defensive, like one of the character managed to use it to catch arrows in mid-air - why not use it as some kind of zen enlightment when you roll for some intelligence-wisdom-charisma-related stuff? 

To keep it interesting, you might need to visit some specific place and level up there  in order to enhance your lucky numbers like this. Visit the Ancient Temple of the Unkindly Raven, train with the ancient sage - and voila, next time you roll a 5, you can have an insight and decypher the enigmatic scroll. Or understand the mercenary's body language enough to know he's lying because he's scared. Or something like that. 

Remind me to try it with the group next time we meet.

Answering Jeff Rients's twenty questions for our Krynn game

We're still stuck in Spidernesti, so this is what I mean when talking about "land".   What is the deal with my cleric's re...