Grit System

Arthur Shipwright. This stuff is fantastic.

“GRIT” is a system I’ve begun to develop in order to run a game online with some casual friends.

I’ve run World of Elements and World of Dungeons (both are simple PtbA games) with this group of players before. They aren’t too keen on the rules aspects of the games, remembering all the numbers, and which dice to roll. Also, dice roll rooms online SUCK. Don’t get me wrong, they ROLL dice, technically speaking, but the amount of silence between the declaration “I do this or that!” is unbearable. So simple rules, simple rolls.

But what if instead *I* do all the rolls? That would speed things up a lot, but still have the random element. I’ve been watching a lot of HarmonQuest recently. The DM in that series simply rolls the dice behind the screen and narrates to the players what happens after they declare, “I do this or that!” Leaving the dice-rolling and rules stuff to me sounds much more appealing

Also, I’ve been reading about some Arnesonian design from this chap. Check out THIS and THIS.

That said, here’s a powerful resolution mechanic:

When the world takes action against you, the GM describes the setup of the danger and asks “do you Grit Your Teeth or Push Your Luck?”

  • If you Grit Your Teeth, the danger happens. Take action.
  • If you Push Your Luck, the GM rolls a d6. Add +1 if you have an advantage or -1 if you have a disadvantage.
    • On a 4 or higher, you avoid the danger completely. Take action.
    • On a 3 or lower, the danger happens and it’s worse than you thought. Take action.

These are your “saves” for all intents and purposes. Here it starts with the GM setting up the danger. “The goblin cuts into your side with its scimitar. The boulder falls on top of you as you climb. The horse stomps you into the dirt.” Then the players choose: take the hit, or gamble for better. Most of the rolls should be fifty-fifty, and players should feel that. Eventually, players will learn that the dangers might be better off taken as is rather than risk it.

The cool part of this is that the GM can control the impact of the danger, which largely colors the style of the game you’re playing. Under one GM you might only suffer scrapes and bruises as the initial danger, whereas under another GM you might lose fingers or limbs if you choose not to roll.

Then notice that whatever the outcome, players are told to Take Action, which feeds into the next “move.”

When you take action against the world, the GM rolls the die. Add +1 if you have an advantage or -1 if you have a disadvantage.

  • On a 5 or 6, you do it.
  • On a 3 or 4, you do it, but there is a consequence, cost, or compromise.
  • On a 1 or 2, you miss and the world takes action against you.

The players are going get what they want with this roll most of the time. It’s 2/3 chance that they “do the thing” just by default. This is the roll that makes them feel like heroes. Also notice that rolling a 1 or 2 feeds right back into the first move. It keeps things in a constant flow back and forth…

In any case, that pretty much it. Comments, queries, concerns? Have a great weekend, y’all!

This whole system makes me think of this video. I’ll let you dream up why.
Advertisements

200 Word RPG Challenge Submission – Are You My Maker?

Learn more about the contest here.

This was a mentally exhausting task. Thank goodness I’m obsessive. However, my obsessive nature wouldn’t let me finalize the project until AFTER I submitted it. Whoops.

Golem of the Sunless Sands

Are You My Maker?

One player is the Game Master. One player assumes the role of a silent Golem.

You need one RPG dice set. The Golem’s Hope starts at d12.

Begin play in the ever-expansive Sunless Sands.

GOLEM PLAYER ASKS:

  • What burning runes mark my hull?
  • What Threat lurks nearby?
  • What steading am I lumbering towards?

Then play five scenes, each centered on a possible Maker.

GOLEM PLAYER ASKS:

  • What is their Vocation?
  • How do they show themselves to be both kind and unkind?
  • How are we similar?
  • What do they want to use me for?

When the Golem communicates “are you my Maker?” roll Hope, then decrease the die size. If you rolled a 2 or lower, there is strong evidence they are.

After the fifth scene, the Threat descends upon you.

GAME MASTER ASKS:

  • Whose servant are you?
  • Does the Threat overpower you?
  • What is your source of Hope?

D4 Threat

  1. demon vultures
  2. pale sandwyrm
  3. metal-hungry scavengers
  4. insane efreeti

D12 Vocation

  1. ember alchemist
  2. dust artist
  3. sitar master
  4. obsidian warlord
  5. caravan financier
  6. sandwyrm harpooner
  7. azure priestess
  8. crescent smith
  9. inventive urchin
  10. foreign astrologist
  11. alabaster princess
  12. silk magi

Influences

One Thousand and One Nights (book), Frankenstein (book), Dr. Seuss (author), The Iron Giant (movie) Journey (video game), Unearth (board game), The Sundered Land (role-playing game)

Initiative Alternative + Knave’s Encumbrance

The Hireling from Steve Jackson’s Munchkin

I’ve been dorking with Initiative Alternatives for a while now. The Angry GM also has a great post on encumbrance and what it’s for.

To summarize (Angry’s words, not mine):

  • You want encumbrance to make players choose what to leave behind and what to bring on an adventure.
  • You want it to restrict how many supplies they can carry.
  • You want it to keep players from carrying ridiculous amounts of weapons and armor.
  • You don’t want it to stop players from getting rewards (under normal conditions).
  • You don’t want it to keep players from carrying their gear or equipment central to their character’s role.
  • You don’t want it to require so much bookkeeping that everyone just stops doing it because it’s a pain.

That’s Knave’s encumbrance to me.

(Here’s my ridiculous hack of that game, hehe. I have little shame.)

BUT

Encumbrance always seems so tacked-on to me. The litmus test for this is simple: can the game just *waves hands* work without it? If you removed the encumbrance paragraph or two, would anyone (not OSR-obsessed) notice?

So, encumbrance needs to be tied to some other system (if you want it to matter, that is). And the title gives it away. Initiative. I picked initiative instead of the often-used Movement Speed because I think movement penalties are lame. And, there’s never an incentive to carry below your limit. And yet we as people do it all the time. I move faster without carrying a 500 page textbook on campus design. I’m going to react faster in leather armor than friggin’ plate.

So that’s the goal: make encumbrance matter (especially during combat when EVERYONE is paying attention), make the penalties obvious, and codify reasons to not carry the absolute maximum. So here’s the change:

If one side has surprised the other, they take their turns first. Otherwise, all player characters roll a save and add the number of empty item slots they have. Those that succeed (roll over 15) take their turns first. Then the enemies take their turn. Then alternate sides between all the players, then the enemies.

With this, there’s more interesting choices between how much you carry around, if you should drop some items when you intuit a fight coming soon, and how much armor you should wear. If you don’t carry all your items because you use a pack mule or hireling (but I repeat myself) that’s still an interesting choice, because they become something you have to protect. If it generates interesting choices, that’s good enough for me.

(Also, this change doesn’t tie initiative to DEX, which Knave and Maze Rats never did, but I don’t ever want to give the DEX stat any more power. Speed kills, kids.)

The only question I haven’t answered is which stat to tie carry capacity to: STR or CON? Knave uses CON, Dungeon World, STR.

Strength, to me, has more of an active use to it, so it makes more sense for athleticism than pain tolerance to be tied to initiative. Also, there’s more variance in STR scores. No one makes CON their dump stat. But STR?

Making all the six core stats important obviously matters to me…

Gen Con Loot

My RPG-related products from Gen Con 2019:

  • John Wick’s Play Dirty
  • John Wick’s Play Dirty 2
  • Troika!
  • Tiny Dungeons 2e
  • Mothership (Winner of Best Game 2019)
  • Dead Planet (Scenario for Mothership)
  • Monster of the Week: Tome of Mysteries
  • The Dark of Hot Springs Island (plus, a killer map to go with it)

I’m pretty excited about all this new material.

The most surprising find was Tiny Dungeons 2e. I had backed the first edition on Kickstarter a couple of years ago and wasn’t all that impressed, but this new edition, created by a new designer, looks excellent. The game stays simple, but the back 100+ pages are all mini-campaign settings. One is a dinosaur island! Done and done.

Monster of the Week: Tome of Mysteries was one that wasn’t even on my radar, but I’m glad I got it. It changed Monster of the Week to be more of what I wanted, which was Fringe and X-Files, not exactly Supernatural.

Hot Springs Island is the sandbox adventure I want to run for my 13+ players this year. My only trouble is how to make it an effective and believable open table game, but it looks doable. It looks like a good spot to try out this Into the Odd system I’ve been tinkering with. Super neat! The art is great, I love the tables, and I got a cool map to go with it!

What’s going on at Hogwarts? (d20 table)

By Jim Salvati

A table I made for a friend who wanted to run a Harry Potter RPG. Were I to run this today, I’d probably use FATE Accelerated. Some of these I seem to remember lifting nearly wholesale from a “Harry-Potter-with-the-serial-numbers-filed-off” scenario for Hillfolk’s supplement “Blood on the Snow.” But *I* don’t fear the Rowling estate! Okay, maybe a little.

  1. A once highly placed, yet publicly forgiven follower of the dark arts lands a major position at Hogwarts. Do you trust them or do you think they still meddle in evil affairs?
  2. A fetching student (or teacher!) sets romantic sights on a temptation prone wizard. In the hands of a precocious spell-wielder, a crush can turn positively literal. 
  3. A house elf holds up a wizard by asking for help lifted a suit of armor. Why can’t he just make it levitate? And you’re late for class! Someone you admire would witness you turn your back on the helpless.
  4. Whispers… strange signs and portents… the tea leaves and crystal balls hint at something that cannot be explained… How can that even be POSSIBLE?! 
  5. Magical creatures break in during class and disrupt everything. They seem hostile and battle lines are drawn. How can you fight in this chaos?
  6. The Ministry of Magic demands that security officials be placed around the school grounds in light of recent dark happenings. How are you supposed to explain the “moderately legal” magical creatures you’ve been involved in breeding penned up mere paces from the school entrance?
  7. Headmaster announcement at dinner: 50 house points go to the first house that find his collection of chocolate frogs cards. His Nicholas Flamel was an extra shiny edition too. Shame.
  8. Academically, you’re in a tough spot. There’s a paper that needs writing. Surely you can convince that one nerd to do it for you? Or do they turn the tables on you and turn in a poor assignment instead?
  9. An antagonistic teacher suddenly pulls you out of a tough spot. Do they secretly care about you or are they just keeping you whole so they can put you in more pain later on?
  10. Students have been setting loose enchanted toads to crawl around the halls and target members of a particular house with their excrement. Who suddenly has it out for Ravenclaw?
  11. A friendly ghost requests your presence at a prestigious dinner. They forgot to mention that you will have a teacher you’ve been on shaky terms with sitting on one side of you, and a cunning goblin who only talks finances on the other.
  12. Christmas is here! Who’s leaving and who’s staying on campus? What will you do with your free time?
  13. The yearly dance is coming up and everyone’s in a frenzy. Who’s going with who? Wouldn’t it be terrible if members of the dark arts crashed the party?
  14. A prank involving toads profusely using obscenities gets pinned on the wizards. Can they prove their innocence?
  15. You stumble upon a secret passage of the school. Where does it lead? How did nobody notice this before?
  16. Your skills are put to the test in a game of wizard’s chess. Is there something more than your reputation on the line? Money perhaps? The affections of another?
  17. The final Quidditch match is here! But there are rumors of your house’s brooms being meddled with. Are the rumors true? Or has this information been planted by a third party?
  18. A teacher you respect asks you to take a run down into the dungeons. Upon finding some incriminating dark arts devices down there, you begin to question if your trust was misplaced.
  19. During potions class, one of the students sets off a thick cloud of love potion. In a room full of hormonal teenagers. It’s a bad day for a Ministry official to visit.
  20. A wizard’s parents have been receiving letters from them they didn’t write. Why would you send such awful poetry about sneaking into the girls’ dormitory?

More Into the Odd-ery

By Gregory Manchess

I’ve been messing around with the Into the Odd system. I realized after posting that last article that I had put changes into the game without explanation. So here it is. My explanations.

Bonuses: If you have an advantage on a Save because of an item, the situation, or your background, subtract d6 from your Save as a bonus. Add d6 if you have a penalty. Bonuses and penalties cancel each other and don’t stack.

The mechanic itself was taken from Shadow of the Demon Lord if I remember right. This is how you as a player can negotiate with the GM for better odds on your roll. Climbing a wall with a rope shouldn’t have the same chances of success as without one. “But couldn’t you just give the person with a rope success? Or the person without one failure?” Yes, but I like gradations of negotiation. Making concessions is fun and interesting. It leaves wiggle room for discussion about the situation. But not too much, as the penalties and bonuses can’t stack.

There’s also a tactile reason for this. As much as I love the advantage/disadvantage system (rolling 2d20 and taking the higher/lower respectively), it isn’t kind to single dice sets (those with a single d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and d100). One d20 and one d6. It looks and feels big enough to make an impact.

Turns: If one side has surprised the other, they take their turns first. Otherwise, all player characters roll a DEX save. Those that succeed take their turns before the enemies. Those that don’t take their turns after. Then alternate sides between the players and enemies.

The reasoning can be found here. Side-based initiative is a must for me. So only the first round is different (in a game where EVERY round matters), which allows faster characters to shine more.

Using two weapons of the same type grants +1 Damage.

Dual-wield is cool. Having two different weapons is also cool. But having two different weapons in Into the Odd already has its own advantages: you can attack in different situations. For example, I can use a rapier d8 in one hand to fight off people in close quarters and can then throw a dagger d6 from my other hand when they begin to run. Having two identical weapons (or rather, that of the same type) doesn’t net any advantage. And it should. So, +1 Damage.

Lastly,

Encumbrance: You have 10 item slots. Most items take up 1 slot, but larger items make take up more than 1. Items in the first two slots are in your hands. If a character wants to retrieve an item from their pack during an intense situation like combat, they must roll d10 and roll equal to or greater than the number of the slot holding the item they want.

I’ve pretty directly stolen this. Like, more than other things I’ve stolen. This comes from the Maze Knights playtest. However, Ben Milton has his players using 2d6 for the same task. Now as I’ve mentioned, my players each have single dice sets, so no 2d6. Plus, we’ve only been rolling one die for everything (besides Bonuses/Penalties, which you could argue are their own things). So d10 it is.

(But now that I’m thinking about it, d12 would work better, number-wise).

And that’s it as to why my player sheets for Into the Odd are the way they are. 🙂

Also: Weakly signal boosting this article about active parrying in Into the Odd.