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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
Whispers… strange signs and portents… the tea leaves and crystal balls hint at something that cannot be explained… How can that even be POSSIBLE?!
Magical creatures break in during class and disrupt everything. They seem hostile and battle lines are drawn. How can you fight in this chaos?
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?
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.
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?
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?
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?
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.
Christmas is here! Who’s leaving and who’s staying on campus? What will you do with your free time?
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?
A prank involving toads profusely using obscenities gets pinned on the wizards. Can they prove their innocence?
You stumble upon a secret passage of the school. Where does it lead? How did nobody notice this before?
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?
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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. 🙂
I’ve continued to add content and make the rules of Into the Odd on only three sheets of paper: one for regular play, one for character generation, one for factions, etc. I am showing you the print-out as it stands sans Into the Odd content. You can fill in the black blanks with that wonderful imagination of yours.
I’m crazy about the character generation right now, especially that first page (can you tell I was using my copy of Warhammer Fantasy?). 🙂
It looks like this:
Now comes the long, hard road of making hooks, NPCs, and interesting locales and situations. Idea mode, activate! Or something like that.
I’ve decided to keep my gaming group together by giving them what brought them here in the first place: good old fantasy gaming.
So while we used Maze Rats in the last campaign, I’ve decided to use Into the Odd for an open table, open world, high seas sandbox game. The last game had a tight premise with a pseudo-mission structure to it with real stakes. This one is going to be more laid-back, player-interest-driven. But knowing me, everything will still find a way to tie together and come to a dramatic head for the finale.
Legend of Zelda
Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
Sid Meiers’ Pirates Gold
Games and designers I’m stealing from:
Matt Colville’s Strongholds and Followers
Maze Knights (Ben Milton’s sequel to Maze Rats, now in development)
The Angry GM
The first bit of progress I’ve made on this game is in the form of a character creation supplement to get an idea of what the PCs could be. Chris McDowell (maker of Into the Odd) had a cool post to add some depth to the already awesome character creation. So I took it and ran with it, ripping many careers wholesale from Warhammer, but also adding a cool skill or item to kickstart a background. The caveat to this is that the PCs will be “ex-backgrounds.” No matter what career they rolled, they’re done with it now. Because NOW, they have become mercenaries (or are continuing to be, in case you roll the Mercenary background).
Work for the summer has indeed begun for me. Ideas come in quick spurts in the brief moments of peace and I’ve tried my darnedest to collect them all. A couple of things have transpired in the RPG sphere for me in the last few weeks.
I’ve read a lot of Prose Descriptive Qualities (PDQ) system lately as an alternative to FATE as a generic system. For kids’ games and the like. It uses 2d6, which I like better than 4dF. It uses aspects like FATE, but they have ratings to go with them, which you don’t invoke. Having the aspects “Meathead Magee” and “WWE Superstar” would translate to “Meathead Magee +2” and “WWE Superstar +4.” PDQ, unlike FATE, realizes that not all aspects are created equal. The rewards structure is a little wonky, but XP and bennies are usually the first things to change with my designs.
Swashbucklers of the Seven Skies is a PDQ setting I’ve flipped through somewhat. I want some way to do the islands from Zelda: Windwaker each with their own problems mixed with air travel and sky ships… Maybe some Avatar: The Last Airbender to taste. A village-of-the-week kind of deal where players solve problems and help people out in a pulpy-adventure way.
Mouse Guard. I’ve had my eye on this game for some time as an Adam Koebel fan (here’s his “why Burning Wheel is great” video). I picked it up on a Half-Price Books run and it was worth it. There’s some great reading material in here. The biggest selling point: Mouse Guard/Burning Wheel has some GENIUS mechanics for PC-centric play. Players are actively rewarded for engaging in their character’s beliefs, instincts, traits, and goals. Where Oaths in World of Elements make you interact with people in the world and grow by doing favors for others, Mouse Guard/Burning Wheel has a whole system for engaging internally with what the PCs want and who they are. I have to see it in play, but it would make for some very interesting games of dramatic change for players, which is something I’ve missed in running an open table game without much character development. Not of this caliber, anyway. I hope to use this type of design for a small-group PC-led campaign.
Adversaries, Threats, and Adventure Starters for GMs
Avatar: The Last Airbender (2003-2008)
The Legend of Korra (2012-2014)
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009-2010)
Spirited Away (2001)
This is truly a labor of love. Avatar: The Last Airbender is my favorite show ever. I’ve spend many, many, many, hours on this project and spent a whole campaign playtesting it (but there’s always more to do of course). Read it, play it, hack it, whatever.
Enjoy fulfilling Oaths and adventuring in a wuxia fantasy world.