Saturday, April 23, 2011

Version 1.3 Release

    Well it has been quite some time since I posted - nearly a week in fact. I've been hard at work with, well, frankly, Portal 2. Quite a good game, that. I have also been getting quite a bit of work done in adding more specific racial fluff and doing some spellchecks. And let me tell you, the spellcheck I had to use was pretty awful. I realize it's only really supposed to be a second-pass type of thing (not great when you write everything in notepad), but by god they had no heuristics or common sense in how they did it.
    Anyway, I got 1.3 finished. And when I say finished I mean I wanted to get it released so people could play with some of the changes made and provide feedback on it. There are some things that I wasn't able to finish in time for this - I want to add more fluff for Exalts and change around Artifacts a bit more.

    That's enough rambling from me. Here's the download link:

    Please, I'd love to hear any questions or comments here and I'll try to answer them.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Anima RPG Review

    I have a large selection of RPG books on hand, some better than others. Today I thought I'd write up a review of one of them. In fact, I'm going to review one of the most beautiful and useless RPG books I have - the Anima RPG.
    A lot of people were probably sold on the art for the game. It has some great art, no lie, and in some ways you can even say it is well-done. Just... not a well-done game. Even a brief flip through the book shows that there is just page after page of tables and text, as dense as a year-old fruitcake.
    There are a couple of ways to approach the book, so let's start with it as a game. There are a huge number of ability scores to keep track of, including basic combat scores, Ki ability, psychic ability, magic, and so forth. It's like they threw everything into one book without trying to make systems work together - and as the guy who wrote Dungeons The Dragoning, that I think they just have a mess is saying something.
    Secondary abilities - which would more properly be called skills - are pretty normal looking, though they do share some of the Dungeons and Dragons style of splitting some things off from each other (Swim and Athleticism are different skills, as are Hide and Stealth).
    Building a character is kind of a mix of point-buy and standard levels. Start with some points, get more as you go up in level to improve your abilities. Really, it's not a bad way of doing things. Classes give costs and distribution of points, which again actually works pretty well. This is honestly the strongest point of the RPG, and it is all fucking downhill from here.
    Immediately after the character creation section is a section about nonhuman characters. It starts by saying it's a game about playing humans and how humans are the most fun to play, and how the GM must approve you playing one of these reincarnated superhumans. Now, if this was in the GMing section in the back you'd just be able to look at it as an option and mostly ignore it. But right after character creation? Everyone is going to want to be a special snowflake.
    After this comes the section on skills and you begin to see the signs of madness. While most of the skills are fairly normal looking entries, some (notably the medicine entry) are either oddly specific or just MATHS.
    Without getting into too much detail - because this book is nothing if not full of details - the book just continues to devolve more and more into tables and charts. There's a combat table that makes THAC0 (which really isn't hard to remember) look like child's play.
    Martial arts are surprisingly similar to the way I handled sword schools in DtD, lists of abilities and effects that you use to point-buy techniques. Magic works on MP, there's a summoning section after that with the Tarot, then a section on psychic powers...
    And none of it seems to flow together. Sure, most characters will only use one of the sections, two for some, but there doesn't seem to be any real thread that connects them - they don't even use the same statistics! It's like all the late-development splatbloat of 3.5 put into one book, with Binders, Psions, and Wizards all competing for space.
    I'll be honest. I haven't really gone over this book in detail. It's a book that resists reading. The layout is beautiful and awful at the same time. Let's start with beautiful. The art is pretty much universally good, and they put a lot in - there are very few places where you can open up the book and not see art. It's also clear that the editor wanted a *very* tight book.
    Unfortunately, it's that tightness that makes it so hard to read. The margins are thin, especially at top and bottom, and there is almost no white space at all. Everything is locked together like a puzzle of pictures and charts, every chapter ends with the last sentence at the bottom of a page, chapters start with only a very thin header right at the top of the page, and all of it leads to a book that is just a solid block of... stuff.
    And that's overall one of the worst things about the book. It could really have done with more fluff, something to break up the pages. The elements used in the book are really quite nice. I really wish I could make a book that looked like that. Some of that, anyway. The way it never seems to end is less than ideal.
    Overall, I'd have to say Anima was a game with a great art editor, and whoever was in charge of development and design of the system just dropped the ball massively. It could have been a great game if they had used more formulas and fewer tables, reserved half of the subsystems for other books, and someone had a print editor on hand to explain the concept of white space.
    At least it's not Eoris.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Still More Changelog

I'm still in the process of changing things. Let's take a look at what a few days of work has brought us!

* Static Defense formula is now 10 + (3 x Wisdom) + (3 x Dex) - (2 x Size).
* Finally freaking remembered to make the Dark Eldarin racial power a 1/scene ability.
* Halfling Racial power lets them use all Dex all the time for static defense.
* Paragons get various abilities for their power stat now. The basic pressure points thing is their one-dot ability. To whit:
    Swift as the Coursing River - When a Paragon attempts and succeeds a 2-die Stunt or higher, they recover one Action Point.
    All the Force of a Great Typhoon - In battle, a Paragon is constantly pushing themselves to greater heights.  At the start of a Paragon's turn, they recover Pressure Points equal to their Excellence.
    Strength of a Raging Fire - While stunting, a Paragon's dice explode on a roll of 9 or 10 instead of just 10.
    Mysterious as the Dark Side of the Moon - Whenever a Paragon uses a stunt on a test and succeeds, all allies attempting the same test (that is, using the same action) before the Paragon's next turn gain a bonus on their result equal to the number of Pressure Points the Paragon spent on her test.

* Paragon Power Stat renamed to Excellence
* Prometheans can now wear armor. It doesn't stack with their normal armor, just uses the better of the two.
* Vampire, Werewolf, and Daemonhost natural weapons fixed to be easier to use at a glance.
* On that note, a Daemonhost's bite now does damage like a Vampire's.
* Some classes have had a third characteristic added to their upgrade list.
* Wizards lost Enchantment, Gained Conjuration.
* Clerics lost Conjuration, Gained Necromancy.
* Aburation and Conjuration both use Willpower now.
* Cure Moderate wounds tweaked a bit. Now you spend as many resource points as you want and heal for that amount.
* Regeneration requires bed rest instead of resource points.
* Two new item rarities - Ubiquitous and Mythic Rare.
* Shields grant the +2 armor bonus to the body as well as the arm.
* Rules added for Minion Squads to make killing a couple dozen kobolds at once a bit easier.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Partial Changelog

I'm still hard at work on version 1.3 - Here are a list of some of the changes you can expect for the next book.

* Many spelling fixes
* Static defense now runs off of lower of Wis and Dex
* Gain 2 hit points every time you complete a class
* Halfling racial power allows them to use Dex for static defense even if wisdom is lower
* Gnomes now just start with one free weapon proficiency and one free armor proficiency.
* Atlanteans 'safe' recharge of motes now requires an hour of meditation per point.
* Assassins now have Brawl
* The paragon asset 'legendary trait' can be taken at any time, with the caveat that the Paragon must be in a class that would allow him to advance the chosen characteristic.
* It has been made more specific that taking the Kid hindrance is not the same as taking the Small hindrance - a teenager can be pretty much the same size as an adult, he just doesn't get no respect.
* Abjuration gets a spell that gives Aura
* Unarmed weapons added to the melee weapons list. They add to unarmed damage and use the Brawl skill, as you'd expect.
* Max dex on armor now just applies to Speed, Dodge tests, and 'anything the GM determines applies'. Protip: Swimming is something that will usually make it apply.
* Artifact Ranged Weapons are now artifact ammunition for solid-bullet weapons. They are more powerful than before in that their abilities *stack* with the quality of the weapon.
* Darksteel made less broken, returned to normal cost.
* Wraithbone bullets now count as magical attacks, affected by Aura instead of Armor.
* Added in the missing 'Diseased' condition. It prevents you from recovering HP.
* Full Auto now gives +1k0 damage per raise instead of an extra hit. Not sure it'll stay this way - this was suggested to me and we'll see how it goes. Looks better against armor, worse against peasants.

* Might make attacks run off of Level instead of Dex, just to break down Dex as a godstat a bit more. It may seem like this will make it hard to hit things, but since Static Defense as a whole will be lower...
* Considering giving paragons more abilities. Could use some ideas.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Looking for a game?

A few people have approached me and mentioned that this blog is pretty much the only stable source of information on the game that people have, and so it's the most logical place to post information to help people find games or post offers to run games. To keep things tidy, and to let you know you can, there's this post right here. Feel free to use the comments to advertise games or post availability for people, or even just arrange things so people can discuss things.

Meanwhile, I'm getting back to work on typos and fixes after a weekend off.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dungeons The Dragoning 1.2

Thanks to everyone's suggestions and comments, I was able to fix a few problems with the last version of Dungeons the Dragoning. I'd go over things, but there is a lot to list, so let's start with the link to get that out of the way:

Dungeons the Dragoning 1.2

Now, to the changes.

* Things are now in alphabetical order. You would be surprised how long it took to do that.
* Examples have been put in the book for Character Creation, Spell Combos, and Special Attacks.
* A few things (such as the description of Raises and Checks) have been provided earlier in the book.
* Specialties have been changed to just give +1 to the stat or skill when they apply, to make things less confusing.
* Sizes changed to have 4 as human average. Halfings are 2, Elves are 3, Aasimar are 5, and so forth.
* The Aasimar Racial ability starts them with Fearless and Jaded so they never need to spend XP on them.
* Human Racial ability now gives you +100 starting XP.
* Squat Toughness is now less broken, working as a once per scene reduction of hit point loss to 1.
* Atlanteans made less weak. Their mechanics for recharging their resource point have been improved and they can roll twice for all Psychic Phenomena rolls and take either or both results.
* What happens to a promethean with damaged limbs or a destroyed body is spelled out.
* Promethean Alchemy has been replaced with an ability to recharge Pyros after taking E damage.
* Vampires can now use parasols to protect themselves from the sun - the more frills the parasols have, the greater protection they give.
* A Werewolf in Warform is slightly less rape.
* Free Study has been added to the Classes section as an option between class choices.
* Classes in general have been fixed a bit. Some have had skills added.
* Several missing feats have been added.
* Exalt Asset section has been re-done to stop having such a terrible layout.
* Racial Feats now note the race they are for.
* Psychic Phenomena now occurs when keeping exploded dice on an Unfettered test instead of when rolling doubles, thus making it less punishing to high-stat casters but also making the choice of risking Phenomena an actual choice.
* Evocation spells now do real damage instead of wasting your turn.
* Necromancy and Transmutation changed significantly. Wizards now get Necromancy, Clerics get Transmutation.
* Special Attacks that use non-attack actions have been made more clear on what they mean.
* Dots in the Artifact Background limited to 5 total during character creation.
* Mithril Legs made less broken, no longer better than being Super-God.
* Necrodermis weapons no longer impossible to parry or dodge, still immune to prayers and mercy.
* Rolled dice over 10 now convert to Kept dice at a 2:1 ratio instead of 1:1, thus ensuring that future generations will still have kept dice to use.
* Stunting not changed at all. Mentioning it here because no one uses it.
* Healing Surge action added in. God help us all.
* Monster sizes changed to go with the new average size.

One Shot Logs

I thought I'd post up a link to logs of the one-shot I ran last night.  Thanks to Kordy for getting these logs together for me - my IRC logs have been messed up since I upgraded to Firefox 4. 

As you'll be able to tell from the logs, my players had the advantage of rolling like the hand of Vectron was upon them. I adapted a D&D module to use as the base of the adventure. Anyone who can guess which module gets props! I'm working on finishing up Version 1.2 of the core book even now - it's mostly going to be a crunch update. I'll do more fluff for races and exaltations either in the next version of the book or in their own small splats, whichever works out better. With any luck, I'll have it done before the end of the day.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Section 27

    I figured while I work on the latest update I'd give you all something to play with. A while back I got it into my head to design a game that would combine the fun of Magic along with the roleplaying of Dungeons and Dragons. I've always liked the deckbuilding and tactical play of Magic, and there's a certain ability to roleplay with it. Even if you don't literally pretend to be a planeswalker (and I've never met anyone who did), playstyles change to match a deck, the choices of spells give a deck a certain tone, and so on.
    Similarly, Dungeons and Dragons has a large tactical element to it. Even if you aren't using a grid and minis to make it into a kind of multiplayer skirmish game, there is the careful spending of actions and resources like spells and limited-use items and abilities. While I don't think many people play Dungeons and Dragons in a competitive way, it could certainly be done.
    Combining the two should be, in theory, fairly simple, right? But it's not quite true. Magic's core mechanics just don't, for obvious reasons, work well in a game that's designed to have much continuity. There are ways to make it work - if you don't mind having your great and mighty wizard need to rebuild resources every single time they get into a fight. Or you could have them gain their resource base more slowly, which also serves as a leveling mechanic.
    I went through a few revisions on how to do things. I probably poked around with the project I was just calling 'CCGRPG' (Collectible Card Game Role Playing Game) for a couple of months before I got down to it and really got it together. Skills could be treated as resources, with different levels of ability unlocking new cards to play with in your deck.
    Deck size, hit points, hand size, these were all things that could be used as stats. I eventually put together the full game and put one of my own settings into it, a world I created for Dungeons and Dragons way back in the day. I updated it to be a bit more modern and, um, good.
    The setting turned into a kind of cold war fantasy world. The forces of good and evil ended up signing a treaty and forming a world government that's something like the UN - a lot of arguing and complaining, occasional assassination attempts that are denied by everyone, and a mixed military force.
    This military force includes the titular Section 27, which is a kind of special operations group, troubleshooters and spies that are given overarching authority (when people will actually respect it) and sent on missions to save the world or die trying. Depending on the government, it's either the best respected post or a punishment detail. And because of that, the people who can be found serving in Section 27 are a motley crew of criminals and patriots, all of them with extraordinary skill and something to offer.
    In Section 27, you play as one of its brave agents and go out to fight cults, criminals, and people trying to restart the cold war that has driven the world into a winter of distrust. You build a character that has both a character sheet and a deck of cards. There are no dice, and the elements of chance are in the hands of the players. It's a very tactical game, emphasizing playing both with and against the GM.
    Here's a link to the game. I never complied it into a PDF, nor have I ever had a chance to playtest it. Unfortunately, it's a bit hard to play custom card games over the internet.

    I do wish I had been able to playtest it. It's still one of my favorite projects I've worked on. I've also taken a lot of lessons from building it as a game. It's sufficiently different from most other games that I learned a bit about myself and the things I like about games.

Monday, April 4, 2011

So I thought I'd start keeping people updated on what changes I was making to Version 1.2. I've made a lot of changes large and small, so let's get started:

* Size values have been reworked. Human average has been set at 4 and other values adjusted to fit. This should make combat a bit faster and more lethal.
* Spelling fixes where they were needed.
* Human and Dwarven racial powers changed. Humans now get 100 more starting XP, Dwarves have been made less OP. Instead of doubled HP, they can reduce hit points lost from any one attack to 1. Still tough, but not overpowered.
* Werewolf shape changing has been fixed up a bit. They have to remove armor before changing shape or else they break the straps and have to get it fixed.
* What happens when a Promethean's body is destroyed is now spelled out. They can also have their lost limbs repaired instead of getting replacements.
* Promethean Alchemy has been replaced with an ability to recharge Pyros whenever they take E damage.
* Daemonhost feeding has been fixed so it specifically converts Resonance into Essence.
* Free Study has become an option between classes. Once you finish the class you're in, you can buy things from classes you left. You can even improve skills and characteristics that aren't on your class list, but it costs double.
* Many feats have been altered. Especially the Marks.
* How non-attack actions work with Special Attacks has been changed. They now mostly apply any attack effects to the next Standard attack you make.
* Some of the artifacts have been rebalanced.

* I'm adding examples for character creation, special attack creation, and magic combo creation.
* Bookmarks. They'll come last, since I need to add them to the finished PDF.
* Adding in a small bit about playing mortals
* Also putting in a bit about XP-buy as an alternate for simple dots during character creation.
* Transmutation and Necromancy being reworked so non-vamps and woofs can use them, but Vamps and Woofs are best.
* Fixing class lists of feats and skills.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Ideas and Bugfixes

I'm currently working hard on Version 1.2 - and it's coming along well. I've been getting a lot of good feedback on the IRCs and even some good questions from people on various forums. I've got a bit of a backlog of things to change and fix, and even some good ideas for things to add in a splatbook. If you have any suggestions, questions, or things that are obviously typos, feel free to add them as comments on this post. I'm more than happy to listen to anything people have to say.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Origins of DtD

    I've been asked a few times about how I came up with the idea for Dungeons The Dragoning. Well, the base idea is something I've joked about before, a tolkeinesque fantasy game done by White Wolf. Considering Mage, Hunter, and Exalted, it's not hard to think they might try their hand at Dungeonpunk stuff. Exalted turned down a few notches and set in a generic fantasy world.
    It wasn't something I really took seriously. I mean, I put some thought into it, but I never really wrote any of it down. The problem with putting Dungeons and Dragons into a White Wolf game is that, well, WoD by default has pretty awful combat. New World of Darkness is a little better, but 3.5 and 4e were really crunch heavy.
    The unfinished ideas went on the back burner. I put together a game that I have yet to even playtest to this day (Section 27) and got involved with the Adeptus Evangelion devteam. I contributed a bit to V2, and I've been helping with the next release.
    I was playing AdEva and our characters got into roleplaying. You can see where this is going. See, the backstory was that after Second Impact, some of the major gaming companies - White Wolf, Wizards of the Coast, and Games Workshop - ended up merging into White Wizard's Workshop. And their product lines merged as well, into Dungeons The Dragoning 40k.
    Our characters started playing DtD, and I started designing the system for it. I got some test documents done, and we planned on doing a kind of special session to roleplay our characters roleplaying. We did a bit, never really going into the rules, and that game eventually ended (probably the best game I was ever in).
    After the game ended, I continued work on DtD. Partly because I'm stubborn and partly as a kind of tribute. I rewrote almost everything from the ground up. What I had in those test documents is quite far from what you see in Version 1.1. And that's pretty much where it all came from.
    We've still never done that special session. I still have hope.

Dungeons The Dragoning 1.1

    So I guess the best way to kick off this blog is with a bit about Dungeons the Dragoning. It's likely that you already know what it is if you're here, but just in case you found your way here blind, Dungeons the Dragoning is a game that is essentially a mashup game that takes elements from quite a few places, mostly Dungeons and Dragons (2E, 3E, and 4E), Exalted, Seventh Sea, World of Darkness, Deadlands, and Dark Heresy. Not necessarily in that order.
    My original goal for DtD was essentially to just make a halfway decent game, enough that it could be used to play a recursive special session for a game (I'll get into that later - it's a long story). As time went on, I ended up putting a lot of work into making it the best game it could be, taking the best parts of many games and adding in my own bits and fluff to fill the gaps. It was a labor of love, and some parts of the rules went through a surprising number of revisions.
    Anyway, let's have a simple overview of the game.

For ten thousand years, the Lady of Pain has silently ruled the city of Sigil, master of the hub of the Portal network despite the petty wars of the gods. The city of Sigil is the largest metropolis in the Astral Sea, untold millions making sacrifices to sustain it and ensure the continued survival of their people in the face of a hostile universe. From hundreds of Crystal Spheres, teeming with the Clueless and monsters, refugees and oppressors alike come to find their place in a larger galaxy, to find treasure fame and fortune amongst the planes. Beset on all sides by foes of such malice it would sear a man's soul to know but a fraction of their blasphemies, only the strongest and most ruthless survive. Foes from within and without seek to overthrow the Lady's rule, throwing themselves on the Throne of Blades in vain efforts to destroy in a moment the eons of her rule. The Great Devourer comes from the Far Realm beyond the Astral Sea, driven to consume all before it and Ork savages surge from their barbaric empires to pillage and slaughter. The vengeful Eldarin cite prophetic visions as they raid and destroy even their own cousins, and an ancient evil arises from tombs sealed at the dawn of creation.

In the grim darkness of the great wheel, there is only war.

    DtD uses the "Roll and Keep" system from 7th Sea and Legend of the Five Rings. Rolls are expressed as XkY, where you roll dice equal to X and keep the best Y of those and add them together. Most rolls are a skill and a characteristic, where you roll dice equal to your dots in the skill and characteristic, then keep dice equal to your characteristic. For example, you might roll Athletics and Dexterity. With Athletics 4 and Dexterity 3, you'd roll 7 dice (4+3) and keep 3 dice. It's a pretty simple system that lends itself to fairly stable results.

    The Skills and Characteristics will look familiar to anyone who knows World of Darkness. The names are changed a bit for the setting, and some skills are different, but it's not terribly out of line. They get rated from 0-5 (6 in some really extraordinary circumstances).

    You've got magic, swordsmanship, and skills. Magic is what you'd expect, casting spells. No spell slots or anything, just roll against the spell's TN to make it happen. If you're exerting your full power there's a chance of getting Perils of the Warp. Swordsmanship is, note, not just using a sword good. It's a system for building special attacks, learning new tricks and upgrades to build them with as you grow in power. Skils are the basic dots in your skills and the core of a character.

    Each character is built with a Race, a Template, and one or more Classes. Races are your character race (Ork, Human, etc). Templates are supernatural additions (Vampire, Atlantean, Daemonhost, etc). Classes determine what you can purchase with XP. You can switch to a new class (or take the next level in an existing class) once you've bought all the manditory upgrades in your current class.

    The setting is a mashup of Planescape and Spelljammer with 40k and a dabbling from everything else.

    Just in case I haven't scared you off yet, here's the download link: - This goes to Version 1.1, and I'm already working on a new version with some extra proofreading and maybe even bookmarks.


Well, I've decided to get off my ass and start up a blog. I'll probably be using this thing to publish previews of Dungeons the Dragoning updates, work on my other RPG projects, and general posts on what I've learned from roleplaying games and the like. I've never tried to keep to a really regular update schedule with things before, so let's see how this goes! Excitement!