Monday, 20 March 2017

Belle's XP Gains in 'The Beauty and The Beast'

  The beginning of Belle's journey into the Beast's castle somewhat reminded me of a dungeon run, which got me to thinking of 'Beauty and the Beast' in D&D terms. And let me say, per classic 'XP for treasure and magic items' rules, Belle got lots for the short amount of time her campaign lasted! (As a side-note, I am using the 2017 movie as reference because it's the one I've seen most recently.)

  I'm (mostly) using the rules from Castles & Crusades to be precise, so let's get started.

  O.k, for starters I think this is a one-PC campaign, with Belle being the only player character. I see Beast as an NPC. The way in which the PC handles the situation sort of leads Beast into being the DM's 'main' character almost. I would argue it's a game run and played between a couple. ;)

  Also, Belle is a Thief/Rogue/Specialist/Whatever-you-wanna-call-that-class. She sneaks around and knows about tinkering when she's helping out her dad with his gadgets. Or you could argue she's an Alice, a class from 'A Red and Pleasant Land'. It doesn't matter in the end for the sake of this post, because both Rogues and Alices have the same XP chart. She's Level 1 at the beginning of the campaign.

  O.k, for the XP gains now. First of all, this is a RP-heavy campaign, so all of the XP reward options from the book are used here. RP XP is suggested to be at 25 xp/level per game session so there's that.

  Since her first mission in the story is saving her father, we could give her a small 'treasure value' for saving her dad, but since that's just a thought and not 'by-the-book', I just wanted to drop the idea out there.

  Some wolves attack her as she's trying to flee the Beast's castle, they're worth about 30 XP a piece. I don't remember how many wolves were there but she has to split the XP with Beast so again it's not that much XP anyway.

  O.k, this is the big one. The library scene. Beast learns she likes books and tells her that the books are hers. Remember, Beast is an NPC in this theoretical scenario. This is a treasure Belle won via Charisma and diplomacy with the monster of the dungeon, so she totally gets all of its value's worth in XP. Sure, she has to bring it back to civilization/home... But I would argue that she's been in the dungeon long enough that it is at her current home by default. I'm not gonna start trying to calculate how much the library would be worth, it's so big that even if all the books had the value of a normal book, it would take her up to Level 2 right away, and it's not more only because you can't gain more than one level per game session. She'd basically be close to Level 3 already.

  Next, they use a magic item to teleport to Paris. They're using a magic item that belongs to Beast so she's not getting XP for that one, but the little rose toy she picks up and brings back with her is treasure. Now, this might bring her to Level 3 right away, depending on a few factors... First, it depends on what rules you use for when a character gains an amount of XP that would be worth many levels. Some stop the XP at halfway to the following level, which I think is the official stance for Castles & Crusades. Personally I stop the XP at 1 XP before the following level. And one could argue the emotional value put upon the object gives it much more XP worth than its GP value for the purposes of the campaign. Personally I would have her reach Level 3 at that moment, but if you're very conservative you can keep her at Level 2.

  After that the next XP gain Belle gets other than RP XP is for the magic mirror, which replicates the Scrying spell at will. This is an NPC giving the item to Belle as a reward, which she brings back to civilization with her, so it counts. That's worth thousands of XP right there. It replicates a Level 4 spell and doesn't have limited charges, so maybe it's worth 5000 XP if not more. That brings her to Level 3 or Level 4, depending on how we handle surplus XP when leveling up.

  I can't remember if she helps fight Gaston at the end or if she just witnesses the fight so I'm not sure if she'd get XP for that fight or not. Gaston would be a Level 2 or 3 Fighter with high scores in Strength, Dexterity and Charisma. If it wasn't for his lack of learning I would have argued he was a Bard, the way he performs his act for the town and convinces them to go hunt down the Beast! (But I guess a good old Charisma roll can also accomplish the same.)

  Finally she'd get a bit of Story XP for helping break the curse on the Beast and his servants.

  Since the castle is no longer cursed whatever riches she gains from marrying the Beast doesn't go into her XP anymore because it's not 'dungeon' treasure, just regular one. Which is still awesome. The campaign ends there anyway so it doesn't matter.



Sunday, 5 March 2017

Stuck in the City

  My campaign is stuck in the city of Gloomengraad.

  Real life obligations from my players make it so despite the fact that pretty much every week there's a game of D&D that I run at my place, not every player can show up all the time. That has many consequences on my campaign, both good and bad. In no particular order, and mixing the good and the bad, here are the consequences I have noticed:

  • Because not every player can show up every week, everyone has to stay at the same place for the characters to be able to meet up when it's game time. We can't leave a game to be continued in the middle of a forest if we're not 100% sure that the very same exact group of characters will be back next week, we have to bring them back to the status quo setting of the city. 
  • I have to use dungeons sparingly since they have to be within or at least very close to the city, even for a Fantasy setting it would be silly if they showed up too often in such a small area of the map. The sewers and natural caverns nearby are my dungeon replacements so to speak.
  • Every game has to have a clear 'end of the game session' moment. We can't pick up exactly where we left off next time. Sometimes it means rushing the end a bit or asking the players to sort of collaborate so the story can stop at a specific moment.
  • Cliffhangers are difficult to manage, it's important to have players who will sort of metagame (normally a dirty word, I know) in favor of the reality of how the game is managed. Characters will not look for their colleague if the player of said colleague is not present that night. Kind of reminds me of superhero comics where in their solo titles they never call for help from their allies but in the group titles they're quick to do so.
  • Characters get to know the city well and its ongoing storylines so they get attached to the setting and situations naturally without much effort from the DM. They also make assumptions about what's really going on behind some plots. They can be eerily accurate or amusingly off the mark, sometimes in a single session.
  • Prep time is extremely easy when you don't have to create everything from scratch but have instead an established setting that you know well. Often you don't prepare a specific series of events as much as you decide what every NPC will want to do and just play it out logically.
  • It's difficult to make it all seem new and fresh after a while, so you have to shake things up a little bit when the players start getting too comfortable.
  • In a game where character death is something that can totally happen, players will often have to remind themselves that secrets that previous characters have uncovered are not known by their new characters. In a game of exploration that moves from one place to the other it's easier to remember than when the players really get familiar with one specific place.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

ICONS Stats for Ash Williams


Prowess 5
Coordination 6
Strength 4
Intellect 2
Awareness 4
Willpower 6


Boomstick (Blast Shooting Device) Level 5 (Limit: Burnout)

Chainsaw Arm (Strike Device) Level 5 (Limits: Burnout, Preparation)


Leadership, Occult, Technology (Master), Weapons: Blades (Expert), Weapons: Guns (Expert)


Promised One/El Jefe
This is my Boomstick!!!
Chainsaw for a Hand

ICONS Stats for Darth Vader


Prowess 8
Coordination 8
Strength 4
Intellect 5
Awareness 4
Willpower 4


The Force (Cosmic Power) Level 7: Absorption, Binding, Blast, Danger Sense, Detection (Emotion, Life, The Force), Extrasensory Perception, Leaping, Precognition, Telekinesis, Telepathy.

Lightsaber (Strike Device) Level 10 (Extra - Reflection)

Armor (Damage Resistance Device) Level 4 (Extra: Life Support - Vacuum)


Military (Expert), Occult (Master), Pilot (Master), Power: The Force (Master), Technology (Expert), Weapons: Blades (Master)


More Machine Than Man
Chosen One
Dark Lord of the Sith

Dread LARP

  Here's a fun idea for a horror LARP; Using the Dread RPG rules, which make use of a Jenga tower instead of dice.

  You see, the rules of Dread are all about players pulling blocks out of the tower when they attempt things, so imagine an in-doors LARP with a Jenga tower in every room available to players. When someone needs to attempt an action or at the behest of a GM, they do as they would normally do in Dread. (All block pulling should be done in front of a GM.) Different rooms could have different levels of difficulty too. For example, a room could have a tower with many blocks already removed to indicate it's a creepy place, while a place that is safe has a full tower with no blocks removed yet at the beginning of the game.

  Example: Two players in a haunted house scenario walk in and see a tower that has many blocks removed. One of them says "We should go... This place feels unnaturally cold."

  In other words, instead of trying to avoid meta-gaming regarding the state of the towers, make the fact that players can see the them part of the experience. ("I have a bad feeling about this!")

  As a fun side-note, it can actually explain why in a horror story the party is split so often! Players won't want to all start pulling from the same tower because the odds of it falling down will increase faster, but they won't have any back-up if things go wrong afterwards either!

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

ICONS Requests

  I got two requests to follow-up on some ideas explored in ICONS-centric posts I made, one about using the system for Warcraft RP and the other regarding an example of the system in play in my final ICONS review. Let's do this.

  Here are three Class Skills for the requested classes and how I'd translate them into ICONS.


Hamstring: 'Strike' with 'Binding' as a Mastered Stunt  In the MMORPG it slows the target down, but in this case it would be a little more efficient since it can fully stop an opponent.

Intimidating Shout: Emotion Control (Limit: Fear Only. Extra: Burst)

Bladestorm: 'Aura' with an appropriate Limit so it doesn't become a main form of attack and remains a special attack sort of thing. Limits that make sense for this are 'Burnout', 'Degrades' or 'Tiring'.


Healing Surge: Healing (Extra: Ranged)

Ghost Wolf: Energy Form (Extra: Super-Speed, Limit: No Flight)

Water Walking: Super-Speed (Extras: Surface Speed -water only-, Affects Others, Limits: Extras Only.) This one got weird, so let me explain it. The only place where I saw the ability to walk on water was with Surface Speed, an Extra to Super-Speed. By taking the Extra Only Limit, I nullify the super speed and remain only with the ability to walk on water. Except Water Walking can also Affect Others, so I add that, except it's now two effects, which kind of abuses the 'Extra Only' Limit... So we remove walls from the Surface Speed extra, basically we put a Limit on the Extra to balance things out, which also works thematically since Water Walking should not allow people to walk up walls too. Ta-daaa.


  And now for another example of interpreting a comic-book scene using ICONS rules!

  Oh yeah, I'm going there!!! Batman vs Hulk!!! And believe it or not, under ICONS rules, it's actually a pretty fair fight! Let's work this out.

  At first, Batman has used his Gadgets power to replicate Stunning, rolling vs the Hulk's Strength... And the Caped Crusader gets a Moderate Success!!!

  "But Hulk has a Strength of 10 for sure!" I hear theoretical nay-sayers exclaim. And he sure does, but Batman's Gadgets power is also up there. And the dice rolls probably were on Batman's side. Now, you'll notice that story-wise Hulk seems to simply have resisted it, but notice also how he doesn't do anything else during that page? The narration is going with what makes sense story-wise and explains it that way, but in fact per the rules, Hulk is stunned for one page and that's why he's just standing there holding his breath and not attacking Batman or doing anything else.

  So while Hulk just stands there stunned per the rules and holding his breath per the story, Batman decides to do a Stunt. I'm giving him a Prowess of 7, but even if someone would claim that Batman shouldn't go over the human limit, we can all agree he has the Martial Arts Specialty at Master level anyway, so he can Stunt away no matter what his Prowess is. And his Stunt of choice is replicating Stunning again.

  Batman justifies to the GM that since the gas from his Gadgets use would still be in the air, he tries to kick the Hulk in a way that won't physically hurt him but will force him to draw in air and thus breathe in the sleeping gas. He also uses Improved Effort because he has to roll against Hulk's Strength. Batman actually has the advantage here. Hulk has a Strength of 10, but if you add up Batman's Prowess (+7), Martial Arts Specialty (+3) and Improved Effort (+2) you get a 12!

  The rolls go in Batman's favor again and Batman gets a Massive Success, incapacitating Hulk for the Chapter!

Diversity & Roleplaying Games: My Two Cents

  As always when touching subjects like these, I say the same; You have the right to disagree with me if you want, but please read the whole thing before commenting. These are complex issues and too many people react to single sentences without the full context of a post.

  So anyway, the other day I was on Imgur and I came across a comic strip about people playing D&D. I don't even remember what the composition of the PCs were in the comic exactly, but there was at least one woman with a scarf around her head, so I'm guessing Muslim. I could be wrong, I'm really not interested in any religion. I won't even try to remember which type of headscarf it was, nor am I gonna get into the for-or-against debate about those, that's not the point. The point is that I read a cynical comment that basically stated the diversity of the players in the story seemed artificial. Someone else replied that it was actually based on the real-life gaming group the artist was in.

  That made me think about my own group for who I DM a weekly game, and I shit you not, I realized for the first time that I was the only hetero white male in my gaming group at the moment. I don't mean to say I was blind to the fact that the other players were people of color, female and/or gay, I just mean that I hadn't realized that in our group composition, I was the only 'stereotypical' gamer. So it led me to thinking about why so many gamers don't believe in the idea of a diverse gaming group. Are my friends and I the exception or the norm for gaming groups these days? I don't think we are an exception, yet it just seems like that attitude of 'actual gamers are not that diverse' does come up pretty often when these things are discussed.

  I'm pretty sure that most people who think that, don't really take a look beyond their own gaming group. I'm sure they're blind to the fact that Pathfinder is an extremely inclusive game and it outsold D&D for a good while and D&D has been doing the same. (To be fair to D&D, it was also inclusive during 3rd edition) I could be wrong though. But whatever, here's where I really drop my two cents.

  I don't fucking care if a new edition of Swords & Wizardry is done by only men, only women or a combination of men and women, or what race those who worked on the project were or who they fuck. I just want fun games. If you don't like seeing transexuals in Pathfinder books and prefer to avoid reminders that these people do exist, then just don't buy those books. If you think it's not okay for a book to only star white dudes with women as mere eye candy, don't buy those books. If you don't like something about how the RPG community is going... Create your own material! We live in an era where it's extremely easy to make your own stuff and have it put out there. For example, some guys thought RPGs lacked African-themed content, so they made their own RPG featuring that stuff. There you go! They didn't ask others to do it for them, they created what they wanted to see, and I have a lot of respect for that.

  So my request to the RPG community at large is this; Stop worrying about what others envision as being a normal rpg gaming group, wether it's a group of white men or a diverse cast out of the most politically correct tv show ever. If inclusiveness or lack of it bothers you in some books, buy other stuff. It really shouldn't bother you when right now, I can say for sure that both options are very much available in the market. I'll also be blunt and say that if the presence of people different from you bothers you, you might need to take a good look in the mirror, but I'll take this moment to admit that when I touched upon these subjects in the past, I used insults and labels towards someone I disagreed with. I shouldn't have. You don't change people's minds or help the validity of your points by insulting them and claiming that someone is intolerant should never be done casually.

  In other words, while I do applaud inclusiveness in rpg products (and see it as both the 'moral' and business-savvy way to go) I'll NEVER blame an rpg product or give it shit for not being inclusive. (I will give it shit if it goes out of its way to be intolerant though, but it's not the same thing, which is something a lot of SJWs need to learn already.) In the end, people will speak with their wallets, so let the dice fall where they may. (Ha, ha, rpg-related puns.)

  Just stop worrying already. Seriously, if you and your friends are rolling dice together and are all having fun, then RPGs are working. At the end of the day, no matter what pictures a rulebook has, the people are the table decide what their world will actually look like.