Wednesday, July 25, 2012

La bevanda delle sere d'estate

In un bicchiere da 0,5 l (per esempio un bicchiere da pinta di birra o da media) versare nell'ordine:
  • ghiaccio a piacere (facoltativo),
  • un dito di maraschino,
  • da 25 a 33 cl di chinotto,
  • il succo di mezzo limone.
Mescolare brevemente con un cucchiaino lungo. Sorseggiare davanti al proprio PC.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ability scores: roll #d6, some of them in order

That which follows is a method of Ability scores determination for use – during character creation – with any role-playing game employing six Abilities with scores in the 3-18 range. This includes all iterations of D&D I know about, retro-clones or other immediate derivatives of them, as well as Dungeon World and some others. The method can also be altered for a different number of Abilities or scores in a different range, of course.
My aim with this is to marry the “organic” feel of the roll-3d6-in-order method with some of the most desirable qualities of roll-and-arrange and fixed-set methods (namely, the ability to play the class you desire, to always have a character you can make sense of in your mind’s eye, and less power-disparity within the party).

Rafu’s matrix method

First you need to draw a grid of three columns by six rows. Outside the grid scribble the Abilities used in your game, one per row. It looks like this:







STEP 1: roll 6d6. Write the results in the first column, arranging them as you wish.

STEP 2: in the second column, write the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, arranged as you wish.

STEP 3: for the third column, roll 1d6 per row and write down the results in order.

Finally, total up each row to get your Ability scores.

Example: I'm playing OD&D. I roll underwhelming dice in Step #1 (4, 4, 3, 2, 2, 1), but I decide I'm gonna try and make this character a Cleric — a hardy and survivable, no-nonsense knight-templar type. Dice are kinder to me in Step #3.
 = 5
 = 6


  • If you like to use formal rules for “unplayable” characters, to establish when a player’s allowed to reroll, try devising some based on Step #1 (only): this saves everybody’s time. Something like: “if you got two or more 1s and/or your best die is a 4, you’re allowed to reroll”.
  • If you want a more uniform power-level, and/or to make any one point of difference very meaningful (a flatter distribution):
    • for Step #1, roll 8d6 then drop highest and lowest die (or even 10d6 drop 2 highest and 2 lowest, etc.);
    • for Step #3, roll 3d6 and keep the median value (drop high and low) instead of 1d6.
  • For a different number of Abilities (five scores, seven scores, etc.) you need to both:
    • roll nd6 in Step #1 where n is the number of Abilities;
    • alter the array of numbers in Step #2 by removing or adding (duplicating) values starting from the middle ones (3s and 4s): thus an array for an 8-Abilites game could be “1,2,3,3,4,4,5,6”, one for a 4-Abilities game is “1,2,5,6”.
  • To generate Ability scores in a 2-12 range (Epées & Sorcellerie, World of Dungeons):
    • skip Step #1;
    • for Step #3, either:
      • use the 3d6-keep-median roll, or
      • repeat Step #3 twice, writing down both sets of results, then choose one (a whole set, not row-by-row).


I originally devised this method back in my 3E days, out of a desire to introduce some controlled randomness, but never got to put it to any real use. I wouldn’t use it for a 4E game, because it doesn’t fit with the small-squad tactics optimization those rules finally canonized as the “official” style of play, IMO. But in the present era of Old-School Renaissance, widely available OD&D retro-clones and free-licensed, D&D-themed Apocalypse World hacks… I believe there is now room and even demand for little house-rules like this to be circulated.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Monthly wrap-up: not much to see here

June was my slowest month, game-wise, since a very long time. No big surprise: I was hugely busy doing other things. Since that On Mighty Thews game I already wrote about, I've only been playing a pithy few scenes of Remember Tomorrow. Tune in again in a month for something more substantial.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

"Dungeon World", my own way

So, Dungeon World is, basically, using the rules from Apocalypse World to recreate the world of Dungeons & Dragons, right? Then, if I designed Dungeon World, here's what the playbooks would be:
  • The Adventurer — you go dungeon-delving for fame and fortune; the exact way you kill monsters (sword-fighting, spell-casting, arrow-shooting, god-invoking, back-stabbing, shape-shifting, kung-fu, etc.) depends on the options you take from the playbook.
  • The First-leveler — you're young and eager and you wish you were as cool as the Adventurer: survive long enough and that may happen.
  • The Leader — of an adventuring party (a small, but very powerful, gang).
  • The Henchman (not gender-exclusive: you can be a henchwoman, henchqueerperson, etc.) — you earn your living by being around adventurers a lot.
  • The Mayor — could be a council leader, town elder or whatever, and they're sort of like the Hardholder, in that they're responsible for a town and her citizens, probably with a militia to wield for that purpose.
  • The Baron — you control land and a manor, possibly an actual castle, and lead an armed gang of violent people; also Hardholder-ish, but compared with the Mayor you've got different responsibilities and loyalties.
  • The Merchant — a barkeeper, innkeeper or shopkeeper, possibly a craftsman like a weaponsmith, you've got an establishment sort of like a Maestro'D's.
  • The Thief — comes with a guild, but with no warrant that the guild is their friend.
  • The Wizard — not your average adventuring wizard (we've got that covered already), but the kind of wizard who owns a wizard's tower; optionally, your tower may include a dungeon.
  • The Sellsword — you fight for coin and kill for a living; maybe you've got your own mercenary gang of which you're the captain, or maybe you're a solitary assassin from some dark cult.
And here's a basic move:
When you go adventuring in a dungeon with your brave fellows, roll +a currently highlighted stat. On a 10+ choose 3, on a 7-9 choose 2:
  • you are not wounded
  • you didn't use up rare or valuable provisions (such as magic item charges, a potion…)
  • you didn't give your adventuring fellows +1Hx with you
  • you got a rich loot
  • you got an even richer loot
  • you gained a useful magic item
  • you gained a powerful magic item
  • you gained a permanent magic item
  • bards are singing of your deeds
On a failure, you are stymied during your adventure, and the MC will zoom in to that situation, showing you being cornered, embattled, imprisoned, hunted, perplexed by a puzzle, or worse.

— § —

Now, the serious part. Please, don't think that the point of the above is to slander the real DW for not focusing on the aspects of D&D (or AW) that I right in this moment I'm thinking are more funny. Rather, I meant to illustrate a point I recently made on Lumpley's blog concerning player-vs-player conflicts in AW. Well, or maybe the joke pulled my leg and it became an end in itself.