Derive Like The Wind

Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Table Top Role Playing Games

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I was making the character sheet for Amalgama yesterday, and nothing seemed to work. Some characters (high level) had tonnes of information to put down, some had next to nothing. (low level). Some sections of the sheet would be immutable, and other sections would be changed very regularly. Instead of a sheet, I decided on 5 index cards.
This reduces the amount of clutter that players have to deal with when setting up a character at level 1, because they don’t need many of the cards. It also ensures that there will always be enough space to record everything without having a massive sheet where for new characters, almost nothing is filled in. For example, if you’re really rich, you’ll probably need more than one wealth card to keep track of your holdings. If you are just starting out, you won’t need one at all.

I was making the character sheet for Amalgama yesterday, and nothing seemed to work. Some characters (high level) had tonnes of information to put down, some had next to nothing. (low level). Some sections of the sheet would be immutable, and other sections would be changed very regularly. Instead of a sheet, I decided on 5 index cards.

This reduces the amount of clutter that players have to deal with when setting up a character at level 1, because they don’t need many of the cards. It also ensures that there will always be enough space to record everything without having a massive sheet where for new characters, almost nothing is filled in. For example, if you’re really rich, you’ll probably need more than one wealth card to keep track of your holdings. If you are just starting out, you won’t need one at all.

Filed under amalgama Tabletop Games tabletop rpg Role Playing Game TRPG OSR Dungeons and Dragons casters & conquest p&p pen and paper

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Random Realm Generation

In Amalgama, the tabletop game I am making, the landscape is divided up into these things called “realms”, which are self contained floating islands connected to other realms by portals. They vary in size greatly. Because this book includes so many random generation tables already, I thought I’d make a couple to randomly generate a realm. 

With them, you generate a climate, one major biome and two minor biomes, a major political power (when you roll on the table you can also get things like two rival powers, or lawlessness and anarchy), and two events in recent history.

I rolled one up, and the first one I got was awesome. It was a cold climate archiapelago, with expansive cave systems (I rolled cave systems twice on the minor biome), where the major was a Meridon Armada (a navy based government). The two recent events were an epidemic, and the threat of overpopulation by the undead.

I interpreted this as a realm where Viking fleets struggle to take control of of the frigid seas from ghost ships, crewed by the recently dead of a horrible plague, who are burning their homes and slaughtering what is left of their people. So think the first pirates of the Caribbean movie, but on a larger scale and with vikings instead of pirates. 

Anyway these tables are awesome. Just thought I’d share. 

UPDATE: I’ve just finished up some tables to help GMs randomly generate quests. With the information the tables gave me, the first quest that the players in this realm would embark upon goes like this:

One of the players is suddenly struck by a vision, where they are commanded by a mysterious wizard cabal to sail to the dread reefs reliquary, which contains an orb with light that is the only thing that can destroy a powerful lich, who has achieved immortality, and plans to drive all life out of the realm to build a utopia. 

Sounds like fun. 

Filed under amalgama Tabletop Games random generation random generator TRPG pen and paper p&p d&d game design rpg Role Playing Game casters & conquest

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Amalgama Updates

I took a long break from my project to play Darksouls, Oblivion, Crusader Kings II, Mount & Blade Warband, and Civilization V. Mostly darksouls and Mount & Blade honestly. I just went through a big period of writer’s block, but I am back on the horse! I’m going to go through what is done and what still needs doing on the book.

Right now the game is technically playable, and you can make a character up to level 25, although not all of the options I want to make available to characters are complete yet.

Rules: The rules that govern combat and the rules that govern skill checks are completely finished and tested.

Character Creation: 25 of the 40 character classes are complete. 6 of the 21 character background life events are done completely, and most are more than half done. 11 of the 32 character life styles are done completely, and all of the remaining ones are at least half done. 

Lore: the substantive parts of the lore are completely finished, but I am still working on tables for randomly generating “realms” complete with histories and quests. Which can be major plots to drive an adventure or temporary filler for weeks when the GM needs a quick adventure.

GMing Section: By far the least complete section right now. It is a mess of ideas that have not been fully developed, but I think it is right to leave that to the end. A system for quickly creating NPCs is pretty much the only think that is done in here right now.

Dungeon Building/Bestiary: The systems for constructing dungeons randomly and designing them are completely finished, and in the bestiary everything required to make an undead dungeon is complete. The usurper dungeon (usurpers are mindless shape shifters that take on human forms) are about a third done. The dragon stuff, neech (cthuloid monsters) stuff, golem stuff, demon stuff, hunt spirit stuff, and wreck crab/spider stuff, has barely been started.

Each of those monster groups mentioned, including the undead which are finished, are getting 50-60 monsters, 6 characters a GM can pull out to help the players if there aren’t enough of them for a dungeon, a table for randomly generating thematically appropriate treasure generation, a two tables for randomly generating traps and puzzles for the players to overcome, and two tables for randomly generating clutter/details for the appearance of rooms in the dungeon. This is by far the section that will take the most work.

Wealth & Resources: All of the different types of treasure (commodities) are done, a large list of buildings you can construct and purchase is done, rules about minor expenditures are almost done, a list of relationships with powerful people you can buy are about half done, a list of utilities you can buy are about half done (carriages, warships, horses, etc), a list of titles you can buy has barely been started.

The major feature of this section is called “wealth projects” which are things you can make if you own a bunch of other things. For example, if you own enough buildings outside of an existing town, you can make a town as a wealth project,  if you own enough warships, you can make an armada, and if you have enough noble titles, you may be able to make a claim on a kingdom nearby. This has barely been started as well.

Anyway, there is still lots of work to do, but lots of is has been done as well, and lots of it is getting done. 

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Amalgama Playtesting III

Amalgama is the table top role playing game I have been building for some time now. Its to-do list has grown to three pages, but I still feel like I’m making progress. I’m currently in the process of playtesting some of the monsters and classes for the game, and I’ve just rolled up three new characters to fight a hoard of skeletal soldiors.

These ones have more complicated abilities than those in previous playtests. We have the weaponmaster, who can change weapons on the fly, and has all kinds of consumable charge abilities, the sorcerer, who can buff herself, hover in the air to stop from getting attacked, and attack multiple people at once, and the berserker, who gets bonuses to rolls after failing them, and getting hit, and can attack twice in a row if someone fails to defend themself against him. But fundamentally we have the same make up as the previous party: two warriors and a mage. Today they will be fighting a swarm of skeletal soldiors at strength three (meaning appropriate for three players to fight) which means nine skeletons in total. They are normal difficulty. I gave the players the first strike. 

I arrayed the skeletons in three squads neatly. The sorcerer rose into the air and enchanted her staff with +3 attack for battle. None of the skeletons were close enough to try and stop her. The weaponmaster, seeing all of the opponents, smartly decided to stay back and defend the sorcerer, taking  our her spear, which gives her free attacks against people who enter her proximity. She then threw one of her two javelins at a skeleton, killing it.  The berzerker, not having the option of a ranged attack, charged into one of the skeleton clusters, and clove a skeleton in two with his axe. 

On the skeleton’s turn, two of the groups charged headlong at the sorcerer and the weaponmaster. The weaponmaster braced his spear and tried to attack four of the six skeletons as they entered the proximity. Three skeletal warriors were defeated, but the weaponmaster was tired significantly in the attempts. A final skeleton ran from the berserker, who pursued it to his comrades. Once the skeletons reached the sorcerer, all of the skeletons attempted to knock the sorcerer down from flight at once (spending all of their tactics tokens).

The sorcerer spent a significant amount of magic rebuffing their efforts, but managed to stay aloft, which virtually guaranteed the victory of the party. Without a ranged attacker, and a sorcerer with such a high trick bonus, the skeletons were practically helpless against it.

But regardless they soldiered on, all piling on the weapon master, attempting to defeat her before she switched to a weapon more suited to defending himself next turn. Two daggers shot out from the weaponmaster’s sleeves at the skeletons, which chipped the bones of some but did not rebuff the attacks. In an incredible stroke of luck however the weaponmaster blocked every swing of a sword, axe, or mace, and expended minimal energy in doing so. 

In the final round, the sorcerer shot magic misslies at two of the skeletons, the weaponmaster switched to a handaxe and axe-murdered one, and the berzerker just ripped one to shreds, killing all of the remaining skeletons.

The skeletons seemed to have barely scratched the players. I was interested in how the fight might have played out had the skeletons moved first. The fight was reset, and this time I gave the skeletons the initiative. 

All nine skeletons charged headlong into PCs. The weaponmaster attacked four of them with her braced spear, killing two of them, and reducing the strength of all of them significantly. Six of the remaining skeletons attacked the sorcerer before one finally hit her in the head with its club, knocking her unconscious. The last skeleton attacked the berzerker, who did not bother defending himself because of his pain tolerance ability (which reduces the penalty when getting hit), and that ended up costing him very dearly when he rolled poorly and a skeleton hacked into his arm with its blade. 

When the turn turned, the berserker struck back fiercely against the skeleton that struck him, killing it easily with the help of his revenge ability. The weaponmaster switched to sword and buclker from spear, and attacked a skeleton fairly defensively, failing to kill it. The weaponmaster and berserker then ran away from the skeletons. The skeletons all pursued the weaponmaster and only one was able to catch up to her.

On the skeleton’s turns one of the defeated skeletons returned form the grave (it rolled a 6 with the skeleton ability “restless”) and netted the skeletons 5 more combat tokens. The one skeleton in the weaponmaster’s proximity attacked it recklessly (skeleton ability) and the weaponmaster blocked it with her shield. The now six other skeletons then rushed after the weaponmaster. This time the skeletons got lucky and five of them managed to catch up to her (when both parties have exhausted their tactics tokens who catches whom comes down to mostly luck). They all attacked recklessly and were hit by the weaponmaster’s hidden daggers. The weaponmaster barley survived, with two combat tokens. 

The berserker ran back into the field of undead and attacked a skeleton with his great axe, clearing the swarm of combat tokens. (once a swarm is out of combat tokens, each member of the swarm die after their next attack) The weaponmaster smashed a skeleton to pieces with its shield and then tried to run away from the swarm. One of the two skeletons near her managed to chase after her successfully. 

On the skeleton’s next turn none of them managed to rise again from the dead. Three skeletons ran after the weaponmaster. Two of them caught up with her, one of who’s attack she parried and who she shattered to pieces with her shield. The other one knocked the weapons out of her hands, broke her wrist, and knocked her to the ground, defeated. She managed to cut it as well though, and it fell to pieces. The final skeleton tried to chase after the berserker, who could not catch him. 

In the next round, the berserker killed a skeleton, and then on the skeleton’s turns, one skeleton rose from the grave, both skeletons attacked the berserker, who killed them both as they did so. 

That fight wasn’t exactly close because the berserker probably could have fought three or four more skeletons, but it did injure two members of the party. Looks like initiative is very important indeed to this game. I’d say that on the whole there that fight was definitely harder than the one with the devourer. 

Anyway, this playtesting has caused me to change a couple of the rules of combat, but overall this system seems to produce very dramatic battles! My only concern is that considering how long the battle lasted and that the sorcerer was defeated in the first round, it may not be fun for that character. Maybe I need to give characters something to do in combat after their defeat. But also, most GMs I should think will not try to concentrate their fire on one player, and that is certainly amping up the difficulty of these fights. If the sorcerer had survived the first round, as it was when the players won initiative, the skeletons would have had a very difficult time of things. 

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Amalgama Playtesting II

Today the characters I rolled up (a tactician, a pyromancer, and a hero) are fighting against three dead avengers, which are the ghosts of powerful duelists weilding swords. They are “very hard” difficulty monsters, which I expected to certainly kill them. 

In the first round of combat the pyromancer shot a fireball at one of the avengers, who parried it only narrowly avoiding a burn. The tactician and the hero then charged at the same avenger, besetting it with mace and blade, and ultimately stabbing and bludgeoning the ghost to its second death. The ghost would have survived were it not for the hero’s stroke of luck power, which allowed it to reroll its bad attack roll and kill the ghost.

The remaining two retaliated by throwing their swords at the pyromancer, who narrowly survived but managed to parry away both with its flames. The blades then returned to their masters because ghost magic. 

In the next round the character’s attacked similarly, which ultimately left the tactician with one combat token left after dealing the killing blow to the second avenger. It would have left the avenger with one token and the tactician with zero (because of the avenger’s ability “reposte” which allows them to attack after they’ve successfully defended themselves), but at first I failed to apply the tactician’s “inspiring war cry” ability, which gives the tactician and all allies a +2 to attack rolls after an enemy is defeated until the end of the tactician’s next turn. 

On the next turn the avenger attacked the tactician and  defeated it easily. The dead avenger then attempted to escape the hero. Because the hero expends tactics tokens in its “stroke of luck” ability, and the tactician does in its ranged attack, both were equally reluctant to spend them. The hero successfully gave chase, leaving them in close combat once again.

On its next turn the hero attacked with almost all of its strength. The avenger defended equally fiercely and parried each of the hero’s blows, and then with a reposté struck the hero dead. 

Again that was rather close considering how strong the dead avengers were supposed to be, but in their defense they rolled rather poorly over the course of the match, and losing defense rolls time and again did not allow their repost ability to activate more than once. In any case I think it is fine. In the fight against the easy boss, it was given initiative, and in this fight the players were given initiative, which in a combat that only lasts three rounds is a significant boost. 

In amalgama initiative is determined narratively. If the players initiate that attack on the monsters, they get initiative, and if the monsters notice and attack them, the monsters get initiative. Something I’ve learned from this however is that I have to rethink the balance of tokens vs bonuses. 

Right now a bonus of +1 to a particular roll is equivalent to 5 extra tactics or combat tokens in my huristics for how strong thigns are. That balances it such that if a combat lasts 5 rounds, and you use the check every round, then you break even with the +1. I think the fight with the devourer lasted four rounds, and this one only three. It is true however that sometimes checks can be used multiple times per round, and more playtesting is required to see if something needs to be changed I think. 

Next the players will be fighting a swarms of skeletal soldiers, which are normal difficulty monsters. 

Filed under Dungeons and Dragons amalgama casters & conquest d&d p&p dnd Tabletop Games Role Playing Game rpg

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Amalgama Combat Testing

Ok, for Amalgama now I’ve written about 45,000 words, which includes  all of the rules for combat and skill checks, 20 of the 40 classes that will be available when the book is released, lots of stuff concerning treasure and the lore of the world, and a system for building monsters among other things.

I’ve also done all of the undead monsters that will be in the bestiary (about 1/7th of all the monsters), and it has occurred to me that I should really be making sure that my monsters are as hard to beat as they are supposed to be. 

In Amalgama, because of the way leveling up works, monsters are divided into difficulties: trivial, easy, normal, hard, and very hard. They come in three types as well: swarms (essentially, many monsters that share a hit point total), opponents (what you think of when you think of a monster in an P&P game) and bosses. 

I rolled up 3 random characters (a tactician, a hero, and a pyromancer) and am going to have them fight all kinds of monsters across all kinds of difficulties. First was an easy difficulty boss monster called a Bloated Devourer. It is a kind of undead tar monster that wants to eat people. 

In the first round there was some back and fourth of attacks, in the second round  the first form of the bloated devourer was defeated. In Amalgama when bosses lose about half of thier hitpoints their stats change entirely. This doesn’t necissarily represent a change in form, but usually a change in tactics. In this case, the monster’s tar-flesh started to boil and it swollowed everyone in its proximity, which was the hero and the tactician. 

The tactician hadn’t used its action when the tar monster swolloed it, and got lucky with some dice, which resulted in it breaking out of the beast’s belly. On the bloated devourer’s turn it feverishly chased after the pyromancer, who was its primary threat. It gave a fierce chase, but could not catch up. The pyromancer had exhausted almost all of its tactics tokens in running away, but was fortunatley not targeted for attack. Because the tactician had not pursued the monster as it chased the pyromancer, the only one in the monster’s proximity was the hero inside of its stomach, and because of its precarious position was defeated by the devourer. 

The hero was defeated with 0 combat tokens, which left it only exhausted, however the devourer’s special aiblity allows it to absorb the strength of those in its stomach, which at the start of the next turn brought the hero to -3 combat tokens, and gave it minor burns all over its body. The further a combatant drops into negative combat tokens, the more injured they become. If the hero stayed in the beast’s belly for three more rounds, it would start dying, and without a cleric in the party that is pretty bad news. 

The pyromancer, sensing its friend was in danger, used all of its strength to summon up a great fireball and hurl it at the tar beast. It defended itself to the best of its ability (presumably by hardening the flesh about to be impacted on) but still lost the defense roll and caught fire. The pyromancer fell to its knees from exhaustion at 0 combat tokens. 

Only the tactician was left, but with 15 CT compared to the monster’s 3, victory would not be too difficult. It ran up to beast, which had no strength to run away after its chase with the  pyromancer, and smashed its burnt hide in with its mace, freeing the hero. 

After combat the pyromancer was fine and the hero only slightly scathed. That is perhaps a bit closer of a call than I’d like for an easy monster, but it produced an interesting fight with minimal consequences for the player characters. Next they will be fighting three dead avengers (very hard opponents), which, if I have designed my difficulty levels properly, will certainly kill them.

Also, if you are interested, I have a book!

Filed under casters & conquest amalgama Dungeons and Dragons Tabletop Games rpg TRPG pen and paper d&d dnd

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The cover for the tabletop game I’m making! Photoshopped it all myself from public domain sketches and photographs.The heroes in it are called the amalgama because their souls are malleable, and they remove pieces of their own souls to bind fragments of the souls of legendary heroes to them. These legendary heroes have their forms immortalized in the stars, and the heroes need to rest under the stars to recast their souls, hence the dice constellation thing. I had some stars floating around the word “Amalgama” originally as well, but they didn’t look great.

Casters & Conquest, my already finished book, also has a cool logo and cover!

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I’m not sure I like this art style so much any more. 
Also trying out names for my game for a day has lead me to believe that of the words Tapestry, Stars, and Soul, two should be in the name. Any suggestion on how to configure those is appreciated.
Right now the leader is Tapestry Of Stars, which is so much better than Stars & Souls, what I had this morning.

I’m not sure I like this art style so much any more. 

Also trying out names for my game for a day has lead me to believe that of the words Tapestry, Stars, and Soul, two should be in the name. Any suggestion on how to configure those is appreciated.

Right now the leader is Tapestry Of Stars, which is so much better than Stars & Souls, what I had this morning.