Monday, November 16, 2009

Doctor Who Roleplaying Game

I am a hugenormous Doctor Who fan. I am a hugenormous Roleplaying Game fan. This purchase is a "no brainer." But it begs the question, "Who will play this with me."

I have a difficult enough time finding people to play my RPG's with. A specialized property like Doctor Who creates a special challenge. But, I don't really care about that. I plan to purchase the game book just to read and enjoy it.

Are there RPG's out there that you have purchased with the foreknowlege that you will very likely never actually play the game? I am curious about games that other gamers have purchased just for the love of the genre or the joy of the read.



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Maul Rats

So, I wanted to blog an update before my game today. Yes, I did play (for the first time in about 4 years) for real last week. We used the Legends of the Ancient World free rules by Dark City Games. The rules seemed to work well (although the play-test was limited to only a few encounters.) It took a bit longer to create characters than I thought it would, and one player was late.

The characters are: An Ursan (like a bearman) Hero, a Tigran (like a Tigerman) Mage (Healer,) and a Fairy (used Gnome racial template and subbed flight for invis.) Mage (Wizard.)

I am using the "Lord of the Rats" sample adventure that appears in the Dungeon Slayers free RPG. The players had some interesting ideas about "trolling for rats" using a soup bone or slab of old meat and a long piece of string. Man, I had forgotten how players think. If I had been using a 300 page rule book that I had paid $50 for, there would not have been any rules included for "rat trolling."

That brings to mind a revelation that I have made about gaming and game rules. It seems to me that the more different situations a rules set tries to cover, the more time players and referees will spend with their nose in the books trying to find a solution. What I like is a brief clean rules tool-kit that will arm the players and the referee with just enough ammo to concoct their own solutions based upon the examples set by the rules.

Don't tell me what to do. Tell me just enough that I can figure out what to do for myself. If I understand the tools, that's enough. And I am spending my time playing and problem solving rather than reading.

We managed to get through the cellar part of the adventure and into the first part of the hidden, "Lord of the Rats" dungeon.

Combat with the rats in the cellar went fine and everyone had a good time.

I am also using the "JUICE UP YOUR GAME!" guidelines from the Wicked Fantasy Factory adventure line. I have adapted these to LAW as follows:

Finishing Moves

Finishing Moves (FM) are opposed tests (like direct spells)

Melee Attack FM is player normal undamaged ST/3 test vs. enemy current injured ST/3 test.

Ranged Attack FM is player adjusted (for armor) DX/3 test vs. enemy current injured ST/3 test.

Magic Attack FM is player IQ/3 test vs. enemy current injured ST/3 test.

Note that success is opposed by ST/3 test at enemies current injury level, so the more hurt the enemy is, the easier it will be to score a success. (A warrior whose Melee FM relies more on precision than brute force may choose to base their FM on adjusted DX rather than ST.)

Remember, you can attempt your finishing move only once each combat.

Using your Finishing Move successfully and spectacularly is worth 1 xp.


A player defender can counterattack or dodge against Mooks as a reaction, but the player does not give up their following turn. Players are still allowed only one reaction each turn.

The Big Badass!

The Big Badass possesses 1 wish (see karma / wish pg 3) that it uses automatically upon being defeated.

Phat Lewt

Maul Rats

These three rats appear to be made of stone (like the Rat God idol) ... they have 1 strength and 4 natural armor. If they take the 1 damage then they crumble. They have Dex of 12 and inflict 1d6-1 damage. They do not automatically dodge like the Rat Mooks. The Maul Rats (including crumbled remains) radiate magic. When 2 of the Rats have been defeated the Rat God will animate and speak the word:

"Starluam" (star - loo - ahm)

The third rat plus the two crumbled bodies will disappear and a giant magical maul will appear in the Rat God's hands.

The Rat Maul

This ornate maul appears to be forged from a single slab of gray granite. The handle is covered in detailed carvings of vicious looking rats and the head of the maul although "squared off" in the shape of a rectangular hammer head has been etched to appear as a stylized giant rat. A huge hammer made of stone would likely be too heavy and brittle to make an effective weapon, but this one has been magicked to be stronger and lighter than its base material. In all ways the Rat Maul functions as a normal Maul (Two-Handed Weapon / DM 2d6+2) but it has a +1 bonus to hit (Treat DX as 1 point higher when making attack rolls with the Rat Maul) and it has a Heft of only 12.

The transformation of the Maul Rats to the Rat Maul

When the Rat God is defeated, the Rat Maul will fall to the ground. When a player moves to pick up the Rat Maul, it will disappear from their grasp and transform back into the three Maul Rats. These rats will be "animated" stone creatures under the control of the person who grasped the Maul. The two crumbled rats return restored to full health.

When the command word: "Starluam" (star - loo - ahm) is uttered, the Maul Rats will transform into the Rat Maul. This can only be done once per day, and it will only work if one or more of the Maul Rats is engaged in combat. The Rat Maul lasts for the duration of that one combat and then transforms back into the Maul Rats. The transformation process repairs any shattered rats, but one rat must be intact and within ear-shot to "hear" the command word. If all the Maul Rats have been broken, the command word will not work, and the magical Maul Rats/Rat Maul will have been forever destroyed.


That was my idea for Phat Lewt for the "Lord of the Rats" adventure. One of my players (the Ursan) is working on boosting his ST so he can get a Maul, so the pun was just too much fun to leave alone.

Anyway, that's all for now. I am playing again tonight and will happily post about that game when I can.


Friday, August 07, 2009

Gaming in the Real World ...

So, it's been over a month since I posted anything ... thought I better get in here and give folks an update. The new version of A+ Fantasy remains my primary design project, but as I am now dealing with the real nuts and bolts of things I have slowed a bit in my efforts. However, I am still working on it and it will get done. Currently, I am planning to release the competed document early in 2010 which will be the original A+ Fantasy's 5 year anniversary.

On other fronts, I am making very real plans to start a regular gaming session in my home. I've become something of an armchair gamer, reading rules but never playing. But, recent plans are changing all of that. My players are old school D&Ders and the desire is to stick with the fantasy gaming genre. No one has books or money so I found myself browsing the web for free gaming solutions to prepare myself and my players for ... "Gaming in the Real World."

My first impulse was to play using "Dungeon Slayers" which I have listed in my side bar as my "Favorite free RPG." Well, upon looking at it, not as a reader but as a player I found that I needed to "Back the truck up." So many little numbers. Add this, subtract that. I tried to imagine running the game and all the little numbers were nickle and diming me to death! Next, I decided to take a second look at Dark City Games' "Legends of the Ancient World."

Legends is based on "The Fantasy Trip" by Steve Jackson. The rules have been stripped of all but their most vital and functional components. The number crunching and annoying nickle and dime mathematics of Dungeon Slayers is gone, but I have lost nothing in functionality and robustness. In fact, TFT has stood the test of time and I am confident that it will give me everything I need. I have played it before so I approach the Legends document with confidence as I begin to plan my gaming session.

I have decided to use the "Lord of the Rats" adventure from the Dungeon Slayers rulebook as my introductory adventure, but play it using the Legends rules. Which is another cool thing about pulling free resources from the internet, the ability to mix-and-match. I also decided to use the Equipment Price list from Dungeon Slayers as the equipment list in the 7 page Legends document is lacking and has no prices.

Speaking of "Mix-And-Match," I have also stolen the "Wicked Fantasy Factory" rules for Mooks, Big Bosses, and Finishing Moves and adapted these to Legends. Check out the free 12 page preview of the Wicked Fantasy Factory Adventure #1: Rumble in the Wizard's Tower for these rules. What I love about this is the attitude, and these ideas can be easily adapted to any combat focused adventure RPG.

On the Dark City Games web site you will also find free paper minis, sample adventures and an invaluable "Charater Creation worksheet." DCG is set up to give away their rules and then sell the adventures and supliments. If the free samples are any indication, these adventures should be well worth the money, and if my gaming lasts for more than a few sessions I will definitely be throwing these folks some of my spare change (if I ever get any!)



Friday, June 05, 2009

Final Fantasy IV - The After Years

Dreams and Dragons is my place to talk about Role-Playing Games. The plan is to talk about games of the Pen-n-Paper variety. But, there is no arguing that computer and console RPGs have had their impact on the Pen-n-Paper cousins that gave them birth. My game, "A+ Fantasy" borrows largely from aspects of console RPGs like "Secret of Mana" and "Shining Force."

The first console RPG that had a real impact on me was "Final Fantasy II" (as it was numbered here in the USA ... actually, Final Fantasy IV was it's proper title.) This tale of a fallen Knight turned Paladin struck a cord with me. It was the greatest thing I had ever seen. There is no denying that Japanese Console RPGs have influenced the way I think about gaming.

Last night I downloaded, "Final Fantasy IV - The After Years" a new WiiWare title released as part of the Nintendo Wii's game download service. It is a direct sequel of the original "Final Fantasy IV." From the moment the first chords of theme music began to play ... I was taken back. Back to my first real console RPG experience. Back to one of the awesomest times I can ever remember.

Granted, my enthusiasm is 90% nostalgia based, but it is genuine enthusiasm none the less. I wanted to post here today to share that sense of awe with anyone who might stumble upon my little corner of the web. "Final Fantasy is awesome!!"

You start play as Prince Ceodore of Baron who is King Cecil and Queen Rosa's son. (Cecil and Rosa were main characters from the original game.) You are travelling on an Air Ship to an island to take the test to become a knight. This openning is almost identical visually to the original Final Fantasy IV openning, and if you loved that game the way that I did, you will find yourself instantly immersed.

I am kind of a gaming fuddy-duddy. When FF made the leap to the third dimension and the Playstation ... I didn't follow. These games just didn't feel the same to me. I hope that this game and other "retro" titles like it do well, because some of us old folks are just more comfortable in two dimensions. Not long ago I would have thought this game and games like it were forever gone... figments of imaginations past. But, services like "The Virtual Console" have shown that there is still a market for these kinds of games, and I for one couldn't be more pleased.

So, this is a gaming blog and I'm still talking about gaming... but next post we'll get back to the "pen-n-paper." Thanks for reading my gush.


Jeff Moore

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Following the guide... Part 2 (Character Creation)

This is the second part of my blog about rewriting A+ Fantasy and following the guidelines for organizing your RPG as put forth by Rob Lang. You can read the first part: HERE.

Okay... step 5 ... The section on Character Creation ... Things are getting sketchy now... a huge part of A+'s character design is all the skills ... ones which I haven't written yet. And character creation will be the biggest change for this version of the game when compared to the last. Getting rid of attributes and the grade structure has really freed things up and blown character creation and advancement wide open.

This part of my game is the most changed and so it's also the least written or developed. Rob's guide says to start by just listing the steps... it turns out, it not only helps to read things this way... apparently it helps to write things this way too. Not sure exactly what character creation was going to look like ... I just started listing some steps... 1, 2, 3.

At first I only had like 4 steps... then as I began detailing those, I realized that I needed to add another... so I did... and another. The thing is, listing the steps for the reader before trying to describe allowed me to organize my thoughts ahead of time and find my footing before I jumped full force into the muckity-muck details of it all ... and sure I had to go back a few times. (Ultimately, I ended up with 9 steps.) But the thing is, following this structure, this process ... it is not only organizing my game, it's organizing my creative process, and making my job as a creator/designer/author easier.

Maybe every one has a tightly defined process they work under and I'm the only creative scatter brain that jumps into the middle of my projects blind and trying to do too much at once... I don't know. But for me, so far this experiment has been enlightening. Following this process as it has been dictated by Rob has proven to be almost like working with an editor. I'll start to go off in some random direction, but then that internal voice will say, "No, Rob's guidelines say do this..." and I'll listen to the editor, and I'm back on task.

The process is not only helping me creatively and productively, but it's catching things that I might otherwise have missed. It's funny what you'll forget when doing something like this... like, "Choose a Name for your character." I didn't catch that one until I was writing the final part of the character creation example ... an example that doesn't exist in the original A+ Fantasy, but that Rob's guidelines say I should include. So I included it, and realized a basic step like "name your character" was missing. It may not seem like a big deal, but I am glad that I caught it and added a little bit into the game about naming your character, because that's about setting tone during play and a name can be very useful to role-play.

So, I'm done with the Character Creation part of the rules for now, and I know that I'll be going back to look at them again. I want to flesh things out some more so that my examples reflect the mechanics of the game properly... mechanics that I haven't entirely written...



Jeff Moore

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The 24 Hour RPG ...

There's this great "contest" / exercise in self discipline called the "24 Hour RPG." The basic idea is to create an RPG containing all the vital elements (see Rob Lang's free guide to Organizing your RPG for a excellent example of just what those elements are and how to pull them together) complete and ready to play in just 24 hours.

The thing about this is that such a challenge is a great way to force yourself to get your ideas "out there." It doesn't matter if you manage to complete the challenge or if the material you end up with is sketchy or incomplete. The trick is to try your best and produce the best product you can with a very small investment in time. The end result might surprise you. I have attempted the 24 hour RPG a few times and each of those attempts ultimately resulted in the production of a new RPG project. A project that was born because the 24 hour brainstorm allowed me to realize that I could make that game project a reality. It gave it life. The 24 hour RPG is a great way to boost your creativity and evolve your current RPG project beyond staring at a blank sheet of white computer screen.

My first 24 hour RPG was "Sky Ace" ... an attempt to create an RPG that combined cards and miniatures to form a sort of board game resolution mechanic. In playtest later it didn't work very well. But, there were some very good ideas hidden in there ... and they allowed new game concepts to evolve. I eventually wrote an updated version and later a game called Royal Battles that I think has a lot of interesting ideas about making a board game from standard playing cards. More 24 hour RPG's followed, I wrote EZ Supers and that lead to Hi/Lo Heroes; then Duel Blade, which lead to Prometheus Blade, which lead to Powers-Brawl. All games born of the 24 Hour RPG, because a spark was started that created the impetus to build and grow an idea.

Go to 1km1kt and check out the 24 Hour RPG Challenge... you'll be glad you did!


Jeff Moore

Rob Lang's free guide to organising your RPG ...

So, after yesterday's post regarding "A+ Fantasy" I got a bee in my bonnet about revising and rewriting that game. I'm still going to call it "A+ Fantasy" because that's its name. But, the actual "letter grade" aspects of the game (which were its greatest weakness) are gone. So, I start thinking about how to begin the task of rebuilding "A+ Fantasy" and it occurs to me that I have a great opportunity to try a little experiment here.

A couple of weeks ago Rob Lang posted on the Free RPG Blog an article on organizing your RPG. It was a very specific set of guidelines and suggestions for structuring game rules and information to make things as functional and friendly as possible. In looking back at the article, I have decided that this would be the perfect oportunity to put Rob's guide to the test.

The first thing was the cover ... okay, easy ... done moving on ... next Table of Contents ... hmmm, I usually use a title page of somekind and put my copyright and version information there. I like it that way because in printing "facing pages" style it puts that little bit of info on the inside front cover out of the way. Maybe Rob just forgot about that stuff and I can go ahead and add it ... hmmm ... nope, Rob mentions a dedication page after the TOC that includes version information and stuff of that nature, so he didn't forget ... he just believes it belongs after the TOC. Okay, I resisted at first ... did it my way, but added the seperate dedication page where Rob had recommended it as well. Then eventually, after a long internal conversation about staying true to the spirit of this little experiment, I went back and changed things to make it just as Rob had dictated.

Next came the Introduction ... no problem, except that Rob had stated that the Introduction should be an overview of the contents of the book ... which I haven't written yet. Like the TOC section I found myself fudging quite a bit with the intention of coming back to clean things up later. The interesting thing about tackling this whole thing in a linear fashion as I was doing is that in writing this introduction which touches on all the things yet to come (things I hadn't written yet) I had actually managed to create for myself a workable outline of what I was going to be doing and how I wanted to present it. My Introduction has become a blueprint to guide me through my creative process as I move forward. Brilliant!

So here I am, 3 pages in and feeling pretty good about this little experiment. I will continue to blog about my progress as the new 2009 Edition of A+ Fantasy continues to evolve.

Check out Rob's article on RPG design HERE.


Jeff Moore

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A+ Fantasy

This was my first RPG submitted to 1km1kt. It was only the second game I had ever provided for online review... (The first was a game called Xerospace. This was around 1997 and I have since lost all copies of that game. If anyone has a copy of the Xerospace PDF file laying around on a disused harddrive I would be eternally grateful to recieve a copy.) Anyway, looking back on A+ Fantasy ... this game's not half bad.

It uses a simple d6 mechanic where the goal is to roll a d6 apply a modifier and (hopefully) get a six. This is made a little more interesting because instead of rolling just 1d6 you roll 2 ... and you apply any modifiers equally between the two dice. Each six counts as a success and while most tasks can be achieved through a single success some more difficult tasks (and many special abilities) will require success on both dice (called a critical success.)

The game has a combat and spell system all focused on weapon types that integrate nicely and the spell system doesn't feel tacked on. In reading this now I find myself wondering ... "Why aren't I playing this?" Initial character creation is a bit limiting, but the purchasing of skills and weapons techniques opens everything up nicely. Still there is a clear problem with the attributes and character advancement.

A+ Fantasy

In reviewing it now, A+'s greatest weakness is its gimmicky letter grade system (which is where it got its name) and in the limiting nature of the four basic attributes of Agility, Brawn, Cognition, and Determination. In looking at this now, I can see a way to improve this game exponentially simply by pulling those gimmicky aspects out (I'll have to change the name ... LOL) and just letting the system stand on its skills set and Weapons techniques alone.

Maybe it's time I took a close look at A+ Fantasy (or whatever I might eventually call it.) So far I have maintained a strong trend of writing a game and then upon giving birth, simply leaving the game alone to gather dust. A+ deserves another look, and a thoughtful rewrite. Maybe it's time to start a new trend.


Jeff Moore

Monday, May 25, 2009

d6 Obsession ...

In looking back at my designs, I realize one common theme ... "The Many Uses of the D6." You see, the thing is ... when I was first introduced to this hobby, I was a high-school kid in a tiny backwater town ... and I was poor. Maybe that's why I like making (and playing) free RPG's now.

The game was AD&D ... Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (then the first and only edition) but I didn't have books, and I didn't have dice, both of which the true AD&D enthusiast collected in abundance. I quickly compensated for the lack of books by transcribing the game rules in my school notebook (and making my own modifications of course.) But, the absence of dice was more difficult to circumvent and made me an AD&D heretic, shunned by my peers. (I even tried to make a set of dice as a project in wood shop... the d4 came out okay... but the rest... well, never mind.)

This was before the days of internet and convenient online shopping. The nearest gaming store was almost 100 miles away ... I was doomed. I did however, manage to gather every D6 in the house and then some. Before long I had a gym sock (my first dice bag) full of 6 sided dice ... and I was good to go.

I sat down and figured out the best way to make a throw of a few d6's emulate a d20 ... I created charts that changed the way the dice were read to eliminate or at least minimize the bell curve. I made the d6 my bitch... she would do anything for me. And so, I suppose began my obsession with the six-sided dice. And this obsession holds to this day ... all my games use a d6. Because I don't want anyone else to struggle with the dicevation (like "starvation" ... only with dice - uh, that doesn't make sense ... people who are starving aren't suffering from an absence of "stars" ... oh, well ... ) Where was I? Oh, yes ... I don't want anyone to struggle with the dicevation that I had to. I want my games to be as accessible as they can be.

However, my obsession with manipulation of the d6 has also limited my design options quite a bit. To circumvent these limitations without loosing accessibility, I have experimented with playing cards, and briefly even entertained creating a task resolution mechanic around a game of "Rock, Paper, Scissors." Ultimately, though ... I am obsessed with the D6 and will continue to design in it's shadow.


Jeff Moore

Monkeying Around ...

I have been playing around with the design or manipulation of RPG mechanics pretty much from the moment I was first introduced to the concept about 30 years ago. In recent years this tinkering has lead to a handful of compact (hopefully workable game systems) that express some of the things I like about RPG's.

This blog-space will be a place for me to look at those games that I have authored and revisit them for myself. Moving forward as a designer, I am finding looking back at these games a second time to be incredibly useful and more than a little entertaining.

Most of these games (and a few more of my works as well as the wonderful accomplishments of hundreds of other authors) can be found at Please visit the site, it is an incredible depository of free downloadable RPG resources that is nothing less than completely awesome! Also the site owner Keeton Harrington has been incredibly supportive and encouraging of all my endeavors and I really like everything he stands for. So give it a look.


Jeff Moore