Friday, January 31, 2014

Team Arrow for Super-Five

Arrow (Oliver Queen)

Vocation Trait (2)
I am the CEO of Queen Consolidated and a billionaire.

Hobby Trait (4)
For five years on a hellish island, I learned wilderness survival, and herbal healing techniques.

Attack Trait (6)*
I am an expert in Martial Arts and have an almost mythical skill with the bow and arrow.

Defense Trait (5)
Years of torture have made me tough enough to survive almost anything.

Mobility Trait (3)
I use grappling hook arrows to attach swing lines to the rooftops or ride through the streets on my souped up motorcycle.

Charge Trait (D)
I love Laurel Lance, but she loved Tommy, and blames the Arrow for his death.

Felicity Smoak

Vocation Trait (6)*
I am the best computer hacker you are likely to meet.

Hobby Trait (4)
I am becoming quite the amateur detective.

Attack Trait (2)
I'm not a fighter, but I did jump out of a plane once.

Defense Trait (D)
I have a disarming smile ... does that count?

Mobility Trait (3)
I own a car, that's where I first learned Ollie's secret, but if I want to catch the badguys it's my superior skills with GPS tracking that will win the day.

Charge Trait (5)
I'd do anything for Ollie. Well, maybe not "anything." But, you know "almost" anything ... I mean ... if he "wanted" me to. -sigh-

(John) Diggle

Vocation Trait (4)
I work security, so I am a decent detective and observer of human behavior.

Hobby Trait (3)
I am pretty good at deciphering codes, and other types of "Intelligence" work.

Attack Trait (5)
I am an expert in hand to hand combat and proficient with most firearms.

Defense Trait (6)*
As a former member of Army Special Forces, I can take care of myself.

Mobility Trait (2)
I can pilot a variety of vehicles over land, sea or air.

Charge Trait (D)
We had a recent falling out, but I still keep my eye on my sister-in-law, Carly.

 * Denotes Specialization

Here's Team Arrow for Super-Five. I am really loving Arrow. The show just keeps getting better. I can't wait for the return of the Huntress, not to mention upcoming appearances of the Flash, and what's this? "The Suicide Squad." Oh, yeah! Sure, we've seen it coming, but this latest episode really brought it to the forefront. I was geeking-out with joy!

Art this time is by Nick Sorenson of DeviantArt. Be sure to take a look at his work and let him know how awesome he is!



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Super-Five Advanced Rule: Trait Specialties

These rules work in addition to the standard rules from Five by Five Fast Play and Super-Five.

Select a Trait Specialty at character creation and gain the benefit of that specialty permanently. Your Trouble Trait cannot be chosen as your Trait Specialty.

Mobility Specialist
Your Hero can act before the NPC's each turn. Once per turn you can spend a Karma Point to perform an additional action. When rolling a MOBILITY action, if you roll a 0, gain a Karma Point.

Attack Specialist
Once per turn, you can spend a Karma Point to inflict one point of Stress on any target. When rolling an ATTACK action, if you roll a 0, gain a Karma Point.

Defense Specialist
Once per turn, you can spend a Karma Point to turn any successful "hit" (against any target) into a "miss." When rolling a DEFENSE action (this includes Automatic Defense), if you roll a 0, gain a Karma Point.

Vocation, Hobby or Charge Specialist
For these kinds of specialties, you can spend a Karma Point to automatically succeed at a single task relative to your Specialty Trait. When rolling for an action relative to your specialty trait, if you roll 0, gain a Karma Point.

The Five by Five Core Rules have special offensive and defensive options to reflect the use of special equipment like a Shield or an Off-Hand Weapon. I liked the added level of strategy these rules imparted and have adopted them as combat options in my fantasy campaign. I revamped these options for the Fief by Fief rules, and so I decided to do so again for Super-Five.

I think giving each specialty a unique way to spend and accumulate Karma fits well with the spirit of a superhero game and, I hope that these rules won't complicate things. I've not tested things out yet, but I like the way everything looks.

Hopefully I can try these options soon.



PS - I went back on the Superhero character examples and put a star (*) by each of their Specialty Traits.

PPS - I went ahead and updated the Super-Five PDF to include Trait Specialization because I really think it's going to be a great addition! Let me know your thoughts.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Spidy and Hulk for Super-Five


Vocation Trait (D)
I snap pix of Spider-man for the Daily Bugle. Too bad I can never seem to make enough money doing it.

Hobby Trait (3)
I really want to be a scientist, and chemistry is my specialty.

Attack Trait (6)
I have the proportionate strength of a spider, not to mention super-human agility!

Defense Trait (5)
My Spider-Sense is tingling!

Mobility Trait (4)*
As if the ability to cling to any surface and crawl walls like a spider wasn't enough, I invented my famous web shooters to project web lines that get me around town.

Charge Trait (2)
Aunt May is like a mother to me, and I worry about her as much as she worries about me.


Vocation Trait (4)
I am the foremost authority on Gamma Radiation in the world. (Banner stupid! Hulk no have puny job!)

Hobby Trait (3)
I've become very computer savy over the years. (Hulk smash Face Book!)

Attack Trait (6)*
Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry. (Hulk is strongest one there is!)

Defense Trait (5)
That's my secret ... I'm always angry. (Nothing can hurt Hulk!)

Mobility Trait (D)
I wander from place to place with nothing but the clothes on my back. (Hulk jump higher than puny Banner!)

Charge Trait (2)
I love General Ross's daughter Betty. (Shut up, Banner! Hulk loves Betty more!)

* Denotes the Hero's Specialty Trait.

This time it's two from Marvel. The Spectacular Spider-man and the Incredible Hulk are given the Super-Five treatment. The art is again from Deviant Art this time from artist Eric Guzman. Be sure to stop by his page to look at his stuff and let him know how great he is.



Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Superman and Batman for Super-Five


Vocation (Doubles)
It is a constant struggle to hide my secret identity from my co-workers at the Daily Planet, where I am a mild mannered reporter.

Hobby (2)
I am an amatuer scientist, and I have learned much by studying pieces of technology from my lost homeworld of Krypton.

Attack (5)
I am super strong and have heat vision, but I have to be extra careful not to hurt people with my powers.

Defense (6)*
I can only be hurt by magic, krytonite, red-sun energy, or cosmic level attacks, otherwise I am invulnerable.

Mobility (3)
I can fly at nearly the speed of light, and I run almost as fast on foot.

Charge (4)
Lois Lane is the love of my life.


Vocation (2)
People see me as a billionaire playboy with unlimited resources and not a care in the world ... they got the first part right.

Hobby (Doubles)
Because of my reputation as the world's greatest detective, my enemies leave puzzling clues to taunt me.

Attack (6)*
Martial combat, and fear ... and I have a few tricks up my sleeve, various grenades, the batarang.

Defense (5)
I'm Batman ...

Mobility (4)
Custom vehicles take me where I need to go quickly, the batmobile, batplane, batboat, oh, and there's the batrope for short distances and surprise entrances.

Charge (3)
I try not to let people get too close, but Alfred is invaluable to me and the closest thing I have to family, also Jim Gordon is a friend.

* Denotes the Hero's Trait Specialization.

Here are Superman and Batman done Super-Five Template style. I could see playing a game with these characters, no problem.

The art is by an artist named Sebastian on Deviant Art. Be sure and visit his page and share some love.



Monday, January 20, 2014

Super-Five Fast Play Rules

I am very pleased with the Five By Five Fast Play Rules one-page RPG document, and I am planning a game to play test this version of Five by Five and get a feel for it compared to the "official" version of the game. To that end, I have added a new landscape style character sheet and this one-page superhero RPG supplement, Super-Five.

Unlike my previous fantasy supplement, "Fife by Fife," Super-Five doesn't try to throw out or change any existing rules from the Fast Play version of the game, it just adds some new options and introduces some new ideas. Key among these is sentence traits (which I talked about in an earlier post) and the use of a template designed specifically for creating superhero characters.

The more that I think about it, the more I like the template design concept for creating superheroes for Five by Five. I find myself imagining various superhero characters from the comics built using this template approach and I think it will work very well for most any existing superhero. In fact, I will be posting a few superhero character builds using these new Super-Five rules in the near future.

As always, I would love to hear what you think.



P.S. - Be sure to grab a new copy of the Five by Five Fast Play Rules and the Landscape Character Sheet. I have modified the core rules for using a healing trait to make it more effective compared to natural recovery, and I have increased the base amount of stress a character can endure from 3 to 5.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Playing the Odds in Five by Five

Upon creating the new character sheet for the Five by Five Fast Play version, I included a row on the character sheet that shows the percentage chance of rolling that product or less on a 5x5 roll.

One of the reasons that I have strayed away from the rank descriptors for each product in this version of Five by Five (besides the fact that no one I played with bothered to use them) is that they really weren't useful as indicators of value except in relationship to each other.

If you went by the descriptors literally, it wouldn't make much sense that a "Master" at something only has roughly a 60% chance to succeed in the majority of relative tasks. Also, when you look at the array of abilities assigned to a new character you see these chances for success: 33%, 39%, 44%, 50% and 56%. That's only 2 of 5 abilities with an even chance for success. At first glance this might make it seem like characters in Five by Five can't really do anything very well.

And, that's why I thought it might be helpful to write this entry and talk a bit about the numbers. First, in all instances task rolls are never meant to represent the mundane or the ordinary. Routine tasks that require little effort or involve minimal risk, shouldn't require a die roll for success ... they should just succeed automatically.

These numbers represent difficult or dangerous tasks that a hero in an adventure story attempts at some risk. I believe that most RPG players began this hobby playing some form of Dungeons and Dragons or similar D20 system game and can generally relate to that as a basis for comparison. So, I have decided to compare the Five by Five product array to the D&D d20 roll.

I will make some notes based on my impressions of the numbers here, and the "sense of danger" they might represent in a D&D game. It should be noted, that I cut my teeth on 1st Ed. AD&D and that my "impression" of the numbers is still indicative of that version of the game. So maybe think of much of this as an OSR comparison if that helps.

Five by Five vs. Roll to Hit

Five by Five roll:  "Doubles" (for the Trouble Trait)
= D20 roll "to Hit":  18+

18 is a tough number to hit, but I have entered a fair number of combats in D&D where that was my target and I managed to emerge triumphant. Remember ... this is the "Trouble Trait" the hardest roll in the game!

Five by Five roll:  "0" (for any unskilled task)
= D20 roll "to Hit":  15+

15 is doable. I have played many games where 15 was my target to hit the enemy and managed to roll the number enough to make a difference. This is the default unskilled difficulty when you try to do something dangerous that you don't really have any affinity for. This is the barmaid with no combat experience taking a swing at the first level adventurer. Her chances aren't supposed to be very good.

Five by Five roll "2 or less" (the lowest actual trait for a beginning character)
= D20 roll "to Hit" 14+

How many D&D combats have you entered where you needed a 14 to hit? Did you ever think, "Man this is too hard!" Nah! In D&D combat a 14 seems a pretty standard target. This is your lowest starting trait in Five by Five.

Five by Five roll "3 or less"
= D20 roll "to Hit" 13+

Five by Five roll "4 or less"
= D20 roll "to Hit" 12+

Five by Five roll "5 or less"
= D20 roll "to Hit" 11+

11+ is 50% and for a first level character in D&D, having an even chance to hit an enemy usually makes for an assured victory for the players.

Five by Five roll "6 or less" (the highest trait for a starting character)
= D20 roll "to Hit" 10+

In modern versions of D&D (3.x and later) you could take a "10" and get automatic success on tasks that didn't seem too dangerous or that you could take your own sweet time to complete. In D&D rolling a 10 or better is considered pretty common place. In Five by Five your character begins play with one trait of this value. This will usually be your best thing ... the thing that your character will want to do the most, and even starting out as a beginning character, you can feel pretty good about your chances for success.

Your odds for success only get better from here.

Five by Five roll "8 or less"
= D20 roll "to Hit" 9+

In Five by Five, this is our best trait with a single rank shift. It will cost you 3 character points to get here ... not a bad place to be. Once we are in single digits in D&D, we really start to feel super confident about what we are doing. Rolling a 9 on a D20 "feels" like it should be easy. It's never too risky to try something when the DM says, "You need to roll a 9 or better." If this were blackjack we'd have a 17 and just have to go for that extra card.

Five by Five roll "10 or less"
= D20 roll "to Hit" 8+

Five by Five roll "12 or less"
= D20 roll "to Hit" 7+

Five by Five roll "15 or less"
= D20 roll "to Hit" 6+

Five by Five roll 20 or less"
= D20 roll "to Hit" 5+

This is the best you can be in Five by Five. In D&D, if you enter combat and only need to roll a 5 to hit ... you can almost guarantee the enemy will be turning tail and running as soon as you swing your sword.

The D20 "Sweet Spot"

Notice how the 5x5 roll rests in the middle range of the D20, nested between 5 and 15? It doesn't have as broad a range as the D20, but it sits in the most useful portion where things are neither too easy, nor too hard. It has a slightly greater progression (5.6% instead of 5%) from number to number, but it's close enough to allow for a useful comparison, and the number progression is consistent like on the D20, not a bell curve, despite being rolled on 2 dice.

So, if your players are like mine, and feel the need to know "the odds," tell them what they would need to "Roll to Hit" if this were D&D. It puts things in perspective, and takes some of the mystery out of the 5x5 roll.



Thursday, January 16, 2014

Running games for conventions ...

A friend emailed me with some questions about running a convention game, and I thought the questions and answers were interesting enough to share here in my blog -- thanks, Tonya for allowing me to share our email!!

Tonya's email ... 

In April, there is a new convention in Detroit called Midwest Media Expo.  I will be running my very first pen n paper RPG.  It is based off Steve Jackson's Toon system, because the game will be played with ponies. Anyway, I have a couple questions about writing an RPG.

1.  How many players do you normally write the game for?  Seeing as how it is my first game, should I limit it to like 6 or 8?

2.  Are pre-gen characters better than having people take time from the game to create their own?

3.  Is it better to write out how you want the game to go, or just write a basic outline, and see where the dice take you?

4.  If it's a system most people haven't played before, should I make copies of pages they would need to know, or just let them read it from the book if needed?

My response ... 

I have run a handful of games at conventions. I even ran a Toon game once (very long time ago.) These answers are of course just my opinions based upon my experiences, but I'll try not to steer you wrong.

1. I think planning for 6 players plus yourself is the most you should try to do. I know you are running the Toon system, but not sure if you also envision the Toon "style" of play ... which is most fun when it's kept very fast and furious. More players tend to create "lag" for everyone. I say no more than 6 at the very most.

2. Pre-gen characters are a must. I have seen players walk away from a game table because pre-gen characters weren't provided at the off-set. Most see character creation of any kind as a cumbersome process that steals time away from actual play. If you were running a brand new system that had an interesting character creation dynamic and you wanted to teach that, then you would run that kind of session as it's own special panel. "Creating Characters for System X" and people would come to see how characters are made and be expecting that. Otherwise treat character creation during convention play like the plague.

3. That's a matter of personal preference and play style. If I were running a game, I would have a few basic notes on key encounters and on what I wanted to accomplish as a "quest goal" in the allotted time, but I would keep things loose and have very little in way of detail ... because that's the way I play best. I prefer to have my face up, looking at and reacting to the players and I don't want a "scripted plot" to tie me down or pull my attention. But, that's my style. If it was my brother Chris, I would say that he would be much more likely to have very specific notes. Encounters that were very detailed, NPC stats. Specific information that he could reference each step of the way. That's how he works. That's what he is most comfortable with and this plays to his strengths. It really is a matter of preference and play style.

Now, that being said ... if you haven't GM'd a lot of games and you aren't sure which style is yours, then I recommend going the second route and preparing as much detail as you can ahead of time. It is going to be much easier if you have the material ready to decide you don't need it and ignore it, than it would be to not have the material ready and suddenly decide that you needed it after all.

4. Toon is a pretty simple system and can be summarized fairly easily. My advise is to desktop publish / layout your own custom character sheets for each pre-gen character making them look all slick and professional. It looks nicer than printed forms that have been filled in with pencil and if you are designing your own character sheets you can include a brief rules summary on each character sheet for each player. You can have a basic rules overview and then specific rules highlights for special exceptions or powers specific to each pre-gen character. It's a bit of extra work, but I think it would really be worth it.

Anyway ... those are my thoughts on the matter.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Fast Play Character Sheet

HERE is a character sheet for the Fast Play version of Five by Five. I turned the sheet sideways to provide plenty of room for sentence traits! Just print the 1 page fast play rules on the flip side and you are good to go!


Friday, January 10, 2014

Spontaneous RPG

This might seem like a topic that's been talked to death, but I find that there is relevance to comparisons in the Old School vs. Storytelling RPG debate that apply to my work as a game designer. A lot of the discussion concerning the OS revolves around the combat / wargame aspects of the hobby. Then there is discussion of the power level of characters in the OS and the threat of character fatality. All manner of things are brought to light as strengths and or weaknesses of the OS or of the more modern Storytelling approach to table-top role-playing. I am not interested in debating the merits or faults of either method. Instead I am merely interested in recognizing what they are, what they do for the players that enjoy them, and what that means for Five by Five.

First, I want to define: "Old School" as it relates to me as a designer. I see OS as a game that incorporates the strengths of the gameplay of the Original RPG: Dungeons and Dragons. Interestingly, I don't think that all versions of Dungeons and Dragons accomplish this. I think that knowing where Dungeons and Dragons itself varies from its own formula teaches us something about its successes and failures.

OS D&D as a game (emphasis on game here) is a game about treasure. You kill monsters to gain loot. Your loot is dangled from your character like the ornaments on a Christmas Tree and although, there might be three 5th level human fighters in the party, none of them are the same because they all have their own bit of stuff and a collection of memories that goes with the earning of that stuff. The "memory" aspect is an important thing to acknowledge, because it relates back to the importance of "treasure." D&D isn't about casting fireballs and lightning bolts or fighting dragons ... any old tactical wargame could do that ... it's the "history" the "memories" that make D&D different, that make it an RPG. Because you play the same character from game to game and from week to week ... and more than anything it's his "stuff" that helps prove his tangible connection to his history and the evolving game world.

D&D evolved to incorporate treasure as a reward and it's a defining aspect of OLD SCHOOL Role-Play. D&D players (and other OS RPG gamers) love treasure. When Blizzard Entertainment created the computer RPG, "Diablo" they recognized this and their ability to capitalize on this made the Diablo franchise one of the most popular electronic OS simulations ever. I believe that D&D 4E's efforts to "de-emphasize" the importance of treasures is one of the key factors that contributed to its poor reception among established D&D fans. And I think that any RPG that entertains a "fantasy" backdrop will find itself burdened by this same legacy.

For me it's also important to recognize that not all RPG's are either "Storytelling" or "OS" games ... there are many variations. I do think that many combat intensive RPG's are thrown into the OS soup for their focus on the wargamer roots of the hobby, but for my purposes, these don't belong there. I am going to borrow a term from the computer games arena: Strategy RPG. I want to lump a whole family of RPG games that have a combat emphasis into the SRPG category that are neither OS games or Storytelling games.

Storytelling games are a whole other animal ... or at least they pretend to be. At first I thought that Storytelling games should be defined as those games that put the power into the creative hands of the players and that emphasize and encourage social interaction between the players over the use of strategy and conflict mechanisms. The thing is, many Storytelling games have every bit as much strategy and conflict mechanisms built into them as an OS or SRPG game, it's simply that the focus of the game mechanic has shifted from resolving a physical battle to resolving a story goal.

Players who are deeply entrenched in the OS camp will argue that they never needed any rules to tell them how to tell a story, or how to play their character, that such things are more hindrance then help. Storytelling players will argue that if such tools had been available to them, that they would have been able to tell complex interactive tales that focused on the characters rather then the combat.

Five by Five isn't an OS game. It doesn't try to recreate game play reminiscent of D&D in any form. It isn't a Storytelling game either. It doesn't contain any mechanisms for crafting a story or resolving story goals. It could be considered a Strategy RPG, if you look at all the combat options ... there is something there. But, it's not really enough ... it's just a tease of an SRPG.

I think that Five by Five is a Spontaneous RPG. That being a game that wants to tell an exciting story, but do so in a natural and unencumbered way. It uses minimal rules so that form doesn't interfere with function. The simple resolution mechanic is meant to resolve all manner of conflict swiftly and without slowing the narrative. The narrative is not given specific structure within the rules, because I, like many who grew-up playing in the OS like for my Roleplay to happen naturally as a result of the social context around my game table ... Spontaneous Role-Playing.

The thing is ... if I want Five by Five to remain spontaneous at the table, then I need to stop trying to make it into something that it's not. I have posted about this before, but I think it's important enough to my creative effort and to Five by Five's future evolution to revisit again and again.

I'm not an OS game, play will never focus on treasure or trappings.
I'm not a Strategy RPG, play will never focus on strategies for combat effectiveness.
I'm not a Storytelling game, play will never focus on defining the flow or pace of a role-play or story.
I'm a Spotaneous RPG, play will focus on fast improvisational cooperative social interaction.

That's what I want.



Wednesday, January 08, 2014

5 RPG's from 2013

Looking back at the "best" of 2013, I find that I was inspired to write about 5 RPG's last year. Looking back now I see: 2 free RPG's, 1 OSR RPG, and 2 Fantasy RPG's. I'll talk about the Free RPG's first.


Simplicity by Dave Zajac
Simplicity is an interesting piece of work. It looks at the crunchy bits of D&D 3.X and the accessible more basic design of D&D BX and it fuses the bits together to form something that reminds me a lot of True 20. But, better, easier ... it plays like an OSR game, but character creation manages to capture the modular design of modern games without becoming a burden. If you like your fantasy RPG's simple, but find that the OSR is too limited, you could do worse than to give Simplicity a go. It's a very nice bit of work. And it's free. Also, you have the option to purchase the print version of the game and that's very nice too!

Superhero Fun
At six-pages, this little gem is quite the surprise. It's supers made easy, and it's the only Superhero RPG that I reviewed in 2013. I really wanted to love Margret Weis's Marvel Superheroes RPG, but the dice mechanic was just too fiddly to wrap my brain around. It's the simpler games like Superhero Fun and the Supercrew that win my seal of approval these days. I hope to one day produce a superhero version of Five by Five that manages to walk the line between playable and complete as well as this one does. Superhero Fun reminds me of mini-six, if mini-six was just for superheroes. It's a d6 dice pool game, it's easy, clean and familiar.


Ambition and Avarice
The only OSR game that I reviewed last year (I didn't count Simplicity as OSR, although some might.) was Ambition and Avarice. This game is what the OSR should be about. A game in the spirit of simplicity and fun that started us all in the hobby, but with the crisp polish and evolved application that considers all the best of everything thing that the modern RPG has to offer. Ambition and Avarice is the OSR at its best. It's well written, and offers a ton of advice for players new to the hobby. It's got a race/class modular design that is reminiscent of AD&D with none of the limitations or legacy baggage. Everything in Ambition and Avarice is new and fresh, yet familiar. It's old meets new in all the right ways. Ambition and Avarice is my favorite OSR game.


Blade Raiders
Blade Raiders is a bit of a mixed bag for me. It's a beautiful publication with fantastic presentation an original and interesting game world and a game design that's tied to the world in a real and functional way. The thing is ... the armor as HP mechanic didn't really work for me, and the wide array of magic powers and abilities seemed all a bit less than spectacular. I like Blade Raiders, it's an interesting design and I would love to hear from anyone who might be out there playing it, but for me it just didn't make it from the bedside to the tabletop. It's attractive, rules light, sword and sorcery ... so, it's worth a look.

13th Age
Now that my friend Michael is running our Tuesday night Five by Five game, 13th Age is the only RPG that I am running. 13th Age is written by the designer of D&D 4th Edition which was not a game that I loved. And, 13th Age shows it's 4th Ed roots in much of what it offers. Amazingly, this isn't a bad thing. Somehow 13th Age fixes everything I didn't like about 4E and then takes the whole thing to 11. It's got a ton of interesting new mechanical tricks, to improve and streamline game play both in the combat war-game aspect of the rules and the role-play improvisational storytelling aspects of the game as well. It's an impressive balancing act that is very playable and found its way to my table almost instantly. If you want to play a modern D&D inspired game and Pathfinder is too crunchy for you, check out 13th Age. Hopefully it will surprise you as much as it did me. It was also the most attractive book I purchased last year.



157 Riverside Avenue

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Sentences for Traits in Five by FIve

One of my players has volunteered to take a turn in my current Five by Five campaign to be the GM. This is pretty awesome as it gives me a chance to participate as a player and see Five by Five from the other side of the dice. The characters are currently in a high fantasy setting (hence, I suppose all the emphasis on trying to create fantasy trappings for the game) so, I made a character appropriate for the high fantasy genre (but with a bit of a silly anachronistic twist ... our game tends to genre hop. We started in a zombie apocalypse that turned space invasion that turned high fantasy.

I found that as I was jotting down ideas for character traits that each was a simple sentence. I ended up keeping the sentences themselves and just putting the product values beside each one to complete the character. Here is what I have:

Richrath Rilenon
- Elf Prince and Adventuring Rock-Bard

I rock out with magic spell songs! (6)
My mythril guitar is a deadly weapon! (5)
I charm the masses with my exotic elf beauty! (4)
My lithe elf body gives me speed, agility, and grace! (3)
I possess enhanced elf senses like infra-vision and pointy ears! (2)
My weakness is saying, "no" to the ladies! (D)

I really like the idea of using full sentences to define traits over restricting character descriptors to only one or two words. It helps to give each trait context and adds a bit of flavor. Future versions of Five by Five will incorporate "sentence trait" examples over "word trait" examples.

Richrath's first game should be tonight. I will let you know how it goes. (Oh, and a special prize to the first person who can correctly guess where my name, "Richrath" comes from!)


Jeff Moore

Friday, January 03, 2014

Using Karma Points for Critical Success in Five by Five

Hello, and Happy New Year! For my first post of 2014 I want to offer this updated Karma Point option:

Terms Clarifications - Types of task rolls and different results ... 

Unskilled Test (Standard Success) - You do not have a Trait that matches this task. You must roll a 0 to succeed. Critical Success is not possible.

Trouble Test (Standard Success) - This task matches your Trouble Trait. You must roll Doubles to succeed. Critical Success is not possible. If you try to do this, you gain a Karma Point. If you succeed at doing this (You rolled doubles!) you gain 2 Karma Points.

Standard Test (Standard Success) - You have a Trait on your character record of 2 or greater that matches this task. If your 5x5 roll is LESS THAN your Trait, you have achieved a standard success.

Standard Test (Critical Success) - You have a Trait on your character record of 2 or greater that matches this task. If your 5x5 roll is EQUAL TO your Trait, you have achieved critical success.

Unskilled and Standard Test (Fumble) - If your 5x5 roll is DOUBLES then you fail that task. At the GM's discretion this can also indicate a Fumble and will incur additional negative consequences, especially is your task was particularly risky. When you roll Doubles while attempting any test you gain a Karma Point.

Trouble Test (Fumble) - Use of the Trouble Trait is especially risky and the rules of the Trouble Test are the opposite of those for Standard Tests. Doubles means success, and a result of Zero means a potential Fumble.

Spending Karma Points to ...

Turn a Failed Standard or Unskilled Test into a Success:
If your attempt to do something failed, and you didn't roll "doubles," you can spend Karma Points to make the failure a success. For each Karma Point spent you can shift the Trait that you are using to attempt the task one step higher on the Trait array (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 20) until the value matches the product of the die roll. This will turn your failed test attempt into a Standard Success.

Turn a Successful Standard Test into a Critical Success:
If your attempt to do something has achieved a Standard Success (the 5x5 roll is LESS than your Trait) and your Trait is 2 or greater, you can use Karma Points to shift the Trait that you are using one step higher on the Trait array (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 20) until the value matches the product of the die roll. This will turn your Standard Success into a Critical Success!

Looking forward to playing lots of Five by Five in 2014!