Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Quick Updates & Sneaky Previews

Here's a little bit about the progress I'm making on some of the billion irons I have in the fire.

  • Roll20 HeroQuest (R20HQ): Since the Game of Taps players cancelled on me last night and I couldn't find a game on Google+ so, instead, I worked on the "graphic assets" for my HQ game. As of now, I have all of the tiles, the board and all tokens ready for play. I found really good scans of the board and tiles, so I just had to chop them up and convert them to an image format so they'd be nice, discrete little units. The hero and monster tokens, though, I had to create from scratch. It's terribly hard to find pictures of fimir, you know? Somehow, much easier to find pictures of orcs, goblins and mummies (/sarcasm). From here on in, all I need to work on is presenting the rules (last night I re-wrote the "What You Can Do On Your Turn" part of the rulebook to accurately reflect the necessary dice rolls) and figuring out how to handle the different cards. Right now, the Spell Cards and the Treasure Cards are the big deal. I initially thought about using Roll20's native "build a card deck" feature, but that doesn't seem like it has all of the functionality I'd like or need it to. Once I have the treasure cards & spell cards locked down, it's on to building some maps and then it's playtest time.
  • Unnamed Dreamtime Hexcawl for DCC: I want to do this right, so I'm taking it slow. Slow as in, right now, I'm coming up with one or two major concepts per week. Last week, I rattled off the "What's My Crime?" table and this week, you'll get the "What Happened At Sea?" table. Further, today (below), you'll get a glimpse of what will become one of the hexcrawl part of the game's central features: the Nightmare Die. Other than those, there are a lot of ideas kicking around, but most things are half-formed at this point. I'm really excited to see where this goes. One of the other big ideas that I'm toying with is on-the-fly hex generation (as befits the dream nature of the game) and element generators based on on-hand sources (such that, you go to your shelf and grab a book, turn to page whatever, stuff like that) as an option. A lot of the writing done so far has been either my lovely wife or I coming up with a detail or rule idea, getting really excited about it and then seeing how it survives contact with the other. My wife's approach seems to be more "kitchen sink" and mine seems to be more "vision-focused." At this point, I feel like my laser beams are a little more useful to cut the broad swathes of "this is what the idea is" into being and then later, her magician's hat o' tricks will be the rule as we start to add details and elements. 
  • DCC Modules: Right now, I'm still writing Slaves of the Silicon God, even as the Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad campaign's players are slowly dismantling the temple grounds. There's still a lot of work to be done here and the end result will be determined by just how long I want this thing to go on for. I know the place is getting at least one more level before I'm done with it. Furthermore, I had this awesome idea for a Christmas-themed DCC adventure, but I'm not sure I'll be getting to that this holiday season, unfortunately. Of course, I could just write it and sit on it until next year. It toyed with the concept of the Yulefather, Kickassistan's version of Santa Claus, and the creepy twists that such a character would have to have in a place like Kickassistan. The Yulefather might make an appearance this year, thanks to Erik Tenkar's "Santa Claws as a DCC Patron" competition over on Tenkar's Tavern. So, look for that. 
  • The Home Game: I don't talk about my real home game here on the blog much because it's a 4e game and I figure that most of my readers aren't interested in reading about it. I work on it a lot, however, and am reaching the end of everything I have written right now as my players close in on 5th level. Further, we might be looking at some player changes as some people bow out and we start to need people to replace them. I ran a 4e game for nearly 2 years prior to this one (not immediately prior, but a few years prior) and am starting to get some "edition fatigue" with the way 4e was initially presented (The PHB series, the DMG series, et al) and am thinking more and more positive things about the Essentials products, to the point where I think it might be fun starting over using just those products. Starting over, however, I know is a trap and it will not be done. Perhaps newer players will be encouraged to use Essentials characters (but not required). I'm also sick of how magic items work in 4e. They're too prevalent and too powerful. I'm thinking about making most of them go away (maybe let each player keep 2 or so) and going to the inherent bonus system presented in the DMG2. So, lots of thought-work going on for that campaign (holy shit, right now, I am running or involved in the running of three different campaigns). 
And so, without further ado, your sneaky preview:

The Nightmare Die

In the as-yet-unnamed, Dreamtime-themed hexcrawl that I'm planning, nightmares are incredibly important. Personally, so many of my dreams end up being nightmares -- every dream I have has at least some sort of nightmare content -- that I couldn't not include nightmares as a major component of the setting. Further, since nightmares seem to strike at random, I wanted there to be some sort of roll that helped provide a mechanism to give us that random result. Finally, since the intensity of nightmares varies, I knew that there'd have to be a severity indicator which again would be unpredictable rather than deterministic. Thus, the Nightmare Die was born. 

The Nightmare Die starts out as a d4 and moves up or down the dice chain as the rolls and circumstances dictate. When moving from one hex to another, the Judge rolls the Nightmare Die and consults the chart below. The Nightmare Die is persistent throughout a single journey in the Dreamtime; thus, even resting does not "reset" the Nightmare Die; if you had a 1d6 as your Nightmare Die, it stays a 1d6 until you leave the Dreamtime. The Judge may call for additional Nightmare Checks as the campaign or rules warrant. 

Roll | Effect
1 -3: No effect. Nightmare Die size stays the same.
4: Nightmare element. Nightmare Die size increases by one.
5: Impending nightmare. Roll the Nightmare Die to determine severity and 1d24 to determine how many hours away the nightmare is. The nightmare will strike even if the characters have changed hexes since rolling this result. Roll no further Nightmare Dice until this nightmare is resolved. 
6+: Nightmare! Roll the Nightmare Die for severity. 

Nightmare Element: Choose or determine an element of the hex or present within the hex that evokes nightmare-type imagery and minor fear effects. This element heralds the surmounting nightmare around the adventurers and they may have to resolve the minor fear effect before moving on.

Impending Nightmare: Ever know that you're going to have a nightmare but not necessarily when? The impending nightmare is a lot like that. Except that the Judge knows when, even if the players do not.

Nightmare!: The area is immediately beset by a nightmare (if the adventurers were already there) or there's a nightmare already in progress (if the adventurers just entered the area). Roll for severity. 

At this point in time, I don't have rules in mind for the severity of nightmares. There will be a pretty large chunk of work devoted to actually determining what's in the nightmare and what the severity means. As of this moment, I'm of the opinion that in order for there to be a nightmare, there also has to be a dreamer (though this may change; the wife and I are pondering the exact nature of dreams as regards this setting) and so as I'm interpreting things, the dreamer will be central to the conflict of the nightmare, but this may be one of the things that severity effects. 

Along with the Nightmare Die (I'm thinking of abbreviating it as dN; too modern-gamer-y?), I'm working on similar mechanics for something I'm tentatively calling the Weird Die. The Nightmare Die's effects are pretty obvious and intelligible, but I think the Weird Die's will be much less so and therefore require much more work. 

You may have noticed here that I discuss (particularly in the Nightmare Element entry above) "fear effects" and "minor fear effects" without talking about what those are. Quite frankly, I don't know what those are. They could be as simple as a Will save (like Morale) or more complicated. I am just not sure what shape this stuff is going to take and could use some suggestions from my educated and amazing readers. How should fear be handled in a setting that routinely deals with nightmares? Part of me wants to do a CoC-style "fear and insanity' mechanic, but the rest of me wants to avoid too much fiddlyiness since I'm already adding unique mechanics like the Nightmare Die and the Weird Die. 

So, folks, there you have it. A break down of what I'm doing and what I'm working on, along with a small glimpse of stuff that I can actually share. Let me know if you have any insights into any of this that could help, please!