Saturday, October 24, 2015

Let's Talk About Hubris

No, not the consistent element of Greek (and other) tragedies, but rather the campaign setting for DCC being Kickstarted right now by +Mike Evans, a guy who I'm proud to call a friend, happy to call a fellow blogger and willing to call an all-around pretty damn awesome guy. I could go off and explain why I'm excited about the Hubris project, but I don't think there's any way for me to capture Mike's boundless enthusiasm, prolific-yet-inspired writing or inimitable juxtaposition of grimdark and gallows humor, so I might as well let him do it for me.

Here's his blog:

"Oh," you may be saying to yourself right now, "that guy? The Wrathofzombie guy?"

Yeah, him.

His name is Mike and he's pretty cool.

He makes stuff for free, then cleans it up and puts it all together in one place, making it cohesive, and that's what Hubris is, which is pretty damn awesome. And also sort of what I do with Metal Gods.

Speaking of the Metal Gods, the Metal Gods team has been using stuff that Mike wrote in our regular game for... 2 years? 3 years? I don't even know anymore. It's hard to keep track of how long that game has been going on. I think we're coming up on our 3rd anniversary and so far, Mike's creations have given rise to such awesome moments as Scorpion Boy, the urchin-turned mutant who's a complete suck-fest but manages to survive due to his scorpion tail and acid blood, and Sybian the Whore-Forged, a "murder machine" (Mike's name for the class) that we found in a basement and gave to +Gabriel Perez Gallardi's super-creepy cleric of Cthulhu, Nimue, to use in her "rituals."

At this point, you're sick of bloggers shilling for KS projects. I am, too. So I'm not going to. Rather, I wanted to make sure that folks knew this was out there and is in its last few hours of KS-ing as well as let folks know that -- even before I became friends with the guy -- I was happily making use of the stuff that he posted for the community to use. In some ways, I think I'm proposing that the community "give a little bit back," but I'm not really up for that degree of pressure.

One more thing: Mike has tapped me, +Wayne Snyder+Harley Stroh+Kelvin Green & David Lewis Johnson to each write five monsters as a stretch goal once he hits $7000, a totally attainable goal. Along the road to this extra 25 monsters, there would be a ton of extra art added to the game as stretch goals as well.

Check out the Hubris Kickstarter here:

Friday, October 23, 2015

Stupid DM Tricks: Stupid-Easy Monster Math

I'm not trying to milk the "hey, I'm a new father" thing or anything, but daaaaamn! That plus moving plus wife starting a new job and a small amount of just being personally overwhelmed with all of that stuff and other things I haven't mentioned means I haven't had much time to post lately. I aim to fix that. Here goes.

My discovery of what I call "Stupid-Easy Monster Math" has its root in several places. First, what the fuck does HD 1+1 mean? Seriously! Second, I hate to-hit matrices because I tend to think they should be much, much easier. Looking up every fucking attack a monster makes on a cumbersome table is counter-intuitive and boring. I want quick math that makes things make sense. The third thing is Kevin Crawford's "Target 20" mechanic which I only just connected to this whole process and it made me decide that it's worthwhile writing this post. In the end, I ended up with a simple process that SERIOUSLY speeds up combat on my end.

Here's the gist of the junk I'm about to lay out: there's a super-simple mathematical equation you can use to figure out whether your monsters hit your PCs or not using a standard, old-fashioned descending AC system. You can skip ahead to that part if you don't want my intermediate rambling.

Your game is complex enough already,
who has time for attack matrices?
To the first root, what the fuck does HD 1+1 or 3+1 mean? The obvious answer is that you roll the appropriate number of HD and add the number of the plus. To some of us (me) this means add the plus to each die but really, is that sufficient to warrant additional notation? Clearly it doesn't. If the only difference between a 1 HD orc and a 1+1 HD hobgoblin is literally 1 fucking hp, then there's no significantly interesting mechanical variation from one to another. However, the to-hit matrices I'm about to complain about illuminate a difference that's not quite obvious from just looking at the HD expression. According to the to-hit matrices that I bother to pay attention to (OD&D, BX & BECMI), an HD "1+" creature is treated the same as a 2 HD creature. Thus, unless we start statting up monsters as 1+3 HD or other nonsense, then the "+1" really means "it's really a 1 HD creature, but it fights like a 2 HD creature;" in other words, it's 1 HD tough, but 2 HD dangerous. Now that orc and the hobgoblin are significantly, interestingly mechanically different and we know what the fuck HD 1+1 means!

Part two: the to hit matrix is cumbersome and irritating! I don't mind making players deal with it but, after all, I'm probably going to have to consult it more times for my monsters' attacks then they will ever have to for their PCs' attacks. Realistically, it will always always ALWAYS take me longer to look something up on a table than it does to do a simple math equation. When I learned to play D&D "correctly" it was with AD&D and the end of BECMI, so we were dealing with THAC0, so simple math like this is good for my brain. With this background, I looked at the to hit matrices that I reference (mentioned above) and looked for patterns. Lo and behold, a pattern was easy to see: a 1 HD creature hits an AC 0 at 19 (or, has a THAC0 of 19), a 2 HD creature (or, as illustrated above, 1+1) hits on an 18, 3 HD hits on 17 and so on. Duh. Easy. To my mind at that point, the number "19" was a sort of hinge point: using it, I could figure out what any creature would need to roll to hit any AC.

The third part is where Kevin Crawford's Target 20 system comes in. In that system, you roll a d20, add some stuff and if you hit a 20 or better, you did the thing. Since I had been hinging everything on the number 19 (the point at which a 1 HD monster hits an AC 0), what's keeping my system from matching Crawford's? Only one thing, really: all I needed to do was make the HD of the creature in question part of the equation.

Here's what I came up with:

d20 + (Monster's net HD) + (Target's AC) >= 20 

Bam. Done. Math simplified, life made easier. You no longer need charts and tables and other nonsense. Go play games and run them from just your scribbled notes and a rough sense of how tough monsters should be because you don't really need tables anymore.

Oh, shit.


Saving throws.

I guess there are still dragons to slay...