DCC RPG and I (with a sizeable side of METAL)

TL;DR: I’ve been running DCC RPG for three sessions, killed 9 PCs and while initially being overwhelmed I’m now rolling with it and I homeruled it already.

Longform: Last year I saw DCC RPG in my FLGSes and I left it on the self because, well, AFG. AFG is a small game. AFG has very few tables. I can run it without using the handbook, and I’m supercomfortable with it. In part because I wrote it, but mostly because it’s tiny and designed to be nimble. It’s my OSR game, and does things the way I mean them to be.
DCC is an A4 book two inches thick. It’s full of tables. Spells take two pages each. Critical hits go on and on and on for pages. Compared to my usual fare, it’s incredibly baroque, and the characters have such a badass feeling, almost a comic-book aura of WRAAGHH to them.

But since it was reduced to 24 quid and I had store credit (because of FLGS AFG sales) I got myself a copy. I figured I could do worse with my money.

Anyway, I read it and I realized it was more or less an homeruled S&W. And i struggled a bit because the handbook is not well organized, and I needed to search for stuff, but now it has a bunch of bookmarks and it works much better.

But the homerules are all METAL. Like, EFFING METAL MAN.

IT’S OSR PLAYED REALLY LOUD.

So, yeah. For the non DCC-enabled, here’s a brief rundown about what’s different:

  • Casting and healing need a successful roll, but can be cast way more often. And depending on the casting roll, the effects can be more or less awesome. If you fail, bad shit happens. I like the strategic approach of spellcasting of D&D, but here METAAAAAL being potentially awesome or fucked up because you summon spells is good.
  • For the same reason, critical hits and fumbles in combat. Especially fumbles. Criticals are dope. METAAAAAAAAALLL
  • Fighters get to deal more damage and hit better, but instead of adding flat bonuses, they roll more dice. MORE SWINGY MELEE, MORE METAL.
  • You get to start with four lvl0 commoners. You can’t even pick a race. A cobbler, an elven falconer, a rutabaga farmer and an artisan? All really squishy with 1d4 HP, and 3d6 down the line for stats? And that if they manage to survive he first adventure, only then they become level 1? And that they die, like, a lot, because with 2 hp, even if you’re conservative, a bad initiative roll can fuck you up? BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD OF METAAAAALLL
  • Thieves when backstabbing deal automatically critical hits. Let me restate the supersweet concept in all caps:  BACKSTABS ARE AUTOMATICALLY CRITICAL. I think that no words mo’better than AUTOMATICALLY CRITICAL have ever been written in the history of RPG. So the thief after a backstab can roll on the critical hits table. THIS IS GOOD. THIS IS METAL.
  • There’s a spell that transforms stuff in SNAKES. You can’t control them and they slither away, but you can just TURN WEAPONS, BELTS, RINGS, ROPE, CROWNS, PANTS, IN SNAKES. EVEN ON OPPONENTS. SNAKES EVERYWHERE. METAL.

So, yeah, expect DCC content.

Procedural GM-less Terrain Generation for Crusaders in the Snow

I started writing a cooperative, umpireless wargame. All players are in the same team, a small chapter of knights of the Teutonic Order converting and fighting the pagans in the lands across the Eastern Baltic. A game of exploration and conversion. But it’s really about oppression and reprisal.

Why?

First, I had a few hours on a train going to an OSR-UK meetup.

Second, a while ago I started writing Crusaders in the Snow, an OSR domain game on the same topic. And the writer’s block on that is massive because of many reasons.

Third, cooperative wargames are interesting. You need rules for handling the fight without risking that any of the players will pick dumb choices for the opposition.

Fourth, I love terrain generation, and the terrain around the Eastern Baltic was awful.

Mires and forests and lack of roads made overland travel a pain. Horses drowned in swamps pulling down their riders. Travel times of five miles a day. And the locals knew the ground like their pockets. And you thought your DM was severe. This is high-level douchebaggery.

How did the Order wage war in such a place?

First, they had boats that could easily go up and down rivers. And there are plenty of rivers in the area, so, during the summer, river movement is easy-peasy, which is useful because the rest of the terrain is a big mire.

Second, during the winter the frozen landscape became a warpath. Rivers froze enough to allow knights to use them as roads, and battles were fought on them (sometimes going really badly for the Crusaders).

So, what do we have now? Randomly generated terrain, asymmetric wargame, difficult movement.

More next time, where I discuss the randomly generated terrain.

Chthonic Cartography and a Host of Handouts

I love alliteration. Ok, in the title, strictly speaking, Chthonic and Cartography do not start with the same sound.

Whatever.

The point is that I’m putting together some special content for the boxed sets. Because you awesome people deserve MORE. At the moment the list is not final, but it’s composed of:

  • Pocketmod Character Sheets for AFG and OSR. They’re not final but almost. They will be updated. Download links: AFGOSR
  • An Academy of Apprentices. Twelve pregens. Yes, I decided that Academy is the collective noun for Apprentice. They are statted for AFG but it should not be a problem using them in OSR games if your DM is a bit flexible. Not final yet.
  • Scroll Scraps because sometimes you want an adventure hook and what’s best than picking a bit of paper at random and, without looking at it, hand it over to a player saying “Well, you got lost and, of all places, you ended up in the library. I know, your character is not used to studying, but you found an interesting scrap of scroll nonetheless and you suspect nobody’s going to miss it”. The fragments say things like “there’s an idol of gold in a temple under the Harga volcano”.
  • Chthonic Cartography. I already posted a map, but I thought that adding the map used for the playtest was mo’better. Not that any map of the Hypogea is more or less true than any other (hint: the place does not exist) but I enjoyed a lot this map. Of all the things, you might not want to pass this on to players. But really, it’s also in the box so that you have an example of what can be done with CHTHONOTRON. Click the image to download.

hypogea

 

There should be another thing at least, but it’s a bit of a surprise. It might have something to do with goats. Baaaaaaaaaaaa.

BOXED SET PICTURES, NEW PRINTING OF ALL THE THINGS AVAILABLE

A post of good news (Which is good, especially after the last tragic update).

First of all, look at the boxed set (the prototype is in the back):

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And a stack of boxed sets with some sharp’n’fancy Gamescience dice (and small stacks of Codex in the back):

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Boxmaking is going well. I was concerned that the printing process would make the covers weirdly different. The process is manual and incredibly finicky: it involves manually cleaning, inking and removing excess ink with a light rag from the plate for each impression. It means making about 4-5 copies per hour, and throwing away one or two per hour (yeah, I love that). Consistent editioning is hard - and I was concerned it would create weirdly different boxes, but they’re consistent enough. Gluing them by hand is not the easiest thing either.

As I write there are still 5 boxed sets available: due to legal requirements of limited edition prints, I can’t really make more than originally advertised.

In addition to that, the new printer delivered a few boxes of books:

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Yeah. Boxes of books. And here are the books:2014-08-01 13.33.20The new printer did a really good job, and quickly. Good, quick and not terribly expensive make me happy. I wish there was a way to show properly the matte finish on the KH and the Pergamino Barocco, because it looks really dope. I can see doing more business with them in the future. All the books are available at the webshop, and all come with PDFs. Of course, PDFs are also available.

The only thing that is not arrived yet is the printed Chthonic Codex – codex editions. That will require a few more days. Possibly next week.

Sombering Setback in Print/Publishing

TL;DR: I had to fire my printer because he proved to be unreliable in delivering what agreed and in time. I should receive proofs from other places. Until then the shop only sells PDFs. If you want a 100% refund on your existing orders, write me. Handbound codexes look pretty. Pergamini still ship.2014-07-19 14.07.56

Longform and Extra Explanations

I’m picky with books. While there are some factors I have scarce control on, and impact negatively on the final quality of what I release, I try to be as nails as I can for the rest.

This means being picky with:

  • illustrations
  • paper type and weight
  • print quality
  • layout
  • content – which is why I take ages to release the stupidest thing.

I’m not good at any of the above, but I try hard. You know that Ira Glass quote about taste?

Ira-Glass-ForBeginners

This is the background of my computer desktop. It’s been there for a long while. I stare at it. It stares at me. Makes me find motivation. It tells me:

Paolo, you’re failing.

You’re not as good as you want.

Try harder.

This might be is quite horribly self-abusive. But it keeps me motivated. It also keeps me borderline burnout. Also, note that this is not impostor syndrome… it’s just that I’m not where I want to be.

Now, from now “Codex” means the Chthonic Codex project, “booklets” are the three booklets for the boxed set and “codex” is the collection of the three, pictured above.

So, this spring I spent a godawful amount of time on the booklets, getting them ready for press. A really complicated thing that mostly had to be written and laid out at the same time. No days off for weeks at time. Burning out. And then I brought it to the printer, and after a bit the proofs came and were good. So I asked for the files to go to press, while I prepared the layout for the codex. And there were problems with a university burning and machines breaking and people being off and so it was pushed back a bit, but the codex proofs came back (and they were OK except for a silly thing), and in the meantime the pergamini scrolls got printed, but I still wasn’t seeing the books.

The order was for a print run of everything I ever released:

  • Adventure Fantasy Game R9
  • Pergamino Barocco – paperback
  • Kefitzah Haderach
  • the three booklets
  • the signatures for the codex

The proofs came and were how I wanted them to be.

But the print run has not been delivered, and now the print shop is closed for weeks because of holidays. Even when they’re back, I rightfully came to consider supplying from them some kind of liability… an Enchanted Liability of Slaying.

Now, how to cope with this?

First of all, I’m happy to refund any order.

Second, I’ve been doing things.

Strategies – what I’m doing to fix the awful

  • Find a new printer – I contacted a few printers, local and not. More developments soon.
  • I’m also preparing to do everything through Lulu – in fact I put all the above on Lulu, and ordered a copy for each thing (except the codex). It’s going to be way more expensive but it’s ok.
  • I’m still looking for a print shop for the codex that can print on natural white 100gsm without exploding a bomb in my wallet.

So, yeah. If everything does wrong I’ll have Lulu print all the booklets for the boxed sets, have them shipped here in one massive order, box them then post them onward them onto you.

The morale of all the above is that this stop the way I’m operating and expected to operate. Not having a reliable print-shop means going through Lulu and RPGNow for POD, with all the nags that you expect.

I’m growing really tired of the setbacks that this project is having. Most probably I’m doing a bunch of things wrong, and I start to feel I’m not really cut for this. Bah.