This month we released False Readings, a book of short fiction by Patrick of False Machine, and we would like to make available as a free download two of the short stories: Knights of the Snail and The Tale of Sir Spiralling. Download them here.
I don’t like the Clerics-as-class in D&D, and I blogged several times about it. So in AFG there’s a single caster class with a single spell list, in Mageblade there’s the titulal Mageblade with a smaller list and less slots and the Spellcasters with the unified CL/MU spell list.
Finally, in Chthonic Codex there’s the School of Pharmacy teaching Physiurgy, a setting-appropriate list of healing, cures and raise dead. Well, there was, before that freak accident with the Great Reactor. Now that I think about it, the two other schools with knowledge on how to remedy loss of life had horrible troubles too, with the School of Necromancy falling at its apex under the massacre of the Orthodox/Reformist schism. The Circle of Fire Dervishes, instead, was just being so utterly socially inappropriate that the other schools teamed up and literally tore the Circle down, banning anyone from entering it and keeping only a handful of sympathetic dervish savants around, lest Pyromancy be lost.
Anyway, here’s the Physiurgy school for Wonder & Wickedness, full of healing spells, and a level 1 resurrection spell too because that’s how we roll. I’m not entirely sure about the catastrophes but, if the caster caused harm on any creature in the past hour, always roll on a catastrophe. Also, please, let the caster read the catastrophes beforehand, or at least suggest them to buy 50 coins worth of balms.
There are many other types of clerical spells, and eventually I’ll get around to write something to address them too.
Cure – The subject is healed of 1d6 hits +1 hits per 2 caster levels. If the caster passes a Save or a Healing check, the subject is also cured of a single disease.
Wilson’s Orange Draining – The caster shoots an orange ray. If it hits, it deals 1d6 hits to the target and the caster is healed of the same amount and the spell ends. If it misses, the caster can retry the following round, up to 6 attempts in total.
Death Unto Life – First, roll 1 Catastrophe. The dead target is brought back to life at 1 hits and, temporarily, at level 1. They will recover 1 level per month, up to the level they were before dying. Should they accrue XP or Accomplishments, that simply makes the recovery longer.
Salvation – The touched target automatically passes the next poison, disease, petrification, paralysis, mind-affliction et similia save they would otherwise roll this turn.
Healer’s Last Stand – all allies within 10′, but not the caster, are healed of 1d6 hits. The caster takes 1 temporary damage for every ally healed this way.
Aura of Renewal – The caster can sit and chant for up to 1 hour/level. Should the caster move or stop chanting, the spell ends. Characters resting within 20′ of the caster are immune to the effects of disease or poison and can, every hour, either regain 1d6 hits or roll a Save to be fully healed of a single affliction of disease, poison, blindness, et cetera.
Salvific Apport – the caster’s hands exude some apport, a gunky white goo. The apport will evaporate at the next dawn, but until then it can be used for spread on wounds during first aid (taking 1 turn) to heal 3d6 hits or can be simply swallowed to immediately cure poison.
Milk & Honey – the caster brews up a mix of milk and honey (and other things) which, if immediately drunk, puts the drinker to sleep for 3d6 hours. While all attempts to awake the drinker will be fruitless, they will wake up at maximum hits.
Patrick stuart writes a blog called False Machine.
False Machine is a very good blog, and Patrick also writes short stories and other fiction, and they are good.
But reading longform fiction on a blog is not optimal. So we collected twelve of his short stories and other fiction and put it in a book, False Readings. Patrick explains it here.
The best things about Elder Scrolls games, especially the early ones in the series, is wandering the countryside and finding ancient tombs and similar bullshit, or shipwrecks with diamonds in the hold, or vampire castles, or the flying f*ckers of Vvardenfell.
Oh no wait
Not the flying f*ckers again
Flying F*cker of Vvardenfell
They only want to eat your face.
S&W: HD 1, AC 2 , damage 1d6, special: infravision, surprise with a 1-5 on a d6, damage x2 on a backstab, treasure: hell no.
AFG: Level 1 animal, light armour, Sneaky, Flying, Nightvision
A few months ago me and Patrick discussed about releasing his short stories in print. A whole lot of new unpublished material, and Snail knights.
The picture shows the final result, in all its 266 pages. It will be available soon.
I have a bad cold, but i’m also in Tokyo, so i’m kind of stuck in my room, waiting for the fever and the torrential rain to peter out. Therefore I’ll bore you with some more Gangs & Bullshit setup and details on how to run the game. G&BS is system neutral, so i’ll use concepts as “level”, “sneak roll” and “1 coin” and you’ll be reponsible to adapt them to your system. I think you understand “level”, “1 coin” means 1 gp or sp depending on your game and “sneak roll” means a move silently, hide in shadows or some similar check depending on the circumstance. If your system does not have any such thing, you can plug in 5MORE, Whitebox20, or use the appropriate saving throw (so possibly rod/staff/wand in this case). If you are playing a game where only thieves can do such things, decide to either allow only thieves in such activity and have the rest of the classes as “non-thieving members of the gang” or give them some basic skill or just play an all thief campaign.
Upstarts: the introductory scenario
Generate level 1 characters. They all know each other because of reasons (they are from the same neighbourhood, for example) and just decided that they took enough shit from other gangs, so they might as well team up together and do something about it. They all start with:
A very sorry looking set of clothes
A small weapon (they all deal 1d4 damage, 1d6 if you feel that a thug should be as lethal as a dude with a spear):
5: sling and stones
6: brass knuckles
A second weapon (chosen from the same list, or a short bow/crossbow/sword/axe/handgun) or a tool (1d12 from this list, or at random).
2: a small boat
3: a big dog
4: a trained talking crow
5: a sturdy crowbar
6: a surgeon’s bag
7: a dose of deadly poison
8: a surgeon bag
9: an upper class set of clothes and fake jewels (usable as a disguise)
10: a big wheelbarrow
11: a small pet monkey
12: climbing gear
A big towel or blanket or throw.
And 1d6 small items from this list (selected or at random):
1: grappling hook
2: 30′ of rope
3: dice and cards
4: a bucket on 10′ of rope
5: a bag
7: bundle of torches
8: a pocketfull of marbles
9: a bag of 1d6 frogs or rats
10: a shovel
11: a waterskin
12: an amulet against bad luck (a rabbit foot or the icon of a saint, gives once per month +1 to a roll that missed by 1, converting failure to success)
13: a heap of rags
14: a jug of lamp oil (needs a wick to burn)
15 or more: a random weapon from the weapon table
Also, if you’re playing D&D, all characters of at least level 1 have at least the AC of leather armour. There’s no leather armour in this game, as everybody would wear it, so I just bumped everybody’s armour by two. Level 0 characters like street urchins, commoners, and the normal watchman do not have this benefit (but might wear armour).
The characters start with a hideout/den:
1: in the backroom of a store (use a reaction roll to determine the shopkeeper’s initial stance, using the best reaction modifier of all PCs, if negative will ask for favours)
2: a derelict abandoned building
3: a leaky loft
4: an undercroft
5: a bargehouse moored at the riverfront
6: a tiny cottage
7: a random PC’s family home
8: under a bridge
9: under a portico
10: squatting in an empty warehouse
At this point the Referee will mention some details about your town or the neighbourhood and the areas close by if the game is in a city. And, most importantly, what’s the crime situation in town, which other gangs are present, and possibly where they hang out. If the Referee feels like they will ask you to come up with details about the town: don’t worry if you don’t feel up for it, it’s gonna be ok.
Now the referee will come up with one or two rumours or events (from the G&BS deck of cards or a random table) and will ask what each character is doing in the first turn, which lasts about a week.
You might go around looking for information on a topic.
Or pick pockets at the market.
Or take advantage of drunken people going home at night and steal their stuff.
Or case a joint.
Or patrol the streets of your neighbourhood, ensuring that no other gangs strays in.
Or raid another gang’s neighbourhood.
Or find their den and torch it.
Or burglar a house, for which there are specific mechanics I’ll write about next time.
Or actually, since you can shave people clean and pull teeth allright, just do your bloody day job as a barber.
What happens in this “gang” turn is usually resolved in a highly abstracted way, with a single roll for each action. So if you pick pockets and pass, you get money. Else, you don’t get money, or very very little. If you fail really badly you might have to make extra rolls to avoid being caught… and if you fail, well…
The game is called Gangs & Bullshit because bullshit happens. If you fail hard and fail to disengage, the failure becomes an encounter-worthy bullshit, which plays out like it would play in a normal RPG. So you might have to play a chase, a fight, climb on roofs, hiding et cetera, and other PCs might get involved depending on the circumstances. The usual stuff RPGs are made of.
And of course some of these actions might become events almost immediately: while patrolling your hood, if you find someone from another gang you might want to threaten them (roll for threathen). but maybe you fail. Or instead decide to sneak up on them and jump them. This is the kind of bullshit that deserves a played-out encounter. And the referee might decide that no, whatever your PC is doing will be fully played out, with no high level abstraction.
And for each turn, the referee might generate one or more events and hearsays, and one of these events might be an encounter to be played out by one, more or all the PCs. And each week you might get more or less beef with other gangs and the Watch, and people will get stabbed and die, and property will be destroyed and stolen. You might rise up in power, and wane, and die, and in that case just roll a new PC and join the gang.
So, this is the game, from the players’ perspective. What happens behind the screen is a bit more involved.
Whitebox20 is a system where level matters, but not too much. Skills are more important.
Each starting Whitebox20 character starts with a few skills depending on their Mind (called Wits in Gangs & Bullshit). For example, Melee, Missile and Sneak. The skills improve with use and with training, so you can be low level and good at melee, or high level and bad at it.
That’s the point, actually. I was bothered by how bad low level warriors are at fighing in D&D. I was bothered by having a single dial for level-hitroll-saves. I was bothered by having a system where being competent means having oodles of hit points. Despite being aware of rule zero, I felt constrained in how my games felt. So I went for a skill system, of the roll under but roll high variety.
Let’s generate a character. Your PC has usually 3 stats, Body, Mind, Soul, determined with 3d6. [roll roll roll, 3d6 each of the three stats]
Geeno the Goon – Body 12 Mind 9 Soul 14
At chargen you pick a skill for every four full Mind points. Each of these skills has a base stat and starts at stat/2 + 3. There’s a list of skills for inspiration, but only the Referee will know what skills are relevant to the game. We want Geeno to be a backalley thug. Record skills like this, with the base stat in brackets:
Melee 9 = [B] 6 + O O O
Threaten 10 = [S] 7 + O O O
So Geeno’s hit roll is 9 or less on a d20, and will threaten successfully on an 10 or less. Why the three pips? Because you start at stat/2+3. And because every time you roll in a critical situation, and you roll a 1, you get an extra pip (with a maximum of 1 pip per scene, and only if the Referee deems it ok), and you get better at the skill. Training behaves similarly
If you don’t have a skill, you roll under the relevant stat/2 if the Referee thinks it’s ok to make you roll untrained. Some skills let you pick what’s the relevant skill, for example threaten, which can have Body or Soul, or Barber/Dentist/Surgeon which is Mind or Soul. Saves are skills too, can improve too, and get always the character’s level as a bonus.
Oh, I forgot to mention that if you roll successfully and get a 7 or more, that’s a good success. And a 14 or more, a great success. In general if there’s a contest and both characters succeed, the one that rolled highest will prevail, and better successes have increased effect.
Now Geeno needs only their hits, which start at body/2, and since Geeno’s got a big heart (Soul > 10), gets a Karma Point [temporary name]. Karma Points [temporary name] can be used to reroll dice, to cast spells, activate abilities, etc etc.
Level: 1 Hits: 6/6 Karma [temporary name]: 1/1
That’s it. Some Whitebox20 game sttings let you pick a class, or more skills, or more perks, or have 6 stats like Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, etc, and probably your Cleric will start with Exorcism [S] as an extra skill, and your Fighter will get Combat Reflexes as a perk, and your
Jedi Mystic Knight can spend a Karma Point [temporary name] to make sure that their next melee attack is automatically successful, unless another Jedi Mystic Knight decides to spend a Karma Point [temporary name] to block.
But Geeno is done, because we are running an incredibly light version of Whitebox20.
Geeno the Goon – Body 12 Mind 9 Soul 14
Level: 1 Hits: 6/6 Karma [temporary name]: 1/1
Melee 9 = [B] 6 + O O O
Threaten 10 = [S] 7 + O O O