Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Mapping with Playing Cards Part 1: Cities

Playing cards can be a random generator and a mapping system at the same time.

They contain multiple codified information systems stacked within the same image. You can change the probabilities on the fly by adding or subtracting certain cards from the deck (you can even use this to have player decisions alter future probabilities). One of its biggest strengths is its flexibility. You can codify the layers of information however you want.

-Place a card face-up on the table: this is the starting location. Place cards face-down attached to the starting card according to the "how do your streets split?" rules (a few paragraphs down).
When your players move to a new street:
1. turn that card face up
2. place face-down cards according to street splitting rules
3. describe the street to the players (using "what do your suits/numbers signify?")

Questions to create the personality of your city:

-Factions. Maybe diamonds are the rich, hearts are the clergy, clubs are the government and spades are the mafia. Or something along those lines. -Biomes: Maybe diamonds are upper-class, hearts are lower-class, clubs are industrial and spades are mercantile.

-Level of Activity: i.e. how many people are in the location, or, how many things are happening right now?

-Instability/Danger: this could correspond to the lethality of encounters, or the likelihood of dangerous encounters, within that space. You could roll a d12 and if it rolls under the card’s number, it’s a random encounter. Or, if you are using a system with monster/encounter levels, you can use the card’s number as the level.

-Wealth: if you want a more nuanced measure of wealth than just equating card suits with upper class and lower class biomes.

-Elevation: in a city where elevation is an important factor.

-A Faction(suit)'s political or social influence.

Face cards could represent things your PCs want, or would find interesting.

Can use face cards as citycrawling landmarks: if the PCs learn the location of a face card, place it on the table a ways off from where they currently are, then make them citycrawl towards it.

(more intersections = a claustrophobic, mazelike “downtown” feel. less intersections=a more spread out suburb feel.)

-Multiples: If the Number is prime, it doesn’t split. If the Number is a multiple of 3, the street splits in three directions, like a +. If the Number is a multiple of 4, the street splits in two opposite directions, like a T. If the Number is a multiple of 5, the street splits in two directions diagonally, like a Y. Feel free to omit the parts of splits that you don’t like, on a case-to-case basis.

T split, + split, and Y split
-If you want your city to separate into “neighborhoods”, or faction “turfs”, add a rule where whenever you draw a new suit, you have to filter the next d4 draws so they are the same suit.

-You can do the same thing with numbers, and filter draws so that new streets are either one number above or below the street it split from, in order to simulate more gradual changes.

-We can also add gimmicks to simulate certain peculiarities. For instance, if we wanted to express a city riddled with secret passageways, we could add a gimmick where players can travel between unconnected cards of the same Number, but roll on a scary secret passageway encounter table or something.

-A city consumed by a turf-war between rival gangs. Suits represent factions, and Numbers represent the strength of a faction’s influence. Filter suits to create neighborhoods. Then the borders between neighborhoods become the amount of political or social pressure a faction is exerting upon its neighbor: a border in which both Numbers are low means very little pressure or conflict, a border where both Numbers are high indicates a full on turf war between factions, and a border where one Number is high and the other low indicates that a faction is about to annex new territory.

-Variant on the above: a city during a firestorm. Red suits are areas on fire. Numbers on red suits represent the intensity of the flames, Numbers on black suits represent the flammability of the area (low number equals more flammable).

-A city with lots of verticality where elevation matters. Suits represent different factions, and Numbers represent elevation, and wealth is also tied to elevation. The city is very dense, with many intersections so streets split according to a die roll. Gimmick: in addition to traversing the streets as normal, players may use gliders or zip-lines to transgress the card boundaries and glide from any street to a nearby street (within, say, 6 inches) that is of a lower elevation.

In the above image (a playtest of my upcoming module), Xyn the protester and "Terrifying Randy" the vagrant (both played by Goat Wizard) begin on a wealthy avenue (10 of hearts). They venture through the city, and eventually rally a group of 18 anarchists (they encountered the anarchists in the 9 of clubs, the entire group is represented by the d6s). The image shows them trying to protest at a heavily armed and dangerous government barricade (10 of diamonds) before being turned back at gunpoint. They would later go on to occupy the Cathedral of the Cleansing Flame (queen of hearts) against an oncoming squad of riot police (7 of diamonds) in order to protest the government's mistreatment of sick citizens.
Setup used:
-Diamonds are government.
-Hearts are citizens.
-Clubs are protesters/civil unrest.
-Spades are infected.
-Card number represents severity/concentration.

example from the module on how cards can be assigned specific scenes/situations
By stacking cards, you can represent a 3-d location on a 2-d tabletop. By stacking them diagonally, you can keep the suit and value visible while also providing a visual representation for the virtual vertical space that the stack occupies.

Face cards are areas with verticality. Diamonds and hearts go upwards, clubs and spades go downwards. Jacks are 2 levels, Queens are 3 levels, Kings are 4+ levels.

Some examples:

the party is currently on the 3rd story of a 7-story highrise
the party is currently 3-levels-deep in an 8-level mine shaft
a dungeon with three z-levels (floors)
have a bonus escher dungeon because I am the enemy of all reason
Card dungeon and card space station posts are inbound.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

MOTHERSHIP Skill Packages Crowdsource

Here are the skill packages used in the Character Generator. Suggest more in the comments, and I'll update this post, adding them in and crediting you. Then I'll update the Generator to include them.

The Generator uses already-existing skills from the Mothership player's survival guide. If you make up your own skill, I won't be able to use it in the Generator (though it could still be a great suggestion).

Takeaways from this experiment:
-Creating backgrounds has shown us that it is not so difficult to build a skill package that well-represents a certain concept, but it is much more difficult to decide which class that skill package belongs to, and sometimes, to get that skill package to be compatible with any class at all.
-It is difficult to create skill packages for Androids.

-Junker: (Zero-G, Mechanical Repair, Heavy Machinery, Scavenging, Jury-Rigging, 1 SP banked) 
-Scoundrel: (Zero-G, Mechanical Repair, Piloting, Athletics, Rimwise, Firearms) 
-Space-Force Cadet: (Zero-G, Mechanical Repair, Piloting, Military Training, Athletics, Astrogation)
-Vehicle Engineer: (Zero-G, Mechanical Repair, Heavy Machinery, Engineering, Vehicle Specialization)

-Engineer: (Computers, Mathematics, Linguistics, Engineering) 
-Hacker: (Computers, Mathematics, Linguistics, Hacking)
-Translator: (Computers, Mathematics, Linguistics, 2 banked SP saving for Sophontology)
-Specialist (by Sean McCoy): (Choose 2 master skills, other skills cost twice as much)

-Archaeologist: (Biology, Archaeology, Theology, Art, Linguistics) 
-Biologist: (Biology, Chemistry, Genetics, First Aid)
-Botanist: (Biology, Hydroponics, Botany, Geology)
-Physicist: (Mathematics, Computers, Physics, 1 SP banked)
-Psychologist: (Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, Linguistics)
-Roboticist: (Computers, Mathematics, Engineering, 1 SP banked for Robotics, AI, or Cybernetics)
-Virologist: (Biology, Chemistry, First Aid, Pathology)
-Hidden Cultist (by Kyana): (Biology, Chemistry, Art, Mysticism) Fear effects as Android once discovered.
-Savant (by Sean McCoy): (Choose 2 master skills, other skills cost twice as much)

-Grunt: (Military Training, Firearms, Athletics)
-Gunner: (Military Training, Gunnery, Mechanical Repair)
-Paramedic: (Military Training, First Aid, Zero-G, Athletics)
-Officer: (Military Training, Tactics, Athletics)
-Thug: (Military Training, Rimwise, Close-Quarters Combat)
-Chaplain (by Kyana): (Military Training, Theology, Mysticism)
-Spy (by Sean McCoy): (Rimwise, Linguistics, Military Training)

Monday, January 21, 2019


This is a reverse engineer of Spwack's DIE TRYING character generator set in my Blasted Lands pseudo-setting and using an Into-the-Odd style ruleset. Find the original version on the sidebar of his blog!

HP are your hit points. Treat them more like "don't get hit points"; these represent your ability to avoid taking actual damage. When you take damage, subtract it from your HP. If you have no HP left, the damage spills over to one of your stats.
You regain your HP after a few minutes of rest. You heal 1d6 damage from each of your stats after a long rest (night of sleep).
ED stands for Energy Dice. You can use as many ED as you want when you use a power. For each one, roll a d6. Powers' effects scale off of the total you roll.

Energy Dice do not replenish on their own. You have to find them out in the world. Some example ways to gain Energy Dice:
-Absorbing it from a thaumic battery.
-Getting struck by lightning or heavily irradiated.
-Getting fucked up by an enemy Power.
-Eating the brain of an energy-dense creature/wizard.

Character progression is made by marking an X next to an element of your character sheet.
You can mark an X:
-at the end of a session (anywhere)
-being considered the MVP at the end of a session (anywhere)
-for having the most dramatic moment at the end of a session (anywhere)
-almost dying (next to the relevant stat)
-for recieving max damage from an attack (next to HP)
-for crit failing and suggestiong a worse outcome than the one the DM gives you (anywhere)
-for failing a roll by 1 (next to the relevant section)
-for killing a notable creature with a weapon (next to the weapon)
-using an item in a clever way (next to the item)
-using a character flaw to your advantage (next to the flaw)
-doing something historically noteworthy, or that might be the subject of legend (next to your name)
When you have 3 Xs next to (something), you can spend them to:
-(stat) Roll 3d6, if the result is higher than your stat, increase it by 1.
-(HP) Roll 3d6, if the result is higher than your HP, increase it by 1.
-(weapon) Upgrade the weapon with available materials, or add a word to the weapon's name (when the name is complete, the weapon gets magic powers and/or sentience).
-(item) Either upgrade the item with available materials, or disassemble the item and memorize the schematic of how to craft it.
-(a power, trait, or drawback) Can change it a little bit, or add an additional benefit (in this way, drawbacks could eventually adapt into beneficial powers).
-(your name) Add a word to your name (increases fame/renown).

Ways to gain new powers:
-Making a deal with a powerful entity.
-Making a revolutionary discovery.
-Stumbling on an ancient/forbidden secret.
-Being taught by a wise/powerful mentor.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Various Name Generators

So I built a collection of name generators from the current chargen project, and I couldn't wait to share them, so here they are in their own post. This collection uses the same Android name schema I created for the Mothership chargen. The Trilobite name schema is inspired from the example names provided by the Trilobite Knight entry in Veins of the Earth. Some of the other ones are built upon the foundations from the History Gen. (Silics are a crystalloid race like those from Endless Legend)

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Mothership Character Generator

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Auto-Convoluted Bureaucracies

One of my favorite things I've seen recently in the OSR-scape is Kyana's Convoluted Bureaucracies minigame, which uses the english language impressively to showcase how amusing and frustrating bureaucracies can be when applied in games. This is the autogenerator for it! (All content within belongs to Kyana!)

One person plays The System. Another person plays The Visitor. It is always one Visitor against The System. Running through bureaucratic maze is a very solitary experience where each on their own.
The purpose of the Visitor is to make the System validate, approve, sign, confirm or otherwise process some important request on their behalf. The purpose of The System is to wear down and evict The Visitor without letting them complete their goal by any passive-aggressive/bureaucratic means possible.
Sometimes The System acts through the single person in a room who puts the signature in place (‘person-signature’), sometimes through the whole collective; The System player effectively controls everybody who is not The Visitor.
For resolution of risk during the Process itself one 1d6 die would be enough.
How to do The Process:
1. One of the players generates the name of the organization where The Visitor will be travelling. Use random generator for names above. The name should be no less than five words and can be as long as fifteen, although on average it is six to eight words.
2. Each word means one step of approval in the process of final approval The Visitor must successfully obtain before getting the whole Process done. “Department of Oceanic Cooperation and Family Synergy would have 5-step approval process, while “ Registry of Spiritual Multi-Technology and Support in Domestic Affairs” would have 7-steps approval. The Visitor needs to collect the amount of approvals equal to the # of words in the name of the organization. Mark each achieved approval with a checkbox of some kind.
3. Each word in the name of the organization means new room of importance in said department that The Visitor must go through to get one approval. Generate each room through [What is going on] and [How this places looks like] tables. The System player describes the situation to Visitor, using as much imagination as they deem to be fun.
4. With a rare exception of when it is obvious from the text of “What is going on” table (such as #10), no approval otherwise can be obtained from a room unless The Visitor takes a point of Exhaustion. Visitor can only take three points of Exhaustion before they suffer insurmountable mental and physical fatigue and have to leave The System.
5. If by taking the final point of Exhaustion or going through the last room The Visitor doesn't have all necessary approvals, The Visitor is defeated. If by taking the third point of Exhaustion The Visitor achieved a final approval, they barely succeeded. If the all approvals are collected without hitting three points of Exhaustion or there are still a number of unvisited rooms by the time the final approval is achieved, The Visitor obtains a significant victory and can [optionally] start with a [Class] next time.
6. In addition to their common human stamina, each Visitor has additional parameter for backlash. At the beginning of each Process, The Visitor selects either Nerves or Anger and can chose a different one (Anger or Nerves) for a different Process. The difference between these two is mostly cosmetic and mostly defines the way how The Visitor is lashing out onto The System and what the end failure state of this backlash is going to be. Some places also more or less affected by one type of backlash over another, at discretion of The System.
7. Instead of taking a point of Exhaustion The Visitor can instead take a point to their backlash (i.e. a point to Nerves if Nerves were selected). The Visitor can only take three points of backlash – if the forth one has to be marked, The Visitor has either complete nervous breakdown (Nerves) or full on assault (Anger) on a clerks in current room. Either way, The Visitor is removed from The Process and The System celebrates flawless victory.
8. After the initial interaction with the room (i.e. getting a point of Exhaustion or point of backlash) The Visitor can directly invoke their backlash in order to speed up the Process. They note the sum of current Exhaustion + backlash stat and make 1d6 roll. - If the roll is under or equal Exhaustion, nothing happens: The Visitor is too tired to force outburst. - If the roll is higher than Exhaustion but less or equal to Exhaustion + Backlash, the outburst is a success. The Visitor marks additional approval and moves on to the next room. - If the roll is higher than Exhaustion + backlash it is a failure. 6 is always a failure. In a failure, The Visitor couldn't handle their own outburst and went too far. Remove one previously earned approval.

Here's an exercise that could help practice making logical sense out of the absurd: generate the name of a department, and then try to visualize how that department would function. Something like "The Measuring Empowering Council of Flexible Encouragement, Senior Maintenance, and Medical Community" is clearly an organization that organizes medical professionals to develop units of measure for the upkeep and care of the city's elderly citizens, focusing specifically on joint health.