Monday, December 26, 2011

Secret Santicore

Oh Wow! Look at that!

Read it an gush praises upon all those who contributed, in reverse alphabetical order!

Neoclassical Geek Revival

Neoclassical Geek Revival is the greatest RPG ever..written by me and produced in hardcover.

From the Foreword:
Hello reader, and welcome to Neoclassical Geek Revival (NGR). NGR is a fantasy heartbreaker RPG; it does what you would expect out of a traditional fantasy role-playing game. While NGR will work as a complete game I have no doubt it will rarely be played as such; This game is designed expecting that you will most likely see things in this game you would like to remove and plug into your own game rather than playing it whole cloth.
This game is designed to simulate low magic fantasy, but most mechanics are equally at home in a science fiction, action or post-apocalyptic game. The rules are designed to be as setting neutral as possible while solving commonly held gripes and bad tropes. In the writing of this game I used the following as guiding principles:
 1.) Funny dice are fun on their own merits
2.) Choices to make are better than problems to solve
3.) You are already familiar with role playing games
4.) You are not looking for gritty realism, but do enjoy the presence of the ‘fourth wall’
5.) Gaming is meant to be entertainment

  Fantastic Reviews!

This is possibly the best FRP I've read in decades, as much for what it simplifies as for what it enhances.

When playing the game quite a few things stand out to me as brilliant

I love the look of the book and the feel of the paper. 

My opinion? Neoclassic Geek Revival is WIN! Buy a copy! 

Overall rating: 9½ out of 10 stars. 

[you] could definitely find worse ways to spend your money

Its a Podcast!

Does that sound awesome?  If you want a copy, here is how! 

 A physical hard cover:   If you are interested in a physical copy of Neoclassical Geek Revival email my gmail account (Liberinterdico).  The book is printed on linen paper, and hard bound with a silk ribbon and gold stamping. When there is sufficient interest expressed, I will then make an additional printing. I am currently down to my book in my third printing and expect them to be gone before you read this.  The materials cost usually rounds off to about $30 CDN plus shipping. 

A PDF version:  Neoclassical Geek Revival is on sale with RPGNOW for a couple bucks CDN.  



Just shoot me an email and ask for a copy. If you are willing to agree to

1.) Not redistribute it, 
2.) Not make a physical copy of it and most importantly 
3.) Provide feedback on the game,  I can email you a PDF copy.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry X-mas!

May the damage Robot Santa inflicted upon your home's perimeter defenses be minimal and easily repaired for next year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

List of things to tweak for the next version

So as I plod away on other projects,

I was wondering if anyone who has gotten a copy of Neoclassical Geek Revival, or played a few games has any suggestions for things to change,  typos to fix or rules to clarify?

1.) Better morale rules
2.) ?
3.) Profit!

anything else?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Secret Santicore: The Lair of the Fungaloids

The Request:
Dear Secret Santicore...

I would like to request  a lair or set of encounters for Mutant Future that feature only mutant plant monsters.


The Result:

  A cult of ecoterrorists worshiping a mutant tree! the giant oak
tree up top however is covered in tree fungus and lichens.  The grove
it dominates is covered in rotten logs covered in fungus.  The
eco-terrorists seem to have been undone by mother nature.  The Oak
Tree itself has a wheezing face peering out and occasionally
whispering ""

If that isn't a draw, the eco-terrorists also had a tonne of old tech
weapons they scavenged.  I wonder if that hole in the ground would
lead to their secret cache of stolen valuables and ray guns.

A:  This is the entry.  The area is an earthen tunnel, long rotted
roots sprawling across the ground.  Small mushrooms of all shapes and
sizes, the occasional patching being phosphorescent, litter the area.
Radiation levels are high near the glowing fungus.  The tunnel forms a
ring around the oak tree up top, blocked off by two cobblestone and
scrap metal walls, with a healthy dose of clay globbed on to boot.
The walls are covered with scorch marks.

B:  The walls of this spherical room (meaning walls an d ceiling as
well) are made of spongy fungus.  Anyone dying or recently dead that
gets some in or on their body will become a fungal "zombie" and burrow
into the spongy fungus.  There are 3d4 zombies burrowed into the
floor, walls and ceiling already.  If anyone brings light into the
room, digs into the fungus or starts a fire anywhere underground, the
zombies will awaken and attempt to spread their contagion.

C: A pile of valuable and shiny looking material is at the back of
this long, narrow and cramped tunnel (about two feet wide).  The walls
are covered in a think layer of fungal slime that acts as Novocaine
with a slight acidity (dissolving flesh over the course of weeks)
requiring a saving throw to avoid being paralysed for three hours
after removal from the slime.  At the end are 3 random metal weapons,
a random pile of shiny junk and piles of gold and silver jewellery,
covered in the transparent slime.  Two rubbery and dissolving
skeletons are also present, laying on top of a giant puffball.  If the
puffball is touched too suddenly it will explode in a cloud of
corrosive enzymes for 3d6 damage.

D: Getting into this sealed area requires knocking down the walls
(intelligence check or in doing so you cause a cave in for 2d12
damage).  This sealed room is full of salt lines and burnt out
torches.  In between the salt lines are several random weapons,
several skeletons and large puffballs.  Accidentally stepping on one
releases a cloud of deadly spores (1d4 damage to all present).  Make a
dex check for each thing a person wants to check out, failure
triggering a cloud of spores.  A gate blocks access to E, the gate is
controlled by a terminal/puzzle box (PC's must win a game of
"MASTERMIND" to open it, else it seals permanently).

E:  Heart of the tree, a beating heart (the size of an ox heart) that
is grey and nearly dead.  It is covered in toadstools and mould.
Cleaning it and splashing fresh blood on the heart gets it pumping
again.  The tree will begin springing to life and releasing antibodies
to quickly kill off the fungus (2d20 rounds).  Of course entering this
room summons the slime-mould from the well in F.

F:  This region has a cobblestone well in an otherwise bare area.  The
well looks a good 20 feet deep with liquid in it.  That liquid is a
massive slime mould with 100hp, and it can only be harmed by
flamethrowers, acid vats and similar sorts of things.  At the bottom
of the well are literally buckets full of shiny metal trinkets and 3d4
metal weapons.  The slime mould will head to E if the players open the
gate.  It moves fast and will arrive in 3 rounds, pouring into any
opening.  It will reinfect the tree heart if the can eat the PC's
first and will not leave the lair.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

If you for some reason are looking to pay for this

Neoclassical Geek Revival is now available on RPG now!

Or you could, you know, email me and just ask.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Neoclassical Geek Revival will soon be available upon RPG Now

Sometime in the next few days PDF copies of Neoclassical Geek Revival will be available for $4 from RPGNOW.  Note however I still will be giving them out for free to anyone who actually emails me,  but putting it on RPGNOW does give me access to a larger audience.

Why don't I put it up there for free then?  More people will download it if I charge money.  I noticed Neoclassical Geek Revival (despite being free if you just email me and agreed not to pass it around) was available on torrent sites.   So I made a tweak and put a copy available on torrents,  it looks like it has gone around about 600 times that I can track.   Much more than when it was free to download from Pen and Paper games.

So,  if people are too lazy to just email me and say "Hi, I would like a complimentary copy!" or just want to throw $4 minus royalties my way,  you can soon get a copy from RPGNOW.   Note I am not allowing print on demand copies to be made, I am still very particular about quality.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

ConstantCon update

ConstantCon games are still going along strong,  the party has currently decided to leave the werewolf infested forests and dragon haunted mountains of Norway and booked passage on a raiding party heading to Ireland.  Where they were dropped off on a desolate beach, causing them to walk inland to the small backwater village of Corroc,  ruled by a local "king".

Meeting up with a wizard from Wessex they decided to look into some local issues in exchange for gold and favours from the local lord.  They managed to ambush a massive, green, sabre tooth tiger that was plaguing the lord's hunting preserve and causing much distress.  This mystical creature seemed to be some sort of nature spirit set loose on the king,  so they captured it and gave it to a secret druidic cult.  Assuming this couldn't end badly,  they asked the druidic cult for help in dealing with the black knight and his band of demon worshippers and witches.   They shared their magical knowledge of summoning swarms of angry bee's,  but demanded that the Juju tree not be destroyed, but rather be preserved.

The party seems to be caught in a three way fight between the old faith of Titania, the church of Spartacus and demonic worshippers of Baphomet.  And the party seemed split on who they should back..

Then again in a month they hop on board with a passing Roma caravan and head to a port city, before going on to Rome.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Slay the monster or Keep the magic sword?

Usually a player character goes out to slay a monster and take the magical item it guards.  But in my current game I had set that up rather differently for one location and sets of magical items.

The various potent magical items were made by a wizard who had a special little version of the permanency spell.   For OSR or D20 equivalence,  this version of permanency did not cause a loss of con, xp or what have you from the wizard.  Magic item factory right?  Kinda.

Magic has a price, and rather than the caster being harmed this had a secondary side effect.   Somewhere in the surrounding area (a large area the more powerful the spell being made permanent) a monster would spawn.  The power of the monster is likewise related to the power of the enchantment to be made permanent.  This monster is always malevolent, seeking to cause destruction and ruin (especially to the caster).  But the enchantment will only be held permanent while the creature lives.

So the first question the party comes to is whether or not to slay the giant jellyfish comprised entirely of flame as it destroys a village or keep their +3 sword.   The next question is what to do with the spell when the party's wizard gets a hold of it.  Giving the player a +4 sword is so hard can it be to track down and capture a monster anyway?  and what are the odds that all the monsters you keep in locked cages will kill their zoo keeper and escape?

Linking back to Zak's Vornheim,  you could potentially add a great twist to the Immortal Zoo adventure.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Vornheim: A review

Perhaps I am just more aware of the negative press and complaining about Vorhnheim, but it has begun grating at me because it has not seemed  to be actual complaints about the product but about it's author.

I figured I would do a few posts to give my view on the product, keep in mind this is just my 2 cents worth and it may be very very wrong.


Vornheim does not appear to be written for use with the type of game that I tend to run.  It is set to appear quite a bit stranger and more surreal than I would normally run a city.  This however is not a hidden feature of the product,  it is also not really that large of a hindrance.  The sample locations it gives (the immortal zoo, the Medusa's house, the library) are all strange in their own right,  but plopping one of those locations in a faux historical medieval world would not be out of place.  It would make that area strange and adventure worthy,  but it wouldn't alter the character of your entire game world in all its historical knock-off glory.  Likewise many of the charts and tables are perfectly fine to roll on every now and then to add some detail to such a game.  Worthwhile for when you want to get a random tavern name, or backwater custom,  or name of a random book a PC steals.

Summed together however and Vornheim paints a world that is much stranger than I would normally set for a game.  Reading through it and it struck me as a mix of Necromunda and Gormanghast.  This however is required for Vornheim to function as it's stated purpose as a city adventure kit.  Cities are boring, dull, predictable and safe. That is why so many people live and work there, dreaming of their picket fence and comfortable retirement.  Adventurers leave the safety of cities to go die in some god-forsaken jungle or trap laden underground complex filled with monsters.  If you want there to be city adventures,  then the city has to be at least as dangerous and mysterious as any dungeon.  By nature a city has to be somewhat safe for the average person,  that would seem to mean the mystery would need to be cranked up to 11 to compete with a dungeon.  So if I were to think about plopping Vornheim down in a campaign world somewhere,  I would use the same logic for location as I would an ancient tomb complex, or a skull island.  It would have to be somewhere PC's go to, explore and either leave with riches or die trying.

Now mechanics!

This has some really great things to sink your teeth into mechanically.   Many of the die mechanics are superb,  using the die rolls for far more effective 'seeding' than traditional numerical charts.  The inclusion of the physical location of the dice as a seed element is utterly brilliant.   The 'Chase' system is quick and effective,  but I doubt I would use it personally just due to mechanical differences in how I run chases and escapes.  The item cost mechanic is a good one I happen to enjoy,  it very neatly meshes in with the simple cost mechanics I use and its fairly easy to remember.

My personal favourite though is "God's Chess", as that was a common movie motif for me growing up.  So many films I enjoyed had similar events.

Example monsters and areas!

These were definitely interesting enough,  but I won't spoil anything for those still waiting on their copy.  What was important was that monsters did not contain stat blocks in neat formatted little charts next to the creature.  This did not bother me,  but then again I also attribute stat's to monsters in response to the description of the monster.  For my use, Vornheim is overkill as simply saying "Its a giant M*&^%F$(*&!@ ape with laser eyes!" is enough for me to stat up a giant laser ape in a few seconds.  Other systems may not handle that as well.  This brings me to..


I didn't really have a problem with the layout of the text, or the fonts or the borders or any such thing.  It did not prevent me from reading it and gaining the knowledge contained within (the only real purpose of formatting, grammar, spelling and the like is to facilitate that end).  So I really didn't see an issue there, it wasn't hard on my eyes or anything, and its not like misspelling "Challenge" as "Challange" once in the entire book is going to render me unable to grasp useful details.   One thing that did irk me in reading through Vornheim the first time was the charts all being in the back, as reading the description for the how the chart is to be used then flipping to the back to look at the chart became annoying.   That said,  for actually USING the book at the game table it is a superior method of organization.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Dictionary of Mythology by J.A. Coleman

The Dictionary of Mythology is a massive and lengthy tome containing a giant listing of entries on pretty much every mythological creature you can think of (and tonnes more you can't) over the span of 1200 pages, with dictionary sized entries.

This is a great GM tool for a sandbox game.  If you are trying to fill some hexes and don't want the same old same old,  you can  get a good randomized (a few d10's works well enough) and bam:

Fang Chang:  one of the three islands of the blessed
Hereshguina:  an evil spirit of the Winnebago.  In some accounts this spirit is equated with Wakdjunkaga
Nuye: a mythical bird.  This bird is said to have monkey's head on the body of a dog, the feet of a tiger and a tail like a snake.  Eating its flesh is said to cure hiccups.

Well,  that should be enough to craft something cool in the region.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Printing: First Thoughts

So the book binding is still top notch, if anything slightly better as the printer I went to this time was able to properly align the grain of the paper.  The paper is the same type as I had previously used before, however I have noticed a watermark on a few pages,  that irks me and I'll have to talk to the printer to see if that can be avoided in the future or I may look for yet another printer.  It is only noticeable if you hold the specific and random page up to a light source,  but I still don't just accept flaws in something I make.

I will be sending out an email today confirming interest,  if you are still interested reply with your address.  Cost will still be materials and shipping ($40),  but if you live outside of Canada and you have any weird customs fees I haven't a clue how that will impact you, though I haven't heard any complaints yet.

This is the "Lion Printing", and all copies will also have the Unofficial Games Lion Heraldry stamped in gold on the front.  I don't want to get into edition numbering so how about edition stampings?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Printing has arrived!

So a new set of Neoclassical Geek Revival has arrived back from the binders.  I tried a different printer this time so hopefully there are no surprises as I survey the books, the binding is still excellent.  In the coming days I shall now have to figure out how to actually handle the logistics of sending them out.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Roll for Awesomeness!

One of the most beloved and player ruining mechanics of Neoclassical Geek Revival is 'Awesomeness'.  Players who play Neoclassical Geek Revival often have a hard time readjusting to more careful and tactical games ( I have been told this directly by said players).

So what is awesomeness?

Awesomeness is what makes every situation has more than one 'correct answer'.  You hear a strange noise coming from the cellar in the ruined building your party is camping in.  Do you  A: wake the party, arm yourselves and go check it out? (the tactically correct answer) B: Grab a flickering easy to extinguish torch and go check it out alone without telling anyone where you are going,  especially if you are in an abandoned summer camp where all those teens died 13 years ago to the day under a full moon just like this one (the awesome answer).

Normally in an RPG,  while B might be good for a laugh every now and again, if you want a party to survive then option A is the right call.  Which is why you always see it get made.   But think of all the hilarious opportunities you miss!

I didn't want to flip the table 180 either,  I didn't want the correct answer to be that you should ALWAYS be zany and off the wall, and that being careful and serious is always wrong.   I like choices to make, not problems to solve.  Choices always keep players involved (and away from phones),  problems keep thinking once, until its been solved.  Then it is ignored.

So the smart and safe choice is the best answer,  but if they make an awesome decision (Extra risk purely for style) then there is at least some small chance at reward. It will still probably end up with your death in the above example,  but if you live?  Think of all the awesomeness points you'll earn!  This lessens the amount of analysis paralysis as well, even if they make a bad decision they can pretend it was for the awesomeness later and they meant to do that (no really guys, I MEANT to do that dumb thing)

So what does awesomeness do?   At the end of the night, the players decide on an MVP (more awesomeness) and then sit around and recall their awesome exploits during the night.  This also reinforces what was done (at least the cool parts people want to remember), and keeps people paying attention to the game (the end goal).

Once they have their awesomeness scores they begin rolling against it,  whittling it down to receive more and more fate points (which are die re-rolls) for future use.

The end result is less time over planning encounters,  more time paying attention to the game (instead of cell phones) and more time recounting the fun parts of the game (reinforcing the memories of the game)

From Neoclassical Geek Revival, Pages 99-100

Fate and Destiny!
As player characters progress
through their adventuring career they
will almost certainly accumulate ‘fate
points’ and ‘destiny points’. What
exactly are these points, what do they do
and how do you get them.
In brief, fate points are the fates
and trickster deities subtly altering
things to keep their favoured entertainers
(i.e. the adventurers) amusing them.
Only entertaining heroes and villains
will achieve fate points. Fate points are
used primarily to re-roll dice, though
they do have other functions. At the end
of every game session, players will roll
to see if they gain more fate points.
Destiny points on the other hand
represent a character’s purpose. They
are very rare and should not be given out
randomly. They occur when characters
undertake specific and life-altering
quests. If a character ever has more
than one at a time they become nigh
unstoppable in their task. Destiny points
give a wide range of possible functions,
not limited to choosing the results of a
die roll without needing to roll.

Destiny Points
Destiny Points are incredibly
valuable and may be spent in the
following ways:
* Pick the results of a die rolled by the
character without needing to roll it. A
character could thus determine their
attack will be an epic success without
needing to roll it.
* Disallow an opponent from using luck
points to soak the damage from an
attack. This particularly brutal use of a
destiny point would mean that even a
mighty hero could be felled by one
dagger to the back from a betrayer.
* Restore all Luck Points. This option
would allow a broken and beaten hero to
rise up and fight on, it is highly
suggested you have one or all of the
players mutter 'get up Rocky'
*Add a possible but potentially
extremely unlikely element to the
encounter or scene, provided it hasn’t
been specifically described as not being
present. This is one of the harder to
referee options, this option would allow
a hero or villain the option to
figuratively 'pull something out of their
#$%'. A hero could be running injured
through the wilderness nigh naked,
chased by wolves and spend a destiny
point to stumble into an ancient tomb
with a full set of quality weapons and
armour by spending a destiny point.

Fate Points
Fate points are substantially more
common than Destiny Points. At the end
of every game session players will roll
against their ‘Awesomeness Score’ to
gain more fate points. They will also
elect and MVP who will gain an
additional fate points. Fate points can be
used in the following ways:
* Re-roll a die or set of dice. This is the
most common use; a player who just
rolled an epic failure for their leap across
the chasm of doom could spend a fate
point to re-roll the die.
* Restore a luck die worth of luck
points. Used in this manner a player
could spend a fate point for additional
luck points, this can only be used after
resolving any pending attacks against the
player this round.
* Add a likely and plausible element to
the environment, scene or encounter
providing it hasn't been specifically
described as not being present. Used in
this manner, the words likely and
plausible are key. For example, a hero
who dives out of a city window could
not declare there is a saddled horse
directly below (unless he was in a stable
or other location with valuable horses
left lying around) but he could declare
there was an awning or pile of garbage
to cushion his fall.

Electing an MVP
Role-playing games are at their
core a co-operative game, and everyone
likes to receive recognition of their
efforts at being a team player. At the
end of each session, all players other
than the Game Master should elect
whom they consider the ‘Most Valuable
Player’. This should be the person who
added the most fun, made the biggest
sacrifices or otherwise added to the
game. Players may not vote for
themselves. In the event of a tie, the
Game Master casts the deciding vote.
The MVP receives +5 to awesomeness
this session, and receives one additional
fate point.

Rolling for Awesomeness
At the end of each session, roll a
d20 for each player. If they have an
awesomeness score less than the die
move on to the next player. If they have
an equal to, or higher awesomeness
score than the die roll, subtract the die
roll from their awesomeness score, give
them 1 fate point, and roll again. On a
roll of a natural 20, to celebrate that
rolling a 20 is in itself awesome, give the
player a fate point and have them roll
i.e. A player has 6 Awesomeness
this session, he rolls a d20 and gets a 4.
The player receives 1 fate point and is
reduced to 2 Awesomeness and may roll
again. On the next d20 the player lucks
out and rolls a 2, receiving a second fate
point and another roll. With 0
Awesomeness remaining the players
only hope for another fate is to roll a 20,
he does not and pass the die to the next
To determine a player’s
awesomeness score for a game session,
add or subtract the following (you may
wish to add to this list):
*Their Luck Modifier
*+1 for wearing a cape
*+1 for wearing an awesome hat
*+1 for a manly beard, +2 if the
character is female
*+1 if a character has “80’s hair”
*+1 for wearing an eye patch
*+5 if they actually need it
*+5 if MVP
*Bonus for adhering to trope/genre
(penalty for breaching)
*Arbitrary bonus for choosing to do
intentionally awesome things (defined as
taking extra risk for style)

A character’s awesomeness score
resets to 0 at the end of each session
regardless of fates gained (or not). Note
that this is a die roll for the player, and is
thus not affected by ‘Joe Average’.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Creature Feature: The spider friend

It all starts innocently enough,  you are clearing out cobwebs when a spider falls onto your neck and bites you.  Assuming you don't manage to squish the spider immediately you get a good look at the small thumbnail sized thing.  While normally vile and gross, this particular spider seems cute to you.  Naming it appropriately you decide to keep it as a pet in a jar,  cute little guy.

Squish it or not you will soon find most spiders not repulsive, but anger inducing.  All spiders except spiders that look like that awesome little guy that bit you.  You keep him well fed and protected as your cool new pet.  In time he grows bigger and bigger.  Eventually the spider becomes worthy of your respect and praise.

In time you bring others over to see you pet, and in careful conditions he may bite them too.  "He only bites you if he likes you!" you may say if he's small.  Or "It will make sense, don't fight it" if it has reached rodent sized proportions.  You and others like you will want to settle down and have kids,  probably somewhere quiet and secluded, away from the hustle and bustle.   Some of these kids may be born with unusual mutations,  not many, but some.   Adorable spider features, from the good kind of spider like your spider friend,  not those evil other spiders.

Perhaps they are some sort of centauroid spider,  or have the head of a spider, or multiple limbs.  Perhaps just the head of a baby on a spider's body,  either way they are cute members of your little family.  Of course if your spouse wasn't made a friend of your spider friend, leader of your new wilderness community,  they may "freak out" and try to do harm.  They sadly may need to be dealt with lest they rouse any neighbours who just don't understand.

And your spider friend has truly grown large, bigger than a cow and growing!  Truly a sign from the gods worthy of praise and adulation!  let others worship your friend and the good fortune it brings!  Many generations may go by, or just one as the mutations don't always happen and can go generations down the blood line without manifesting,  a special bundle of joy will arrive.   One pregnant host will give birth to the next generation! to the joy of the midwife (assuming they are part of your true community), thousands of new baby spider friends will be born in a great swarm from one lucky mother!   They will be able to be spread out and go to the far corners of distant lands,  until somewhere...

someone is clearing out cobwebs..when a spider falls onto their hand and bites them..


This type of cult or monster is a great way to freak the hell out of players on so many levels.  It is also a good way to throw entities like Llolth in a new light, and just why it is that Dark Elves ran underground and are full of half drow/half spider mutants.

Happy Halloween

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Next Monday's ConstantCon game

I just realized next Monday is Halloween, as such the ConstantCon game is cancelled due to existing obligations. Sorry everyone.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Miracles: How priests use magic differently than wizards

   One thing I set out to do fairly immediately is to differentiate priests and wizards in Neoclassical Geek Revival. Priests as hammer wielding armoured mini-mages always bugged me. Their ability to act as heal bots in so many games likewise was troublesome in a game world scenario. Someone who can fully heal someone disembowelled by a sword or raise the dead EVERY DAY (sometimes multiple times per day) would completely unbalance the world.

   There was also the problem with priests being "agents of their deity" but not really doing much beyond the occasional bit of tithing or whatnot. Of course their deity would also routinely let them perish because while the deity was willing to intervene with magic, not if the priest didn't file out the correct prayer paperwork for each spell a day in advance. So I set out wanting to make a few changes to Priest "spell" use:
1.) I wanted to limit the amount of world altering healing and miracles
2.) I still wanted priests to be able use a full suite of miracles in a pinch
3.) I wanted to make priests act like priests

From Neoclassical Geek Revival, Page 88-89

Game Mechanics of Miracles
Miracles function in a fairly
simplistic manner. A character may
choose to summon forth a miracle
provided they have enough piety to
cover the costs. Miracles are not the
actions of the character but the actions of
a patron on behalf of the character. For
some miracles the rank of the character
may grant additional benefits.
   Character’s can only summon
miracles related to their patron’s nature.
Thus a character must be able to
reasonably justify a miracle as relating to
the patron’s domain they may summon
the miracle. For example, a priest of the
sun god could call forth ‘increase yield’
if they justified it as giving the right
amount of sun, while the follower of a
war god would have a hard time unless it
was dressed up in some sort of elaborate
   The use of time lengthy rituals
will be required to use most miracles. A
fire priest would probably need an
elaborate ritual where a person is
surrounded by flame to justify using a
healing spell.
   Any starting character able to
summon miracles at normal cost begins
the game with 20 piety points.

Accumulating Piety
   Here are some example ways in
which a character could earn piety
Preaching to a congregation for a week: 1
Personally converting someone: 5 or 5 (cumulative) per level
Converting a region: 50-1000+
Building a roadside shrine: 2
Building a small shrine: 10
Building a small temple: 30
Building a temple or church: 100
Building a great cathedral: 500
Building an epic wonder (such as the Hagia Sophia): 1000
Completing a small task of faith: 5
Completing a moderate task of faith: 20
Completing a large task of faith: 100
Completing an epic task of faith: 500+
Killing faith enemy: 2 or 2 (cumulative) per level
Defiling/Destroying enemy temple: 3/4 as building plus a task
Converting a faith enemy: three times normal conversion
Sacrifices (Patron specific): Variable
Burial of faithful: 1 + cumulative level*(must be level appropriate)

Creating a Patron
   A priest requires a patron to grant
their miracles, if the GM already has one
or more options in your game world, you
may wish to use them. Alternatively it
isn’t that hard to build one. First choose
if the patron is aligned with civilization,
the natural world or hell.
   Civilization patrons reside in the
realm of the dead, and usually are
intermediaries between a mortal and
heaven. Hero cults, saints, prophets,
messiahs and ancestor worship all fall
into this category. So while the god may
be Zeus, the patron may be Hercules as
an intermediary. For the domain of the
patron, assume that the miracles must be
justified as coincidence (even if nigh
impossible in terms of probability). The
patron will reward attempts to civilize
and control the natural world, removing
the demonic and the wild.
   Patrons of the natural world are
extremely powerful nature spirits,
elementals, djinn or titans. These should
have power over 1 broad natural force
(an element, plants, animals, fertility,
weather, etc). Alternatively a region can
be selected, granting the ability to use
any miracle within the region but
nothing outside of the region. The latter
is not recommended for any PC. Piety is
awarded for keeping magic and mystery
present in the world, keeping civilization
localized and removing demonic
   Patrons of hell are powerful
demons bargaining with would be
sorcerers. Some demons claim to be
working for a dark god or THE devil,
but most claim there are no such things
as gods or devils. Patrons of hell may
use the method of either civilization or
the natural world. Demonic patrons give
piety for banal evil deeds and causing
corruption. As truly hideous deeds tend
to cause people to resolve themselves to
a life of resistance (ref: Batman), piety is
not awarded for such acts.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Lovecraftian Horror: Its not tentacles, its not malice from beyond space and time

This comic is the best example of what Lovecraftian Horror is to me when I read it.

  I am quite serious about this. Reading the Mountains of Madness, reading the Shadows out of Time it becomes evident. The great horror is simply that things will go on. Mankind isn't that important. Like the Elder Things before man, sooner or later they will fall and eventually be but a faded memory before no trace they ever existed will remain. Likewise man's fate is also certain, be it in a million years or tomorrow, mankind will fall and be forgotten and erased. Then the Beetlemen will one day rise up after we are gone, only to likewise be replaced by the Yith. At least the Beetlemen were important to the Yith, a race that will last. We as humanity, just don't matter. Life will go on. That is lovecraftian horror, not adding "MOAR TENTACLES", not having people go insane from dark truths, not ancient cults or dark books or malignant spirits. The ancient and terrible truth is humanity doesn't matter, if the entities were malignant that would imply we mattered enough to make someone hate us. We are the jellyfish from the anecdotes of a certain psychic gorilla, too certain in our self worth to see the writing on the wall.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Directing the mob: Large scale social conflict

So recently in both my home game (for the purpose of religious conversion) and in my Monday ConstantCon game (for the purpose of having an angry mob solve the zombie/cultist problem for the PC's),  there has come the issue of getting a mob of people to agree with the PC's viewpoint through social conflict mechanics.

I tested two different approaches.  In the PC game,   I had designated a set number of ringleaders based on the  size of the mob (in this case 10 individuals),   and the character had to defeat ten 0-level characters in social conflict at once.   In the second instance (the ConstantCon game) I mirrored the "size modifier" used in combat by monsters and made "the mob" a single entity with a size modifier of 10  (ie, it "suffered" 1/10th influence and dealt 10x "influence")  this made the mob hard to influence and easy to anger.

Looking at how both panned out,  I gotta say I like the single "entity" better for a large mob,  with any charismatic ringleaders handled separately.  More tests are needed but this may end up being a permanent change.

Also note:  Leading an angry mob to deal with the villains on your behalf is hilarious, especially if the mob breaks and scatters due to a rampaging grizzly bear after wiping out the cultists.  Just be sure to sneak out of town before they blame you for the tragedy.

Be sure to join in on the next ConstantCon game,   Monday nights at 6pm eastern time,  Midnight in Berlin.

Platforms and Modules

So,  I was reading Zak this morning,  and through his site was linked to a rant from a
Google employee about the nature of platforms versus products.   Being a developer by trade the rant itself was interesting insight into Google internal politics, and in my personal opinion spot on the money.   But Zak applying this to RPG's is also a great read.

In my own interpretation of "Platform" vs "Product" in regards to RPG's I see this as the difference between "System" and "Setting", though others may disagree.   A setting free system is a good platform,  but if it is ever going to take off it does need a "killer app", of a good setting.

At this point you may be asking:  "How can Zzarchov turn this post into something about him?"  Well here we go: Neoclassical Geek Revival is designed as a platform,  one that is meant to be hacked and used piecemeal.  It is meant to integrate easily into whatever house rules , OSR clone, or d20 product you already use.  It is extremely explicit about this in its foreword.

What it needs is a second book, a setting,  to function as a "killer app".  I am just not as interested in building a setting as I am a system however,  the nature of my own creativity.  I like my own home setting,  but writing it out doesn't seem particularly fun nor would it really be a huge interest.   That said I do have a setting I have been thinking on for some time,  maybe I should make it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New Printing of Neoclassical Geek Revival Scheduled

So sufficient interest has been generated to reach the minimum levels needed for a second printing of Neoclassical Geek Revival.  If you have interest in a copy but have not yet indicated so,  please let me know as soon as possible.  Throwing a few extra copies in is easier than waiting to get minimum interest for yet another printing.

If you have interest in a physical copy but aren't sure if you can budget it at this moment,  let me know as well.  I can get a few extra copies printed and sit on them for while.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bards or "Michael Jordan plays ball. Charles Manson kills people. I talk. Everyone has a talent."

What is a bard?  In my mind, a bard is Nick Naylor from "Thank you for smoking".   The magic, the jack of all trades,  no...that to me is not a bard.  That is a bunch of stuff thrown in there to give a bard something to do in D&D because talking to people doesn't really do much (at best in future editions it appears to be a one roll for succeed/fail).

That's crap to me.   The other problem is that many GM's don't think you should be able to trick a king into trading a cart full of diamonds for a cart full of onions and have the king think it was a brilliant move.  In reality no.  In reality no warrior with a pointy stick is going to take down a fire-breathing, flying, armoured  intelligent dinosaur either.  In Neoclassical Geek Revival,  Social Conflict is handled in a set of round by round partial success (unless you get lucky) almost identically to combat.  This gives something for bards to do immediately,  but lets get beyond how social conflict works and go back to what bards do specifically.   They may be generally better at talking than other classes,  much as warriors are better at fighting.  But they also have a few additional tricks.

1.)  Acting as a guide:   One of the powers a bard might have is language interpretation,  this allows bard to act like Dr. Daniel Jackson or C3P0 and learn an unknown foreign language in a short period of time.  If you are exploring into the wilds,  have a bard.
2.)  Helping everyone be a little more awesome:  Another one of the bard powers gives an increasing bonus to everyone in the party at the end of the night, to their awesomeness score.  Further proving that you should never go into battle without an actor.
3.) Leading mass combat:  Bards leading forces have a much higher morale and are less likely to break.
4.)  Being a smart ass:  Bards can use their rapier wit to harm the luck points of character.  While this will never kill someone,  it can be a good way to weaken an opponent.
5.) Being REALLY good at talking:  Just specialize in what they already do well.

Lastly the bard also acquires "Henchmen" as their personal "item".  These are hopelessly devoted zero level tag-alongs who are literally red-shirts.  Any time something terrible or fatal is about to happen to the bard,  the bard can have (through some fluke of luck) the terrible thing happen to one of his henchmen instead.

From Neoclassical Geek Revival:  Pages 16-18

The Forum of the Bards: 'The pen is
mightier than the sword'
The term ‘bard’ here is used
loosely, it is used as a fantasy catch all
for the character who is adept at dealing
with people. Unlike many games, the
bard has no innate rogue or magical
powers. The bard’s power of speech
also rival what a warrior can do with a
pointy stick in terms of shaking
believability. A powerful bard is the one
who can truly convince the emperor of
his new clothes, or that a wagon full of
onions is worth a wagon full of gold.
In terms of game play, the bard is
only useful if you are going to interact
with sentient beings, it may also require
a mind shift for many game masters to
allow the players to cause massive world
changes based on words alone.
Powerful bards can be the equivalent of
those great orators who occasionally
appear in the history and alter
civilization. A bard’s powers are
intimately based on other sentient
A bard adventures to boost his
image, spread his word and, more
importantly, find followers to do his
work for him.
Characters gain the following benefits
per level:

Pie Pieces Presence
0               1/3 per level
1               2/3 per level
2               1 per level
3               1 per level, +1 per milestone
4               1 per level, +2 per milestone

The Manifesto
Bard Powers
1.) Reputation: This power represents
the fame a bard attracts. This grants the
bard and every other player in the group
+1 ‘awesomeness’ (cumulative) per
2.) Leadership: This power represents a
bard’s role as a leader. Forces under the
bard’s command add the bard’s presence
to their morale checks.
3.) Silver Tongue: This power gives a
bard the ability to re-roll the influence
die and choose the better result in any
type of social conflict.
4.) Interpret: This power represents the
bard’s skill as a cunning linguist to
understand foreign and alien languages
at a basic level. Using hand gestures,
miming and by speaking both slowly and
loudly in an annoying tourist kind of
way, the bard can understand and
communicate basic terms like ‘Follow’
or ‘Danger’ or ‘The cheese is moldy,
where is the bathroom’. The bard must
make a social check, modified by
awareness. On an epic success the bard
can gain this level of communication
within an hour, a normal success
requires 3d6 hours of communication
and a normal failure requires 3d6 days of
communication. An epic failure
prevents the bard from establishing this
level of communication.
5.) Wit: This power represents a bard’s
ability to lash out with his razor sharp
wit and cause deep psychological scars
to his victim. While a clever insult or
witty pun won’t ever do any physical
damage, it can hold sway with the
trickster deities who dole out luck to the
various heroes and villains. A Scathing
remark in combat allows the bard to
remove luck points from the target
(ignoring damage multipliers due to
size). The bard may elect to make a
social conflict appeal instead of a regular
attack during a combat, causing 1 point
of luck damage per point of influence
normally scored. The bard may only use
this ability when interrupting someone
that is attacking him or her, or as an
opportunity attack.

4th Pie Piece Power
Beloved: This power represents the
almost superhuman loyalty a bard of this
level of skill has with his followers. A
bard with this power can use the luck
points of his followers, allowing them to
flow ‘up’ instead of the normal limit of
only flowing ‘down’.

Personal Item: Henchmen
Rather than an actual item, bards
gain special followers. Any time a bard
completes a particularly impressive
debate, trial, military campaign or
similar event, the bard gains an
opportunity to acquire a henchman. If
the event was particularly epic the bard
automatically acquires a henchman.
The henchman will loyally serve
the bard and may take the form of a
bodyguard, squire, personal assistant,
student or some other role. The main
benefit of the henchmen is that the bard
can choose to make any unexpected or
sudden danger befall one of his present
henchmen instead of another member of
the party. This could include a volley of
fire from an ambush, setting off a
dangerous trap or being crushed by
falling rocks in a landslide. You can feel
free to give each henchman a nice red
shirt if you would like. The henchman
should be someone relevant or related to
the bard’s recent task. Henchmen have
attributes averaging 10 and are normally
0 level. When the bard reaches 10th
level they advance to 1st level.
For a bard to gain a henchman,
the bard must score a 10+ on the 2d6.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Armour: Easier to get hit, harder to harm

In Neoclassical Geek Revival, armour does not increase your ability to dodge a blow.  Quite the opposite,  it often slows you down and increases your likelihood of getting struck.  What it does do is make you take less damage from shots.

So the attacking player has made an attack roll,  added their combat bonus, any bonus (or penalties) for weapon and compared that to a defence score (including the defenders combat bonus, penalties for armour bonuses for shields: which can get quite large,  and other defensive articles, such as a sword).  And so far the armour has done jack except get in the way.

But armour grants a damage reduction per die.  This means that against multi-dice hellscapes (take 6d6 fireball!) a good suit of plate armour (-5 damage per die) makes one walk through practically unscathed.  With power like that, everyone should be an armoured tank right! (note that anyone can wear armour, though wizard's have some problems casting in metal armour).

Not so much,  for many situations and opponents the armour does nothing but slow you down.  Against armour piercing weapons for instance,  or just against really large amounts of damage by a single source.   A giant might not have any attack bonus (hard to hit)  but will do tremendous damage (d8 x 8) on a successful hit.   When you take 28 points of damage on a single hit,  is it really better to take 23 and be hit more often?  Armour thus becomes a choice to make not a problem to solve.  What do you want to be better prepared for? If you know you are fighting a Giant, sure, ditch the armour.  Likewise if you know you fighting goblin archers with bone arrows? throw on the steel plate.   Otherwise it is a case of deciding how you want your character to fight.

Like weapons,  armour CAN be modified to be more specific by adding descriptive tags to it if you want to be really finicky about the difference between Roman Segmented Armour and Norman Chain,  or an Ancient Greek Breastplate and Renaissance Plate.

From Neoclassical Geek Revival, PG 52

Basic Armour
The main benefit in armour is not
to avoid being hit, but to reduce or
eliminate the impact. Armour will in
many cases actually increase your
chances at being hit. Armour will grant
you a 'damage reduction' score per die of
damage. This means if armour gives
you a DR of 2, and you take 2d6
damage, you would receive up to 4
fewer points of damage. It is important
to note the rolls of each die. Armour
will also tend to give agility check
penalties. These modifiers usually apply
to agility checks, evade rolls and defense
rolls. Wearing no armour and loose
clothing will actually give you a slight
bonus. Armour can be described by the
basic type, and then modified by
descriptive tags should you wish that
level of detail

Type              Modifier       DR
Loose clothing 0/+1          0
Light Armour    0              1
Mail Armour    -2             3
Plate Armour    -3            5

Descriptive tags for armour
Describing armour as light, mail
or plate is fine for quick or combat light
games. If the game is of a more militant
nature, descriptive tags are a good way
to add mechanical differences to the
many types of armour available in a
fantasy world. Tags are more efficient
than describing specific historical
armours, as historical armours were
developed to protect against historical
weapons. Would smiths have still have
used the same designs to counter griffon
claws as they used for heavy crossbows
or emerging firearms? Historical
armours can be approximated using the
descriptive tag system as well. Note that
the orders of the tags impact the
application of the benefits and penalties.
Reinforced, Spiked armour is different
than Spiked, Reinforced armour.

Tag: Beefcake/Cheesecake
There is practical armour
and then there is fantasy armour. Many
examples of fantasy armour feature
exposed midriff, thigh-high boots,
or glistening well oiled pectoral
muscles and biceps. This makes it hard
for the wearer to take himself or herself
seriously, giving a –1 penalty to
resistance rolls. On the other hand it
really does keep to trope and as such
gives +2 to awesomeness. Clothing can
use this tag.

Tag: Bulky
Bulky armour sacrifices mobility
for an increase in protection against
blunt attacks. The armour gains +2 DR
against blunt attacks but suffers an
additional –1 to both defense rolls and
agility checks. The armour also
increases in dot size by 1. Quilted
armour is a good example of this
armour. Clothing can use this tag.

Tag: Ceremonial
Ceremonial armour is not
designed for field use, but rather for
display. Ceremonial armour gives a –1
penalty to defense rolls but a +1 bonus
to presence. Clothing can use this tag.

Tag: Crude
Crude armour represents shoddy
workmanship, experimental designs or
partially damaged armour. It provides
no extra benefit but does increase the
defense penalty and agility check
penalty by 1. Clothing can use this tag.

Tag: Lightweight
Lightweight armour has been
specifically stripped to ease the burden
and increase mobility. This lowers the
dot size by 1 and reduces the penalty to
defense and agility checks by 1. The
downside is the armour loses 2 DR
versus blunt damage.

Tag: Ornamental
Ornamental armour has been adorned
with decorations designed to catch the
eye. Ornamental armour gives +1 to
appeal roles due to the opulence it
projects, but gives –1 to evade rolls due
to its distinctive appearance. Feathered,
gem encrusted or gold plated armour
would use this tag. Clothing can use this

Tag: Partial
Partial armour is any incomplete
set of armour. This halves the dot size
of the armour and halves the defense roll
and agility check penalties of the
armour. The armour is also bypassed
completely by attacks that roll a 15 or
better. It is possible to wear a set of
partial armour over a set of full armour,
such as partial plate over full leather. In
this case, the full armour is only used if
the partial armour is bypassed. Stack the
penalties for both sets of armour. A
breastplate or mail shirt is an example of
partial armour.

Tag: Sophisticated
Sophisticated armour represents
master workmanship coupled with a
perfected design. Renaissance period
plate armour would be an example of
this tag. Sophisticated armour reduces
the defense penalty and agility check
penalty by 1.

Tag: Reinforced
Reinforced armour has been
improved with additional plating, chain
links, metal studs or other modifications
to deflect blades. This doubles the
armour’s DR against slashing weapons,
at the cost of also doubling its defense
and agility check penalty. Studded
leather or advanced plate armours are
examples of reinforced armour.

Tag: Spiked
Spiked armour has been studded
with small blades or long spikes. This is
useful to repel a grapple (or deal 1d4
damage in a grapple) but gives a –1
penalty to attack roles as the spikes
impact the ability to move cleanly. The
spikes also deflect blades granting a +1
DR against slashing weapons, but
actually reduce the effectiveness of the
armour against blunt attacks (-1 DR vs


Friday, September 30, 2011

Skills in Neoclassical Geek Revival or "I make the roll to scale the wall due to my years experience as a piano player"

One thing that always gets people about Neoclassical Geek Revival is the way skills are handled.  I hear much wailing and gnashing of teeth over how skills/non-weapon proficiencies "killed the game".  Bull.  The concept was a great one in terms of character customization,  the execution was just terrible.

Neoclassical Geek Revival has no list of skills.  Honestly the number of potential skills is daunting and the overlap between one skill and another makes it a jumbled mess.  Who would have thunk that representing the entirety of human education and knowledge would be difficult?

So players in Neoclassical Geek Revival make up their own skills.  This includes things you would expect like "Forestry" , "Blacksmithing", or "Bear lore"  but also ends up with more unconventional things like "Procrastination", "Wilful ignorance", and "Social leech".   And they all work fine.

Bullshit is an important player skill in Neoclassical Geek Revival.   The most common use of skills is on d20 rolls: attribute checks, saving throws,  social conflict rolls, stealth action rolls, etc.  Each skill you can justify (pronounced bullshit) into being relevant to your action will give you a +2 roll.  This will require giving some situational explanation and will lead to some "out there" justifications.

So in the title example,  A character was rolling to scale a wall and justified a +2 bonus from "Piano playing".  How?  Well they described how they were crawling over the wall and their fingers were just barely holding onto the lip of the roof.  A lesser man may have fallen to their death as their fingers couldn't hold on,  but thanks to years of piano playing the character had strengthened their fingers to the point where they could hold on long enough for their feet to gain traction on the wall and push themselves up onto the roof.

The second use of skills is investigations,  but that is much more mundane.  Rather than "I search for information!",   the players just state what kind of information they are after the GM gives them information relating to that.

Note that skills are in no way linked to levels,  gaining in levels does not give you more skills.  That is a function of time, effort, and intelligence.

A final note is that I did not include combat rolls on this list of places to use skills.  The reason attack and defence rolls do not use skills , while a jarring break, is a practical matter.  Because the stakes are so high (continue playing VS make a new character),  the amount of bullshit can make the game a right piss-off. Now skills can still be used in rolls resulting FROM combat (like a saving throw),  but the actual "axe to forehead" has an arbitrary break.  Not thrilled with the arbitrary break,  but it does seem to make people enjoy the game more (which is the ultimate goal).

From Neoclassical Geek Revival,  Page 19

Skills and Knowledge

  Every character in NGR starts
with a number of skills equal to their
intelligence score. Skills represent the
large amount of training an individual
will pick up that is not directly related to
their primary training. Skills fall into
three categories: Languages, Knowledge
and Weapons.

  Languages represent the written
or spoken tongues of the world. There is
no default language that everyone
speaks, so languages are quite important.
Being able to speak a language does not
give you the ability to read a language
and vice versa. If you can speak a
language and read another language with
the same alphabet you can probably
manage to grasp basic concepts through

  Knowledge skills are the most
useful and versatile skills. Beyond being
used in investigations, skills have several
uses. A skill may be used to grant a +2
knowledge bonus to related tasks.
Someone with wood lore might gain a
+2 bonus to a hiding check in the forest,
or with religion they may gain +2 in a
social conflict’s appeal involving a
church. Skills may also be used (in
conjunction with attribute checks) to
perform tasks. An individual with
blacksmithing may be required to
complete a set of strength and awareness
checks to forge a high quality sword.
Players are encouraged to think up of
their own general skills. Skills that are
deemed too broad by group consensus
must be broken into specialities.

  Weapon skills are also
considered general skills, but with an
important second function. Characters
are assumed to be skilled in any
weapons required or commonly used
with that skill. A character with fencing
would know how to use swords, a
lumberjack an axe and a butcher a knife.
If a character is using a weapon they
have no training with, they suffer a –2
penalty to their attack roll.

  Characters may attempt to gain a
new skill each season they spend
training full time. Character’s make an
intelligence check at the end of the
season. If they succeed, they have gained
the new skill. The time will be increased
if the character has less time to study, if
studying part time for instance, the
check will be after half of a year. As an
optional rule, a player may sing an
appropriate montage song while making
the intelligence check. If he fails the
first check, he may make a re-roll 30
seconds later, providing he is still
singing the song and has not yet
forgotten the words. Other players are
allowed to join in.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Xena: Warrior Princess - No I am serious here

So flicking through Netflix and I saw in their recently added pile  "Xena: Warrior Princess".  Well,  me and the spouse decided it was time to dust off the 90's and become connoisseurs of exquisite cheese.

The first thing that hit me was the narration in the opening credits.  Having recently watched the 5 movie announcers in a limo it made me crack up to no end,  because I could picture the announcer sitting there in a fold up chair reading it from a sheet of paper (I'll link to that at the end).

I tell you, this show was a delicious ham and cheese sandwich garnished with nostalgia.  From an RPG perspective,  this is what I imagine most peoples campaigns are like.  "Medieval Europe" in the same was Xena is "Ancient Greece".  A horrible mishmash of time frames,  pop culture and hammed up to the max with cheesy dialogue and bad writing.

And it was damn amusing, even if for all the "wrong" reasons.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Who wants pie? The class building system of Neoclassical Geek Revival

One of the questions I have received a few times in the last few games deal with character class.  Neoclassical Geek Revival has a "build a class" mechanism known as the "Pie Piece System".

There are 5 different class groups (warrior, wizard, rogue, priest and bard),  each group has 5 powers related to that class to choose from.  So a warrior has for instance : Shield Use, Dual Wield, Weapon Specialization, Combat Tricks and Combat Awareness.  A character who puts one of their starting three pie pieces in warrior could select one power from that listing, perhaps shield use.  The character then puts the remaining two pie pieces in priest and chooses three powers from the following list: Miracles, True Belief, Fervour,  Dogma and Exorcism. The character chooses Miracles (think cleric spells), Fervour (bonus damage) and Exorcism (think turn undead, thematically anyway).

The pie pieces in each class determine how fast you gain a benefit in the score associated with that class.  So  the more warrior pie pieces you have, the faster your combat bonus increases.  For a rogue,  your stealth modifier increases faster, etc etc.

Lastly, each class has their own brand of a personal item that has a small chance of increasing in power (in effect becoming a magic item) based on the daring deeds of the character.  For the hypothetical character above that would be a trademark item (from a warrior) and a holy relic (from the priest).  So as the character wins battles they have the chance of one of their mundane items to become synonymous with the character and better represent their glory.  Perhaps the characters shield has their personal heraldry on it.  As the character furthers the aims of their faith they have a chance at one of their mundane items becoming a holy relic,  perhaps a holy symbol or perhaps something more mundane like their boots.  In 400 years after the characters death other adventurers may hunt for the boots of St.Cuthbert or the shield of Lord Cuthbert the bloody.

From Neoclassical Geek Revival,  Page 9


Many RPG’s feature a class or
archetype based system where a set of
abilities is selected to match a class.
NGR differs from this system; it uses the
‘pie system’. Everyone loves pie right?
Each character in NGR normally
has 3 pie pieces to define his class.
While this number could be altered from
as low as 2 to as high as 4 through traits,
3 pieces are the normal amount and the
maximum number that may be selected
from any one class at character creation.
At 10th level a character may choose
another pie piece, this can bring a
character up to 4 pie pieces in a single
Each pie piece within a class
gives a character a larger mechanical
benefit, partially by giving modifiers that
increase per level, and partially by
gaining new powers. A character may
choose 1 class power if they have one
pie piece in that class, 3 if they have two
and all 5 if they have three pie pieces. If
they have 4 pie pieces they receive a
special power for the class. Note that a
power may only be taken once.
The final benefit is that each
character class has its own type of
'personal items' that characters can
develop. These are methods that allow
characters to naturally develop magic or
magic-like items through adventuring. A
character may be able to have personal
items of multiple types if they have
training in more than one class


Friday, September 23, 2011

Group Templates

Listening to FtB talk about "Group Templates" today I thought I would post the test from Neoclassical Geek Revival dealing with group templates.  This is designed to fit in with Schrodinger's Character to allow for fast PC  generation in the middle of a game without slowing things down.   In high fatality (or potentially high fatality) games this can be very important to keep the game moving and still giving a reason for all of the current characters to associate with each other.  Character's get perks for tagging as a way to encourage adoption as a benefit rather than a chore.  Two different characters are tagged by each person to avoid a central character who the entire group revolves around.  Thus if that character died in the first 10 minutes the group would no longer have a solid reason to adventure together.

From Neoclassical Geek Revival on Page 20:

Creating a Group Template
When a new group of characters
is built, it is important to have a group
template. This gives the characters a
reason to band together beyond meeting
in a tavern. Each character must have at
least two relationships to other party
members; the character whose player is
seated to the left and the character whose
player is seated to the right. You cannot
alter another character’s history without
the other player’s consent. Thus if you
chose 'Romance', you could not declare
the two character’s had dated. You
could declare that your character had a
crush on the other character. Likewise if
you chose 'Family' it does not mean their
character consider your character family
or that there is a blood relation, it may
simply be that for some reason your
character considers them ‘like family’
(perhaps your character knew their
parents). Each relationship has a slight
mechanical benefit. A set of example
relationships is listed below:

Relationship: Family
Gain: +1 fate
Example: This relationship represents a
blood relation, adoption or a strong
friendship or sense of obligation
resembling family. For example, you
could be the child of a close family
friend to the other character. Either way,
your character feels a familial bond.

Relationship: Protector
Gain: Target gains +1 fate
Example: This relationship represents a
sense of strong protectiveness. A parent,
a bodyguard or a trusted lady-in-waiting
is examples of a protector. A character
could feel protective of a character they
have only recently met and it does not
need to imply a long history. Never the
less the relationship is strong not merely
a passing sensation.

Relationship: Romance
Gain: Target gains +1 luck point
Example: This relationship covers
everything from long-term marriages to
unrequited love. This is a romance
beyond minor attraction or infatuation
and is unlikely to ever fully leave the
mind of the character.

Relationship: Employee
Gain: $500
Example: This represents any financial
relationship; the character has been paid
and has a job to do. This could be that
your character was paid by the target, or
paid by a third party to watch over the
target or perform some other action.
This relationship also requires a
dedication to reputation and work ethic
that this is a major impact on behaviour.

Relationship: Higher Calling
Gain: 50 Piety
Example: This represents a sense of
divine duty. Perhaps your character
believes the other is a chosen one, or
simply part of a wayward flock. Either
way your character sees their destiny as
dependant on the safety of the target.

Relationship: Life Debt
Gain: +250xp
Example: This represents a deep sense
that the character owes their life to the
target. Perhaps the target saved their
village, spared their life or saved them
personally. This could also represent a
debt that the character feels he owes to
the target’s bloodline, nation or species.
Either way, the character feels an
unshakable debt to the target.

These are only some examples,
feel free to create other relationships
with GM approval, they should always
be generic however to leave room for
both parties to determine exactly what
they mean to each character.

EDIT:The Alternative: