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Messages - theloneamigo

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Dungeon World / AP: Feeling the Daojin City Blues
« on: July 28, 2012, 01:13:57 PM »
So, despite having followed its development from the earliest stages, it's taken me quite a while to actually get around to running Dungeon World game. One of the problems is that my mind constantly sails in nine different directions at once: one moment I'm desperate to run a Farscape-inspired space opera, the next a gritty Marxist interpretation of Planescape. Since I've spent the last year or so indoctrinating a new circle of gamers into the world of role-playing games, I've confined myself to running a relatively traditional game using Old School Hack, set in a reasonably traditional D&D campaign setting that a friend and I have been running games in for years (The Coin).

But this new campaign was going to be different. I've indoctrinated the new crew now; now I have the opportunity to move beyond the fun but rather staid elves and dragons of the Coin into the less traditional realms - but I still couldn't decide what that was going to be. Marxist urban steampunk fantasy built on the bones of China Mieville? Surrealist philosophical plane-jumping adventures in Sigil or Dis? Or some sort of epic wuxia fantasy inspired by Avatar and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon?

After watching Legend of Korra, the answer became clear to me: I was going to do all of them at once.

Here's the pitch I sold this game to my players with:

Daojin City.

Most people just call it the City, and it deserves the definitive article. There's no place quite like it, lying as it does in the interstices between the many worlds, towers stretching into the infinite unknown, canals crowded with gondoliers. Its portals and trade consortia services a thousand empires, its streets echo with the sound of a hundred tongues.

But it's a rough place if you haven't got two jade pieces to rub together. You came here to make it big, to show the universe what you're made of - but with the City squeezed from above by the plutocrats and sorcerers of the Jade Council, and from below by the mobsters of the many triads and tongs, there's not a lot of room for an honest adventurer to make a yuan.

A dishonest adventurer, on the other hand...



The DW basics are great, but they needed a fair amount of tweaking to fit in my urban kung-fu steampunk fantasy.

Firstly, I ditched alignment and replaced it with elemental temperaments, which are essentially the same mechanically. Although the implementation of alignments in DW is one of the best I've seen, it really doesn't sit well in a revolutionary steampunk noir game.

Secondly, I ditched the concept of separate playable races: although the weird and varied races and crossbreeds of Planescape appealed to me, it's easy to overwhelm a setting with too many interpolating forces. Plus, I was already planning to have a varied array of cultural backgrounds to delineate characters - no need for those cultural backgrounds to be defined by biological facts. So humans and monsters.

Thirdly, I came up with the idea of each character having knowledge of a martial arts style. This mechanically replaces race moves, but mainly serves to enshrine the Avatar-like tone. Each character, even the slender wizard, is already a skilled martial artist.

Finally, I messed with the classes to have them better fit my interpretation of the world. I removed Clerics, used Nathan Orlando Wilson's freeform Wizard rewrite, and added an Artificer and a Mystic as character options.

Dungeon World / New Class: The Mystic
« on: July 24, 2012, 04:01:40 PM »
The Cleric's never sat well with me as a class in D&D. Unlike the other three mainline classes, I can't really see how the archetype fits in the genre. Roguelike, anti-heroic adventurers make sense as mercenary warriors, cheerful thieves, and power-hungry wizards, and I can point to plenty of examples of fictional heroes that these classes emulate. But the full-armoured priest of a pagan god, spewing miracles like they were cotton candy? Receiving blessings and communications from their deific master like bonuses and memoes from upper management? All the priestly archetypes I can think of in fiction have much less magical firepower at their fingertips.

Yet in stripping out the class, I definitely feel like there's a gap that should be filled. The Mystic class I've elaborated here started out life the Spiritualist class, inspired by the mediums, psychics, and fortune tellers of gothic fiction. It's a class that derives power from their connection with the spirit world, but not through the same relationship that a priest has with their gods. Along the way, I was strongly inspired by John Harper's WoD wizards; I strongly considered making spirit-binding the default system of magic in my Daojin City Blues game, but decided it made a better match for the Mystic class.

PDF Playbook for levels 2-5

Dungeon World / Re: New Class: The Artificer
« on: July 24, 2012, 03:51:33 PM »
PDF playbook for levels 2-5

I went ahead and wrote up this playbook using Noofy's move (what I'm referring to as the "sonic screwdriver model") as the core of the class, just in time for the start of my new Daojin City Blues game (half Legend of Korra, half Planescape, half New Crobuzon). Nobu the Artificer certainly had an interesting run of things, using his magnetic detection goggles to identify occult wards and his etheric emitter gloves to disable the porcelain guards of the wizard Yao Lin's seclusium.

Having seen it in play, I think the sonic screwdriver model works much better than my original idea of specialist gadgets, as it gives more leeway to the players while still remaining grounded in the fiction.

Dungeon World / Re: New Class: The Artificer
« on: July 20, 2012, 01:45:22 PM »

Gadget Girdle: You have a gadget belt that contains various arcane gadgets. When you use one of your arcane devices to get out of a tight spot, tell us what it does and roll +INT.

On a hit, choose 3
On a 7-9, choose 1
* the gadget works as expected
* You don't expend 1-charge.
* Your gadget is undamaged
* You avoid unwelcome attention

Hey, that's a really clever way of making less specific, I like it! I'm already using Nathan Wilson's non-spell-dependent Sorcerer instead of the Wizard, so this makes more sense...

Dungeon World / New Class: The Artificer
« on: July 20, 2012, 10:42:34 AM »
The Artificer

HP: 6+Con
Damage: d6

Core Moves

Gadget Belt: You have a gadget belt that contains various arcane gadgets. When you use an arcane gadget, roll +INT. On a hit, the gadget works as expected. On a 7-9, you must also choose:
You expend 1-charge.
Your gadget is damaged and must be repaired.
You draw unwelcome attention or are placed in a spot.
Start with three arcane gadgets in your gadget belt.

Elemental Charge: When you spend an hour manipulating elemental fields and ley lines, hold 3-charge.

Disable Device: When you attempt to disable a lock, trap, or other device, roll +DEX. On a 10+, you disable it easily. On a 7-9, you can disable it, but the GM will offer you a choice based on suspicion, danger, or cost.

Jury-Rig: When you quickly fix a device without the proper supplies, tools, or time, roll +INT. On a 10+, it works just fine. On a 7-9, choose one:
It’ll work, but only for one more use / a short amount of time.
You need to cannibalize one of your gadgets.

Engineering: When you spend an hour or so in your workshop contemplating an engineering challenge, tell the DM what you’re trying to achieve. The DM will tell you “yes, you can do that, but...” and then 1 to 4 of the following:
• It’s going to take days/weeks/months
• First you must                           
• You’ll need help from                               
• It will require a lot of money
• You and your allies will risk danger from                       
• You’ll have to add X to your workshop first.
• The best you can do is a lesser version.
• You'll need detailed instructions from   
Advanced Moves


Increased Voltage: When you charge up, gain 4-charge, and your max charge held is 4-charge.

Ambaric Charge: When you are involuntarily subjected to a magical effect, gain +1-charge that you can immediately invest in a gadget.

Reverse Polarity: When you use a gadget, you can take -1 to your roll to have it produce the opposite effect.

Etheric Field: As long as you hold at least 1-charge, you have 2-armour.

My Precious: Choose one of your arcane gadgets, you take +1 to all rolls using that gadget.

Collapsible Gadgets: Add two extra gadgets to your gadget belt, without adding any extra weight.


-need advice-

Arcane Gadgets

Spark Glove: Inflict 1d8 damage to one target, ignoring armour. You can spend additional charges to increase the damage by 1d8 per charge spent.

Ambaric Light: Illuminates any items or creatures in the region that have unusual amounts of elemental or magical energy.

Sonic Screwdriver: Instantly open a locked door or container.

Hypnotic Watch: A single target is transfixed by this watch. As long as no hostile action is taken against them, they will not move or remember anything that occurs while the hypnotic watch is kept in their field of vision.

Magnetic Grip: Levitate a small metal object for a few minutes, or instantly disarm a target wielding a metal weapon.

Trans-Etheric Goggles: See through up to five feet of solid material, or see into the spirit plane.

Ectoplasmic Flask: When activated, a ghost or spirit will be sucked towards the flask. They will either suffer 2d6 damage or be trapped in the flask, their choice.

Spring-Heeled Jackboots: Make an impossible leap.

I'm looking at running a Dungeon World game soon that's inspired in equal parts by Avatar, Planescape, and Perdido Street Station. My instinct is to remove the idea of non-human races from the setting - or at least the idea of mechanically differentiated races - but that leaves a hole in the game where the current race moves are.

Inspired by some retro-clone I came across a while ago, and have completely forgotten, my solution is to give everyone "kung-fu" moves instead. The idea is that any adventurer in this setting will know at least the basics of one martial art, even the least physically inclined wizard. Essentially, it gives everyone access to a few "spells" they can use to impact the fiction automatically, without rolling - but as a strictly limited resource.

I'm also looking for a better name than "kung-fu moves".


When you spend time practicing your forms and meditating, roll +WIS. On a 10+, hold 3-breath. On a 7-9, hold 2-breath. On a 6-, hold 1-breath, but the DM holds 1 over you to inflict your school’s weakness at some point. Spend your breath to use your kung-fu moves.

Drunken Monkey
Appear totally harmless.
Taunt an enemy into moving into an advantageous position.
Trick someone into attacking an ally.

Weakness: Incautious.

Flowing Water
Redirect an enemy’s attack into another foe.
Move swiftly out of the path of danger.
Use an enemy’s momentum against them.

Weakness: Softness.

Immovable Mountain
Shrug off the damage from a single attack.
Resist being pushed or forced to move.
Deliver an unstoppable blow.

Weakness: Inflexibility.

Celestial Fist
Smite an unholy opponent with your fists.
Strike an incorporeal or invulnerable being.
Fly free from gravity for a few moments.

Weakness: Arrogance.

Shadow Dancer
Hide in plain sight.
Strike without warning.
Move swiftly out of the path of danger.

Weakness: Fragility

Monsterhearts / Re: AP: Sweetwater Saga
« on: June 18, 2012, 06:26:09 AM »
Your game is awesome, and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

brainstorming & development / Re: Nobilis
« on: July 30, 2011, 01:56:37 AM »
It looks like you've made a few significant changes to the basic moves and playbooks - it's pretty cool in general, but I really liked how excel at the mundane was vitally different from acting under fire/defying danger. With that move, it read more like a game about gods than a game about adventurers.

brainstorming & development / Re: Nobilis
« on: July 27, 2011, 03:28:59 AM »
This is great. I've never read or played Nobilis, but life really seeps into the world through this hack. It leaves me wanting to know more.

Apocalypse World / Re: Playbook: The Shift
« on: July 21, 2011, 06:33:16 AM »
Damn... Kinship is probably the most mechanically powerful move I've seen in the game. I like the concept, but this character is probably going to shoot straight past the other characters in advancement ridiculously quickly with that move. I'd seriously consider what purpose it serves and whether it's necessary.

Apocalypse World / Re: Dead World
« on: July 15, 2011, 01:08:39 PM »
This is quite cool. I love the Preacher-as-Faceless; that's a very clever interpretation.

And glad you dig it.  My next hack though... Apocalypse Galactica.  That is going to be some brutal shit.

Looking forward to it.


Damn, I never thought of it like that, with Tzeentch symbolizing ambition. That makes a lot of sense, actually. And the rest of your eight-pointed compass of doom is really quite good, too. If anything, I think maybe Hubris and Ambition are too similar? I've always thought of it that way. Maybe Greed should go between Lust and Ambition (or change Ambition to Hubris), unless Greed is too similar to Hunger.

Actually, that's exactly how I started off, with Greed and Treachery sitting where Hubris and Ambition are now. My light bulb moment was that Treachery and Greed are each subsets of Ambition and Lust, which left me with a spot where Hubris now sits.

I think you may be right in saying that Hubris is too close to Ambition - initially, it was called Pride. Pride covers the sin of a planetary Governor who believes his forces impregnable to any assault, in addition to the Space Marine captain who sets his men above the common folk, or the radical Inquisitor who believes himself strong enough to resist the lure of Chaos while using its tools. In essence, it covers ignorance and the sense of superiority; it's meant to be the sin that brought down Lucifer, the Lightbringer. Hubris, as a word, doesn't really capture that - it's more the mad desire to challenge the forces of the world, which would come more closely under Ambition.

Over the weekend, I had my first chance to playtest RT: Apocalypse with a group other than my online playstorming crew. It ran well, and I'll post an actual play in another thread.

To help myself run the game, I quickly whipped up a basic First Session Dock in the mode of AW's 1st Session sheet, which covered my basic thoughts around agenda, principles, moves, and structure. In addition, there's checklists of names, threat types, and opportunities with which to populate the world.

The MC Agenda, Principles and Moves are broadly the same as those of Apocalypse World; the underlying power structure at the table is essentially the same. What is different is what the game's challenges are built around: in Apocalypse World, they're built around fundamental scarcities that shape human nature. Here, they're built about the Eight Winds of Chaos.

In Rogue Trader, the characters tend to be wealthy, established members of a galaxy-spanning empire, command ships the size of cities, and have a trove of resources at their beck and call. While there's plenty of scarcity to go around, it's not quite the fundamental issue it is in Apocalypse World. It took me a while, but I realised that the essential challenge to the players in the Moorcockian world of the 41st Millenium is Chaos in all its myriad forms; and furthermore, it could be divided up into a clear series of threatening forces: the Eight Winds of Chaos.


The four compass points (Lust, Ambition, Rage, and Decay) are closely associated with the traditional Chaos Gods, while the other four points cover perhaps more subtle threats that blow across the galaxy. Each covers a myriad of sins, and could easily drive any number of potential threats, both from within and without. A Tech-Priest who desires the secrets of the distant past is driven by Lust, while a Space Marine who holds his men above the masses of humanity is buffeted by Hubris. An Ork Warlord may be inspired to launch a Waaaagh through Zealous faith in Gork and Mork, or through Rage at being wronged by a particular Imperial commander, or through Ambition to be counted among the great Warlords of all time.

Apocalypse World / Re: Most and least popular playbooks?
« on: July 10, 2011, 03:27:44 AM »
First game: Quarantine, Hardholder, Savvyhead, Hocus

Second game: Brainer & Chopper

Beneath a More Auspicious Star / Re: A Question of Scale
« on: July 05, 2011, 11:37:37 AM »
I've been having a look at this hack, and this rendition of the idea of scale is quite interesting; the idea that at greater scales you're changing the rules of the game rather than just their scope.

It's obviously still a little vague in execution, of course. For example, what does it mean when the General can declare War on individuals and use War moves at the personal scale? Does it metaphorically mean he can Fortify his Position against the Courtier's political advances, or just literally against the Warrior's attack?

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