Wednesday, February 7, 2018

50 Types of Fighters I Was Able To Think Of In Like Ten Minutes And On Benadryl

  1. Vigilantes
  2. Cowboys
  3. Bandits
  4. Knights
  5. Hunters
  6. Bounty Hunters
  7. Watchmen
  8. Guards
  9. Executioners
  10. Stranglers
  11. Berserkers
  12. Centurions
  13. Nomads
  14. Samurai
  15. Bodyguards
  16. Mercenaries
  17. Assassins
  18. Cavalrymen
  19. Gladiators
  20. Wrestlers
  21. Vikings
  22. Grenadiers
  23. Boxers
  24. Crusaders
  25. Hooligans
  26. Gang Members
  27. Martial Artists
  28. Guerillas
  29. Pirates
  30. Soldiers
  31. Spies
  32. Sharpshooters
  33. Snipers
  34. Double Agents
  35. Zealots
  36. Ghostbusters
  37. Witch Finder
  38. Vampire Killer
  39. Commandos
  40. Seamen
  41. Circus Showmen
  42. Strongmen
  43. Deserters
  44. Survivors
  45. Conscripted
  46. Saboteurs
  47. Smugglers
  48. Abolitionists
  49. Messengers
  50. Ronin
This doesn't even have things like cowardly, stoic, baleful, or things like hammer expert, swordsman, archer, or really weird shit like boomeranger or hangman or kickboxer, or entire class concepts like thief paladin ranger and monk. The next time someone can't think of anything to do with a fighter because they're too boring remind them that Fighters can cover a ton of ground. Carcosa-style Fighters and Magic-Users only is not a bad way to look at these games, because all the other classes are basically these. Next time I'm on Benadryl I'll add another 50.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Using Feng Shui to Run D&D in 60 Seconds

Dwarf - Big Bruiser
Elf - Archer
Halfling - Everyday Hero (I know Everyman is gendered but this sure is clunky appellation)
Half-Elf - Don't play a half-elf
Half-Orc - This one either
Gnome - Scrappy Kid
Orc - Bandit
Cleric - Magic Cop
Magic-User - Sorcerer
Thief - Thief
Fighter - Ex-Special Forces (but almost any Type would work since the whole game is more combat-focused than D&D, which has that reputation but as oldschoolers know is actually much ...oh whew glad I caught myself, this was almost a blog post)
Assassin - Ninja
Paladin - Bodyguard
Ranger - Bounty Hunter
Druid - Supernatural Creature (or a modded/ported Geomancer from the previous edition)
Bard - Cyborg
Monk - If you can't find a good kung fu type my dude then you might have picked up Mouse Guard by mistake.


I have a card in my wallet. It's a blank playing card. I have taken up both sides game information. The information in question is four character sheets for four systems for four characters who are one character. So now if someone is ready to play VDND or LotFP or Feng Shui 2 or even Fate Accelerated Edition I am prepared to roll. It's actually come in handy a couple times since I made it last year.

The gag is a simple one and derives from some common conventions: a young prince and warrior of the realm might be eligible for governance when his lordly father passes away but his aunt the duchess or his uncle the vizier or whatever frames him for poisoning his father and banishes him, along with any soldiers/guards/servants/retainers loyal to him. This ends up being a far larger number than the Bad Guy expects so they are forever fearful that this aggrieved retinue will one day return, even while under threat of death, perhaps after raising a larger/stronger army. To secure their power base the BG sends out mercenaries and assassins and brainwashed warriors and unwitting NPC adventuring parties all out after the prince and his followers.

This necessitates a peculiar survival strategy.

The prince and all his assembled loyalists split up into groups of four, each of them identically outfitted and groomed, each of them identically armed, and spread out through the land. Even if you find one of these cells, you will have no idea which one is the real prince and which ones are the loyal imposters. That's assuming the real prince ever even is in the group that you find! These days he calls himself Oom and, therefore, so do the servants following him. Occasionally an enemy is successful in striking down the man purporting to be Oom, prompting another retainer to step forward and declare they were the real Oom all the time, taking up his place.

Next time they're in town this trio will be seen drinking in a few bars and the next morning they will be four again. A life of adventure or simply a life outside of village drudgery that comes with the added security of three men pledged to watch your back and the promise of favors should the kingdom of Oom ever be rightly restored? A tempting offer for many a townie, and indeed many a veteran and guardsman. There are warriors everywhere if you know where to look and when there aren't where do warriors come from in the first place except for where Circumstances meet Will?

This is in fact a popular enough strategy that other bands wholly unconnected from the original loyalists have adopted it, traveling the countryside as Ooms. That's not to say that all Oom bands are identical - some may be dressed for Sherwood Forest, others dressed for Kyoto - but while height and weight and countenance may change they are within the band. Even bands of orcish Ooms or Oom women are not generally remarked upon because this story has been kept so deliberately vague, the details so changed from band to band, that who's to say what the real original story was? Maybe there never was an Oom.

Of course there was, and they're still out there doing their thing, but the Duchess Or Whatever never needed to worry: they hated that kingdom and are glad of the back of it, having a blast playing a cup and ball game with the entire world, and never had any intentions of going back.

Oom bands will sometimes run into one another, mix, and separate, to keep things fresh. Other times one band may send for help or counsel from one or more other quartets. These are kept rare when not in outright crisis: staying apart is a key piece of the scheme, after all.

In 5e you can do this really easily with only class and background features, never mind feats to round things out. When it comes to LotFP you just kind of buy them along with your gear. For both of these in the interest of fairness I think you have to pay for every piece of equipment and food for all four in your band and keep that up as you progress, which gets easier. And you may have to go a while with an incomplete group. I'd also say in the interest of fairness only one person in a group should be actively fighting and doing PC shit, though the rest can help like watch for people following your carts or help break camp or climb over a wall.

In Feng Shui (2) I just used the Ex-Special Forces type and just changed the skills and weapons to make them more period appropriate. In FAE I just make these whole core concepts into Aspects and take the "You didn't get the original Multi-Man!" shit and turn them into Stunts 1/session. I have never ever had a human say "Let's play Fate" in person (not "have you tried FATE" but "FATE seems like fun let's play it") but enough of my friends purportedly appreciate the idea of playing it that I have it on hand.

Keep in mind that losing an Oom and having the 'real' Oom step forward means starting from scratch with XP and advancement and shit, they just retain knowledge of what has gone on so far. So it's the same character but it isn't, and they likely have different ability scores and shit where the DM feels that's fair. Honestly the version in my wallet has good-but-not-great scores so I think he's fine.

This is just a reskin really of the old gag where your dwarf Gunnar dies so you cross out his name at the top and a dwarf named Sigmar with the same starting gear walks in from the next room and now he's in the party and he picks up all of Gunnar's stuff, but it's got just enough to it to turn it into a weird setting detail, encounter table entry, quest hook, or tavern rumor. It's also a reliable way to pick up backup for a big fight or a dangerous delve.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Coins of Corrine

There is a game that war men play.

A sigil beats a scar, a scar beats a staff, a staff beats a steed, a steed beats a sheaf, a sheaf beats a sigil.

Each coin has a value: sheaf is 5, steed 6, staff 7, scar 8, sigil 9.

Each coin can smile or shun, depending which side faces up. Smiles count as two of their kind, shuns instead knock out the lowest value coin from an opponent. Usually only one coin smiles or shuns per hand, but some gamblers insist playing with one of each. Playing where every coin can shun or smile is playing in the manner of gnolls, for whom the true test of skill in this game is being able to track the math, rather than how often you win.

A full purse is eight coins, a hand is five coins, a play is four coins. When you pull your coins you can pay a token of one of your highest value coins in order to take a look at your hand. Otherwise you must bet blind but you get to drop the lowest coin in your hand from play. After bets you reveal your hand and go to town.

Shuns take effect first. Coins triumph over each other as listed above. Once everyone's finished with their triumphs if there are still people in play (sometimes there aren't) then it goes to high coin, and then remaining multiples of high coin in order to determine the victorious Sceptre. Once that has been determined their opponent has one last chance for a Steal play, where they can try to make a pauper play (3 coins) from their fallen coins whose total is greater than the Sceptre's hand (or, in casual play, their highest remaining coin); the catch is that this play must contain one coin that the Sceptre's highest coin normally triumphs, e.g. You can only defeat a sigil if your play contains at least one scar and either staffs or steeds.

There are two other unofficial rules to mind.

One is the Stranger, a coin that nobody else at the table has, usually some foreign currency. If your hand has a stranger in it when you look at your hand then you do not have to discard your highest coin, you can instead drop the stranger. If you bet blind a stranger has no value but cannot be triumphed and can be used to break ties.

The other is the Slug, a token given out in lieu of normal pay, an IOU marker for soldiers. Slugs always count as two sheafs and cannot triumph or be triumphed.

If you're playing D&D 5e and you have proficiency with a gaming set that means you know how to play this game. Orcs bet brashly, halflings are little rules lawyers, dwarves try to yell everyone down and scare them off, tieflings are almost uniformly bad at this since if their genetic ancestors had much luck that didn't come from the devil then they wouldn't look like they do.

The entire story of how much action a soldier has seen, where, and under what circumstances can be told in a handful of coins. Any PC or NPC can get in at this if they have any pocket change. Like so many games that soldiers love in all realities the point of the game is not even to win but to eat up time and distract from looming concerns. Therefore circular rules arguments and bitching about obvious exploits are key parts of the process.

You will see soldiers wearing necklaces made with the coins they carry from fallen friends. They have a familiarity with currency that most treasurers would envy and can appraise and mentally convert most non-magical lucre easily enough. There are soldiers with leather wallets of strange coins they have found, like a binder of pokemon cards. Favored or lucky coins are left on the eyes of the lives they never wanted to take. You will see in the chapel a row of knights in solemn regalia and an elderly one-armed captain...he rises after the service and donates a small pouch, spilling an oft-mended pouch into the poor box. It is a small donation. It is an enormous gift.

This is a quick and dirty way of distinguishing your Fighters from each other and building in your backstory. The medic from Brescheau who only keeps sheaves and paints on the other suits. The Delt warrior prince who has had several platinum pieces smelted down and recast into a bespoke playing set. The young cadet whose purse is fat with his enlistment pay. The wounded pikeman lost in the Strangle who plays a game against a velvet voiced stranger in too-early forest twilight, a game where his opponent holds only a single smiling staff.

Again, many times you never make it past the triumph phase, players taking it in turn to risk their coins to knock others' coins out of contention. Again, the point is not to win. In that way it's like warfare. No, the point is to spend time with your friends and comrades before it's too late. Maybe get to know a new companion. Or perhaps have a conversation that only those thoroughly versed can comprehend, such as in enemy captivity. Pass a message by means of a distant traded copper.

Pickpockets know to steer clear of any person who jingles. That's not the sound of a dinner bell, but of a rattlesnake's warning of a weapon ready to cut its enemy down.

Monday, January 22, 2018

The First Exemplar: A Hunger City Character

Really have to come up with a better name.

Let's start with a placeholder name for our new survivor, then: Page. Page's ability scores aren't called ability scores but that's what they are. This foundation determines a lot of things about him: how much damage he can endure/dish out, saving bonuses, pool size of Utility Dice, physical and psychic defense, and Appeal. Appeal is a big deal here; this isn't just how charming or attractive you are but how captivating you are, in the way that even a car fire or a gruesome beast is captivating. This force of personality is not just important for controlling underlings or making peace with a neighboring warlord, but also has other effects discussed below. This is how Page looks afterward:


  • RAD 16
  • Deal +2


  • TEK 15
  • UD 6


  • BIO 12
  • Appeal +1
Dodge 10
Psyche 12
Strikes 3

Time to see what kind of present we're unwrapping with a roll to determine our survivor's type. Turns out Page is a Gravedigger, a synthetic being engineered for a lost purpose who has repurposed themselves. Their frame is fixed so that their damage absorption doesn't increase with experience...the whole reason they are free is that there's no one left to re-engineer them. They do start with more of a threshold than normal, though not as high a threshold as a bio-engineered humanid. They get a bonus for physical defense, can get by with fewer resources, and have different styled saves. They roll 1 "mutation" at generation, and this represents some technologically engineered skill set for whatever their original purpose was. The campaign may lean toward discovering that. Figuring things out about yourself is a big part of it, as is transformation. Let's make those adjustment first before we do anything else or figure out their mutations.


  • RAD 16
  • Deal +2


  • TEK 13
  • UD 6


  • BIO 14
  • Appeal +1
Dodge 12

Psyche 12
Strikes 7

We'll check this on the "mutation" table. Right now the result I rolled is blank - it used to be "know one Hosannah at beginning of game" but I hate that. I've got maybe eight spaces to fill and I'm kind of waiting to fill those in through play. The next result down the list is Feral - you lose the ability to speak any language (though you understand them and can write/use technology to communicate if you find it) and behave at all times like someone wild and possessed, but get a 1/8 bonus to their rolls to survival and knowledge checks in the open wasteland wilderness.

We haven't gotten there yet so let's do something else before we make a bunch of character sheet changes. I'm going to determine Page's skill set now, which comes with a flat bonus and a Utility. I'll build on their resource austerity and choose an option that gives them a flat bonus for psychic defense and a Utility that (on a successful roll) lets them sort of center their cyber-chi and survive with even less. This is shaping up in a sort of Tarzan-meets-WALL-E vein....I'll lean into that. I sacrifice some diversity in my Utilities (dice I can roll for skill effects) and just give Page coin-toss odds at being able to survive on less and to forage and navigate in the wastes. When you have as few Utility Dice as Page does (6 per day) you need to make every one count.


  • RAD 16
  • Deal +2


  • TEK 13
  • UD 6


  • BIO 14
  • Appeal +1
Dodge 12

Psyche 12
Strikes 7

Sweet Thing

Legend 4
Harmony 4

Not needing to eat or drink much and not being able to communicate I'm going to decide that Page is down one lower jaw. I think apart from that they will look extremely human, though getting close enough to touch will reveal that their body hair is made of thin extruded rubber. I'll say that Page's eyes are especially expressive to account for their Appeal, with 100 more expressions programmed than a normal human eye. Their fingernails have peeled away, revealing a circuit board pattern, for no other reason than that sounds bad ass. I also want Page to be topless and in shredded Dark Sun pants so I'll say that Page at least presents as a human male. I'm going to take some of our rolls and decisions so far and give them a new name: Stray. I'll give them a dog license on a red nylon choker, though between that and the gluk-euch sound it makes the other players may just end up calling them Choker. When you can't tell someone your name you have to more or less settle for what everyone agrees to call you.

Stray's journey begins like many adventures through the City do: at a Revel, in this case put on by a bunch of low level desperadoes to celebrate finding an unclaimed water source. By morning everyone will be gone and this 'spring' will be hotly contested. Stray will not necessarily be welcome here but they don't have any active enemies here either, so as long as they abide by the rule of the day they should get by fine. In fact, Stray decides that getting in better with this band of survivors might be a good way to stay alive, so he'll attempt to ingratiate himself to those assembled. I don't have a lot of options to schmooze with but I can do decent damage so I'll improvise a weapon at the Revel and wait for someone to step out of line. The idea is I show my worth by putting a rowdy down but quick.

I roll for that.

I am unsuccessful. I take someone out all right, but it's the wrong person, a boy the chieftain was hoping to impress. The terms of my failure (roll result) means he gets to set the price for my offense and he opts for single combat. Great, now I'm in against a more powerful enemy. I have one advantage on my side, which is that my Appeal rating lets me act before he does. I don't have any armor or weapons - I will scrounge for equipment after this. Stray attempts to get the aggrieved captain in a headlock and snap his neck; their Deal bonus means that one-Touch kill maneuvers are potentially on the table at this level. Order or play is very important for this reason...

But if I do that I'm surrounded by his cronies and potentially fucked. I can try to get away but I have low Utility in Fitness so doubling my movement is unlikely. I certainly won't have the opportunity for a Loot roll on either of my kills. I'll be hoping to lose them in the ruins of the trains, which carries its own dangers. I can't talk my way out of this. These first four rolls of the game - two Revel rolls, a Combat roll, and a Utility roll - have potentially shaped my entire future in this campaign, assuming my high Strike count allows me to survive long enough to be chased across the whole City by these mongrel folk. Best case scenario is losing myself and starting over without any familiar faces or friendly resources, but even if I fall short of that I'll be halfway to Advancement and the rewards that brings.

This to me is Hunger City operating as intended.