Friday, 13 January 2017

BREAK!!-ing in adventures from other games

Grey is hard at work in layout land and I'm finishing up the rules to play shape-changing tree wizards and out of work bureaucracy gods - so why not have a mostly fluffy anecdote for my first post of 2017?

I don't buy a lot of modules to be honest. When I'm not writing up rules and goofy setting stuff I like to doodle dungeons and come up with huge lists of adventure hooks. This is due to my genuine love of game session preparation and the fact that I'm a bit of a control freak.

That said, I do occasionally buy adventures when someone I like writes them and I want to support their cool thing (and I remember to do so). This was the case with Kiel Chenier's Blood in the Chocolate. This swanky scenario was designed for Lamentations of the Flame Princess, which is a very slick, horror themed re-do of old school D&D.

Naturally, I inserted the adventure into my much lighter, anime style game. You know, the one this blog is about.

It was less hard than you'd imagine - mechanically, BREAK!! squares up enough with most fantasy games that it's a matter of swapping out this value for it's closest equivalent and calling it a day. 

(The Game Master's guide I finished a while ago actually has a chapter on doing this!) 

I did take it a step further and altered some of the bits to make it fit BREAK!!'s standard setting and my own style. Kiel is actually way more hardcore than me, so I softened quite a few aspects. The lead villain ended up getting boosted a bit, and she fights like Rufus from Street Fighter if he used a rapier. She also became the elder sister (an perpetual rival) of the player's current patron but retained her raw charisma and odd foibles.

A strange little mutated tribe that works in the factory became the Cocoa Cretins (with an ability called Cacao Kapow, which inflicted a random curse from the book itself) who kept people that had been immobilized by afflictions as decorations for their living quarters. The human guards were replaced with Skelemen and a Skelemaster, because I really like those entries and wanted to test them out. I figure it makes sense for the villain too - who better to guard edible products than things that never eat?

It went pretty well - my wife abandoned the rest of the players when she figured out the adventure was a Willy Wonka riff, but her antics eventually saved the party from what would have been a likely fatal encounter. They escaped with their lives and a few stolen goods, and will likely have to deal with the sinister choclatier at a later date.


Friday, 23 December 2016

I know you're all dying to hear my voice:

This is only tangentially related I suppose, but I recently was in a podcast. I do think it's still pretty relevant to anyone interested in BREAK!! because I dump a lot of my RPG-thoughts into it.

I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, 11 December 2016

The Town of Sprocket (Adventure Snippet)

With the rules basically written and Grey hard at work on putting together a sort of alpha PDF, I'm working on the small sample Adventure to include with the main book. This is a rough write-up for the main town.

(Small Note. Anything followed by a (x.x.x) referencing a another section of the adventure.)

Sprocket

Founded 4 generations ago by a group of junkers sick of wandering between Bevel and Cog, Sprocket has grown into a small but bustling community. The town’s culture and architecture is a mixture of rural sensibility and technological eccentricity: quaint little homes and buildings decked out with whatever odd gadgets or technosalvage their owner couldn’t sell or bear to part with.

Facilities and Shops
  • Most business in Sprocket is done at Rigg’s Place (x.x.x) or conducted personally by Pa Beardsly. At the Game Master’s discretion, travelling merchants might have a stall or two set up, selling various wares.
  • Food is distributed evenly among Sprocket’s citizens, but travelers (usually) have to pay.
  • A strangely large amount of people in Sprocket have a Gadgeteering Workshop (or something close to it) in their home, and most will gladly rent it out to travelers for the standard fee.

The People of Sprocket
  • Most of the villagers are junkers or work at the crash site. This means that the people the party will meet in town are either taking a break, doing odd jobs around town, or moving between places.
  • They are friendly to a fault but they don’t appreciate their time being wasted.
  • If questioned by the players on the current goings on, they will answer with information from the Current Buzz chart.
  • GM Tip!: If the players are totally stumped and you want to help out, having one of the people of Sprocket know some key bit of info is a pretty good way to do it. Feel free to work that int here if you need to.

Current Buzz (Game Master may Roll or Choose)
  • (1-5) “That Pa sure is a real dealmaker! I heard that the Shogun of the Holy Isles and some far off Knight Commander are in a bidding war over that Gigaframe we’re fixing up.”
  • (6-10) “I feel real bad for that mechanoid working in Rigg’s place. She seems to want to tell us something real important but one can understand a word she’s saying.”
  • (11-15) “I’m telling ya, that drone would have taken my head off if I hadn’t backed off! Ain’t no amount of salvage that’s worth your life.”
  • (16-20) “Welcome to Sprocket!” (followed by an awkward pause)

Security and Local Authority
  • Sprocket’s Town Guard (x.x.x) has 9 members: 8 Guards who pair up for 4 alternating 6 hour shifts per Cycle and one Guard Captain who is basically on duty whenever she isn’t sleeping.
  • Any merchant’s caravans passing through will likely have their own guards or hired mercenaries. This is common practice in the Outer World, as few communities are able to spare any of their own protection.
  • Both Riggs (x.x.x) and Pa Beardsly (x.x.x) could be considered the leaders of Sprocket. Riggs mainly deals with local business and infrastructure, but Pa handles the foreign dealings and trade that make up much of the town’s earnings. The two only barely respect one another.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

The Basics

People have inquired a bit on BREAK!!'s mechanics - I have dropped bits here and there on the blog and will continue to do so, but I'm also thinking have the core stuff on here will be really helpful.

Below is a copy of the "Instruction Manual" (one, two-sided page) I have handed out to people during playtests. It was written with people who have never played a table top RPG in mind, so a lot of it's pretty basic - but it should give you a good idea of where the game builds up from.

BREAK!! Instruction Manual
Who am I?
You’re an Adventurer! OK, so if you want Specifics…
  • Portrait - This is just a cool picture of your character.
  • Rank - Nearly everything in BREAK!! has a rank; this is a measure of your power and experience.
  • Name - Left blank, so it’s up to you!
  • Calling - This is the biggest factor on your Character Sheet. Along with your Rank, it determines your Aptitudes, Attack, and Abilities.
  • Species - Which one of the Outer World’s people do you belong to? This decides your Innate Ability!
  • Homeland - What part of the world are you from?
  • History - What did you do before all this?
  • Description - A brief paragraph to introduce your character.
  • Languages - Which of the Outer World’s languages do you speak and read?
  • Purviews - These are important to remember; these snippets provide insight into your character’s skills and training. They should be interpreted both literally and metaphorically, and though they do not provide any supernatural powers, they can be used to increase your Aptitude on some Rolls. Just let the GM know when you have to roll and you think one applies!

Neat! Uh...roll?
Whenever you roll the dice, usually a d20. We’ll cover it more in a bit.

Right, OK. What about this other stuff right here?
Oh, your Quirk and Abilities!
  • Your Quirk is a unique thing about you. It may be a magitech prosthetic, or the fact that you're really jumpy. Regardless, it always has an Upside and a Downside, as marked on your character sheet.
  • Abilities are the really fun stuff about your character. These are special perks you get from your species, Magic Spells and special forms of attacks you learn from your Calling. Read them carefully, since they may really help out while adventuring.

Great - But how do I do stuff?
If you want to do something simple - move a  small rock, open an unlocked door, say hello to someone nearby, then you can just do that stuff. Just let your GM know and try not to shout over people.
Of course, if you want to do something hard, you’ll need a d20…
  • Whenever you attempt to do something where failure is possible and significant, you need to make a Check. This entails rolling a d20 and hoping you get a result below the Aptitude related to whatever it is you're doing. More on Aptitudes in a bit.
  • If you are working against or competing with another individual or some other dynamic force while doing something, it becomes a Contest. This works just like a Check, except everyone involved makes one. Whoever rolls the highest without going over their Aptitude comes out on top.
  • Sometimes, you can leverage one of your Purviews or something in the situation to your advantage. Bring this up to the GM! They should trying to be notice this stuff themselves, so you won’t be alone.

Wait, you said you were going to talk about Aptitudes.
Right, your character has Five Aptitudes. They are all connected to different tasks, and you may have to use them to resist the effects of certain Abilities and Attacks.
  • Might represents physical strength and raw athleticism. This Aptitude comes into play when doing things like lifting something big and heavy or leaping across a chasm.
  • Deftness represents dexterity, grace and skill. You use this Aptitude when crafting something delicate or trying to move without making much noise.
  • Grit is how tough you are, and how strong your willpower is. This one is more reactive than other Aptitudes. You generally use this to see if you’re able to withstand harmful effects or attempts to influence you.
  • Insight represents your perception and ability to analyze information. You generally to use this to read another individual, notice a hidden object or know something in game that you (as a player) may not.
  • Aura is your charisma and raw presence. This is the Aptitude to use when you are trying to convince someone you’re an OK sort, tell them what to do, or strong-arm a Relic into letting you use it.

So what if I want to wreck someone?
Hey, fighting is dangerous, so be careful about when you start stuff. Still, if you have too…
  • Your Attack score is how good you are at fighting. When attempting to strike or otherwise assault an enemy, you roll a d20 and add this bonus. If your roll is higher than their Defense, you’ve hit them!
  • Defense as mentioned before, is how hard you are to hit. It can be increased by Armor, your Speed, or abilities.
  • Your Heart Total is really important! Whenever you take damage in combat, you lose a Heart. You can survive without them, but if you’re damaged when you have no Hearts left you can be injured or even killed. Your Hearts are restored at the end of every fight, but any injuries you sustain will remain until they heal.
  • Speed is how fast you move. Normally you just need to know the rating, but being very fast means you can move multiple areas in combat and get a Defense bonus. Characters with a slower speed will have a harder time moving around the battlefield.

Wait, I can die? Oh crap…
Like I said, fighting is dangerous. Of course, other things can kill you too but you should be OK if your friends are around to help. Also, don’t forget you can always try to sneak around, trick or even talk with enemies and monsters - assuming they have a way of understanding you.

How do I do that?
Most of that stuff would be handled with Aptitude Checks and Contests. Some things like long chases or intense negotiations have a certain procedure to them, but worry about that if and when they come up.

Anything else I should know?
Just a few things…
  • If you want to do something cool that nets you a special effect, like knocking an enemy over with Attack or climbing a steep wall with a friend hanging off your back, mention it to the GM. This is called a Stunt. The catch is that if you want something extra to come with success, you need to add a Wager, which is something extra bad that happens if you fail. For example, if you try to knock an enemy's sword out of their hand while attacking and miss, you may drop your own instead.
  • You can also try a Trick while fighting, which is like a Stunt but the Wager is that you don’t do any damage either. There are also Assists you can attempt if you would rather help out your friends and engage an enemy directly.
  • Sometimes your Quirks or Abilities mention an Edge or Snag. The former means that you roll two dice in the circumstances stated, and pick whichever result is better for you. The latter means the same thing, except you pick whichever result is worse.
  • Your character’s Inventory will have some neat stuff in it. Make sure you ask if you you’re not sure what something is, as it may become useful during the game!
  • Just remember that you can only carry so many things. You have a certain amount of Inventory Slots based on your Species size and various Abilities. Most characters  have 10 slots, and a little extra if they have a Traveler's Bag or Backpack. Some items take up more or less than 1 Slot as well, so you may need to pick and choose carefully.

Whew. Is that everything?
Probably not, but it should get you started. Certain new things will come up in game sooner or later.. Experiment, ask questions, and have fun!

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Where to talk about BREAK!!

Do you have questions or things you want to mention about BREAK!!? Of course you do! Naturally comments in this blog are welcome, but there are other spots too:

There is this thread on RPG.net, this Discord Server and this handsome devil's Google Plus account.

When the monsters and sample adventure is done, I'm thinking of making a Facebook community and maybe a tumblr or Twitter account, so look forward to me fumbling around with those.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Example Allies & Antagonist Entry

Still working on various entries for the "Allies & Antagonist" section of the book. This is one of my personal favorites.

CHOSEN ONE

The hero of another story

Introduction

  • Occasionally, youths are given great powers and a quest by the whims of fate. Old legends are filled with tales of how these enterprising figures blossom to greatness - but the reality is much more messy.
  • Thanks to various cataclysms and arcane meddling, fate has long been out of sync with the Outer World. Chosen ones often meet inglorious ends pursuing poorly timed or misaimed quests that will do as much harm (if not more) than do good.

Menace Level

  • Boss

Rank

  • 6

Allegiance

  • (No Allegiance)

Home Region/Habitat

  • Chosen Ones are almost always from small rural villages, most commonly located in relatively peaceful places like the Kingdom of Shard, The Galvanus Archipelago or the Pride Coast. Their adventures mean they might be found wandering just about anywhere in the world.  

Aptitudes (Trait: Surprisingly Strong, Spirited, Silent Type (+1 Might, +1 Grit, -1 Aura)

Primary Aptitudes: Might, Grit, Aura
Secondary Aptitudes: Deftness, Insight
  • Might [11]
  • Deftness [9]
  • Grit [11]
  • Insight [9]
  • Aura [9]

Combat Values

  • Hearts [4]
  • Attack [+4]
  • Speed [Normal]
  • Defense Rating [14] (Medium Armor, 15 with a Standard or Cleary Shield]

Abilities

In addition to any items they might have from their Legendary Gear Ability, Chosen Ones are assumed to be wearing Medium Armor and carrying a Quick Melee Weapon, Drawn Missile Weapon or Standard Shield.


Legendary Gear
Chosen Ones generally find themselves in the possession of a handful of useful Imbued Items thanks to contrivance, questing, and older relatives with a habit of hoarding.
  • Chosen Ones have two or three of the following Imbued Items.
  • Red Edge - This empowered sword is crafted from Flame Brass. It is a Master Weapon that does an additional Heart of Fire Damage upon a successful Attack.
  • Cleary Shield - A lovely Standard Shield made of Sun Gold. The bearer may also use the Parry granted by this item to nullify a Magical Ability targeted at them.
  • Spring Heel Boots - These Sky-Steel Toe Boots are made of magical beast leather. They grant anyone wearing them Supernatural Leaping.
  • Mighty Mitten - A single right Mitten created from the paw of an extremely strong creature. Anyone wearing it is granted Supernatural Might.
  • Wooly Warm Tunic - This endearing Extreme Weather Outfit is said to have been weaved with the fluffy wool of the legendary Wisdom Bumpo, and ensures the wearer will always be comfortably warm. In addition, Attacks that deal Fire and Frost damage do one less Heart of damage to the bearer.


Favored by Fate
While destiny ain’t what it used to be, it can still help out it’s agents in a pinch.
  • Fate can struggle against circumstances and actions that would work against the Chosen One.
  • Once a session the Game Master can reroll (or force a player to reroll) once finding the result of any Roll that directly affects the Chosen One.
  • Please note that the Chosen One might not even be present when this reroll occurs. The result just has to be important to them.
  • For example, the Game Master might call for a reroll if the party might manage to discover and claim a key item before the Chosen One does.


Courageous Determination
It is easy for many adventurers to scoff at Chosen Ones, who wield a lot of borrowed power in lieu of actual experience or training. However, they are chosen for a reason: their indomitable spirit.
  • If a Chosen One is reduced to 0 Hearts or would be slain by another circumstance or effect, they may make a Grit Check.
  • Success means they manage to bear through it somehow and regain a single Heart.
  • This Ability cannot save a Chosen One from a situation where death is certain (such as being crushed by an immense, solid stone block) or inescapable (such as drowning at the bottom of an extremely deep body of water).

Communication Methods

  • Chosen Ones are able to speak Low Speech and another language based on their homeland.

Tactics

  • Chosen Ones are very bold combatants - they tend towards strategies that depend on Stunts and aiming for key points or an enemy leader. They often bet on their determination and spirit to carry them through obstacles, given that it’s their most outstanding quality.

Yield

  • Besides any items they might have on their person or from their Legendary Gear Ability, Chosen Ones always have a 2 Roll’s worth of coins on their person: usually collected from fallen foes or due to rewards from various smaller quests they’ve undertaken.

Miscellaneous

  • Indicators -  The sounding of a valorous battle cry, villages filled with people who have had small requests recently fulfilled, the slain bodies of dangerous beasts.
  • Roleplaying Notes - Most Chosen Ones earnestly believe they are doing the right thing, and will be friendly with the party as long as they aren’t actively in their way.
  • They are dangerously stubborn however, thanks to their innate attachment to their ultimate quest. Even calmly explaining that something they are doing might be dangerous or misguided will quickly put them on the defensive and may convince them that whoever is doing so is a true villain.
  • Customization  - The Chosen One here is assumed to a Native Outer World Human. If you wish to make a Chosen One of another Species, simply remove one of the Abilities here and switch it with the proper Species Ability.
  • Chosen Ones might also have Abilities from the Champion or Battle Princess Elective Ability lists. Some may travel with other adventuring types, especially Fairies.
  • Feel free to create your own Imbued Items and have the Chosen One have one of those instead of the options included with Legendary Gear.

Random Encounter Reaction

  • Friendly/Benign (1-5) - The Chosen One encountered is actually on a venture that parallels the one the party is on - they won’t be shy about it and explain it to them, jumping at the chance to work together whether the party shows interest or not.
  • Indifferent/Wary (6-13)  - The party stumbles on the Chosen One in the middle of an important quest that involves trading bizarre and innocuous items. They will eagerly engage the party in an attempt to trade a strange object (examples include a wooden ball, rare local fruit, or a terrifying looking mask) for something actually useful, and might actually get angry if they are refused outright.
  • Hostile/Bloodthirsty (14-20) - The Chosen One has identified one of the party members as a true villain (or someone destined to become one) and declares the party as their enemy. Whether this is a tragic case of mistaken identity or actually true depends on the party itself, but it will difficult convincing the Chosen One otherwise.

Variants and Related Entries

Swapping out some of the Chosen One’s Legendary Gear for more sinister Imbued Items or even Relics can be done to create a clearly villainous entity, rather than a sadly misguided heroic one.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Further Perusal (A.K.A Appendix NES)

I think it's often helpful to wear your influences on your sleeve when writing for tabletop RPGs. Not only does it allow someone skimming through your work to get a good idea of what they are getting into, it also means they have a place to draw ideas from while playing and running your game.

A friend posted something for an up and coming game that had an impressive list of influences and I had to laugh, since BREAK!!'s mostly consists of video games and animated programs!

Still, I clearly think those things still have a lot of worth - I am writing a whole game thanks to them after all! So since Grey and I are hammering out the finer points at the moment, my "we aren't dead" post for the fortnight will be BREAK!!'s "Further Perusal" list.

(As always, forgive me for any roughness/typos. Still in draft and all that.)

Video Games

While those listed are some of the primary influences on BREAK!!, any game with a focus on exploration, wistful stories, bombastic characters and fantastic places could provide you with workable ideas.
  • Godslayer/Crystalis
This game presents a world recovering from the mistakes of the past, where magic and technology clash and combine. Greedy, short-sighted ambition threatens to awaken a great, slumbering danger and salvation lies with a youth on a perilous journey. Sound familiar?
  • Seiken Densetsu/Mana Series
While this game series varies in quality and style, there is a consistent story of corruption, hope and rebirth that cycles throughout. The colorful cast of characters, charming locales and grand battles would feel right at home in the Outer World.
  • NieR
NieR’s influence on BREAK!! seems obvious at first, with its misfit heroes, shambling remains of a former world and gloriously strange antagonists. But it’s the heart of its narrative, where no conflict is as black and white as it seems, that seeped the most into the game you are reading right now.

Anime and Manga

Often visually dynamic and exciting, action and fantasy anime set a basis for how the active sequences in BREAK!! might look in the mind’s eye, and the impressive visual world-building in many works can help with understanding the mysterious Outer World.
  • Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
The general look and feel of this classic are natural inspirations for BREAK!!, but it’s fantastic cast of characters could easily make for a great party of adventurers. The heroine the film is named for inspired the spirit behind the Battle Princess Calling.
  • Berserk
While considerably darker than BREAK!! normally leans, Berserk has some fantastic battle scenes that should provide some good inspiration for Combat Stunts! Careful though, the terrible creatures that show up in the Black Swordsman arc and onwards may give the Game Master some ideas...
  • Morabito
This beautifully animated show also provides some wonderful battle sequences, but also a distinctly asian setting and a good idea of how Social Bonds between adventurers look like in play.
  • The Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk/Sword of Uruk
While not terribly original, this anime provides a very good visual basis for the sort of  dungeon crawling and various character types that may show up in a campaign. There are also hidden depths to its otherwise light hearted story, which lends itself well to BREAK!!.

Other Animation

While Anime provides BREAK!! with its primary visual basis, there is plenty of other animated features that present complementary images or even alternative ones.
  • The Last Unicorn
BREAK!!’s immortal characters and creatures were directly informed by this beautifully melancholic story. Also; Molly Grue is perhaps the perfect Factotum character, even if she is missing an oversized backpack.
  • Wizards
The darker parts of this film should give you a pretty good idea of how the Shadowed Lands look. Without giving too much away, it’s also the main reason Sages are able to use small mechanical missile weapons.

Literature

Books will always be a good source of ideas of any kind, but the ones presented here contain settings or themes that resonate very closely with BREAK!!’s.
  • The Earthsea Series
A beautifully written set of books that provide good examples of how magic, social bonds and even travel might work in play.
  • The Once and Future King
The Outer World’s many beautifully flawed attempts at being an overall better place and the hope that it may all work out someday we’re mostly informed by this version of the story of King Arthur. Merlin and the other magic users in this collection were also the primary inspiration for the Sage Calling.
  • The Swords Trilogy
While nearly all of the stories of the Eternal Champion would be good reading for BREAK!!, Corum’s first set of adventures are especially so with its put upon hero, pushy gods and colorful, fractured setting.