Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Star Crawl Classes

I've got six classes I'm polishing for Star Crawl. Based on playtesting to date, I think they're pretty close to where I want them. Barring any surprises the next few months, I'm pretty confident they won't change much before the final release.

During early design, I wanted to make sure that the Star Crawl classes could stand on their own or alongside DCC & MCC classes. So while there is some skill overlap, I don't think any of these classes are redundant (with the possible exception of the Swashbuckler- more on that below).

Medic: In Star Crawl, casters are rare and mystic healers even more so. While not as powerful healing-wise as a Cleric, the Medic fits well into a world with high-tech healing solutions. In addition to improvised healing options to patch up characters on the fly, Medics get more out of healing items than any other class. So, while anyone can slap on some Derma-Seal, you're much better off if the Medic does it.
Mechanic: I based this class off the sci-fi archetype of the engineer who's able to figure out or fix most anything. They won't likely be found at the front lines of a fight, but they'll have a big impact on a game. In addition to their repair skills, Mechanics have the ability to understand new and unusual concepts better than any other class. And in space combat, they can coax the ship to perform beyond expected limitations. 
Psycher: This class is the closest to a caster, with powerful mental abilities and weak physical stats. It is a dangerous class to play, with mishaps and corruption destroying the Psycher's mind over time. I'm still refining the mental abilities, but for playtesting I've been using the mental mutations from MCC. 
Scoundrel: Closely related to the Thief, the Scoundrel's skills are less dependent upon Agility. With skills like Grift & Smuggle, characters will need Intelligence and Personality. I see Thief being a commonly available class for Star Crawl, so I kept an eye towards the two being able to work together in a group without too much duplication of skills.
Soldier: While one of the chief combat classes in Star Crawl, the Soldier also shines in support roles. They can assist others with any roll (including damage), increasing their ally's roll by 1 die type. And when Soldiers work together, the senior officer can give bonuses to the other Soldiers. This comes in especially handy for the Recruits a Soldier can gain at higher levels.
Swashbuckler: This is the class most closely aligned with a DCC class (the Halfling). In my DCC experience, the Halfling is a fantastic class and the skillset is great for a fearless hero type. Swashbucklers retain the Luck & Two-Fisted Fighting abilities, but the Sneak skill is gone. Instead, the Swashbuckler can choose a Thief or Scoundrel skill that they'd picked up along their travels.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Star Crawl Playtest Report

I ran the first public playtest for Star Crawl this weekend and it went very well. There's a great DCC scene in Pittsburgh, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Mike Bolam & James Walls. Several regulars to their games, along with a player new to DCC, took part in the game. It was an awesome group: everyone was really engaged & willing to push the limits of their character's capabilities. The 8 players tried out all 6 of the classes & 6 of the races. 
We also got to try out the ship combat rules and they worked pretty well. I'll put up some previews of all this up in the next couple weeks. I don't know if I'll get anymore public games before GaryCon, but I'll continue to refine with the home group.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Star Crawl Playtest

This weekend, I'll be holding the first public playtest for my sci-fi DCC rules, Star Crawl. This is my next gaming project after Vehicle Mayhem. I plan to include new classes & races, ship-to-ship combat, random planet creation tables, and new equipment. For this playtest, I'm focusing on the classes & races as a warm-up for running the rules at GaryCon in March.

Star Crawl Playtest at Phantom of the Attic in Pittsburgh

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Vehicle Mayhem Resources

The following resources are for use with Vehicle Mayhem (now available in print from the Goodman Games store and on PDF from Drive Thru RPG!).

Car Template (two per printed sheet)
All Vehicle Template (including Car, Pickup, Van, & Monster Truck)

Pace Counters (print on card stock & cut out; place appropriate counter on car sheet after making speed roll; remove after car acts)

Pregen Drivers: A zip file of 10 sheets of four 2nd level drivers each. These are the drivers I use for post-apocalyptic Vehicle Mayhem demos & tournaments.

Virtual Mayhem: A special VR scenario for Vehicle Mayhem

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Vehicle Mayhem: Printing!

This is it! I got the Vehicle Mayhem proof from the printer today (final version will have an orange cover). I'll be doing a final review for typos, etc. the next couple days. I should have a stack of completed copies in my hands in about a week!

The Goodman Games webstore will be selling physical copies (I imagine they'll be available some time in February) and I'll have a stack with me at GaryCon in March.

It may not look like much, but this 28 page zine this represents over a year of writing, playtesting, rules revisions, and layout. I'm very excited to get feedback from people outside my regular group. I've learned a whole lot from the process, so my next one should go much quicker.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Vehicle Mayhem: Actions

Original playtest photo by @lunarwarehouse
As I work to complete my Vehicle Mayhem rules, I'll be posting previews & details of the creation process. Please see previous articles with the Vehicle Mayhem tag.  

When thinking on how actions would work in the game, I wanted to keep the chase moving quickly to keep players engaged. Each turn is broken down into move & shoot. Cars act in order of their place in the chase (front to back, in initiative order within each zone) and all passengers act with their car.

Where a car can move each turn is limited to their speed roll at the top of the turn. They must exceed the current pace to be able to move forwards in the field; otherwise, they may only move laterally or backwards (and if they failed to match the current pace, they must move backwards).
If  another vehicle is encountered during the course of a move, there will be a collision (unless the target can evade with a Handling roll). Causing a collision ends that car's move.
At the end of the move, the active vehicle (and all passengers) may shoot. Choice of target is restricted by range and field of fire.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Vehicle Mayhem: Car Stats

As I work to complete my Vehicle Mayhem rules, I'll be posting previews & details of the creation process. Please see previous posts with the Vehicle Mayhem tag for more details.

I was heavily inspired by Car Wars and Battletech when working on vehicle stats. I wanted them to have that level of simplicity while still feeling like DCC. I ended up with four basic stats: Speed, Speed Die, Handling, and Durability.
Speed is how fast a car can go without penalty. Exceeding this incurs penalties to Handling.
Speed Die is the die used to see how fast your car can drive in a given turn. For example, muscle cars use a d20 and sedans use d16.
Handling is the DC for any checks the driver makes to maintain control of their vehicle. This includes stunts, unusual maneuvers, or responding to a collision.
Durability is the DC for an opponent to force your car out of control. Larger, more stable vehicles have higher values.

Damage to vehicles is in terms of  armor. Every 5 points of damage from a single source removes 1 point of armor. Once all armor on a single side is destroyed, damage to that side is considered critical. In the next Vehicle Mayhem preview, I'll talk about damaging your opponents.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Legacy of Lethality: 2017 Stats

As referenced in an earlier post, I have kept detailed notes from the beginning of my current Labyrinth Lord campaign. Below are the statistics I've gathered from 6 years of play.

LL Stats Dec 2011-Dec 2017
Sessions Played: 125
Total PCs Played: 117
Total PCs Deaths: 115
Kills Per Session: 1.01
Mortality Rate: 98.3%

This first graph shows the number of LL sessions we've played each year, along with the number of kills. 2017 was a relatively thin year for us (my off-week DCC game has been getting a lot of traction & often took over LL weeks).  But even when considering this, there were very few kills. 2017 was our first year under 0.8 kills per session- we only averaged one kill every 5th session. I'm ashamed of myself...

Putting the Kills per Session onto a graph against the Average Party Level shows the most obvious explanation: the characters are simply tougher. Since the end of 2015, the average level has been above 4. This number even includes "apprentice" 1st level characters the party keeps in tow. Remove them from the calculation and the average jumps to 7.23.

I also track every character played (and killed) in the campaign, including their class & race.

Note that a number of characters have been raised (and sometimes killed again), allowing for mortality rates above 100%.

Survivability is a stat started tracking in 2013. It is obtained by subtracting the percentage of total kills for this race (or class) from the total percentage of characters played of this race (or class). Now that I've been tracking this stat for four full years, some trends are starting to appear, particularly in Race.

Survivability Trends

We're playing with Labyrinth Lord rules, but outside of a few adventures I've written, they're all 1st edition AD&D and Basic adventures.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Vehicle Mayhem: Play Area

The fancy board I use for playtesting

As I work to complete my Vehicle Mayhem rules, I'll be posting previews & details of the creation process. 

When I started on my DCC vehicle rules, I knew I wanted to keep it simple and fast paced. The old Milton Bradley board game Thunder Road was a big influence. I love the simplicity- a never ending road, with the old section cycling to the front as the cars move forward.

Vehicle Mayhem is more condensed and slightly more abstract. The play area is used to represent the relative positions of the cars as they race ever onward. Cars shift as their respective speed changes; cars moving too fast or slow leave the race. The action follows the pack, with the center vehicle as the "Pace Car". If cars exceed the pace, they may move forward on the board; if they cannot match the pace, they must move backwards. Fail to meet the pace too many times and you'll be left behind. I think this gives the action a cinematic feel.

The road is divided into lanes & zones (think of them as columns & rows). Initiative progresses by zone from front to back, in initiative order within a given zone. This gives the cars in the back a chance to react to cars acting in front of them. I'll talk a little more about actions in a future post.

A public playtest at a local game store

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Folio Character Sheets

The character sheet I currently use for Labyrinth Lord evolved from one simple desire: the ability to easily take away a character's equipment. The PC is taken prisoner & stripped of goods; a tournament is entered, where only special gear can be used; a character dies & their stuff is passed on. Plenty of times over the years, I've wished I could just pull off that part of the sheet. So, I made my Folio Sheet.

The outside page contains character basics- Stats, AC, Saves, & HP on the front; languages & skills on the back. The inside contains space for notes, character sketch, and a place to draw scars & distinguishing marks. Loose sheets for equipment & spells are held inside. 

Print double-sided (flip on short edge). Printing the whole thing will yield 1 character folio, 2 equipment inserts, and 2 spell inserts.

Monday, January 8, 2018

GM Screens

For my GM screen, I use the Savage Worlds customizable screen, primarily because I like to make my own panels. They're pricey, but I've gotten almost 10 years out of mine, so I guess $30 isn't that bad? Just be sure to keep packing tape on hand for when the seams split.

I've made custom panels for the three games I most often run (Labyrinth Lord, Dungeon Crawl Classics, and Marvel Super Heroes). The links below are for these three sets of panels. The pages are in the order I put them in the screen (starting from left-most on the GM side, to right-most on the player side). For LL & Marvel, the center player side panel will be art based on the adventure. For the DCC screen, it's all art on the players' side.

Labyrinth Lord GM Screen Panels

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Critical Hit Table

Critical hits are great. I love the idea that any character, no matter how great or small, can deal tremendous damage with a lucky blow. Every player has stories about "that one crit"- folks I played with 20 years ago still remember Three, the kobold who felled a stone giant with a natural 20 using a Javelin of Lightning. Even when behind the screen, I love the players getting that big crit at the right time.

Do any experienced DMs not have house rules for critical hits? Unless you're playing something like DCC, with a deep and robust crit system, I think it's a must. 
Here's how I handle them in my Labyrinth Lord campaign. On a natural 20, the number of damage dice is doubled (so a sword that normally does 1d8 damage does 2d8 on a natural 20: note that bonuses from strength/magic are not doubled). The player rolls a second d20 on my homebrew table to determine location. Each location has some special effects, such as further penalties which will persist until the critical hit is healed. Most locations can be severed and some can cause instant death. In these cases, the attacking player rolls d100. If the result is equal to or under the total amount of damage inflicted by the hit, sever or death results. 
*Full disclosure: as I’ve gotten older and my taste in play has grown steadily simpler, I’ve used less and less of the options on this table. Nowadays? We just roll the 20 to find location & make the % check for sever/death. I kill enough characters without adding hit penalties from a crit to the thumb. That being said, I’ve had a blast in the past with these extra flavorful crit results. It’s up to you what you use- never a wrong way to play.  
I’ve modified this table from one my high school GM created. It's evolved quite a bit over the years, but I still keep his name on it in honor of George’s original creation. I present to you, the Wakulik Critical Hit Table

Friday, January 5, 2018

DCC Vehicle Rules

The big gaming project I've been working on recently has been cleaning up my vehicle rules for DCC/MCC. This is the first thing I've tried to sell or publish, so it's pretty new ground for me (up til now, my players have been the only victims of these whims).

I originally started to develop this as part of our ongoing DCC game. The group jumped through a magic portal and ended up on a post-apocalyptic wasteworld. They came to believe that there was a way to escape this hellish world, but the path lied across a desert wasteland. To reach this promised land, they stole some cars from the local waste gang (The Disciples of the Wheel). Of course, a Mad Max style chase ensued. In the years since, I've been slowly refining those rules, playtesting with local groups.

A big part of the rules is the Vehicle Record- your car's character sheet. One of my goals was to keep the rules simple enough that they felt like they "fit" within DCC. So very basic stats and tables to resolve results.

Outside of formatting, the rules are done. Once cleaned up, I'll be submitting to Goodman Games to get licensed for third party publishing. In March, I'll be running a "Disciples of the Wheel" tournament at GaryCon- I hope to have a stack of printed copies to bring with me. Up until then, I'll be sharing bits of the rules & explaining my thought process here.

Legacy of Lethality

When we started our current  Labyrinth Lord campaign, I decided to keep details on every character, adventure, and death. The "Annual Report" of all these stats has become a popular feature with my players. I'm currently compiling the stats for the end of 2017, but thought I'd share here a few tidbits from last year.

A few notes about the campaign for background:

  • This campaign started in December of 2011 and we play every other week (alternating with other games).
  • We're using the Advanced Labyrinth Lord rules, with all options in place (including increased hit dice and multi-classing). So we have the "Dwarf" class and "Dwarf" race as options.
  • All characters are rolled using 3d6 in order and start at 1st level. I allow Hit Point rolls of 1 to be rerolled.
  • Characters are dead at 0 hit points No negatives hit points or bleeding out rules. You hit 0, you die. 
  • Most of our adventures are pre-written TSR Basic and AD&D modules (they're currently in the Vault of the Drow).
Stats as of Dec. 2016
Sessions Played: 111
Total PCs Played: 112
Total PCs Deaths: 112
Kills Per Session: 1.01
Mortality Rate: 100%

Now, at a glance, you'll be thinking "holy hell, this guy's a killer GM". Well, yes and no. Yes, I don't hold anything back- when the players finish an encounter, they know they've earned it.  But typically, every player has 2 characters going and every time they lose party members, they're quick to replace them with new 1st level characters. Most of the deaths are from those newbies. There is a core group of PCs currently in the 7th level range that have survived for a very long time (only a couple vets died during the Giants series). When one of them dies, the party will typically go out of their way finding a way to bring them back (they've developed a very good relationship with the Paladin Lords of Verbobonc...). 

Most Survivable Race/Class Combo: Human Thief
Least Survivable Race/Class Combo: Multi-Class Halfling

I'll talk a lot more about survivability when I post the updated 2017 stats, but a few comments on last year's numbers. Humans have consistently been among the most survivable races, due in no small part to their pervasiveness (48% of the total characters are humans). Thieves have been seeing a resurgence of survivability due to a couple tenacious characters- prior to 2014, they were one of the least resilient classes. Halflings have been on an inverse path: once one of the most survivable races, the last few years have been very hard on them. And multi-class characters have never had much luck. 

I'll post the 2017 stats in the next few weeks (after I get a chance to present to the Fiend Club, of course).


Welcome to my place for stuff about gaming. First off, a little about myself.
I'm a longtime gamer, playing RPGs for closing on 30 years. I started out, like most, playing 1st & 2nd edition D&D and never stopped. Since about 1991, I've pretty constantly had a gaming group. Outside of holidays, vacations, etc, I've gamed every week. Most of that time has been spent as the game master, running D&D (1st-3rd editions), Marvel Super Heroes, James Bond, Hackmaster, Deadlands, Labyrinth Lord, Dungeon Crawl Classics, and a few others I'm sure I'm forgetting. Currently, I'm running LL & DCC campaigns. Outside of that, I'm an avid comic book fan (mostly Marvel- I co-host a podcast called Marveling at Marvel's Marvels) and halfway decent miniature painter. I'm married to an amazingly patient woman and father to two wonderful children- even though this blog is focused on my gaming side, the three of them are my life and center. 

I've played with some incredible people over the years and they've all taught me a great deal about life and games. The name for this blog, Tuesday Night Fiend Club, comes from my current group, who I've played with for about 7 years. My plan is to share here the experiences I have with them, along with rules and resources I develop for our games. I'm currently working on converting some of the stuff I've come up with for my DCC campaign into 'zine format to release as third party products under license from Goodman Games (so there will be a lot about that here). 

So, yeah, thanks for reading & hope you find something interesting here!