Category Archives: Powered By The Middle Finger

Quick Summary of Hubris Sessions 1-3 and Sketch for Orcs! A High-Octane Adventure Cover!

First I wanted to share the kick ass sketch cover for Orcs! A High-Octane Adventure! Mike Faille is doing awesome on this!

 

Now on to the Session Notes

During Christmas I kicked off my new Hubris: A World of Visceral Adventure campaign. For this campaign I am not utilizing DCC but playtesting my own rules. We’ve had three sessions thus far so I thought it’d be a good time to update all my notes and pop em up on the blog.

First Session: Meat Grinder

Group investigated a thorp that hadn’t sent trade to Fairweather in several days.  Found the community and it was abandoned.  Thick fog clung to the air.  Signs of violence everywhere.  Group saw some terrible shit like cut off fingers, dried vomit, blood, graves.  Oh and a woman sticking a spoon behind her eye and popping it out while giggling, “I see you.”  Yeah that.  Oh and when a dude was stabbed with a pitch fork and started oozing oatmeal out of the wound- then grabbed the pitchfork and kept plunging it into himself shouting, “fuck my holes. Fuck me!  Fuck me!”…  Necroids… fucking Necroids.  Vile gross disgusting bastards that linger in the Void.  The final one was a father burst from the floor with his dead baby on his hand like a puppet and he talked to it and with it.  That was a fun fight.  Some of the group survived but not many.

Necroids are inspired by Deadites:)

Second Session: The Silverfish

The group took a train to the Floating Island of Terror and arrived safely (no Orcs this time) in Outer City, the permanent grounded ring in the Land of Perpetual Stone and Mire with the main area floating above it, rails built to connect the two for travel.  The group was greeted by Onyx, an Officiant of The Black Queen, with two guards holding strange weapons (basically machine guns like in Wizards, 1977).  Slaves, under watch of Skeletal Gun Runners and Murder Machines were loading heavy box into a small black metal train car across the platform.  Slaves dropped the box and it opened, revealing a large bluish glowing rock.  Box tipped and a small fragment broke off and landed at characters feet.  Onyx gave his blessing to keep the fragment, explained it’s called Morphite and is what creates the amazing technology in Floating Island of Terror; it can also be used to create a powerful hallucinogenic drug.  Morphheads run rampant through Outer City.  Group found a small shoddy townhome in Ashtown to rent from a blading stooped human, Clovis.  Went to Onyx for work and was hired to find the culprit of a string of murders in The Slops.  Group followed clues and the trail and eventually went hunting in an abandoned sewer.  Met a crazy mutant with gecko-like powers who was lonely.  They talked.  Life was good.  Then they left to explore more and found a dire silverfish that had become crazed on Morphite.  Fight was cool- fun moments.  Then they killed it, took its head and went galloping back to Onyx.  Got paid and went to the local pup, The White Queen, ran and owned by Ami, an exiled drag queen from Fairweather.

Machine guns…. ooooooooo
My group was rather disgusted by this monster.

Third Session: The Murderous Chesspeople and the fae Thrape

Group took another job from Onyx, an Officiant of The Black Queen because why not…?  They were driven in a truck-like vehicle two days across the Land of Perpetual Stone and Mire, eventually reaching Mining Camp #7.  Group starts scouting and spots pale buff humanoid creatures with weird helmets.  A man in rags is being beaten by two and a screaming woman is dragged into the mine by one.  Group tries to sneak up and spring a surprise but the Avarian squawks alerting the creatures, because why not…? 

Creatures rush group in three waves.  They resemble humans but their heads are chess pieces.  Fun fight.  Most of the group went after the Queen but pawns kept appearing in front of her, taking the blow and dying like good little pawns.  A couple went after Rooks that kept headbutting them with their massive rooky noggins! 

Group saved the man explained that a giant crystal was found in the mine and they went to harvest it.  Next day he and his wife woke up and the creatures were all over the place and no one was left.  He and his wife have been hiding for 4 days and were sneaking around tents for food.  Group decides to go into the mine. 

It’s weird down there with giant plants growing on the wall, one had a human face and wanted to talk.  One of the members decided NOPE! Lit a torch and burned the fucker off the wall.  Furniture was sticking out of the rock face.  Group finds giant crystal.  Woman on the ground sobbing.  Two slimly mushroom people standing over her.  A humanoid figure with stumpy emaciated arms with the head and hooves for feet and hands of a horse twitching and ready greeted the group. 

Crazy fight.  Avarian got mutated- now has mandibles and a beak.  The hostage was mutated as well- has suction cups on her skin and a consistent wet hair.  She cried.  One of the characters pulled a suction cup off the woman’s hand to see if it was real… eeewwwww.

Group attacked the crystal and broke it, releasing the captive fae, Thrape.  Thrape has a skull for a head that is hollow and filled with goop. The top of his skull is open like a mug and slops out strange yellowish goop (can make potions!).  Glowing yellow eyes and a grin.  He is a master at illusion and transformation. 

Thrape game them the following rewards:

Each player choose a potion to boost one of their attributes for a limited time and rolled for an attack potion.  

Helpful Potion: Select Attribute of choice, you will row with Advantage for 1 hour on all test.  Body- grow big muscles; Agility- become lithe and limber; Rapport- get shiny white teeth and a sexy gleam in your eye; Focus- Perpetual scowl and annoyed look as if someone is talking about shit they don’t know. 

Attack Potion: Roll 1d4- 1) Smoky firecracker- deals damage and Body save or blinds target for 1 round; 2) Pigglet Bomb- throw at a target and small little liquid piglets form from the droplets and stab the creature.  1d4 damage per round for 3 rounds.  Ignores armor; 3) The Ol’ Switcheroo- The targets butt cheeks and face switch places.  Disadvantage on all rolls and can only move or attack in the round.  Lasts 1 hour; 4) Transforms the target into a flutter of moths that skitter and flutter about.  Lasts 1 hour.

The Thrape Whistle: Ivory whistle to a member of the party.  If the group is in trouble, blow on it and Thrape may come in a poof of magical smoke to help.  Use it too much or annoy Thrape and he’ll take it back but not before transforming everyone into something nasty!

Thrape was inspired by this enemy from Night of the Full Moon card game. Yeah I play it, wanna fight about it?:P

Is This a Bloody Sign of Something Violent Coming? Hubris: A World of Visceral Adventure! Celebrating Three Years in Release!

Good day everyone! Four years ago I launched the Hubris: A World of Visceral Adventure Kickstarter and what a fucking fantastic ride it has been since then! In the three years since the book was released it has gone Platinum on Drivethru RPG, won a Silver ENnie for Best Electronic Book, has had several kind reviews (here’s a couple: here and here and here), and I even babbled about it on the Drink Spin Run podcast!

Additionally the awesome Ben Milton did a video review on his Questing Beast Youtube Channel.

So needless-to-say, I’ve been extremely proud of this book! And while I have not been solely focused on Hubris for the last two years, I have been releasing a bunch of other books and have Barbarians of the Ruined Earth coming soonish; so I have not been idle either.

In September I released images showing the spreads for Orcs! A High-Octane Adventure– a 3rd level module for Hubris- art commissions will begin soon- and in August Max from Weird and Wonderful Worlds created a random generator for the GM section of the book. On my blog I have released several new races and classes for the setting: The Lupine, The Blood Acolyte, and The Klind Exile. So there is new stuff to enjoy.

With the three year anniversary here, I wanted to share some news on new project(s) and DIY RPG Productions as as whole!

So without much further palaver…

HUBRIS!!!

Art by Mike Faille, font and poster design my Matt Hildebrand.

Current Projects

First up is Orcs! The layout is generally complete and I’ll be commissioning art soon! Then I’ll send it off to Joseph for final approval and then release, hoping not more than a few months from now! I have run Orcs for several groups and at three consecutive Gen Cons and everyone has had a blast. Artists that are lined up for Orcs are none other than: Alex Mayo, Carmin Vance, David Lewis Johnson, and Jason Sholstis! Layout has been done by the awesome Jez Gordon.

Donn Stroud (of Mothership and Lesser Key to the Celestial Legion) is working on a Hubris module and that will be out at some point- I don’t have a firm date on the module’s first draft being completed, so we’ll just say, you know, somewhere in futuretime.

Both of these modules will use the awesome Dungeon Crawl Classics rules.

Side Note: I also have notes for a dungeon that is set in the Junk Town of Undra The Great Spire, but have not moved forward into fully flushing this one out yet.

The New Hubris

Wait, what…? Not only is the above image a fun promotional piece (it is pretty exquisite, isn’t it?!) it is also a glimpse at the new things to come. The first part to talk about is for the past year I have started working on my own rules that are quick, lite, deadly (most likely, yeah), and OSR-inspired with some modern game design worked in. I’ll be touching more on these in future posts in a kinda Developer’s Blog-type shit but, yeah, more soon.

My plan is to take Hubris and moving that needle from 11 to 12 (I’m hoping to do that, anyways). In 2018, I did a post showing inspirational images for a new territory/land in Hubris, called Downpour, and that location will still make an appearance, but the thing is… all of those images, music and music videos, movies, etc. constantly inspire me and I wanted to channel that to Hubris in general, not just a new territory- specially Evil Dead, Hellraiser, Mad Max: Fury Road, and the imagery from Marilyn Manson music videos from Antichrist Superstar.

I want to push the bloated dead corpse of medieval fantasy through a meat grinder and play in the bloody meaty bits. My desire is to pump up the grindhouse, horror, and slapstick even further in this new book, clearly pushing it into “Mature Viewing Territory” (as if it wasn’t already) and enhance some of the weird aspects of the world, like the Floating Island of Terror, locomotives and automobiles, wheellock weaponry, mechs, etc.; basically I want to make a grindhouse version of Final Fantasy VI, because why the fuck not!

I’m looking at this new Hubris as a retelling of the same story. Don’t like where I take it? That’s cool, there’s still the original version and adventures. And if you do like it, you’ll be able to use the territories and info with the existing one. The art from the original Hubris will be in the new book as well as new images. While new version of Hubris will still be predominantly black and white images, I will be working with Mike Faille to add a splash of horrific color to each chapter!

As I said in the introduction of the book, I wrote Hubris for me and just hoped people liked it… in the years since I’ve written the book, I’ve learned new tricks, new ways to run games, and delved deeper into what I want from a setting/gaming book at the table, and I hope to show that in the new version.

I’ll be releasing more info on this in the future and hope you enjoy it.

Other Tidbits

Oh yeah… It’s gonna be a shirt

The DIY RPG Productions Shopfy store will be opening soonish. Unique merchandise I can’t sell via Drivethru will be found there. Shirts, maps and posters, signed books, buttons, dice bags, jewelry, and much more! Preorders for the DIY RPG Productions t-shirts will be available when the shop goes live!

Oh yeah… I’ll be selling Hubris stamps to celebrate when characters get themselves perished.
See how pretty it’ll look on a character sheet?!

I look forward to dropping more info on Hubris and DIY RPG Productions in the near future! Be well everyone!


DIY RPG Productions Rules Development Notes- Thoughts on Ability Scores and Modifiers

AI knew I wanted my system to be easily hackable, OSR-inspired/based, and could handle running D&D (and the like) modules with little change or thought. 

In the main book I will be keeping the six stats most of us are all used to: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma.  All who play D&D or one of its many variants know these abilities, what they do, etc. 

I give a quick note having less abilities:

Note Different Ability Names: Some Game Masters (GMs) may feel these ability names do not fit the tone of their campaign setting or maybe they prefer fewer Abilities (or hell, some GM’s want more Abilities).  An example of this would be: Physique (merges STR, DEX, and CON), Smarts (merges INT and aspects of WIS), Grit (bravery, etc. from WIS), and Charm (Functions as CHR).  As another example, in Death is the New Pink, I refer to the stats as Badassery (Melee fighting, fortitude, intimidation, and toughness), Dodging Some Shit (Stealth, athletics, reflexes), and Moxie (Confidence, physic powers, discipline, and charisma).

So that’s that…  Ok- so what about generating abilities scores and what do they mean?

When developing this I decided to keep the “roll 3d6, add them together, and do it six times” thing.  I feel the Bell curve serves an important function in character creation and I miss it when it’s not present. 

Once the numbers have been generated, consult the table (see below) and write down the modifier next to score.  The player allocates these numbers to the six abilities as best fits their rolled background (more on this later) and play-style. 

3d6 Score Modifier
3-10 0
11-13 +1
14-15 +2
16-17 +3
18 +4

I’m keeping it familiar, but again- I’m trying to chew the fat.  When I looked at what really mattered when playing- it was the modifier (I’m not talking about roll under mechanics- as previously stated I’m moving forward with a target number/roll over mechanics).  Often, when I’m running games for newbies I get asked why they have 18 Strength and a +4 modifier, what do they do, why are they separate, etc. and I started thinking about it: Why do we have both?  I mean I get that the total is a means to an end to get to the modifier, but is having both necessary?

With how abilities and modifiers work in 3.x, the score is basically a form of advancement currency that functions to slow ability advancement or degradation.  What I mean is, if you have a 16 Strength- that gives you a +3 modifier and you won’t see that sexy +4 until you get your Strength up to 18 (so start juicing, motherfuckers!).  Characters only gain the ability to increase an attribute by +1 every four levels “naturally”, otherwise it’s using potions, magic items, spells, etc. and most of those are temporary.  The other side of the coin is losing ability scores.  You get hit by a wight that deals 1 point of Constitution damage per attack, it’s not as devastating when you get smacked from a 17 to a 16. 

In my current brain space and how I want to play games, this just seems like unnecessary bookkeeping to me.  If a PC has a +4 Constitution and get smacked in their stupid face by a wight and fails their save- guess what…?  They now have a +3 Constitution- guess it’s time they start learning how to dodge. 

That’s pretty much it for ability scores and how to generate them- so let’s move on to…

Modifiers!

Ability modifiers generated through character creation range from 0 to +4.  These modifiers can be increased to a max of +6 through spending Experience Points (more on this later).  Enchantments, spells, magic items, and even some standard items can increase the modifier to +8 (either permanently or for a limited time).

Characters can become proficient in skills which grants a +2 bonus to their roll (more on this later too).  There will be Traits that will give a character Advantage to their roll as well. 

All in all, the highest bonus a character could have is +10 and I have a feeling that will be uncommon. 

Mechanics

That is the barebones of my mechanics- the no frills, three sentence explanation of how the rules work. 

Doing Stuff: Roll 1d20, add appropriate modifiers and attempt to beat the target number.

The target numbers for my rules are: Moderate: 10; Hard: 15; Extreme: 20; Impossible: Roll a natural 20. The two most common TN used will be Moderate and Hard

Things that help the situation will give a +2 bonus to the roll. For example: Thieves tools for picking locks, alchemist kit for making poisons, rock climbing gear for scaling a mountain/building, etc.

Note: Big thanks to Kyrinn and Gregor for kicking me in the head to look at my target numbers again.

Note: The other day I mentioned my thoughts behind only rolling when necessary and when it presents an interesting situation or option. 

Killing Stuff: Roll 1d20, add STR/DEX modifier and +2 for Weapon Specialization (if applicable) and compare to the defender’s armor threshold and roll damage. 

Alternatively- Even Smaller Modifiers– I am pondering that through character generation, the highest modifier one can start with is +2 or +3 and through leveling up one can get to +4 and that would be it. I’d still keep the +2 bonus for being proficient in a skill. My current mindspace seems to like this better.

Also- big thanks to everyone who has given me great constructive feedback. I really appreciate it. It’s great to see this all from different angles.

Next one- I think I’ll tackle my thoughts on where I want to go with races in my system.

#diy_productions_rules_dev_note


DIY RPG Productions Rules Development Notes- Thoughts on Target Number VS Roll Under

Target Numbers VS Roll Under

When I started designing my rules- this was a big hurdle for me.  First, I had to decide which way I wanted my mechanics to go: Target Number VS Roll Under.  I needed to figure this out before I moved onto Ability Scores and Modifiers. 

I pondered (what I felt were) the strengths and weaknesses of both, gauged my players thoughts and reactions to the different games and mechanics we played, and considered my desire to create something that is immediately easy to grok, but is engaging and has longevity (hopefully).    

When running Barbarians of the Ruined Earth (which uses Black Hack as a base) and Death is the New Pink (which uses Into the Odd) games for my players, I got to see how easily they understood the rules.

ME: “See your Strength score is a 8?” 

Player: “Yeah.”

ME: Ok- so you need to roll a 1d20 and get a 7 or below. 

Player: “Man- my Strength sucks.”

ME: “Yeah it does.”

Player rolls 1d20 and attempts to get a 7 or less. 

And that’s it.  Super fucking simple. 

While the game is simple- I did notice a few issues that seem to be a common issue/complaint with very rules-lite mechanics.

First– Roll Under goes against how we are programmed.  1 is less and is shit and 20 is more and is exciting.  Even when I run a game with people who have never played a RPG ever get excited when they roll a 20.  “Oh!  A 20!  That’s the highest on this dice, right?  Does something cool happen.”

Second– Without target numbers and modifiers, I feel the system loses an amount of robustness, be it through skill points, modifiers for attributes, or modifiers gained though magical items, spells, drugs, etc.  It usually boils down to gaining Advantage or Disadvantage for the situation (or canceling one another out) and rolling the dice. This is a super simple approach, easy to grok, and do- but all situations end up feeling the same mechanically.

On the other side of the coin I was worried about the escalation shit storm that usually accompanies target numbers and modifiers.  This is why I find any level past 5th in 3.x, Pathfinder, and 5e so fucking annoying.  All the math… Negative modifiers, positive modifiers, situational modifiers, Feat modifiers, spell modifiers, magic item modifiers.  This escalation creep was created to keep the game challenging.  You look at the target numbers of high level play (like 38 or some shit) and I’m all like, “Why? What purpose does this serve to anybody?  What fun does such high and ridiculous amounts of modifiers really add to the game?”

To me- it doesn’t.  It’s annoying, makes character creation a chore (which as I’ve said I don’t want), and bogs down the game more than it enhances it. The only thing that high modifier does is tickle the child part of our brain that “more is better.”

After much pondering about what excites me as a GM and what my players seem to enjoy and react to I decided to go with a TN/Roll equal to or over mechanic.  Here’s notes from a previous post:

In the end, I decided to move towards a TN/Roll equal to or over mechanic. 1- I enjoy the fuck out of rolling a 20 and the thrill/dread or rolling a 1.

2- I feel (and this is totally my opinion here) that a game with small range of modifiers has a wider berth for long term play, and as my goal was to attempt to create something I’d want to run for one shots, con play, and long term- this sat right with me.

3- Those modifiers help to facilitate an easy mechanic for skills that help flush out characters to feel interesting/varied.

So What are the Target Numbers?

With my desire to avoid escalation I knew I wanted to keep the modifiers and target numbers down to a reasonable level. 

The target numbers for my rules are: Easy: 5, Moderate: 10; Hard: 15; Extreme: 19; Impossible: 22.  Mechanically, this means roll 1d20, add appropriate modifiers (ranging from 0 to 4 at character creation, up to +6 through leveling up, and up to +8 through magic items/spells, drugs, etc. and finally a +2 proficiency skill (more on this later).

These rolls are for tests like resisting poisons, charms, traps, explosions, etc.  Combat is slightly different.  That is roll 1d20 + STR/DEX modifier and +2 for Weapon Specialization (if applicable) and compare to the armor’s threshold (more on this when I talk about combat). 

There will be Traits (think very simple feats), potions, situations, etc. that will let a character roll with Advantage or Disadvantage (more on this later too when I talk about modifiers). 

On Rolling In General

I tend not to make the player roll the dice unless there is a reason or interesting situation that will come from it. I find that the thrill of giving the character’s an option is more enjoyable. “Ok you can open the lock on the treasure chest. You can take your time and will automatically succeed and you’ll disarm the trap (if there is one), but I’m going to roll a d6 and if it comes up a 1-2 something’s gonna happen… I’m gonna roll on one of my charts you dread so much. Or you can attempt to unlock the chest by succeeding on a roll. If not, there may be consequences.”

The player’s evaluate their situations and make the call. It gives them agency over the current situation in a way that normally would boil down to a roll.

I believe this is what 3.x was trying to do with taking 10 (or taking 20), but it just felt clunkily bolted on and mechanically driven more than an organic choice. Chris McDowall (author of Into the Odd) was the first person I noticed preaching this kind of philosophy and it’s definitely one I really enjoy, so I gotta give that man props there!

Alright- enough for today.

#diy_productions_rules_dev_notes


DIY RPG Productions Rules Development Notes- Thoughts on Character Creation

Character Creation, for me, needs to be smooth, quick, easy to grok, and not intimidate or fatigue new players.

Over the years I have seen how daunting character creation can be- especially for new players and if there is a high lethality to the setting/game.

Challenge One- The info dump. While this can be annoying for veteran players, my greatest concern is for newbies or those with the attention span of a 10 year old who has snorted Pixie Sticks and shotgunned a bottle of Mountain Dew…

First you have the GM’s campaign exposition- all the fluff and backstory and bullshit (the stuff I really don’t do and nix from my games, but that’s a whole different issue/thing and I wrote Hubris in the first place), then there’s the summary of the rules and showing of the dice (and the disclaimer of not to put the fucking things in your ear, nose or anus), followed by the the explanation of the races, the description of the classes, and so on and so forth.

People can become fatigued right from the get go or suffer from decision paralysis.

My main desire is to cut the fat from character creation.

My games tend to have a high fatality rate… when a character died in 3.x the players were CRUSHED- not so much because they liked their character (although they did), but because the sheer amount of work that went into creating the fucking thing… And now they have to do it again. When PCs were dying in my Going Medieval on Yo Ass playtests, it wasn’t such a big deal. They were still bummed their character had their heart eaten out by a giant Dire Booger, but hey- that happens in the Forever Dungeon.

I’ll touch on this more with classes and races, and the other fiddly bits, but I really want these rules to be more “show me, don’t tell me.” I don’t want to pause while players look up rules or get bummed that the ability only activates under certain conditions. I want to capture the players sense of excitement and wonder right out of the box (whether I’ll be successful or not- fuck all if I know…).

Ok… I think I’m done rambling for now.
#diy_productions_rules_dev_notes


DIY RPG Productions Rules Development Notes- A List of Thoughts to Cover

Yesterday I mentioned that I had decided to do both classless and class-based mechanics for my DIY rules and that the class rules would be house in Appendix C while rules for races would be in Appendix R.

What I plan to do is do a post on each of the following:

Note: These are all things that have bothered/irked me or caused me to ponder in some way over the years.

  • Character Creation
  • Ability Scores
  • Modifiers
  • Target Number VS Roll Under
  • Races and Classes VS Race as Class
  • Class-based VS Classless
  • Clerics and Deities
  • Magic Users and Spells
  • Abilities (in general)
  • Class Abilities VS Item-granted Abilities
  • Skills
  • Weapon Damage
  • Critical Hits and Fumbles
  • Dark Vision/Thermal Vision
  • Wounds, Death, Dying and Death Saving Throws
  • Monster Dynamics
  • Other Fiddly Bits (shit I can’t quantify right now)

#diy_productions_rules_dev_notes


DIY RPG Productions Rules Development Notes- Small Thought on Class vs Classless

When pondering this I have gone back and forth between whether the rules should be class-based or classless… Each has pros and cons (I’ll go into those in more depth in a later post)… Death is the New Pink is classless… Barbarians of the Ruined Earth is class-based… If I ever get to my cyberpunk game, I see it having the archetype-style thing that Cyberpunk 2020 did (which is basically a class).

In the end I’ve decided to do both. The mechanics that I’ve been hammering out thus far are simple and hackable enough to facilitate both with ease.

For clarity and ease of understanding, the main rules will be classless and human-centric. Appendix C will give the rules for having classes in the book and Appendix R will give rules for races. 

#diy_productions_rules_dev_notes