posted by Traveller Original SA post

Okay, so I can't sleep. I could do the other two adventures for MiliKK but I don't feel like it. One is pretty risqué as far as these things go, as the idea is that PCs try to hook up with one of several girls only for things to go awfully wrong (the nice-looking girl is the Major's daughter! the would-be revolutionary chica was too loud and attracted a gaggle of Neo-Nazis!) forcing the party to flee for the safety of their barracks. No wonder the authors described this game as "cachondo", which is the adjective you would use for, say, a movie like Porky's. The other has no sex at all, thank goodness, but it's basically "okay bad officer is around and he'll try to fuck you over" and is generally a time-line and a map of a base for PCs to goof around in and try to escape scrutiny.

So no, instead you get something entirely different!

Exemplars and Eidolons


Exemplars and Eidolons is a fantasy RPG of the oldschool type and... no, wait, where are you going? While it claims to be an OSR game and it's certainly compatible with other OSR-based products, this is not yet another pre-3E retroclone, far from it. Its creator is OSR luminary Kevin Crawford (who wrote noted Traveller-like Stars Without Number and Red Tide, which is the most badass setting the OSR ever produced) and it's a simple, but slick little game...

Only it's not really a game. What?

Okay, so there is an actual, playable game here, but Crawford's actual attempt was to use it as a learning example. See, E&E is a sample game to teach other would-be RPG DIY publishers how to layout a game or game supplement of their own. When you download E&E (which is free!), you get two files: one is the game itself, a simple PDF, and the other is a compressed file containing InDesign files, the art Crawford used in the book, and another PDF with a commentary layer where he explains why how he did the table of contents, how he chose fonts and laid out text, tables and pictures, and so on. It's really interesting if you're into desktop publishing and to be honest, I haven't seen this kind of effort before, so it's cool that he took his time to do something like this.

Snazzy art! Crawford gives permission for you to use it in your stuff, as long as you credit the original artists.

But of course, what you really want is the rules. Which is good, because E&E rocks.

E&E is a game where players play heroes. This is not a game where level 1 nobodies die shitty deaths in subterranean fantasy fucking Vietnam. This is a game where you're on the way to toppling kingdoms from day one, where you're not pinching pennies and lying on your belly poking at traps on the ground. It's high-powered, high-flying adventure, and it's metal as all hell. Character creation starts by rolling the classic six D&D stats with a 4d6 drop lowest roll, assigning each roll to any stat you want. If no score is 16 or higher, simply erase the lowest and replace it with a 16, or ask the GM to use a pre-set stat spread (16. 14, 13, 10 and 9.) 9-12 is the average range, with higher and lower stats providing attribute modifiers that go from -3 to +3. Yeah, the pre-set spread won't give you any penalties. It's not that kind of OSR game.

Classes ! We have Warrior , Rogue and Sorcerer . Warriors are tough and punchy, rogues are sneaky, sorcerers have wikkd magikz. Each class has an attack bonus . hit points , Fray die and maximum weapon damage . I'll explain the Fray die later, but the maximum weapon damage is exactly that, the maximum damage you're going to roll with a weapon attack. A sorcerer simply won't be as martially trained as a warrior, so they get 1d6 maximum weapon damage, while rogues get 1d8. In fact, the warrior seems to have the best stats at this point, with the best attack bonus, the best Fray die, the most HP and unlimited weapon damage. But, we'll see!

Each hero gets three Facts to add to their sheet. Facts are just that - facts about the hero, simple sentences that can later be used to gain an advantage in play. For instance, a sorceror's Facts can be "I was trained by STERN MASTER, but I betrayed him to THE SUPER PALADINS because he was a demonologist so now they like me, and when I get angry sparks fly around me so bdazz." So what if you don't know if there even are SUPER PALADINS in the game world? Ask your GM, because Facts are also how a GM can start building up a world for the PC heroes to traipse around in. When a Fact is relevant to a check or saving throw, it gives a +4 bonus to it. Only one Fact can apply to any single roll, though.

Fact: that hand is creepy as shit.

Heroes also get Gifts . Gifts are what really separate heroes from regular people: you can be a veteran swordsman or a vizier with a head full of spells, but not a capital letter Warrior or Sorcerer without Gifts. This is heroic stuff, not inane d20-like feats. Starting characters get three Gifts: two of them must be from their starting class or from the list of generic Gifts available to all classes, and the third can be from either one of those lists or from one of the other classes' Gift lists. Heroes get one more Gift per level, and every even-numbered level they can choose to a another Gift from another class. Some Gifts require Effort to activate: this represents a greater investment on the part of the hero. Each hero starts with two points of Effort and gains one more per level. Effort is used different from Gift to Gift: some need Effort to be committed until a fight or scene is over (in broad terms, never something specific like individual rounds). Effort is recovered by a good night's sleep, and GMs may also require to spend Effort to perform some special feat of skill, but that should be very rare.

Gear! : voulges, guisarmes... ah, fuck that shit. Heroes have what they need, they don't shop in endless equipment lists. Weapons are defined generically as heavy (1d10), one-handed (1d8), light (1d6, hero can use Dexterity modifier instead of Strength for hit rolls and damage) and ranged (1d8, 1d6 for hurled weapons, can use Dex instead of Str). This is where the max damage per class kicks in - sure, a sorcerer can wield a heavy warhammer, but they'll only deal 1d6 damage tops with it. Armor is also handled generically: light armor is AC 7, medium armor is AC 5, heavy armor is AC 3, and a shield gives +1 armor. Rogue Gifts that rely on nimbleness and stealth cannot be used with heavy or medium armor, and sorcerers cannot cast spells at all when wearing armor or using a shield. As for other gear, simply choose them - it's the GM's call if they want to pare down outrageous gear, substantial holdings of land, scores of retainers and so on.

Wealth! Okay, heroes don't give a flying fuck about the 5 silver pieces on a bandit's purse. Capital-W Wealth is when a hero shoves their arm shoulder-deep in a coffer full of gold coins and jewels. It's the kind of moolah that makes kings and nobles go WHOA. Heroes are assumed to always have the money they need for daily life, unless they're like stripped naked in the ass end of nowhere or coming out of a week-long bender or something. Wealth can go from 1 (the smallest treasury worth celebrating) to 10 (a kingdom's riches). A single point of Wealth can buy pretty much anything a fair-sized city can provide - a house, a party for a couple hundred people, a bribe for a high official in a dangerous matter. Aside from that, Wealth is also used to further a group's goals, acquiring Influence on them. How exactly that works is left for later!

For the final touches, it's time to record a character's saving throw . There are three of them, Toughness (higher of Str or Con, plus levels in Warrior) Evasion (higher of Dex or Wis, plus levels in Rogue) and Mystic (higher of Int or Cha, plus levels in Sorcerer) To roll a saving throw, you just have to roll under it with 1d20. Then hit points (8 for warriors, 6 for rogues, 4 for sorcerers, plus Con modifier), attack bonus (+0 for non-warriors, +1 for warriors), armor class (your armor plus shield if you have it, defaulting to 9 without it, adding or subtracting the Dex modifier but AC can never be worse than 9), the Fray die (1d8 for warriors, 1d6 for rogues, 1d4 for sorcerers) and, finally, a name and appearance. And that's it, you have one hero ready to roll!


Next: now, Raiden! Bring him down!

The only thing I know for real

posted by Traveller Original SA post

Exemplars and Eidolons

The only thing I know for real

Gifts! As mentioned earlier, these aren't simple, mundane advantages. Gifts are what really makes a hero stand above the normal cut of mortals, and they can enable them to do the literally impossible for the ordinary run of folk. Most Gifts don't have prerequisites. Some allow committing Effort to gain Influence with a certain goal, but the meaning of that will be explained later. When Effort is committed, it usually returns after the immediate situation that called for the commitment is over, or the hero can get a nap.

: General Gifts (aside from Ferocious Effort, they can only be taken once per hero)

Rogue Gifts (those that involve being stealthy or nimble cannot be used in heavy or medium armor)

Sorcerer Gifts (most can be used while armored, but spellcasting is impossible)

Warrior Gifts

Archer's gonna 360noscope a fool. In the annotated version, Crawford mentions that he put this image in the Warrior Gift list to make it look better, as it is shorter than the lists of the other two classes.

Yeah, motherfucker. E&E heroes don't fuck around. Enough concepts spring out from reading this list that you could conceivably have a full party of the same class with distinct abilities and niches. A party of four Warriors can include the grim magekiller (Pierce Wards, Unbreakable Will and Unstoppable Wrath), the mystic archer (Unerring Accuracy, Titanic Blow and Eclectic Arcanist), the muscle hero (Crushing Fists, Inexhaustible and Iron Skin) and the daring frontline captain (Shining Leader, Drillmaster and Breaker of Armies)

Next: Magnetic force, Jack!

A stranger I remain

posted by Traveller Original SA post

Night10194 posted:

So with crushing fists, iron skin and wallbreaker, you can play a fighter who just koolaid mans into battles and starts hitting people with other people and/or the remnants of the wall he just burst through and it will count as magical weapons and let him deflect swords with his steely abs?


That was going to be my original example for muscle hero, but I went with Inexhaustible for the imagery of a muscle-bound slab of flesh that Just. Does. Not. Stop. And hey, only one more level and they can koolaidman with the best of them!

Exemplars and Eidolons

A stranger I remain

It's time for magic! Oh, no, this is where the game reveals its OSR blood and where casters get to pwnzorz all the other classes, right? Not quite.

Fucking cthulhus!

A sorcerer can cast a number of spells equal to 1 + number of levels in the sorcerer class. Restoring those energies needs a 15-minute rest, and small meditations and rituals to go with that. Casting a spell counts as a sorcerer's action for the round, and one that is struck or otherwise damaged before their turn comes up cannot cast a spell during that round. When a spell counts a character's level for an effect, all levels count, not just those of the sorcerer class. Some spells can only be cast on a creature the mage can touch , while others can reach anywhere within the mage's sight. Some spells require Effort to be committed: if a spell enchants another creature for good or ill, the effect remains until the Effort is withdrawn. If the effect is instant, the Effort returns after a good night's sleep. Healing spells feed upon the energies of violence and battle: a healing spell cast outside of it always heals the maximum amount of hit points, but because it has no energies to feed on it drains the recipient, who must commit Effort for out of combat healing to take place. This Effort also returns after a night's rest. Many spells require saving throws to be made against them, mostly Evasion for projectile-type stuff and Mystic for those that directly attack the mind or spirit. And again, spells can't be cast wearing mundane armor or shields - perhaps there are mystical armors that don't encumber a mage so.

Each of the following schools has ten spells: four at Apprentice rank, three at Adept, two at Master and one at Archmage. Learning or creating a new spell outside of this listcounts as a minor goal within the Adventure and Influence system, which will come up later. This way, a mage can potentially use spells from other OSR games. Some spells can also be found as loot in the way of scrolls and spellbooks. Heroes explicitly don't require spellbooks, that's only for ordinary magic users, but they can use a spellbook or scroll to cast spells without draining their energies. Once used, the scroll or spellbook page crumbles into dust.


You're not quite summoning 1d4 giant rats here.

And now, some actual rules for playing the game! Heroic adventurers meet with challenges from time to time. But not everything is a challenge to them - in fact, most ordinary applications of their abilities simply work in their favor, no rolls required. A rogue isn't going to fall off a second story ledge or fumble a swipe of some rube's purse. A warrior doesn't have to doubt whether they can drink a weedy scholar under the table. That just happens. Real challenges, like calming down an infuriated mob or outdoing the artifice of a king's favored jeweler, are solved using ability checks : in classic D&D form, the player takes 1d20 and attempts to roll under the stat most closely associated with what they want to do. A relevant Fact adds +4 to this attribute, and for particularly difficult tasks the GM may impose a penalty, up to -4. A natural 1 always fails, a natural 20 always succeeds. If two contestants oppose each other, the one that wins by the biggest margin (or loses by the least) is the victor. Saving throws are effectively a specialized form of ability check, though most perils that can force a saving throw also impose a penalty equal to the hit dice of the foe attempting to inflict the condition.

Time for combat! Some of you may have noticed that effects that deal damage seem to use very low numbers - the Torrent of Doom Gift deals 2 damage points, and 1 on a saving throw. What? Here's how it works. Combat progresses in rounds where participants can act once. Heroes always go first, unless they've been ambushed. In a round, a hero can move up to 60 feet and do one thing that doesn't take more than six seconds - attacking, cutting a rope, drinking a potion and so on. To attack, a character rolls 1d20 + target's AC + attack bonus + relevant attribute modifier, and attempts to beat a target number of 20. This is why lower AC is better - like in Stars Without Number and other Crawford games, this is so that old school material can be transplanted with the least effort without simply using the old rules. As before, a natural 1 is always a miss, and a natural 20 is always a hit.

Those monsters have no idea how fucked they are.

But damage works a little differently than usual. When damage is rolled, it is added to the relevant attribute modifier then compared to a table. A damage roll of 1 means no actual damage took place, 2-5 means a single damage point, 6-9 means 2 points, and 10+ means 4 points. If multiple dice of damage are rolled, then the damage for each is counted separately then totaled, but the attribute modifier only applies to one of the dice involved. And here is where the game reveals its trick: while damage is counted off a PC's hit points as normal, it is counted off the hit dice of other foes. A 10-HP warrior takes ten points of damage to be brought low; a 1-HD mook goes down in a heap with a single point. Furthermore, excess damage can be applied to other foes within range that have an armor class equal to or worse than that of the unlucky target. If you take out a 1-HD soldier with a 4-point wound, then you have three damage points to share out with their similarly-armored comrades.

The Fray die represents the myriad casual blows, snapshots and lesser mystic strikes a hero inflicts in the course of a battle. A hero always rolls their Fray die in combat, even if they're doing something other than attacking. Only one Fray die is rolled, however, even if the hero has access to more than one through multiclassing. Fray dice don't need to hit - they're just rolled, compared to the damage table, and the resulting points are doled out among foes within range. However, Fray damage only applies to enemies with equal hit dice to the character or less - more beefier opponents will need a deliberate effort to damage them. The only exception to this is the sorcerer's Fray die - it is the lowest at 1d4, but sorcerous blasts can damage foes with any number of hit dice.

So yeah, those 6d10 goblins? Fodder.

A sorcerer's Fray die into action. Zappo!

Healing! After a fight, heroes can take a five-minute break to bind their wounds, healing up to 2 HP from their latest struggle. A good night's sleep is enough to restore a hero's full complement of HP.

Advancement! Heroes acquire new levels through experience points. A hero obtains 2 XP after completing a minor goal, 4 after a medium one, and 8 after a truly realm-shaking problem is solved. The GM judges what goals are which according to guidelines that will come up later. When a character obtains a new level, as directed by the handy XP chart here (which goes up to level 10, at 54 XP) they can choose to gain it in any of the three classes, adding HP, attack bonuses, saving throws and Gifts as directed. Furthermore, each new level gives the character a new Fact to add to their sheet, something relevant to the great adventure that netted them the XP necessary to level up of course. After level 10, heroes no longer advance in attack bonuses or HP increases, but since they have reached the outermost limits of mortal capacity they may gain new Gifts, or even develop brand-new ones.

If I rightly remember, this is from Crawford's Spears of the Dawn, his Africa-inspired fantasy game. Which I hear is really fucking good.

Next! In my new America, people will die and kill for what they BELIEVE! Not for money. not for oil! Not for what they're told is right. Every man will be free to fight his own wars!

It has to be this way

posted by Traveller Original SA post

Kai Tave posted:

Y'know, the first thing that came to my mind when I read Red Tide was "I bet this would be pretty cool if you took these sorts of rules and applied them to an entire party instead of just a single player doing one-on-one games" and what do you know. Kevin Crawford seems like the sort of dude I wish more OSR types were like.

Scarlet Heroes is the one-on-one RPG, Red Tide is his Labyrinth Lord setting.

Exemplars and Eidolons

It has to be this way

Let's talk about foes! They're the myriad bad guys, beasts, minions and other mobs that the heroes end up facing. Foes are nowhere near as detailed as heroes in mechanical terms; sure, the GM could create heroes to oppose the party and give them Gifts and such, but by and large foes are pretty damn simple. Many other NPCs may also exist, but by and large it's not necessary to model them mechanically - the question of how foes will fare when fighting heroes comes up way more often, so they get the stat block treatment. A basic foe has AC, attack bonus, damage roll, a morale score, and hit dice. Indeed, the only reason these are called "hit dice" at all is simply to make conversion from other OSR sources easier. Morale is a number from 2 to 12 that reflects how willing the foe is to face the heroes in battle. When a foe needs to make a Morale check, the GM rolls 2d6. If it's greater than the foe's Morale, they will flee, surrender, retreat or otherwise stop fighting. Some foes may have special abilities, too - multiple attacks, greater movement rate, or other stuff.

Foes are not dumb, though, and they can think twice before fighting heroes. Another 2d6 check is done when first meeting a band of foes. A result of 2 means that they're immediately hostile, a 7 that the outcome is uncertain, and a 12 that they're as friendly or helpful as they can conceivably be. A successful Charisma check on part of the heroes may cant this reaction check in a more helpful way. A group of foes that starts losing members has to roll Morale - only the most fanatical or frenzied enemies will truly fight to the death. Creating new foes is pretty simple, too: assume an ordinary human has 1 HD, elite specimens have 3 HD, and anything beyond that is truly supernatural strength. The new foe's AC should reflect their average armor, whether it's actual armor or hardened hide or whatever, and damage dice should be assigned based on the closest approximation to weapon categories. Monstrous beasts and exceptionally nimble warriors may get more than one attack. Morale is usually 7 for common folk, 8 for trained soldiers, 10 for elites and 12 for creatures that literally know no fear. A more dangerous variant is the Mythic foe: these are the really bad guys, the ones spoken of in hushed tones. Any foe can become Mythic with some changes. First, they become immune to mundane weapons. Only magic weaponry or artifacts can damage them. Second, they have HP instead of plain HD, about as five times as many HP as their basic HD. And perhaps more importantly, their damage dice are read straight - if they do 1d10 damage and roll a 7, that's 7 damage right there. They're treated as if they had their original HD for purposes of Fray dice, spells and other Gifts, however, and if you for some reason have a Mythic foe with just one HD and the heroes have the ability to instantly kill 1HD foes, welp. Mythic foes almost always have some other unique ability - breathing fire, draining energy by touch, or something else, and normally apply a -4 penalty to resisting these effects in addition to the penalty from their hit dice.

Like this witch lady gives a fuck about her home being on fire.

Foes can have their attributes rolled, but by and large it's assumed that they have a generic attribute score of 12, with 16 for something the foe is particularly good at and 8 if it's something they're bad at. Saving throws are the same, but remember that the penalty for hit dice goes both ways: a foe rolling a save will have the hero's HD used as a penalty against them.

We then get E&E's bestiary - forget about endless Monster Manual entries, E&E has a single page for stats and another for explanations and that's it.We get stats for humans (from warriors to mages), called entities (what Summoners bring into the world, from lesser minions to the Outer Lords themselves), undead (what the Necromancy dudes use, from skeletons to liches and everything in between, no zombies though), animals (from simple wild animals to the spooky God-Beasts that feed on worship and may cast spells) and mobs . Mobs are a special kind of creature for when you don't want to roll for all 6d10 goblins. They represent 50 enemies or so, and behave as a single creature but have a lot of attacks (4-8) and lots of HD (10 or better). They normally act as if they only had one HD for purposes of Fray dice and Gifts, but abilities that one-shot one HD enemies only reduce the mob in one die. Area-effect spells and Gifts deal double damage to mobs.

Wealth and Treasure ! We know how Wealth works by now - it's not the pocket lint from that orc you just whacked, it's serious fucking cash. We said that Wealth can be traded for Influence, but we also find out now that you can't just throw money at a problem: the first point of Influence costs 1 Wealth, but the second costs 2 Wealth and so on. Unless it is a problem that specifically can be solved with just a lot of money, in which case the ratio is 1:1. Wealth can be cumbersome, and in order to enjoy it it may be necessary for characters to come back for it with faithful minions and hirelings to haul the loot back home and be able to use it. And if the faithful minions and hirelings scoop some of it, who could begrudge them? As for other loot, heroes can find influential artifacts (that provide Influence with a relevant goal, normally needing to commit Effort to the artifact but not necessarily so) scrolls, spellbooks and grimoires (as per the Magic rules, though it bears saying that a grimoire simply grants access to a spell or number of spells and doesn't need to be carried by the character to benefit from it), healing items (because OSR material will obviously use different healing rules, healing items are treated as if they dealt reverse damage so a potion that heals 1d6+1 damage has to be compared against the damage table to heal) and others. If a Gift does something that a magic item would prevent, the Gift always wins.

"Jankenpin"? Well, rock-paper-scissors is "jankenpon," so I dunno.

Finally, we get to see how Influence works! This part opens telling GMs how to set up the initial situation in which PCs are involved. Crawford tells us about simple scenarios, detailed settings, and the old stalwart of OSR gaming - the sandbox campaign, which is something he really likes considering his other works. For starters, the GM has to think of a large problem: rebel nobles, a natural disaster, a big ass war, a magical apocalypse. This doesn't necessarily have to affect every single aspect of life, but it's there and it's obvious. After identifying the major antagonists and players in this, the large problem is then divided into four smaller ones - consequences of the larger issue, or just random trouble that popped up in its wake. A big war leaves breakouts of plagues and famine, roaming bands of deserters, brutal warlords asserting power, and nobles pressganging peasants as cannon fodder. And finally, the GM sets up a small problem, one that directly involves the PCs into the campaign. Ideally, this one points to the four subdivisions of the big issue and sets the PCs on the path to solve it.

With these problems in hand, now we can get to the mechanical effects of Influence. Each problem has a Difficulty score. Very basic problems have a Difficulty equivalent to twice the number of players. More complex problems (like the four subdivisions) have a Difficulty equal to four times the number of players. The real big troubles, like our campaign's big bad issue, have a Dificulty of eight times the number of players. To solve them, the heroes must accumulate Influence on the problem. Some Gifts allow Effort to be committed in order to gain Influence, but those Gifts can only affect one problem at a time, and the hero must describe how exactly they're working in order to deal with the issue. Heroes can also do something constructive in order to find a solution - that is to say, adventuring! How much Influence is gained at the table depends on the scope of the adventure, as we'll see later. Furthermore, it's not possible to simply throw Gifts and Wealth around and let a problem solve itself: even if the PCs manage to gather enough Influence, they must still do one thing on their own to see the issue through, even if that act is simply the culmination of their previous efforts. Heroes may also define their own goals, using the above guidelines to determine the Difficulty of their ambition. Extremely large accomplishments can be broken down into smaller ones, so a Difficulty 12 problem for a gang of three heroes can be divided into three smaller parts for them to progress through. These steps should be made clear to the players, and they should always have at least one thing to do in order to further their goals. I'm very much reminded of how Obstacles work in An Echo Resounding, Crawford's domain management rules for Labyrinth Lord: these are a much simpler, leaner version of them.

So, how does a GM challenge their players? One thing to realize is that, as heroes, there's lot of things that shouldn't be a challenge. They're heroes, they shouldn't have to be afraid of the city guard or botching burglaries into the city mayor's house by traipsing over the house cat. The GM can simply let the players push as far as they can go - once the silver-tongued rogue realizes that they can bend almost anyone to their plans, and start testing the real scope of their power, they'll eventually find true difficulty and challenge. Another way is, of course, plopping down Mythic foes here and there, with their accompanying thralls of minions and underlings for the heroes to face. Another tack can be simply stealing oldschool adventures - one party of level 1 E&E heroes could easily deal with a 5th-6th adventure for ordinary adventurers. Or the GM can create a situation where victory isn't clear cut, or where the PCs have to think it through in order to get a solution they're comfortable with.

Also, rewards! As a general rule, XP is handed out for solving goals. PCs will have to adventure for them, of course, but XP doesn't just come from adventuring, it comes from having a purpose and seeing it through. A small Influence goal is worth 2 XP, a medium one 4 XP, and a large one 8. Wealth can be rewarded in a similar fashion, though if using oldschool adventure material the GM will have to determine which loot is actually worthy of being Wealth and what is simply booze money. Rewards can also come in non-tangible forms: the friendship of a king, a pact with a celestial power. The game ends with a random table for possible conflicts and antagonists.

And that's Exemplars and Eidolons for you!