Monday, January 22, 2018

The First Exemplar: A Hunger City Character

Really have to come up with a better name.

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


  • RAD 16
  • Deal +2


  • TEK 15
  • UD 6


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

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


  • RAD 16
  • Deal +2


  • TEK 13
  • UD 6


  • BIO 14
  • Appeal +1
Dodge 12

Psyche 12
Strikes 7

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

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


  • RAD 16
  • Deal +2


  • TEK 13
  • UD 6


  • BIO 14
  • Appeal +1
Dodge 12

Psyche 12
Strikes 7

Sweet Thing

Legend 4
Harmony 4

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

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

I roll for that.

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

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

This to me is Hunger City operating as intended.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Dawnstar Registration

Saturdays, 9PM Eastern US to roughly 11PM Eastern US, and we can go later some nights depending on whether I work or not. This will be weekly and if I know I won't be able to make it I will try to get a fill-in Referee.

You do not have to know how to play Feng Shui/Feng Shui 2, or have read the articles I've put up about it. Just know the following before the first session:

  • This is basically Studio Ghibli Wacky Races with some other cartoons and Japanese shit and 80s cartoons and (being FS) action movie stuff thrown in. Sometimes it will be mainstream, sometimes more fantastic or sci-fi, sometimes whole sessions will focus on the more pastoral aspects of these characters' lives. Don't take everything very seriously but don't roll up with Johnny Fart and the Dildo 5000...try to keep the basic gist of this in mind.
  • You only need a few D6.
  • You need to know what kind of guy you want to play. This might mean that you look at one of these documents and pick a Type you want to play, or maybe you could read the Background for the campaign or check out the individual entries under the tag. Or just...have a guy in mind and I'll pick something close enough to play for your first session.
  • That said, after the first session or two be prepared to play more than one character. If you've played certain types of RPG you're used to filling out the cast in certain situations, this will be one of those.

Our first couple sessions will be a little stripped down because I'm still getting all my video/call streaming stuff re-worked out on my computer. So have a lot of patience with me on that and I'll have a lot of patience with you regarding everything else.

Now I'm open to as many people as want to play but know that I'm not going to run with more than 6 in a week (cross talk becomes too much a problem online). If a week shows where I can't get 3 together to run then I do a shorter little session with whoever showed up and go do something else.

Additionally I would prefer to start the campaign knowing for certain that at least 3 players will more or less be able to make it every week. Things come up, people go out of town, get sick, I get that, but I want a few people on board for whom this is their Saturday night thing, not a backup. I know that can be a big ask because it is Saturday night but, well.....that's when I can do this.

Any questions just ask them here or on G+ and I'll answer. Depending on response I can start as early as this weekend but otherwise I'm going to begin 10 February 2018 at 9PM Eastern US. Otherwise, sign up below or on the G+ thread.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Wizard

Magic is not real.

Not everyone knows that. Some insist they can cast spells and are actually quite convincing but anything they can do you can do.

HD/Saves/Attack/Advance as Thief/Specialist.

You are well read and well practiced in your many talents and that's it.

When you encounter a problem - a monster, a locked pyramid, a riddling illusion, a crystalline barrier, an uncooperative sheriff - you can roll 1d100. If your result is equal to or less than your Intelligence plus your level then this is something you know about or know how to do. Your Int+Lvl is called your Theory.

You can use this for languages but a positive result doesn't imply fluency, it just means you know how to convey the specific message you want to say or decode this specific cave pictogram.

At any point you may add any number of Experience Points you've earned to your Theory as a one-time bonus before rolling d100 to determine your success. You level up more slowly but learn quickly.

If you ever want to deduce how to duplicate the effects of a spell or seemingly supernatural effect you've witnessed then you must roll against your Theory but may not add any XP to boost your chances. You get 1 chance for each spell/effect until you get another chance to observe it.

If you want to actually put your knowledge to use you have to make another roll to see if you can actually walk the walk or if you're just full of book smarts, not ready for the real world. This is a d100 roll against #x2, where # is the relevant Ability Score. #x2 is called your Practice. You may not add XP or your level to Practice but you get a +1 bonus to Practice cumulative the longer you try to grasp this new technique.

Once per level you can take some trick that you've successfully Practiced and turn it into a Technique. Techniques are a flat d20 roll equal or under Intelligence.

You have to pay to learn how to do stuff, you have to work to actually get good at doing stuff, and after that it becomes routine and memory.

The big control on this is that pulling off a lot of Techniques requires a lot of preparation or a lot of materials. A good Wizard has a whole lot of junk and tools on them at all times in order to better improvise but sometimes actually trying their Practice roll or executing a Technique will be just impossible without a trip to the store or some rare resource being involved.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Checking In on Hunger City


1) Layout tables once I finish writing them
2) Folding "dm notes" into main document and trimming excess BS, cutting the document down to size
3) Come up with a better name
4) Placeholder art for the players until I'm sure everything is in final phase
5) Print it out and absolutely fuck it right up with bad drawings and worse poetry

Final play phase will involve getting at least 1 other DM to run 6 sessions of this game. My hit list for this is all women but I could be swayed. Phase won't initiate in my current employment situation I bet...if that means this goes to print without a final "proof-playing" then so be it, this is meant to be a sort of punk exercise/learning experience not a fucking Pelegrane product.

The idea as mentioned elsewhere was to release this as basically a hard to find "zine" that I don't actually distribute or sell. I'll just give some to Scrap, some to Patrick, some to Ram, etc. and have them sell them next time they're somewhere worth selling something and pocket the cash for their effort. Budgeting that whole run as a wipe. If that builds enough interest I might do another print run or might just stick to PDF.... There won't be many of the initial print and they will be done at either kinkos or my house unless I find somewhere even cheaper with even shittier paper. It's important to me that the final product be shitty physically, and very disposable.

As I go I've also got a list of follow-up support "zines" of other material. These will have a few other updates and features as I go but will focus on expanding specific aspects of the game.

  • Additional transformations
  • Specific ruined city sourcebook (I have 3 in mind...)
  • Additional spells and artifacts
  • Other apocalypses
  • Codified enemies
  • Boss rush
  • I have an idea for a sort of dice/card building way to play this, if I figure it out then that might be one...
  • Maybe some new not-quite-classes-and-races
  • I want to make every other release a small adventure zine because nobody makes enough actual adventures for their apocalypse
Even if any of these happen they won't all happen, and even if I made as many as the ideal case presents some will end up folded into each other.

I had hoped to be done by now but shit happened. As is I have a few months of work ahead of me...Probably a lot less if I could stop getting jerked around with my schedule enough to run this more and regain my old Sweeny Todd arm for design software. This might be a 2018 release, it might even get to be several 2018 releases. We'll see.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Strangleparts - A "One Day" Forest Crawl For Two Systems

Image result for kids in creepy forest
If you are an adventurer from out in the wider world, Corrindi or some other Delt people or from beyond the red mountains, perhaps, then you may well adventure into the Strangle using the rules of D&D 5th Edition, hereafter VDND. That makes sense. You are wandering heroes, perhaps basing your operations from one of the nearby towns of kingdoms. Maybe you venture into the Strangle in search of strange game, or fantastic treasures, or because some lord or god commanded it be so. You may be someone dedicated to preserving the Idle. You may even be one of the strange creatures who there dwell, such as a Wolder or Mag. That makes sense. All that seems right and good. You can use these rules here in order to do so.

But that's only one side of the coin. What about the denizens of the Idle Lands? The towns and villages and farms cut off from the wider world by the god-forest? There are no Idle adventurers, that's surely some kind of moron if not an oxy one. These people have grown up in the shadow of things stranger than deaths. None venture in cavalierly. Those who have grown up here are all old enough to know better. But you're not grown up yet.

Strangleparts is an attempt to fulfill the literalization of +Pearce Shea's Monsterhearts game, stripping it of much of its novelty and invention in order to make its "attributeless D&D" something more like something on the back of a DM screen. The idea here is to end up in less of a Pennywise place and more of a Gingerbread House place. If it helps you to think of this as "perma-death Disney" or "Clive Barker's A Wizard of Earthsea" then do so.

If you want to play a campaign heading from within the Idle Lands into the dark and menacing Strangle (or through the same, trying to get out to the nations beyond) then you can use the rules on Pearce's website or buy In The Woods and get the straight dope. To summarize as succinctly as possible as not to bite Pearce's traffic or sales:

8 Simple Rules For Playing My Green Age Daughter

  1. All characters are around 11.
  2. You are each either a Toughie, a Smartie, or a Baddie. Baddies have experienced some strange secret of the Strangle and become somewhat changed by the experience. 
  3. Every Secret you know reduces your max EP. Every round you spend in the presence of a monster or some unspeakable weirdness reduces your EP. Any attempt to convince someone of a Secret prompts an immediate wandering monster check whether you succeed or fail, and, likewise, lowers the NPC's EP.
  4. Every character has a sack with a day and a half worth of spartan rations, a good knife, their Talisman against the unknown and a Nickname to protect from the known. Smarties can read and make maps, and so they begin with a map.
  5. When you're out of EP you are helpless. The Strangle claims you or something weirder happens. Toughies have the most EP.
  6. Toughies are the best at hurting creatures.
  7. Baddies are the best at hiding and sneaking.
  8. Smarties are the best at searching or puzzling.
Additionally all your characters have 2 other items in their sacks, roll here to determine..

1. A roll of canvas to use for shelter
2. Sleeping bag
3. Good luck charm
4. Small offering to the gods
5. Rope
6. A pot
7. Flint and steel
8. Shears
9. Mask
10. Fishing line and hook
11. Net
12. Torch or Lantern
13. Chalk and charcoal
14. Paper and paints
15. Yellow thread
16. Hooded cloak
17. Climbing cleats
18. Grandparent's diary
19. Magnifying lens
20. 3x food

The purpose here is to get two different game experiences in the same setting even if your table is made up of the same people, each campaign happening simultaneously and maybe bumping into one another but being very much their own thing. These aren't meant to dovetail. In fact, the VDND party may seem very much like a kind of enemy or strange secret to many of the Monsterparts kids. You can map out the track around the Ryvern and get vastly different games depending on which direction you're traveling, even if both parties hit all the same beats. They'll occur in a different order and have vastly different impacts.

I don't know. Just something I want to do if I get the chance.