Friday, January 22, 2021

Vayra Asks...

What class knows the most martial arts? Are they real martial arts like kung fu, or made up ones like krav maga? There are no classes, but the most common form of marital arts is the made-up bullshit of windstepping. On the upside, it involves surgically increasing lung capacity in order to literally blow oneself up into the air or knock enemies over with a sigh, so it's not boring as shit.

Can I start out having already made a deal with the devil or do I have to do that in game? Depends, but usually that happens in game, in your hour of greatest need. Do you want me to write an 8-page backstory? Can I write an 8-page backstory, if I want to? If I write something down in it like I'm the timelost princess of the brass city and the daughter of the sun and I commanded legions in the Hell War but was betrayed by my father's vizier but I don't know that, or that I'm elf conan and cooler than everyone else, will that be true? No, yes, and if you do all that I will comb through it and talk with you about every aspect so we can comb out what you think is coolest while making sure you don't force yourself into the spotlight and also fit into the world (but resent you for making me do that). All you need is a character with some sort of goal. If I eat someone's heart, will I gain their powers? What about their brain? Heart, not unless you're under the influence of a specific drug, brain succeeds more often than you would initially think, especially for those used to living underground. Apparently an unlit brain is one with easily-transferable knowledge. These classes are boring, can I be one from somewhere else? What about from a different system entirely? Once again, no classes, but we can certainly talk. If I make a sword, which one of us gets to name it? If it happened randomly, you. If it happened because I put it there, me. Am I allowed to kill the other player characters? What would I have to do to be allowed to? Do I win if I kill them all? Actually, how do I win in general? You can't kill another PC unless everyone at the table agrees that not only you can, but you should. You win by forcing me to end the session early because whatever you've just done requires more than a bathroom break to process and bounce back from, like using a nuke on an archangel or ripping a hole in reality. What language stands in for 'Common'? Or what are we all talking to each other in? Like the party, mostly, but also everyone else? You're just speaking English, because otherwise wordplay couldn't be diegetic. Plus, English is basically the Common of our world, and that statement (as well as the fact that this fantastical post-apocalypse worls speaks our language) has spicy implications.
How do I learn how to talk to rocks? No not once a day just, like, normally? Study under an earth elemental or mountain, huff a lot of chalk dust, and/or some people just know how to do it. Which kinds of wizards get to serve kings and live in towers and shit and which ones are run out of town or stoned to death in the streets? Can I be both? At the same time? The wizards who serve royalty are the equivalents of the people who graduate just to immediately start teaching, they have no practical experience and most of their advice is just made-up bullshit. If a wizard is covered in runes, shivering in an alley, injecting vibrant purple fluid into their feet, fear them, for they have plumbed the cosmos for all it has to offer.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Progress rules

 Whenever you want to try and do or make something over a long period of time, use these mechanics.


Each full day of dedicated work you put into making your goals a reality, make the appropriate roll, with DISADVANTAGE if you were interrupted, using subpar resources, or otherwise hindered. If you succeed, you get a point of PROGRESS. You need (6? This might change with playtesting, but I like the idea of using a d6 to track how close you are) points of PROGRESS to succeed on your goal.


If you’re trying to increase a stat, you roll not against the stat you’re trying to improve, but 10 minus that stat. It’s easier to improve weaknesses than strengths. You can’t improve the same stat twice in a row, or make PROGRESS on multiple stats at once.


If you’re trying to make something valuable or start a business, you must spend 10 silver times the amount of PROGRESS you would be at if you succeeded every time you made the roll, regardless if it fails or not.


Flexible, adaptable, memorable. I think it’ll work well. I’ll see how the playtest goes.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

d10 types of True Names

1 Polysiliballic fantasy nonsense chock full of apostrophes 

2 The one word that best describes your soul 

3 An intricate rune

4 The name of the person playing the character/NPC

5 A song

5.5 A limerick

6 A normal, modern name

7 Plug the race/class/name/species into Google translate, then put it through Russian, Japanese, Spanish, German, Swedish, and then finally back into a language of your choice

8 Choose a random word/name in the nearest book 

9 A number, the rank of your cosmic importance 

10 The letters you read when you close your eyes so tight the little white spots appear

Sunday, January 10, 2021

HIRE ME TO MAKE YOU ART PLEASE

     So I'm starting to sell art commissions! I've set up an instagram here with some examples of my art. Check the comments for a current pricing estimate for each piece! I'm always happy try a new style or draw something a little bit out there, so please don't hesitate to reach out to me if you want something really gnarly.

PRICING GUIDE

As of now, I charge $10 an hour for my work. (I will keep this section up to date, and make a new blog post when/if my rates change) Here's what that looks like for you:

  • A full-body stationary character costs 10, with each additional feature in the scene costing 5 more. Introducing action into the mix will up the price a little bit.
  • A logo, a bust, or a small piece will typically cost around 5.
  • A dungeon map is about a dollar per room, more if you want me to include tiny details within those rooms, bulk discounts apply.
  • Landscapes and cities vary case-by case, but will cost you usually between 10 and 25, at the extremes.
  • Something large and detailed enough to occupy half of a page inside of a standard book would cost you around 20, while something elaborate and cover-quality will cost around 30.
  • I'll happily draw anything else you might need! If you can describe it, I will do my darndest to make it a reality for you.

    I'm happy to negotiate prices, especially if I'm personally passionate about the piece, you're on a budget, you're hiring me for a lot of work at once, or if I have a use your art for a project of mine. I'll always try and keep prices as low as they can possibly be for you! In addition, I'd be happy to barter. If you do layout work, want to make me art in your style, have a zine, have a way to advertise my services, or have some other good or service, that can be integrated into it. It's not about the money for me, I just like doing this, and whatever way I can facilitate you getting art in your hands I will.

 THE PROCESS

    I work on paper, with a pencil and pen. If you want me to work with color or with a different medium, I'm happy to take a stab at it, but it'll be a little bit more expensive because it's well out of my wheelhouse! But what that means for you is that when I get your request, I'll get back to you with any questions that I have, then get to my notebook. I'll take a picture when I have my pencil work done, and that's the prime time for you to get your feedback in. If I have questions throughout the penciling or inking process, I will be sure to reach out.

    When I've got a product I feel is ready for you, I'll charge you through Venmo before I send it but while the piece is fully finished, just to have security. If you're unsatisfied with the product I present to you, I will happily work to make it to your satisfaction. Again, I'll keep it reasonable as I can, and persistently communicate with you.

REACHING OUT

    DM me @autumnkingdomsart, email me at zephaniahxian@gmail.com, reach me on Discord at SunderedWorldDM#2647, and/or comment on this post!

    When you tell me about what you want, I want to know the following:

- What I can call you

- What exactly you want from me, in as specific terms as possible (anything from "give me a page border of runes" to "I need you to capture the feeling of this game for the cover" to "My party is composed of a one-eyed orcish bard named Nathaniel Oxbow. He's got a shimmering sword and...")

- What you want the art for ("my game I'm publishing!" "for the back of a GM screen!" "just a cool moment in my campaign!")

- What you expect to pay for this piece, or what you can pay (we can easily negotiate!)

- If you have a timetable for me, any requirements of me, any questions, anything like that, I want all of that information up front!

WHAT AM I USING THE MONEY FOR?

    This is not my primary source of income, so all the revenue I make will go straight to finance RPG publications. I've got a Zine in the works that will hopefully be ready by ZineQuest 3, and I've been itching to make MARROW into a realized book for a while now. All of what I make here will go into a special bank account just for making projects like this come true, as well as supporting other small RPG creators and delivering more content on the blog! By hiring me to do your art, you're making these other projects possible too.

    THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR INTEREST! I LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING WITH YOU TO CREATE SOME BADASS ART.

A tower among the stars! I'd be happy to draw you any sort of fantastical landscape you could imagine.

Perhaps this sketch could be a part of your logo! Or a little bit of set dressing on a "what's a roleplaying game" page!

This detailed scene shows a massive, rusted hulk ominously calling to two adventures. What lies within those ruins?



Some NPC busts- a twisted, undead Mind Flayer and a malignant Myconid priest!

Friday, January 8, 2021

In Praise of Single-Step Resolution

     First of all, I want to thank everyone reading. Last year, I got nearly 10,000 views on this blog and 100 posts out, which is staggering to me. I would have never anticipated this sort of productivity or this response, and it means so much to me that you're here hearing me ramble.

    Second, I wanted to talk today about what I inadvertently discovered about my GLoGhack MARROW (it's getting more and more complete and fleshed out every day, and soon I'm gonna transition into writing GM advice for new people to run this system well, so I think it's worth checking out) recently. As I was thinking about how typical MARROW play works, and why it runs so well, I came to a conclusion about the resolution mechanism that MARROW uses, and why it makes the game so darn speedy.

--If specific examples of the principles I'm going to discuss bore you to tears, skip this.--

    MARROW is roll-under. That means that all the necessary info is facing the player. They calculate the difficulty of their actions, make the roll, and tell me if it works or not. Now that might not be to everyone's tastes, but when I started to integrate this system into my game, I found it intuitive and fast because the step where the player asked me if their number was high enough was cut out. Keep a hold on that concept, I want to move on to another example.

    Another development in MARROW is how WOUNDS and STRESS occupy standard inventory slots. As the number of slots is so limited, the numbers are kept usually below 5, so that means that I could make weapons take up a number of slots equal to the WOUNDS they deal. Another benefit of this was cutting damage dice out of the equation. While they are fun to pile up and roll, I found that this step added calculation, and wasted time. MARROW removed the step where players roll for damage. Hopefully you're starting to sense a pattern here.

    And my third and final example: the tri-act system. MARROW lets players take three "actions", each one separated by the word 'and'. This makes things a lot faster. There is still a constraint on action, but there is a freedom from constraint that makes systems with maneuvers or bonus actions seem clunky in comparison. Instead of creating these artificial constraints and choices, MARROW's action economy puts that player agency center with an aggressive focus on cutting out the multi-step decision process.

--Here's the good stuff.--

    What's my point here? What's my thesis? Well, here's what I think. One of the core ideas that MARROW has captured for me is the idea of single-step resolution. Instead of having to jump through hoops and take overwrought processes to determine the impact an action has on the story (processes like, say, using an action to take an attack, then asking the DM if it beats the AC, then rolling damage, then rolling INT to cast a spell with a bonus action, then rolling extra damage from the spell), MARROW puts all the information into a single dice roll or action point (roll to hit under STR with the magic sword that deals 3 WOUNDS, with a -2 due to armor). That way, the narrative action is condensed into a single step. The benefits, I argue are threefold:

    1) Haste. It speeds up the game. One roll instead of two will take about half the time, and in the example above where I contrast an average 5e action vs. an average MARROW action, the difference could not be so stark. Once you get used to putting all the information needed to "set up" rolls early, you can get the blood pumping a lot quicker, which helps with the emotional tension of a game session.

    2) Narrative Clarity. Imagine you're swinging an axe in ICRPG. You bring the blade down on the demon. 19! You roll your effort and get... a 2. What a bummer! You already rolled well the first time, why doesn't that reflect as strongly on the narrative as the second roll does? With this one-stop-shop system, you don't have to worry about describing and making sense of that tension, you can

    3) Universality. The more you cut away, the more you'll discover your core mechanics. If you can set up umbrella mechanics that apply in a lot of situations in reliable ways, you'll get a lot closer to single-step resolution, and your game will be clearer and more cohesive.

    I understand that many people have emotional attachments to the multi-step systems, and sometimes they do have a lot of weight (like the ICRPG EFFORT system, which I would argue is worth the extra resolution granularity). But when you're designing your game, think about how you can cut out the maximum number of steps and get as much information into the player's hands about the rolls they're making as possible. Your game will be smoother and translate easier to the narrative space for it.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Four Types of Old Magick

    Those who call to the stars above and look to the bones of the damned do not deal with runes. No, their magic cuts closer to the lifeblood of reality itself. These are the forces they invoke, and the magicks they wield. It is wild and strange and powerful, so pursue with caution. Each description is accompanied by 3 limited-use blessings. How they are granted, and the ramifications of their effects, are entirely up to you, but be warned, they may change your games and worlds forever.

Raven: They are the cries in the woods, mimicking the beasts and children. Icy black wings flutter as they soar in the warm night, flying as one. Their magic is of the beast, and of the night, and of darkness.

    Wings of Murder. Blades of the night sprout from your back. You can fly, and become invisible in darkness. In addition, your wings are sharp, and anyone killed by them will never come back by any means. However, you have attracted the ire of the winged folk, who will always cry out upon sensing your presence, and attack you if they feel good about their chances, which is rare.

    Forest Eyes. The beasts and plants bend to your will. You can command them to do whatever you so please, and can see out of their eyes at will, but every time you do this, your lifespan grows shorter and shorter.

    Crow´s Eye. You can see five seconds into the future. If you act on what you see, the timeline can change. Be warned, some events are fixed in time, and reality will lash out against attempts to interfere.

Ash: The lightning, the thunder, the forest fire, the storm, the flood. All of nature's primal fury. It all will begin in dust, and end in dust. This is the way it has been, and the way it will be.

    Holocaust. You can touch a spot and specify a time up to a year in the future. At that time, a bolt of divine fury will strike, and a wall of fire will burn outwards until it is stopped naturally or until it consumes a creature with a pure heart. This power has been rumored to consume worlds if not carefully contained.

    From Dust. Once, touch the remains of a creature. They will return immediately at full strength, against any odds or conditions, even the will of gods. Once you do so, your strength is sapped as long as they remain alive.

    Storm´s Avatar. Your blood is the wind, and your tears are the rain. You control the weather anywhere in the world at any time. In addition, if you die from unnatural means, the world is plunged into an eternal storm until your body is ritually consecrated.

Moon: The rays of darkened light from the Observer shine on the whispers in shadows. The Observer's grace is only rivaled by her cold majesty. Those who wear her crown are her penumbra, and walk the line between day and night, life and death.

    Lunar Crown. The Observer blesses you with a headpiece of polished moon rocks. It is unconsciously recognized as a symbol of great authority by all who behold it, even if they may not know what it is. Over time, it calcifies over more of your body, making you more majestic and better armored. Eventually, however, you will be trapped in a shell of calcified moon rock.

    Meteor. Once, you can call down a meteor. Its destruction is total, and it will carry with it vestiges of the stars above. When you do so, you ascend to the stars as an act of celestial balance, lost forever wandering the constellations and planets above.

    Hard Light. You can project this nimbus of astral light. Anyone entering the light´s path must choose to either retreat or be burned by this luminous halo. You can choose to negate this effect. Alternatively, there is an alternate version of this incantation that projects an aura that bolsters willpower and vitality within the nimbus.

Glass: Fractals carved in crystal, frozen doorways to other places and other times. A shimmering liquid light, colors pouring out like fish from a transparent stream. Their magic is is the mirror and the window and the door and the blade and the hourglass.

    Turn the Clock. Once, you can travel to any point in time. Anyone near you comes with you. You get approximately to where you need to go, and your travelling companions get approximately close to where you land. More precision may be possible with much planning and ritualistic study.

    Occulus. Your eyes are replaced with multifaceted crystals that can pierce illusions, lies, and facades. Eventually, you will go blind as you being to see through even what is real.

    Door to the Desert. You can open a shimmering gateway in the air to a vast desert, littered with portals. The portals lead anywhere and anywhen, but never go to exactly where you need or want them to. Once you step into the desert, the portal closes forever.

--

Here are some strange factions to introduce these magics into your world. Not much is known about them, and all reports and documentation of them are tinged by rumormongering and xenophobia. What mysteries of their mystic lore will be plumbed, and what revelations about the universe do they quietly safeguard?

The Heretics of the Wood dwell in the endless Vipernoss, its golden leaves cloaking their rituals and prayers. They venerate the creatures of the sky, looking upwards for their wisdom. They read omens in the clouds and the stars and the flights of the birds, and their idols are twisted and mutated animals stitched from the hides of the hunted.

The Blasphemers of the Sacrosanct Peak occupy a great mountain on the Xorshed Alps. They dwell the caverns and caves that riddle the slopes of the mountain they call the Progenitor. They delve into the earth below for their blessings, and eat the gems from their mines as a form of worship. They believe that if they delve deep enough, they will find the Sun Below, and it will grant them all their heart´s desires.

The Driftwood Papacy is a shadowy organization, dwelling entirely on the Arabus Ocean. No explorer has made it to their (rumored) fortress of floating flotsam and explored the greatest temple of their waterlogged faith, but it is said that a demigod lies slumbering in the lowest chamber, their waterlogged tomb lying at the convergence of many leylines.


Thanks for reading, and happy gaming.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

HATS

I needed a creative jolt, the Oblidikjsdftch delivers a prompt unto me. "Hats". This post is d10 hats, in response to SteppedOnAd4's challenge.

1 The Fish of the Bowling Bear. This is a large, taxidermied carp attached to a leather cap, in a faux sort of flopping motion. It is given as a prize to the person who manages to stomach the most Fire Eel, a drink of flaming Dwarvish ale with a live eel in it, within an evening. The Fire Eel is sold exclusively at the Bowling Bear tavern, and is currently held by Bjorkstel Untergaardt, the barkeeper and resident mixologist of the Bear.

2 Psychic Cap. This cap uses illusion magic to look like whatever sort of headgear any onlooker would find most impressive or fearsome, whatever that might be.

3 Coward's Beanie. This was some Elvish artificer's Sophomore year final, and they got a D+ on it. While wearing this bloodstained beanie, if you pull it over your eyes, you become invisible, but inexplicably emit a high-pitched whining sound. In addition, you can rip in in half to tear open a portal to the Astral Plane that sucks everything around it inside. Generally regarded to be a useless piece of garbage, which is code for ripe for adventurin'.

4 Skull-Crown of the Corpse Warlord. While wearing this rotten mass of spongy and mold-infested bone, you can roll CHA to command any mindless undead creature you can see. Once you have 10 commanded undead in your retinue at once, your skin begins to slough away. When you get to 15 at once, you become the new avatar of the Corpse Warlord, reborn in malice.

5 Helmet of Orb Attraction. This large, crystalline mass, covered in multifaceted spheres carved from magical gems, really puts a strain on the neck. When the conspicuously large switch on the back is flipped, it acts as a magnet to any and all orbs (smaller than an astrological scale) near you. If it can't be pulled to you, you are pulled to it. Once you put it on, you are cursed so that you cannot take it off.

6 Fez. This strange hat makes the user immune to aging and withering effects, and can be used once to travel to any other point in time, at which point it is destroyed. Once, it belonged to the Medic of Many Faces, but was since lost after his fall at the Battle of Trenzalore. (Sorry, had to.)

7 Twiggsley's Crown. Twigglsey is an archdruid from a far away woods. They are also a vulture. This mighty holy artifact, to the untrained eye, looks like an unkempt and empty bird's nest. Druids and priests of the old gods pay pilgrimages to visit this mobile shrine. Wear it and keep it safe for long enough and Twiggsley will lay an egg in it...

8 The Slime Helm. At first it looks like a globby, gelatinous mass on someone's head, but upon closer inspection, the ooze is actually congealed atop a steel helm. The ooze can attack with pseudopods at the wearer's command, destroying equipment with a corrosive touch, but if it remains unfed for to long, it will crawl into the wearer's eyes and begin to pilot their body.

9 Xymanthur's Cowl. An ancient lich-lord from Not Egypt (TM) was the bearer of this gaudy, bedecked cowl. The lich can speak in deathly whispers to anyone who wears the helm, making offers of power in exchange for "favors". There are three sapphires set in the front of the cowl's brim, the eggs of the eagle set just above. Touch the eagle after having drunk fresh blood to fly for a TURN.

10 The Dread ANTI-HAT. Nothing is atop your head, and nothing will ever be atop your head. If you put on a hat, it is instantly sent to a parallel dimension, never to be seen or heard from again save ungodly powerful magics. If you put something else on your head, the object sparks, burning you enough to make you drop it.


Thanks for reading, and happy gaming.

Vayra Asks...

What class knows the most martial arts? Are they real martial arts like kung fu, or made up ones like krav maga? There are no classes, but t...