Archive for February, 2019

Preliminary Zvezda Rules

February 12, 2019

[ed note: Thor posted this on G+, and it’s been copied over here so it isn’t lost when G+ disintegrates.]

So I like the quiet around here and hope to get this done. Moon Base Zvezda is a historical fantasy where the space race went further and the cold war extends to the moon bases.

In Moon Base Zvesda it is assumed that all characters are fully trained, really smart, AND working for their government whether they know it or not. Hence all characters are made by assigning the numbers 1, 2, and 3 to being an Astronaut, an engineer, and a spy. Each Area of Knowledge gets one of the three numbers.

The resolution system is based on a simple idea. If the task at hand is more fitting of an Astronaut, roll a number of dice equal to the Astronaut area of knowledge. Ditto Engineer and spy. If any die scores higher that the target number you succeed.

For a one shot game I would set the target number at 4 and let the game ride. But if this game is going to have more legs there are a couple ways we could tweek the system.

There are three levers that can make this system more robust/realistic/complicated. The first is adjusting the target numbers, the second is giving some characters benefits through as yet unintroduced stats, and lastly by making the results vary depending on the number of successes.

Varying the difficulty has two benefits. It makes having more dice in an AOK to roll significantly better and it makes people at the table think that the world is more diverse. The down side of varying the difficulty is that it can feel arbitrary and offloads a certain amount of work into the GM.

Adding stat modifiers to the roll based on what your character is like makes the characters more different and makes some challenges more difficult than others. At the moment we do not have any stats but that can be changed.

Changing the number of successes needed greatly disadvantages characters with low AOKs, but I can imagine a version of the game where 1 or 2 successes make the player face hard choices about what they can accomplish. Breaking the door down or doing it quietly. That sort of thing. The GM should talk about these situational things when describing the situation.

I think any of these things can be implemented alone or in tandem. How far we want to go needs to be weighed against the usefulness and the amount of time till we have a completed game.

On top of that we can make the GM figure all of this out on the fly or make it so that we have to imagine all the possibilities.


Next Projects 2019

February 7, 2019

Just about 2 years ago, I posted a “Next Projects” post with some of the things that were in the works.  While I hadn’t planned on a recap, it seems like a good time to review those things, as well as some forward looking for what’s upcoming and in the works.  It’s also an invitation to follow the blog (I’m trying to use my RSS feed reader to follow other folks’ blogs) or to find other ways to stay in touch, especially with the coming end of G+.

Of the things posted before, a few are done; a few others are still in the works to one extent or another; some are available on DriveThruRPG if you want to get a copy for yourself.

Moon Station Zvezda – still on the list, and moved to the top because this summer is the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.  So there’s some tie-in interest to be found, potentially.  It’s a fun idea to play with, graphically.


The Moonbase map (above) and the Spaceship Dice Drop Table are a couple pieces that show some of the graphic style this may end up having.  The current shorthand description we’re using for it is a Lady Blackbird-style one-shot (though it’s certainly possible to do more in it if you like the setting).  The premise is an alternate-history post-60s space race world with more moon landings and moon presence among the superpowers, and thinking about some of the proposed alternative space programs as having gotten off the drawing boards.

DragonQuest adventures and products.  Gazetteer for the Wilderness of Ordurak, and Small, Untitled DQ Adventure (which became The Sentinel Chapel, and was a featured Deal of the Day earlier this year), are completed and available, as well as the public release of The Wilderness of Ordurak adventure.  Expanded Alusia was another idea, but that is more a back-burner thing at the moment.  But the recent unearthing and release of the DQ World Generation draft text has fired up some thoughts about other DQ projects.  Some of the things missing, but listed in the table of contents from DQ World Generation could be an intriguing followup to Poor Brendan’s Almanac.  And I’m pondering a couple of sequel ideas for the adventures I’ve previously written.

Ogunimata Cyberpunk adventure also prompted some map work, but is moving slowly.

Piranesi City Dungeon.  Also back-burnered at the moment.

Exquisite Corpse Dungeon is on the sixth iteration right now, although it has bogged down somewhat with the collapse of G+.  We need to find the best place to continue the discussion, and we’ll probably set up a separate hosting for it somewhere, as well.  Copies of completed previous ones are in the archives of the blog, here.

More maps, in general. This is still more hit-or-miss (and more often a miss) than I would like, but I keep posting the occasional thing from time to time.  With the resurgence of The Fantasy Trip, I think I’m going to try to do a few more hex-based maps.  I’ve had a couple I’ve done in the past that I’ve liked how they turned out, and it’s useful for both DQ and TFT.

Other new things:

Elfgame (placeholder name) – it’s just a germ of a game idea, but I think it has potential.  This would be an RPG where the world is inhabited by both humans and elves, and adventures deal with the intersections between the two.  Elves live (effectively) forever, so they are the constant in the game.  Humans’ lives are comparatively short, so any humans for an adventure are one-shot characters, and the next game session will take place in their grandchildrens’ time, or even further into the future.  Folklore and Shakespearean influences are the flavor this will aim to evoke.

Dark Days – a fantasy game aimed at a more Fafhrd/Grey Mouser kind of feel.  A recent post from Beloch Shrike aka Link Skywalker at Papers & Pencils titled “Magic Words Suck. Here’s Magic in the Moment.” seems like a good starting point for one branch of the magic system with the right kind of literary feel that this game calls for.

Links and resources – especially with the G+ wind-down, there are other scattered communities where people are landing, but having a blog or a site that is a good resource for people is a good way to engage and connect.  I want to start regularly tagging other blogs or sites that I’m trying to follow more often to stay in touch with gaming folks.  Some of it is going to be more linking and encouraging you (if you’ve read this far, you might give some consideration to my recommendation) to go check out some of these sites.  Maybe you’re also a kindred spirit, and you forge a new connection, too.

I also want to start building a directory of dungeon mappers as a general resource.  I can start right off the bat with a couple dozen folks who have participated in the Exquisite Corpse Dungeons.  This idea is inspired by a more general cartographers index someone (I now forget who or where) had put together.  I’ve done other things with the ECDs to bring dungeon mappers together, and so it’s not completely out of line for me to put together something like that.

That’s a comparatively lengthy post from me.  If there are things in here that intrigue you, I’m very interested in your feedback and comments.

A Correspondent Dungeon

February 7, 2019

Here’s a quick and dirty test of concept map. Haven’t posted any new maps in quite a while, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped making or thinking about them. Feels good to be doing this again.

I think the method used to create this map is fairly obvious; I think it probably needs more work to come up with a more practically useful result, but it works well enough as is to be worth sharing.

As usual, feel free to use for any non-commercial purpose, or contact me if you’d like to use this on a commercial project.

DQ World Generation

February 2, 2019
[EDIT: First link is now direct to file. But I encourage you to check out Phil’s article, as well.]

A draft copy of the World Generation supplement for DragonQuest (direct link) has been located and is now available.  If you had bet that you’d be getting a copy of previously unseen DragonQuest materials for the first time in 2019, collect your winnings at the door.  The rest of us are just going to enjoy having a chance to look this over.


Enormous thanks to Phil Wright, who had gotten a copy of it many years back (you can read his story on his site where he has the PDF) and who is hosting and sharing it:

Some parts from this index are missing in the final draft, but the pages have been OCRed and cleaned up, and it’s quite a manuscript.

Thanks, also, to Steve Jackson, the original author of the work, for allowing it to be shared publicly at this point.

I’ll have more to say about this once I’ve read the whole thing.

[I had a chance to start looking at this before Phil got his link up, so this began as an article saying it was coming soon, but I just got work from him that it’s now posted, so go download a copy and check it out yourself!]