Monday, April 4, 2016

World Wide Wrestling!

I got to run World Wide Wrestling recently, it was a lot of fun. Its a "powered

by the Apocalypse" games, uses the same bones as Apocalypse World and Dungeon

My wife's character sheet 
Wide Wrestling website.

In addition to your Stats (Look, Power, Real, and Work), you have an Audience

rating, Heat with every other character, and you get Momentum and spend it

through a session to improve rolls. It looks like a lot of moving pieces but it

flows pretty naturally once you start playing.

In our gaming group everybody has at least some experience with professional

wrestling so they had some great ideas. The best and scariest part of * World

games is depending on the players to bring everything to life. The DM (or

Creative in this case) has guidelines for running everything but you need lots

of input from your players for it to work. I'm a control freak sometimes, so its

always scary going into a game like this but my group did great.

I won't go over too much rules stuff, you can find lots of info on the World 

I started off the session by saying that this was a league with lots of money

behind it, so they did lots of big international shows. Also the head of the

company was dodging extradition to the USA. I passed around the gimmicks and

gave everyone a few minutes to flesh out characters while I went over some of

the rules.

Here was the roster we came up with:

The Horseman--A 7' tall guy in black riding gear and a pumpkin mask. Completely

silent. Entrance is the lights go out for a few seconds while a bell tolls, then

he appears in stage when they come back on. Finisher is a clothesline called

"The Head Chopper". (Gimmick--The Monster, role--Heel)

Pinot Noir--A woman in full length gown and masquerade mask. Gown can be ripped

down to a matching swimsuit. Drinks wine during her entrance (while Muse plays),

and during matches when she's bored. Finisher is the double bubble--a flip off

the top rope landing sitting on the opponent's face. (Gimmick--The High Flyer,


El Borracho--Drunkard in striped pants and mask. Chugs beer before and after

matches. Entrance music is Pasame La Botella, an upbeat reggaetón song. Two

signature moves--Swallow the Worm is a sharpshooter submission, and Under the

Table is a double underhook DDT finisher. (Gimmick--The Wasted,


The Fabulous Boy Williams--An up and comer with attitude, comes out to Pantera's

"Walk". Wears black shorts and boots. Signature moves are the Run and Stun RKO

and a Stone Cold Stunner as finisher. (Gimmick--The Golden Boy, role--Babyface)

Heinous Dave Haney--Per the player's notes: "Flashy, ego, tough, tan, glittery."

Walks out to Born This Way with color-coordinated shorts and sunglasses. He throws

the shades into the crowd (whether they want them or not). Finisher is the

Nutjob, a low blow while the ref is distracted. (Gimmick--The Technician, role--Heel)

We then asked questions to establish Heat, which works similar to Bonds in

Dungeon World, creates connections between the characters. Heinous Dave and

Fabulous Boy Williams were in a tag team before Williams got a solo push. El

Borracho gets into fights when his beer disappears backstage. The Horseman has

been a mentor off-stage to some wrestlers, but terrifies Heinous Dave. Pinot

Noir helps out Williams but feuds with El Borracho.

We took a break so I could book the matches. I decided to do single matches with

the Heels set to win, then do a surprise tag team match at the end so the

Babyfaces could get revenge. Like any good role playing game sessions, things did

not go exactly as planned.

Pinot Noir and El Borracho started off after each got a chance to cut a promo.

Pinot Noir didn't roll well on the Cut a Promo move so I upped the stakes and

made it a mask match. Her reputation and mystery was on the line. El Borracho

tried to humiliate her at the beginning of the match by ripping off her gown,

but ended up tripping over it and leaving himself open. The hook of the Wasted

gimmick is that they get high/drunk and screw things up, but the audience eats

it up. Pinot Noir was booked to lose, but El Borracho was so drunk and off-

script that she pinned him just to end the match.

Heinous Dave cut a promo in between matches and got dragged behind curtains by

The Horseman. Players can spend Momentum to interrupt others even outside of the


Next match was The Horseman against an NPC, so I mostly let him narrate how the

match went. He was good at taking blows and choke slamming, like other giants.

He put on a good show against the MEGAmerican, a patriotic masked wrestler (lots

of masks), then finished him off.

Fabulous Boy Williams talked a lot of smack towards his former tag team partner

before the match, and Heinous Dave Haney returned it. The players were getting

used to how the rules worked with the narrative and were interrupting each

other's moves more by this point. Heinous Dave was booked to win the match, but

outside interference caused them both to get disqualified.

At this point I announced a 3-person Tag Team match between the Heels and

Babyfaces (including MEGAmerican). It was a chaotic mess, which felt perfect.

People interrupting constantly, even double interrupting, struggling to reach a

teammate to make a tag, personal feuds making people break the was


I think I was able to keep the spotlight moving around and give everyone fair

time and creative input during the matches, which is the real challenge of

running any * World game. Hopefully we will be playing again soon, continuing

the feuds and developing a story.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Dungeon Crawl Classics House Rules

Here's a dump of a bunch of DCC house rules I'd like to use, with some bits of flavor thrown in to imply a vaguely Arthurian setting with bits of Celtic and Norse influence.

Clerics must pick an alignment. Law is the One True Church, which supports the High King. Neutral is one or more pagan gods, nature spirits, or ancestors, still common among common people. Chaos is a forbidden cult or demon worship. 
Healing someone with no alignment works the same as healing someone one alignment step away. Simplifying spells. Critical successes and failures will still be special but I want to reduce charts. 

Luck bonus applies to Defense rolls instead of a weapon. Lots of house rules for combat.

Instead of picking an alignment, pick a Path and get bonuses accordingly. 

Simplifying spells. Critical successes and failures will still be special but I want to reduce charts. 

Flavor: "Halfling" is a mortal term for any number of small, unassuming fae. Could even be a goblin.

Flavor: If dwarves were ever fae, they left those realms ages ago. 

Simplifying spells. Flavor-wise, elves are fae creatures with unique supernatural traits. 
  1. Horns-antlers or spiral, and small tail
  2. Always wears an elaborate hat, must have it to cast spells
  3. Plants grow from hair and beard, and from blood spilled on ground
  4. Skin is covered in markings like tattoos
  5. Eyes are starry fields with no pupils
  6. Wild red hair, glowing eyes
  7. Rough, dark skin, heavy footsteps
  8. Flowing hair, doesn't touch ground when running
  9. Hair always wet, excellent swimmer
  10. Dresses very old-fashioned, constantly lost in deja-vu
  11. Shines brightly in sunlight, gets morose in darkness
  12. Gets more lively and slightly taller closer to full moon
  13. Forked tongue and slit pupils
  14. Animal ears, similar animals are never afraid of the elf
  15. Looks like a child, but has adult voice
  16. Clothes, eyes, hair, and anything they pick up has the same color hue
  17. Voice is a whisper that can be heard within shouting range
  18. Art the elf makes seems to move from the corner of the eye
  19. Anyone looking at the elf thinks they look kind of like a relative
  20. Roll twice

Alignment is an optional choice, because its not just an outline for behavior. In a land where the reign of a king determines the vitality of their kingdom, conviction has real implications. 

Law supports the divine right of the Good King to rule the land, supported by the One True Church. Law says that an oath cannot be broken, fealty cannot be ignored, and order brings peace and safety.
(Knights, Lords, loyalists, Clergy)

Neutral respects their ancestors, the spirits of nature, and the fickle pagan gods. Neutral can believe in a lot of things but overall believes mortals are but a small part of a bigger world.
(Druids, berserkers, witches, wildmen)

Chaos just wants to watch the world burn. Chaos flouts the rightful rulers, spits on just laws, and take what they want from those that need it.
(Reavers, cultists, demon-worshippers)

Ability Scores: roll 2d10, Roll 6 times and arrange.
2-12 No bonus
13-15 +1 bonus
16-17 +2 bonus
18-20 +3 bonus

Defense:  d20 plus Reflex bonus (from class and Agility bonus), plus any shield and helmet bonus.
Armor:  Fortitude bonus + any armor bonus, and subtracts from damage you take on every hit.

Power Weapons 
One-handed 1d8 damage
Two-handed 1d12 damage
Uses Strength bonus for attack and damage
Finesse Weapons
One-handed 1d6 damage
Two-handed 1d10 damage
Uses Agility bonus for attack and damage
Swords count as Power and Finesse weapons, whichever is most beneficial to the user. They do damage as Power weapons.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Underdark Rules

Here's how rules for Underdark D&D, from the players' perspective. I'll post more from the DM's perspective soon.

You have three choices, which can be made in any order.
1) Pick an attribute that you excel in.
2) Pick a class.
3) Pick a race.
Then figure out your To-Hit Rolls, Hit Points, Armour Class, weapon damage, and spells.


Your character has one High attribute, two if you're human. You get a bonus to some rolls depending on your High Attribute.

Strength (Str) +1 on Melee To-Hit Rolls and Damage Rolls
Intelligence (Int) +1 to Search Rolls and Wizard Spells
Wisdom (Wis) +1 to Saving Throws and Cleric Spells
Dexterity (Dex) +1 to Missile To-Hit Rolls and Armour Class
Constitution (Con) +1 to Hit Points per level
Charisma (Chr) +1 to Parley Rolls


"Beware the man who loves battle"
Hit Points: 1d10 per level
Best To-Hit rolls
Can use Small, Medium, or Large Weapons, Chainmail and Shield
Cleave: if you kill an enemy with a melee weapon attack, you may immediately make another attack against an enemy within reach

"Hell Awaits"
Hit Points: 1d8 per level
Average To-Hit Rolls
Can use Small Weapons, Chainmail and a Shield
Turn Undead: Roll 4+ on D6 (+1 for Wis) to make an Undead enemy cower or flee.
Divine Spells: Cast a limited number of spells. Roll 4+ on D6 if necessary (+1 for Wis). Check spell chart for spells per level.

Hit Points: 1d4 per level
Poor To-Hit Rolls
You can use Small weapons but no armor.
Arcane Spells: Cast a limited number of spells. Roll 4+ on D6 if necessary (+1 for Int). Check spell chart for spells per level.

"Without the ties of kin, folk turn to banditry and murder"
Hit Points: 1d6 per level
Average To-Hit Rolls
You can use Small weapons and leather armor.
Burglary skills: Roll 4+ on D6 (+1 for Dex) to pick locks, find traps, and disarm traps.
Use Scroll: Roll 4+ on D6 (+1 for Int/Wis) to use an Arcane or Divine spell scroll.
Backstab: +2 to hit and x4 damage if you attack an unsuspecting enemy
Poison Use: safely handle and apply poisons


Human: two high attributes
Dwarf: resistant to poison, stonecunning talent
Elf: resistant to enchantment, detect secret doors and magic talent
Halfling: resistant to fear spells, once per adventure reroll a failed defensive roll
Drow: see in normal or magical darkness, once per adventure you can blanket a room in shadows (other drow can see through this)
Orc: once per adventure when you hit do double damage

To-Hit Rolls

Roll 1d20, beat the number for your class/level on the chart. High Strength gives +1 on Melee (hand to hand weapons). High Dexterity gives +1 to Missile (ranged seapons).
This roll assumes a creature with moderate armor on. Attacking a low armor creature gives you a +2 bonus, attacking a high armor creature gives you a -2 penalty.


Small Weapons do 1d6 damage. Ex. dagger, shortsword, mace, handaxe. Clerics, Wizards, and Thieves.
Medium Weapons do 1d8 damage. Ex. longsword, battleaxe, flail. Fighters.
Large Weapons do 1d10 damage and negates the reach advantage of large creatures like giants, but you cannot use a shield while wielding the weapon. Ex. spear, great axe, claymore. Fighters.

Hit Points

Roll one die per level (varies by class). Add +1 per level for High Con.

Armour Class

Base is 11.
+1 for High Dex
+2 for Leather Armour (Thieves)
+4 for Chainmail (Clerics and Fighters)
+2 for Shield (Clerics and Fighters, cannot be used with Large Weapons)

Saving Throws

Roll 4+ on D6 to avoid danger. +1 bonus for High Wis. Other High Attributes may give bonuses for specific types of dangers.


I used the spell list from Microlite74 Basic, one of several D&D retroclones. Use your own spell list from any edition of D&D and adapt on the fly, or make your own.

That's it! There are lots of holes that require heavy DM adjudication, but honestly that's in the spirit of Basic D&D.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Underdark Release Adventure 2016

For the third year in a row I ran some D&D at the Underdark release party. Underdark is a barrel-aged stout from a local brewery. They have different D&D-themed art every year and do a big block party for the release. I posted briefly the first year I did it here.

The character sheet is a stripped down basic D&D character at 7th level. I took the idea from Dungeon Robber to just have one ability score good enough to give you a small bonus, and skills, saves, and spells are all handled by a d6 roll. Four classes and 6 races, everything fits on one sheet. I used Microlite 74 for a spell list (  . Its great for a pick up game with lots of drinking.

I had been planning on running this since they announced the event, but I was stumped for what the adventure would actually be. The week of the event, I saw this tweet:
I fired off two ideas right away, and decided that for Underdark I would be running The Abandoned Brewery of the Goblin King.

The event went well. Several people from my casual gaming group showed up, including one friend who had moved away but came back just for this event, and another acquaintance who I didn’t even know played D&D before. I had the three stalagmite towers outlined on posterboard and cardboard on solo cups for the higher levels to make a 3D playmat (and since we were outside, tape to hold it all down).

One of the challenges of these events is to improv a lot and keep it moving for as long as possible before the chaos of the surroundings and increasing inebriation of myself and the players pulls everything apart. We made good progress until it started raining and had to pack up in a hurry. Characters had funny names like Porter McStein and Bud Lightning, or the orcs Blarthok and Gronk.

I’ll post up the whole dungeon soon, but I’m hoping to finish the adventure at another get another so no spoilers yet. Here’s how the party went through the dungeon:

Ground level: the party has traveled for days through caves to the 3 stalagmite towers that house the abandoned brewery. I asked the players for rumors they had heard about the legendary last batch of goblin ale still in the dungeon.

Middle Stalagmite: Piles of moldy barley and wererats. Anyone getting near the mold got hit with berserk spores, causing some inter-party fighting. An otyugh was hiding as well, and the party had trouble attacking it in unison.

Level 2: Giant glass tank with a sea serpent and Lolth’s Crown. Bud Lightning the cleric dove into the tank to retrieve the crown, only getting a scratch from the serpent. A walkway went to one of the adjacent towers.

East Stalagmite, level 2: A furnace for heating water, still operated by two coal golems. The wizard Kraken held them in place with Web.

Level 3: Every character had to name a horrible drink to enter this chamber (lots of inventive ideas from players). An obsidian dome littered with diamonds and a pedestal with the Mind Flayer’s Goblet were inside. When someone tried to grab the goblet, the two-headed Dragon Witch that had been hiding invisible used his breath attack. Two players had to leave right before combat, so somebody else took over, rolled their saving throws, and both PCs died. Everybody fled but they had the goblet.

Level 1:  A huge tank with cracks was full of skeletons, but the PCs didn’t mess with it.

They were about to storm the last stalagmite when it started raining. One thing this adventure reminded me of is not to spend too much time on crunch during prep, because half of the fights were bypassed in some way. Looking back through my notes I also forgot a few things, and honestly it was early in the adventure so I can’t blame the beer. Oh well. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Cinderforge: Houserules

Gain xp by killing monsters (1-5/creature) and taking treasure back to town (1xp/100gp). All xp is split equally among party members at the end of a session. Creature xp is generally 1xp/level of creature, +1 or 2 for special abilities. Magic items have a gp value for xp purposes only, you can't buy any magic items in town.

Total xp Level
0 1
20 2
40 3
80 4

Carousing: Beginning of a session in town only. Spend d6 x 100gp on a big party and gain 1 xp plus a special effect based on the town you're in. If you don't have gp to cover you owe somebody (don't gain xp for treasure until paid back). A 1-3 on the d6 is a negative side effect, including possibly a fine. A 4-6 on the d6 is some benefit, including possibly more xp.

I'll post the Carousing table at some later time that has effects per town.

Hirelings: At the beginning of a session in town only. Spend d6 x 100gp
1-2 Hopeless Loser: 0-level forever
3 Likely Lad/Lass: 0-level, but may level at end of a session
4 Specialist: 1d6, 1. brewer 2. animal handler 3. armourer 4. herbalist 5. scout 6. sage
5 d6 mercenaries
6 Level 1 Crusdader: 1d6, 1. Warrior 2. Thief 3. Cleric 4. Wizard 5. Halfling 6. Regional

Ongoing Pay: roll a Personality check for each hireling after a particularly grueling session (near death, horrible monster, etc). On a fail, they demand d6 x 100gp or they will leave service.

(based on Jeff Rient's draft Wessex henchman/hireling rules.

Mounts: Rider gets +1 to attacks and AC. When rider is attacked roll an extra Defense AC for the mount, if the attack misses the rider it may still hit the mount.
When mount is bloodied (half hp), make a Personality check to avoid it running away.
Use the mount's speed when moving. Make your mount attack by using your action. Getting your mount to do something it doesn't want to do requires a Personality check.

Monsters on mounts: When attacking a monster on a mount, roll one attack roll. If the attack misses the rider, it may still hit the mount's defense, which is usually lower. A warrior or dwarf can try to unseat a rider with a Mighty Deed of Arms.
If the rider is killed or knocked off the mount, the mount will be passive unless attacked. You may get on a mount as part of a move action.

Power weapons: +class attack bonus + strength. Heavy melee weapons, thrown weapons. 1d8 damage (1d10 if two-handed)

Finesse weapons: +class attack bonus + agility. Light melee weapons, bows. 1d6 damage (2d4 if two-handed)

Swords can be used as finesse or power weapons but always do power weapons damage.

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Forsaken Rift, prelude

My Monday night group, which had been alternating Dungeon Crawl Classics and Star Wars d20, has been sputtering. Monday nights are just bad for most of us, between catching up on weekend rest and long days at work. We were right near the beginning of an adventure I had ready that we haven't been back to, so I've been spinning my creative wheels pretty bad. Can't work on the thing that's stalled, because that's already ready to go. So I started thinking of other things.

I've also been reading up about improving my DM skills, because I always feel like I'm a little short of what I'm aiming for. I read a lot of Old School Renaissance blogs because they appeal to me more than modern D&D blogs. I think its because they're trying to do fresh things with an old framework. A lot of modern D&D talk seems to be excited about redoing old things in a slightly new framework, but that's a different rant.

So I come across a bunch of older posts about DCC and original D&D on the Swords of Minaria blog, and this post catches my eye: 

The idea of powering through a bunch of low level play to give players a sense of how play changes after leveling up a few times really appeals to me. Also, I've never done a proper mega-dungeon. I'm going to try DCC instead of OD&D because I still think its so cool, but I will have to make some changes. I'm going to award XP half for overcoming monsters and challenges, and half for treasure. I'm thinking of limiting the spell list so wizards won't be slowed down too much by looking up charts.

A few specific house rules: Shields Shall be Splintered! , a player may sacrifice a shield to avoid damage from one physical attack. An unarmored PC can add their Reflex bonus to their AC. AC will be a roll against passive attack bonus, not 10+.

I'm going to come up with lots of customized magic items, and I'm going heavily video-game influenced. I want the game to have some of the feel of a Zelda or Metroid game where you explore different themed areas. Some examples:

  • Leaf Shield: Razor-sharp leaves grow from the rim of this heavy oak shield, moving to protect you and lash out at your allies. When you roll an Armor Class roll against an adjacent creature's attack, on a natural odd roll you take 1 less damage, and on a natural even the attacker takes 1 damage.
  • Freeze Glove: any weapon you wield is imbued with chilling ice. Making an attack with this ability targets Reflex instead of AC, and the creature is frozen solid instead of damaged, even if in mid-air. They can attempt to break free every round. If attacked they take only half damage and they break free. 

Another thing I'm borrowing from Golden Axe: I want mounts. Cool fantasy mounts you ride into dungeon battles, like drakes and carrion crawlers. Still working on rules ideas for that.

One key to a small megadungeon is having a small area to worry about. I'm using Christopher West's the Forsaken Rift, a map he did for the Maps of Mystery series in Dungeon magazine. I used this map for my first 4E campaign and it worked really well as a mini-sandbox. This time the main action will be in Dragonspire mountain, with only a few encounter locations scattered around. I wanted to give each city a unique thing, like you can get mounts from Wyvernwatch and better armor from Kharadad, but since I'm not going to focus on in-town stuff that much I don't know if it will even matter. We'll see. Maybe I could do a different carousing table for each place of interest so PCs could spend money for a chance at XP and loot.

Here's my campaign pitch:

The heat of Dragonspire holds the glacial ice at bay for a hidden valley. The only way out is the Dark Road, key to its gate is lost. The dungeons of Dragonspire contain the dragon Wartooth and his lizardfolk acolytes, and the unending orcs of the Blood Cauldron tribe. The dragon Corpsegrinder prowls the lands raising the half-eaten dead. Also you can ride drakes and carrion crawlers.

Christopher West