May 30, 2012

Cyborg and Samurai

I've been neglecting my blog a bit lately due to repeated scrubbing of game night. I've got plenty of content for the party to run through but competing schedules are killing me.

Last week I discovered an incredible film, Mirai Ninja. It's a Japanese action movie from the late 80s, and a heady blend of science fiction, fantasy, and samurai drama. You can watch the entire thing online, come back when you've watched the thing. It's crazy inspirational to me. I've got to stat some of this stuff out for something, I just don't know where to fit robot ninjas into Ig! In my head it's exactly what a game of Tenra Bansho Zero will be like, speaking as someone who knows next to nothing about that particular game. I highly recommend taking the time to watch this movie, it's really entertaining. You won't lose more than an hour and change. Commence highlight image dump!

Inverse Star Wars opening!

Mirai Ninja scifi samurai
Mirai Ninja scifi samurai army
Mirai Ninja giant cannon

This is the scene that hooked me, within the first five minutes of the film they introduce these samurai warriors with tricked out sci-fi kiai headphones, guns, and this enormous castle tank.

Mirai Ninja robot ninjas castle tank
  Mirai Ninja robot ninja
Mirai Ninja robot ninjas shuriken
Mirai Ninja shed walker
They're in a war with freaky robot ninjas who shoot GI Joe lasers that turn into shuriken on impact, with their own castle tanks, including an outhouse converted into an AT-ST-style walker.

Mirai Ninja demon fortress
The bad guys live in this awesome castle.

Mirai Ninja Black Bishop
Mirai Ninja Black Bishop
Mirai Ninja Black Bishop death ray
 And are lead by the Black Bishop. Death rays and killer fashion sense? Best evil cleric ever.

The good guys get some pretty cool gear. This katana takes bullets.

This guy's sword does a superheated slash.
A bunch of samurai warriors ready to murder some robots. It's got a bit of an Aliens vibe!

May 17, 2012

More Monster Missives

I've been thinking about Monster Hunter lately and the way it handles combat. Moe Tousignant posted this video of the relative sizes of the beasties in the Wii version yesterday, and it commenced my head to system-spinning.
I wanted to revisit fighting large monsters again, but differently than how I did in the giant insect system that I posted before. What makes battles in Monster Hunter so dynamic are the incredibly mobile monsters and the balance players must maintain between keeping out of range while trying to get hits in.

Battleground abstract
For this system facing is important, but physical location less so. The battleground is abstracted into four arcs surrounding a single 'boss' monster. These arcs corresponding to the four sides of the monster front and rear, left and right.Each arc is divided into range bands which are equal to the movement rate of normal human. The closest band is melee range. The bands are abstractions, so, within reason, any number of characters can be located in a single band. When combat begins place a token for each character in the arc and band in relation to the monster. Normal character movement moves a token across the board one range band at a time. When the monster moves or turns each token is moved to match the monster's new facing. Monster can freely turn as part of a move action.

Movement Examples

 Monster Hunter uses an intricate hit-location system for determining how much damage a monster receives, it's way more complex than a system that does more than tactical combat needs, so I'm boiling down the concept. I don't want to go down the path that Palladium did with RIFTS either, with endless tables for how much damage your third radar dish can sustain, but I like a little granularity. When using this system a monster has a separate AC for each arc. This allows for 'Achilles' heel' type monsters that have a specific weak point..
High level Monster Hunter play is all spreadsheets
Attacks are also broken up by arc, with most attacks only being able to target enemies in a single arc. Bite attacks obviously come from the front, tail swipes from the rear. Limbs can attack to the front or sides. Special cases for long-necked beasts like the hydra might be able to bite several arcs.

May 14, 2012


Goblins are a relatively new addition to the plains of Ig, having only appeared in numbers within the last few centuries. They are smaller than dwarves, rarely growing higher than three feet. Their skin ranges in color from a jaundiced yellow to noisome purple. No two goblins look exactly the same, as if their creator formed them from cast-off parts. According to goblin tales, if anyone were listening, their people came from a land deep below the surface. It was a land of endless tunnels crawling with vermin of all kinds, more or less heaven. They lived peacefully there until a great enemy rose up and enslaved them. Goblin-kind toiled in miserable squalor for long ages before the coming of the great vision. Each of the goblin elders had a dream of a land where they could be free, high above on a surface they couldn't imagine. Uniting as one for the first and final time they cast off their shackles and fled to the land above. They followed a trail of golden centipedes through tunnels never traveled. After years of wandering, and a few decades confronting their racial agoraphobia, they reached the surface. Beneath open sky the race splintered in separate tribes, each group finding a singular niche in which thrive.

Goblins form loose tribes focused on a single species of monstrous insects, always social breed. These insects become their totem animal and soon form a symbiotic partnership. The insects gain cleaning crew and a more sophisticated network of internal defenses, the goblins a natural deterrent from larger monsters and food scavenged from the insect's hive. This relationship is not perfect, the goblins must be careful not to vex the hive. Should they disrupt the hive too much the insects will drive them out fearlessly. This is why they go unnoticed by most of the other humanoids in Ig, they live among creatures the rest of the land avoids. The largest groups in Ig are the Smoke, Gravel, Paper, and Mud tribes, although each band also has specific family name.

Smoke goblins live among giant bees, they are named for the smudge sticks they carry to maintain calm when they work within a hive. Most hives are found in hollow hills, but any protected interior space such as a cave or ruin could host the social insects. The reliable stores of honey they glean keep them well-fed throughout the year. Smoke goblins also use worker bees as steeds, small bands of the insect riders act as fast cavalry and aerial scouts. The goblins bind sharpened bamboo lances to the stingers of these insects, allowing them to attack without fear of losing their mount when a stinger pulls free.

Gravel goblins cohabitate with giant ants inside their nests. While not as large as giant bees and unsuitable as mounts these ants make fearless protectors. Because of this gravel tribes are rarely threatened by wild monsters. They do live in fear of smarter prey, as giant ants proclivity for finding seams of ore and precious stones make them a target for greedy bandits. To counteract this goblins funnel the ants tunneling instinct into creating complex mazes that loop and twist to disorient intruders.

Paper and mud goblins live among two classes of social wasps, paper wasps and mud daubers. Like the insects with which they live, these goblins are aggressive and particularly fearless. They're far more likely make war against the other people of Ig, including other goblin tribes. Warriors riding giant wasps are a relatively common threat to isolated villages.

Henceforth, anyone rolling up halfling character in my campaign will in fact be rolling up a goblin. Roll on the table below to determine what sort of tribe your character came from!
Goblin Tribe (1d6)
1-2 Smoke
3-4 Gravel
5 Paper
6 Mud

May 11, 2012

Zero-level Occupations

DCC uses an occupation table for flavoring 0-level peasants. Since you're supposed to tear through a pack of them in the first session it seems an unnecessary bit of characterization, but it guarantees them a starting weapon and a profession. It's actually perfect for differentiating between what would otherwise be similarly statted faceless (and probably nameless) drones. I've hacked the DCC 0-level Occupation table for my campaign, cutting out the bits that don't fit the setting so well as well as switching the halfling entries with goblins.
0-level Occupation Table (d50)
1 Alchemist Staff Oil, 1 flask
2 Animal trainer Club Pony
3 Armorer Hammer (as club) Iron helmet
4 Astrologer Dagger Spyglass
5 Blacksmith Hammer (as club) bronze tongs
6 Carapace Boiler Tongs (as club) carapace, 1 lb.
7 Caravan guard Short sword Linen, 1 yard
8 Cobbler Awl (as dagger) Shoehorn
9 Cooper Crowbar (as club) Barrel
10 Cutpurse Dagger Small chest
11 Ditch digger Shovel (as staff) Fine dirt, 1 lb.
12 Dwarven ceramicist Hammer (as club) Superheavy ceramic, 1 lb.
13 Dwarven herder Staff Sow
14 Dwarven miner Pick (as club) Lantern
15 Elven artisan Staff Clay, 1 lb.
16 Elven forester Staff Herbs, 1 lb.
17 Elven sage Dagger Parchment and quill pen
18 Farmer Pitchfork (as spear) Hen
19 Flintknapper Stone dagger Knapping tools
20 Fortune-teller Dagger Tarot deck
21 Gambler Club Dice
22 Goblin hunter Sling Badger pelt
23 Goblin leatherworker Awl (as dagger) Gloves, 4 pairs
24 Goblin tailor Scissors (as dagger), bolt of  cloth
25 Goblin trader Short sword 20 sp
26 Goblin vagrant Club Begging bowl
27 Gongfarmer Trowel (as dagger) Sack of night soil
28 Grave digger Shovel (as staff) Trowel
29 Beggar Sling Crutches
30 Herbalist Club Herbs, 1 lb.
31 Herder Staff Herding dog
32 Hunter Shortbow Deer pelt
33 Indentured servant Staff Locket
34 Locksmith Dagger Fine toolsMercenary Longsword Hide armor
35 Miller/baker Club Flour, 1 lb.
36 Minstrel Dagger Ukulele
37 Merchant Prince Longsword Gold ring worth 10 gp
38 Orphan Club Rag doll
39 Ostler Staff Bridle
40 Outlaw Short sword Leather armor
41 Scribe Dart Parchment, 10 sheets
42 Shaman Mace Herbs, 1 lb.
43 Slave Club Strange-looking rock
44 Soldier Spear ShieldTrapper Sling Badger peltUrchin Stick (as club) Begging bowl
45 Watch Kid knife (as dagger) rope, 3'
46 Wainwright Club Pushcart
47 Weaver Dagger Fine suit of clothes
48 Wizard’s apprentice Dagger Black grimoire
49 Woodcutter Handaxe Bundle of wood
50 Wormling Spear Concealing robes

May 05, 2012


A giant insect from Nausicaa, statted up for your use in Labyrinth Lord or Dungeon Crawl Classics. These creatures are never named in the original manga but they play a large part in volume two.
Wingworms are large aerial predators common to the plains of Ig and surrounding lands. Stretching up to thirty feet long, these carnivorous insects look a little like enormous centipedes, but in place of legs they have rows of long wings. They move sinuously through the air, acting as apex predators. Wingworms feed on both terrestrial animals as well as aerial trilobite. Every decade or so the species travels to the Scabrous Land to spawn. They darken the sky as they head north, but are so driven they almost completely ignore what goes on below.
Dungeon Crawl Classics
Wingworm: Init +2; Atk mandles +0 melee (1d8) or buffet +2 ranged (1d4); AC 16; HD 4d8 MV: 20' or fly 60'; Act 1d20; SV Fort +3, Ref +4, Will -2; AL N.

No. Enc.: 1d4 (1d10)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 60’ (20’)
Fly: 180’ (60’)
Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 5
Attacks: 1 bite + buffet
Damage: 1d8/1d6
Save: T4
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: None
XP: 460

May 01, 2012

The Witch and the Sinking of Snim

This week several two players joined the campaign. Arrowroot and Diesel were the only characters present with any experience to their names since the rest of the regulars were either out for the week or no longer in possession of a living, or active, PC. I gave the players the option of rolling up a trio of 0-level peasants (DCCrpg's claim to fame!) or they could roll a first level character of their choice. This was a gamble on their part since as written the racial classes are only available if one rolls the correct occupation, but multiple characters would give them a chance to get someone with better abilities. Everyone choose the peasants, so we had a veritable Children's Crusade of nameless washouts by the time chargen was over. Six were ex-slaves freed from the Bogmaster's mind control, the rest foresters and woodcutters, picked up during  the long walk to the nearest town. When the group left the tower they discovered the straight road through the swamp the caravan had traveled over had disappeared, as if it had rolled itself up and sank to the bottom of the mire. It was a hard slog through the bogs and mud for over a week, chasing memories that began to slowly return to the ex-slaves.

Snim, as painted by Yun Byoung Chul
After nine days hard travel they arrived at Snim, a rough frontier town built up on tall bamboo piles. The group descended on the tavern for some needed rest. The town was alight with rumor and weird stories, some said that naga rose from the bottom of the swamp on the night of the full moon to sing strange songs, other that there was a pickpocketing ghost in the above-ground cemetery outside of town. As the light sank and the candles began to gutter stranger stories were shared. Snim is sinking, an old man whispered. Every year the buildings are a little lower than the year before. The only building in town not sinking is the old witch woman's hut. Here was adventure! Arrowroot thought.

Collecting Diesel and their merry band of peasants they absconded to the witch's hut. It was a wreck, kilted to one side and festooned with bundles of herbs, dead animals, and strangely geometrically aligned brick-a-brac but it wasn't immediately apparent if it was any higher than the rest of the town. One of the newcomers, an elven sage, was sent in to try to distract her. He claimed he needed a potion to win the heart of his beloved and being a weird old woman in need of ale money she was happy to assist. Provided with a scrap of cloth from another elf in the party, cut without his knowing, the witch woman turned to her cookpot and began to brew. Her attention drawn away, Diesel eased open a window and slipped into the hut silently, none of the woman's fifteen cats made a sound at his entrance. The interior wasn't any better organized, but he could keep out of sight easily. Nothing appeared out of place, or rather everything seemed out of place but not especially malevolent. The only thing out of place was a large wooden trapdoor set in the floor, but the surrounding mess made it impossible to open up without alerting the witch. Sneaking back out he met up with the rest of the party, they hatched a plan to break into the witch's basement.

Diesel fetched a stray dog from town and tossed it into the window. The effect was immediate. The cats went ballistic and the witch let out a shriek as the animals flew into a panic. The party dropped into the slime by the roots of the hut and began to hack at the bamboo pile that held it up. The moldy pile gave way exposing a low cellar set out with rotten logs for growing mushrooms. The floor was stone blocks, ancient but finely hewn, and a spiral stair in the corner led down to some deeper sub-cellar. They immediately set for the stairs, but were quickly stopped by a rockfall a few turns down. It took them some time to clear the rocks, but the witch was still too distracted to hear their excavation. Past that obstacle the stairs descended deeper into the earth. Lighting a torch, Arrowroot led the group down into the depths.