Author Archive

October 14, 2014

Class Warfare

Alternate Character and Class Creation Rules for Dungeon World

CW_cover_image_loresWhat is Class Warfare?
Class Warfare is a rules supplement for the Dungeon World role-playing game that provides an alternate and expanded system of character creation. It can also be used to create new character classes, just like those provided in the original rulebook. How Class Warfare does this is by breaking down the Dungeon World character class into smaller pieces—like specialties and archetypes—and showing you how they fit together.

PRINT+PDF FROM DRIVETHRURPG
PRINT ONLY FROM LULU

See a preview of the Rogues section HERE.

Specialties
A specialty is a collection of special abilities that describe one facet of what makes a character’s interaction with the rules of the game unique. Think of it as a shtick, perhaps, or a set of skills, even. Each specialty is approximately one-third of a normal Dungeon World character or character class. The Ranger, for example, is an archer, a hunter, and someone who has an animal companion—three special abilities. In Class Warfare terms, each of those is a specialty.

Archetypes
Each specialty is categorized into one of five different groups, called archetypes. These are general character “types,” that include: adventurer, disciple, magician, rogue, and warrior. Your archetype helps determine your damage die and your maximum hit points, and puts a few limits on which specialties you can combine together.

Basically, it means that if you focus on combat-oriented specialties, you end up with high damage and high hit points, which makes fighting an attractive option for you to take. If you focus on magical powers, you’re much less good at delivering blows or shrugging them off, even just using the basic moves. This encourages you to use your magic and stay out of fights.

Building a Character
You create a starting character by choosing an archetype and two or three specialties. But specialties can also be used as compendium classes, so there are ways to learn new abilities outside your original character concept if you undertake certain quests or perform certain feats. You are not limited only to the choices you made during character creation.

Why did I make this book?
To get rich, of course! Ah hahaha! So funny. In all seriousness, with Class Warfare, I had three primary goals: to make something that would be useful for both myself and other people in creating characters and in writing new classes; to give enough options that it could be used on its own and not just as an example of a new system; and to make it good for at least a little bit more than just initial character creation.

1. A Useful System of Doing Things
I wanted to build a system that breaks down class creation into small but logical pieces. This allows for more nuanced customization of existing character classes, and also gives people a way to make something new and unique that can be used in a game right away, without them having to tackle an entire class all at one time.

Hopefully, this system also gives people some insight into how the classes in Dungeon World balance spotlight time, effectiveness, and the number of moves characters have in relation to each other. Dungeon World is often less transparent than its parent, Apocalypse World, is in this regard, but a lot of people are coming to Dungeon World first, without any reference to other games that are “Powered by the Apocalypse.” Lots of rules design and play discussions that would help new players and GMs are scattered across various forums and private conversations, and aren’t easily accessible to people who weren’t there at the time. If this books can distil some of that knowledge and communicate it, great!

2. A Vast Array of Options
As much as I wanted the system to be easy, I also wanted it to provide plenty of options. The basic Dungeon World classes are already easy to use—the problem is that you only have eight options to choose from! Each of the five archetypes in Class Warfare has between 14 and 21 specialties to choose from, and you can also take one specialty from outside of your archetype. This alone leads to hundreds or even thousands of interesting characters. And then you can always write your own specialties, or ignore my archetypes altogether and build new custom classes out of whichever three archetypes you like. It’s not like I can stop you!

3. Utility Beyond Just Character Creation
I also wanted to encourage people to use these specialties as compendium classes, adding them to existing characters in the middle of play, or using them to extend a character’s game-life beyond level 10. That’s why I included fiction circumstances with each one that would allow you to add it to your character later. It’s only a little thing, but hopefully you find it useful or even inspiring.

How Complete or Definitive is Class Warfare?
Not at all! Just because this book is already super-thick doesn’t mean there aren’t tons more things that could be added to it. Most of the character class material from Dungeon World is included in this book. There’s a bunch of stuff from extras that Sage and Adam have made and some of the compendium classes that were included as kickstarter bonuses—mostly stuff that is available for free, just like Dungeon World itself is. There’s a good deal of my own previous material, including material from Ghostwood Haunts, Island of Fire Mountain, and Lair of the Unknown. Of course, it’s presented in a different format here, just like the material from Dungeon World.

I’ve also included a few moves from other third-party creators—but not a lot. If you want, sometime, I can tell you how I think the classes from Inverse World or Grim World break down into specialties and how you can use them with Class Warfare. But that material isn’t in this book, even though it’s creative commons. You should get it from the people who created it, not from me!

Also, I didn’t want to stray too far from core Dungeon World concepts. It’s true that many people get bored by the “D&D fantasy” genre, and you see new classes that feature drives and backgrounds, freeform spellcasting, or bonds with NPCs. But I wanted to stick to using alignments, Vancian spellcasting, and the four traditional fantasy races. Ultimately, with this book I’m just trying to add more options to the Dungeon World rules, not redefine how the game works. I can do that with other books, yet to be written. After all, this book isn’t supposed to be complete or definitive. Class Warfare is not a destination, it’s a departure point.

Class Warfare by the numbers:
670 starting moves and advanced moves, 526 pages, 227 race moves, 167 spells, 94 illustrations, 84 specialties, 3 different indexes.
$16 for the pdf via DriveThruRPG,
$28 for the print+pdf combo via DriveThruRPG (6×9, white pages, #50 thickness),
$20 for the print by itself from Lulu (6×9, cream-coloured pages, #60 thickness).

PRINT+PDF FROM DRIVETHRURPG

PRINT ONLY FROM LULU

The pdf comes with a blank character sheet, but if you don’t like it, you should check out the sheet Brennen Reece made. If you like that one, also take a look at Brennen’s other Dungeon World character sheets.

October 10, 2014

The Caves in Print

The Caves of Moreau County is now available in print, click for details.

Bird Brain

October 6, 2014

Terrors of the Ancient World – Preview Video

I made a Youtube video of me looking through the print version of Terrors of the Ancient World, so all y’all could see it and know what it looks like. Hopefully it makes you want to buy a copy!

September 29, 2014

The Caves of Moreau County

moreau_county_coverpic-1The Caves of Moreau County is an adventure module for Labyrinth Lord (i.e. B/X). The various sections of this dungeon are random and modular — there is no mandated way for them to fit together. You can generate the actual structure of the dungeon before you play, or do it during the game, partly in response to the players’ decisions.

The dungeon consists primarily of beastmen in caves with a few twists and buried secrets. It is a fairly dark adventure, written from the perspective of murderhobo PCs. It’s gritty, horror-saturated old school fantasy, in case that is or isn’t your bag. Or just check it out for yourself, since you can get it for free if you want to.

This module was created to be a proof-of-concept prototype, to see how well this format works, and what needs to be done to make it work better. As such, the text is released under a Creative Commons license and the PDF is offered here as Pay What You Want. Monetary support goes towards creating more role-playing game materials. If you enjoy this module, you might also consider purchasing some of my other books, if you haven’t already.

LINK BELOW

The Caves of Moreau County is available in PDF from DriveThruRPG.

And in print from Lulu (6×9, staple-bound, cream pages, B&W printing, US$10).

*

Some Design Notes:
Because this is a prototype made in preparation for a larger project (related to my Monthly Monsters project on Patreon), I don’t mind critiquing it or offering my thoughts on how it could be done better.

The sections in The Caves of Moreau County are fairly small, mostly limited to one room each. I think this would work better with larger sections, maybe small collections of rooms, or several rooms that comprise the lair of a particular monster, or a type of monsters. So, probably something more akin to a series of modular one-page dungeons, though many sections would be smaller than your typical OPD, I would think.

There’s only a few connections between rooms—the ritual room leads directly to the tomb of saints, for example—and only a few rooms lead back to rooms that are already on the map. I’d like to insert more connections of that sort, including secret passageways, and links between different dungeon levels.

In general, this is also a fairly small dungeon, with twenty rooms and only a few different types of monsters. More variance in the wandering monster tables would definitely be a plus.

September 12, 2014

Terrors of the Ancient World Wallpaper

Digital wallpaper of the cover art: http://www.patreon.com/creation?hid=949280
Wallpaper

August 7, 2014

Terrors of the Ancient World

mm1Last year, I started a Patreon thing in order to make monster manuals with a friend of mine, because he can draw real good and I can write pretty well. So we make two monsters every month, and now, finally, we’ve put some of them together into an rpg book.

Terrors of the Ancient World is a monster manual for the Dungeon World role-playing game. It has over a dozen monsters, illustrated in full colour, along with all the things that make Dungeon World unique, like fronts and dangers, custom moves, and a fiction-first focus. There’s also a new character class, the Satyr, and plenty of adventure hooks, items, NPC ideas, and even a few locations.

This is NOT just a reprint of the Monthly Monster material. Terrors of the Ancient World contains plenty of new material, corrections and edits, and new illustrations. Monsters that were originally illustrated in black and white are presented here in colour.

Please Note: Although the monsters we release every month as part of the Patreon campaign include versions for both Dungeon World and Labyrinth Lord, this book contains only material for Dungeon World and is designed to highlight the particular strengths of that game. It is not compatible with Labyrinth Lord in any meaningful way. There will, of course, be a Labyrinth Lord compatible book of our monsters that presents them in ways best suited for old school fantasy role-playing, but we are still working on that.

WHERE TO GET IT: From DriveThruRPG, click this link.

The pdf is digest-sized, full colour, 107 pages, for US$15.
The print is US trade-sized, full colour, 108 pages, for US$30 and comes with a free pdf if you want one.

There might be a Lulu option in the future, but I have to look into it.
There might be posters of the cover art in the future, but I have to look into that, too.

July 28, 2014

Writing Dungeon World Adventures: Some Tips

Lots of people have made adventures and scenarios for Dungeon World other than me. Joe Banner, John Aegard, Josh Mannon, Marshall Miller, just to name a few. There’s adventures in both the Grim Portents and Mondo Sotteraneo magazines, and then there’s fronts and dangers and stuff in Grim World, Inverse World, and Pirate World.

But I have published the most adventures so far. So probably I’ve learned a few things?
Maybe. Here’s what I can think of right now. Or maybe these are, like, my “opinions, maaaaan.” Whichever, you decide.

FRONTS AND DANGERS
A front is just an organizational tool. The real meat is the stuff in a danger: type, impulse, impending doom, and especially the grim portents. Description, cast, custom moves, and stakes are cool and everything but you will do that stuff anyway if you want to and you won’t if you don’t. How you lay out the dangers and their grim portents—the way the DW book shows or some other way—doesn’t really matter, as long as the GM can understand.

SCENES
I like to include suggested scenes with my grim portents. It is one thing to say “the bandits attack the sheriff” on the grim portents list, and it’s another, more useful thing to suggest how and when they might go about doing that. Give the GM ideas, that’s what your adventure is there to do.

LEAVE BLANKS
There is a right way to do this and a wrong way. Don’t leave something blank if you’re just going to have to invent it later. If you leave a blank spot on your dungeon map and then when the PCs get there you still don’t know what’s there, that’s a sub-optimal use of your prep time.

Instead, when you are the GM, you should leave blanks so you can incorporate suggestions and ideas that the other players contribute. If they tell you they are exploring this dungeon because the Sword of Matrivhor is supposed to be there, don’t just ignore that and plow ahead with your Shrine of Klogh dungeon that has nothing to do with swords or Matrivhors. Put the sword in there somewhere, instead of, or in addition to, the stuff you thought up beforehand. Or change it to the Shrine of Matrivhor and have the PCs find it already looted, with the sword missing—and a clue that will help them find out who took it. Then continue adventuring.

Or, leave the treasure blank in your prep and make sure to ask the players why their characters are raiding this dungeon—what great treasure do they believe is located here?

In short: When you ask them for stuff, use that stuff later.

If you’re writing an adventure, though, how do you encourage this?

KEEP EVERYTHING CONNECTED
The point is that it’s not just a collection of random, disparate things. You have a collection of people, places, things, and situations that actually work together, play off each other, and interact in ways that you have already decided on (and hopefully some unexpected ways, too).

So: try to leave blanks in later parts of your adventure, but put questions in the beginning that will generate the information you need to fill in those blanks.

For example, there is a scrying pool in Island of Fire Mountain that shows the PCs what life is like for the people they left behind to come to this tropical island. This is one reason why you are told to ask the players where their characters come from and what things are like back home—so you can show them what has changed.

Another example: PCs go into a dungeon. Ask them what they fear might be down here, or what they expect, or how they feel vulnerable. Ask them what they think the creatures down here are like, from the worms in the earth to the trolls they are trying to rob. Later on, when they fall into the mutagenic pools in the abandoned alchemical laboratory, use their earlier answers to describe how their bodies mutate. They become the things they feared would be down here.

QUESTIONS
Give the GM questions to ask, things to wonder about. Make them somewhat connected to the stuff that you are presenting in the dungeon. This can be a hard thing for many GMs to come up with, so if you give them stuff they can do right away, those questions can become the seeds of inspiration.

WHAT TO DESCRIBE
In general, I make the assumption that the PCs are unfamiliar with what is being described in the adventure—the people, places, and things—so I try to describe all the stuff that I think is important. The world around the adventure is what I leave up to the GM to either invent or to ask the players about. I also try to include options for the PCs being familiar with the people, places, and things in the adventure, but this is not my default, mainly because this is a fantasy game, so dungeoncrawling and monster fighting and chasing after fleeing thieves are going to be more common than family infighting and small-town romantic shenanigans.

A few other tips:

MONSTERS
The goons at the Something Awful forums decided to add tactics to the monster stat blocks, and this is a good idea. One instinct and some moves alone don’t always tell you what lengths a monster is willing to go to, when they might decide to turn and flee, or what would motivate them to attack the PCs in the first place. Listing tactics beneath their moves is a succinct way to communicate this info. Also, if you put NPCs in your adventure (monsters or people) you should probably give them a motivation of some kind, so the GM doesn’t have to invent one. The GM’s job should be to role-play the how, and spend less time inventing the what, which is why she bought your adventure, after all.

SPOUT LORE RESULTS
Joe Banner puts little sidebars in his adventures, with interesting and useful pieces of information that might be the results of the PCs spouting lore about the things they encounter. This is a good idea! I didn’t do this in any of my adventures, but I should have.

This works better for spout lore than it does for discern realities, I should add. Discern realities results should be right there in a description of the location or situation, but spout lore results can come from sources far afield. Also, if you have answers ready and don’t have to do too much thinking, it encourages players to use spout lore more often, because they know they can count on it actually being useful.

KNOW WHERE TO CUT CORNERS
I’ve written this mostly of these assuming you want to write adventures for other people to use, but these are also tips you can use for your own adventures. If you’ve run even just a few of your own adventures or DW campaigns, you probably have a good idea of what you find easy to improvise during a game and what you probably need to prep for. So skip the tips that don’t help you do that prep. Most of these things don’t really rely on each other.

July 10, 2014

Vertiginous Infiltrators, a science fantasy monster

infiltratorMy Patreon project is producing more free monsters! This is a science fantasy monster. You can find it in pdf form with stats for Dungeon World and Labyrinth Lord on the Patreon site:
Dungeon World Vertiginous Infiltrators
Labyrinth Lord Vertiginous Infiltrators

Grown in vats by unlawful geneticists, the vertiginous
infiltrators are perfect copies of the Sargosyalan race, able to mimic
the mannerisms and behaviours of anyone they could observe.
They were deployed against the Sargosyalans and quickly took
over key positions within that race’s leadership. Not only did they
capture vital military resources for the Xalvorians, but the paranoia
these double agents created within the Sargosyalan ranks was a
setback they could never recover from. Within a few short decades,
a war that had rages and stalled for more than a century was over,
and no true Sargosyalan remained alive.

With their homeworld and all their colonies overrun by the
Xalvorian overlords, the vertiginous infiltrators are all that is left of
the Sargosyalans. Undying, they continue to serve their masters,
infiltrating the societies of other alien races—but no subsequent
success can compare to their original triumph over the beings they
were made to mimic.

May 5, 2014

Den of Thieves

Den of ThievesDen of Thieves is the revised version of a game I wrote in 2009, that has more or less been on a back burner since 2010. I haven’t seen anything similar to it since then, though, so I thought I should maybe polish it up to let other people take a look at it.

It’s a game about fantasy thieves in a fantasy city, with magic and whatnot and a sort-of Victorian underworld vibe. The rules are probably closest to Otherkind Dice (i.e. Ghost/Echo) but a little more rigid. You need a deck of cards to play. Each card represents a specific person, place, thing, or event. You make a map of cards laid out on the table, and you also draw cards to resolve actions, instead of rolling dice. The game is structured in scenes, and you can play with or without a GM (that role is split in two).

The intention is that each time you play, you choose a custom decks of cards, instead of an adventure scenario. Each deck would have a different set of people, places, things, and events, each with their own special rules. Production-wise, this is actually a lot easier to do now than it was in 2010, so possibly I should be thinking about working on this game again.

You can play it if you like. Let me know how it goes. What’s missing is a section telling you how to play the roles (protagonist, dealer, antagonist). If you’re familiar with games like Apocalypse World, Fiasco, and Ghost/Echo, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out, though.

 

LINK IS HERE

April 25, 2014

DW2: Island of Fire Mountain

At long last, both the DW and the River Knife series of adventure modules are complete trilogies.

Island of Fire MountainA small island in the South Seas. A lone fort plagued by cannibal hordes and a race of monsters. A ship, wrecked on the rocks of the far shore, missing all its crew and passengers. An ancient city that stands in ruins, guarded by the very elements themselves, and rumoured to be full of ghosts. All this and more lie waiting for a band of intrepid adventurers. Will they bring peace and prosperity to the island, or merely line their pockets? Will they discover the secret of the lost city of Kuna Lii, or will they leave the entire world in ruins in the attempt? Come ashore, and find out for yourself!

What size is this book?
It’s 102 pages, black and white, 6×9 in print, 5.5×8.5 in pdf.

What do you get with this book?

  • Inside this adventure module, you will find:
  • A complete island, with numerous warring factions and a ruined city.
  • New monsters, characters, and magical items to vex or aid the PCs.
  • Customized starting procedures and advice about asking the players questions that contribute to the setting, while keeping the island a mysterious place for them to explore.
  • A new base class: the Elementalist.
  • Cover art by Robert Scott, from the Prismatic Art Collection.
  • Fantastic interior art by Nate Marcel and Tony Dowler.

Where do you get this book?
You can buy Island of Fire Mountain in print and pdf from DriveThruRPG, for $20. Or $8 $15. Or $7 if you only want the pdf.
You can also buy the print version by itself from Lulu for $16. $12.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 64 other followers