Devil’s Staircase Wrapping up the Jokers

0
0

I have used Jokers several times if different aspects of Devil’s Staircase so I thought a post to bring all of them together may be worthwhile.

Jokers and Stats

You cannot have a joker for a characters stat. If a joker is dealt then it is added to the tally of jokers the character has and an alternative card is dealt.

Jokers and skills

I did not explicitly mention this is the post on skill resolution as it only came to me when I was thinking about tricks and special feats. Once a skill test has been resolved and the player succeeds then the player may choose to play a joker. The effect of the joker is that the character may request a specific outcome. The GM will then take that request into account and if it is possible then it will be worked into the story. For example, a character wants to climb up to the Señorita’s balcony. Having passed a skill test to climb a trellis against the villa wall the player uses a Joker and asks if he can swing silently on to the balcony without being seen. The GM thinks this is perfectly reasonable so it happens just as the player requested.

Jokers in Combat

When dealing out damage number cards do a single point of Endurance damage, picture cards do two points of Endurance damage but the player can choose to play a joker, after the hit or miss has been established. This changes the damage from 1 or 2 to a wiping out the targets Endurance and renders them unconscious. Jokers do not kill. This is a slight change from when the combat post was written as in that it was unclear when the Joker was going to be played. It is now consistent that jokers are always played after the skill test is complete.

Jokers and Special Feats

Special Feats are things like shooting the gun from someone’s hand, snapping a cigar from their lips with a bull whip or leaping a gorge on your horse. In all these cases after the skill test if the skill test succeeded then a joker can be played to get the special feat.

Surviving with a Joker

If the character is in a certain death situation such as being blown up with dynamite, going over a cliff in a stage coach or being trampled by a herd of buffalo then the character may sacrifice a Joker to somehow survive. This is really on a par with the ‘Saving Throw vs Death’. The GM can come up with a good reason for the survival and it does not have to leave the player unscathed! Being still alive should be reward enough.

These tweaks now make the joker consistent across all aspects of the game. They also create a Joker economy. Players will have a frequent need to spend jokers and will look forward to being dealt one. I can always remember the feeling one gets from rolling a natural 20 in D&D or rolling an open ended roll in Rolemaster. Half the time these did you no good, you would have made the roll of a 12+ so the 20 does nothing extra for example, but they gave you a buzz anyway. I hope the Joker system here will create that same buzz for the players but at the same time it puts the player in control, they hold the jokers and can choose when to play them. I can imagine a character with five jokers in their back pocket will walk a little taller and have a bit more of a swagger than one that is all out.

Next time I want to start looking at setting specific tweaks. Less about Devil’s Staircase and more about the Wild West side of things.

FrontierSpace Actual Play Report

1
0

On September 27th DwD Studios released their space opera RPG FrontierSpace. Stargazer’s World already reviewed it. I had the opportunity to use the playtest rules for a one shot session during ZeltCon 2017, the annual gaming convention of the roleplaying club of Biberach, “Palaver”.

Even better – I was invited to take part in a more or less impromptu session a friend of mine ran the following day. But I will come to that later.

I had prepared a short introductory scenario for “Ferne Sterne” (Far Stars), a new setting I am working on so I was not using DwD’s FrontierSpace setting. It was meant as a test whether it worked and whether it was worth developing further.

For the sake of convenience and quick access I had also prepared four Player Characters from two of the four species present in the region – humans and “Rakhaadi” (which actually are the more or less stereotypical Greys). So I only had to create one new alien species for this occasion. This process is covered only briefly in the Player’s Handbook but is included in the Referee’s Handbook in a concise yet comprehensive way.

Continue reading FrontierSpace Actual Play Report

Thoughts on the Index Card RPG

0
0

I don’t actually remember how I stumbled upon the Index Card RPG CORE by Runehammer Games. It could be someone mentioned it in a chat, or I just saw it on sale at RPGNow. Eventually I picked it up, since it looked as if I could like it. And in fact, I do love it. It’s one of those games I wished I came up with.

image

At its core the Index Card RPG CORE (no pun intended) is an ultra-light variant of D&D. It uses the same attributes, but in form of their bonuses instead of the regular 3 to 18 attribute scores. There are no levels, advancement is fully equipment based. Characters’ and monsters’ hitpoints are rated in “hearts” with each heart being 10hp. Difficulties for rolls are not set on a per case basis, but there’s a common threat level for each scene, which the GM can adjust as they see fit.

One of the coolest changes to regular D&D is Effort. In cases a simple check on whether you succeed or not is not enough, you roll first if you succeed on your task (d20 + attribute vs. threat), and then – if successful – you roll effort. It’s a d4 if you use your raw wits or bare hands, d6 for weapons, d8 for magic, and d12 is your Ultimate which comes in play when your action check was a natural 20. Some items may also allow you to use your Ultimate effort. In this system things you have to overcome (a cliff to climb, a trap to disarm, a chest to open) also have hearts. Cracking that lock open is mechanically more like attacking it with a lockpick. you could even use this for social conflicts.

image

In a way the Index Card RPG CORE reminds me of Into The Odd, another ultra-light D&D clone. It strips away a lot of what people usually consider sacred cows but retains what makes the game exciting to people. By the way, I forgot to mention why it’s called Index Card RPG. The game doesn’t rely on the use of index cards at all. But the creator of the game is a fan of the “Index Card Method”. I’ve included a video about said method below.

So the game more or less was created with said method in mind, but you actually don’t need to employ it. Overall the Index Card RPG is full of great ideas for the busy game master with a full-time job and a family. Everything is kept as simple as possible while feeling awesome at the same time. The book is full of creative ideas and just makes me want to run it ASAP.

image

The Index Card RPG comes with a bestiary, a lot of examples for obstacles to overcome, two settings (a fantasy and a space opera one), and paper miniatures for monsters and characters. It even includes materials to use with online services like Roll20.

Even if you don’t want to make use of the rules included the Index Card RPG is well worth it. Its advice on how to run exciting games and the print-out-and-play material alone is worth its price of $16.50. POD options are also available. And did I mention that I adore the artwork in this book? It’s awesome! I could go on and on about how much I adore this little game, but I think it’s way better if you check it out!

A Roleplaying Games blog