Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Selling Your Loot Part 2

In my previous post a few people were interested in how Charisma affects the pricing.  I do this for a couple of reasons.  First, in my mind, it makes sense.  Second, in old school games Charisma is a dump stat or just forgotten.  This gives it purpose.  It directly affects how the character advances.  With extra gold comes extra experience.  

These price adjustments are not automatic, just because you're pretty doesn't mean you'll get the better price.  I use the price adjustment as a suggestion, a suggestion on how much more a merchant will pay...or in low Charisma cases, a suggestion on how much lower they will pay.  Haggling and roleplaying impacts this of course.  But like in the old game Dark Tower, if you haggle too much the merchant shuts down and refuses to deal with the party.  

All of these tweaks I add are to enhance roleplaying by rewarding it with a benefit here and there.  How I do this with examples, is shown in the complex sections.  And if buying and selling isn't something I want to spend much time on, I just use the simple section to streamline the process.  

Weapons & Armor
Except for coinage, weapons and armor are the second most frequent thing found.  All those bandits, orcs and goblins don't run around naked.  Their armor is not only to protect them, but to protect you from seeing their junk swaying in the wind as they charge down the hill.  No GM needs to describe that in detail.  

If you want the easiest of systems here it is, Low End Loot 20%, Regular Loot 40%, High End Loot 60% and Magical Items 80% of listed prices.  I'll get more into magical items in a later post.

I like the idea of different qualities of armor and weapons.  A quick example is low end items suffer a -1 penalty because of their lack of craftsmanship.  So a suit of crappy chainmail would give you +4 to your AC instead of +5.  Weapons may be -1 to damage.  And they break if a 1 is rolled.  The high end quality items would get a +1 advantage.  The 'plus' is representative of the superior quality, not magical bonuses.

Low End Loot 
Low end armor and weapons, or crap quality.  The party has slain a scouting party of goblins.  The players grab the weapons and the chainmail off the leader.  The party comes into town to sell their bloody treasures.  The quality of the weapons and armor are poor plus the armor has a couple of gaping holes where your axe hacked through.  Trying to sell these as short swords and chainmail for the same price as listed ain't gonna happen.  

Simple: I start at 20% of the list price. This may seem low, but this is crap stuff.  Anyone who is buying it for resale needs to mend the holes and sharpen the blades.  Merchants aren't buying stuff out of the goodness of their little, black hearts, they are there to make money. 

Complex: In my campaigns there is always a smith or some sort of metalcrafter who buys scrap metal in bulk based on the weight to re-purpose the metal.  Such has making nails, iron spikes, horseshoes, any number of simple metal objects that apprentices can practice their trade on.  The price of course varies, but generally I give the price in copper (I use a silver system, if you use a gold system I would suggest using silver).  It's not a lot, but I run a low-level grind campaign where a few coppers can make a difference.  If you run a high fantasy game where gold pours out a unicorn's ass, then this approach will not work for your game.  But in general, most merchants won't touch the stuff, no profit in it.  That is unless you have a war raging, then even the crap stuff because a viable option for under equipped soldiers. 

Average Loot
The party finds an armory of a bandit baron.  They have a nice collection of armor and weapons in relatively good condition stockpiled.  Or the party removes the bandits need to breath.  Standard quality stuff.  Basic, no frills. 

Simple: If the equipment hasn't seen action or much action I  start at the 50% mark.  If the armor and weapons have seen action then I'd use a 40% starting point.  

Complex: I use the percents above, but outside influences affecting pricing.  If there is a war on, then pricing rises.  Merchants may sponsor adventurers so they can get first dibs on the loot.  An iron ore mine could have collapsed or taken over by murderous bugbears.  This would cause the prices to go up.  A 15gp short sword could double in price.  Adding outside influences to the economics of a game helps to add a depth to it and players can take advantage of the situation if they play it right.  

High End Loot
The party is now moved on to murdering innocent anti-paladins and virtuous mercenaries who have spent a little more time and money on what they wear and what the kill with.  These weapons and armor are well taken care of.  They need to no alterations ande ready to be put on sale.  

Simple: Give the party 70% of the list price.

Complex: When you start getting into better quality goods there is often some sort of symbol, etching, something where the weapon came from.  Most crafters have a mark.  It can also signify who owned it before hand.  For example, the mark might be for Abercrombie the Smith, someone who works strictly for Duke Fussy Pants.  Filing of a makers mark can be akin to filing off a serial number on a gun in some towns.  Should the party run into this they will have to sell their goods on the black market.  Most of the time this reduces the value, but with the right connections, a lot of money can be made.  Most merchants are willing to buy this level of merchandise.  They now it will sell and it has the largest profit margin. 

I'll cover magical loot in another post.  And I will also post about the merchants themselves.  How to develop a merchant with a few quick easy steps to give them a depth of what they are like, what they'll buy and so on.  There are different levels of merchants, some that will buy only the highest of quality down to the scrappers who buy the junk metal to repurpose it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Work in Progress...

I originally drew the house map by itself.  Then I wanted to add a basement/dungeon room.  So I drew that separately.  Then I had the idea to connect them.  I did so very clumsily.  The transition did not work the way I wanted. 

I throw the map into my finishing program and bevel the edges to give it a little depth and framing.  Then stylize the lettering and numbers.  Basically I type the word or number twice, one in white then in black, bevel the back letter to give it an outline making it easier to read. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

To Buy or To Bother

Just posted another micro-location, To Buy or To Bother on my Patreon page.  Those who know my page know I do adventures and locations.  The locations are not going to necessarily be a place where the party slaughters the inhabitants and takes their stuff, although it very well could be.  But the locations are usually a place where other adventures are found.  Or at least a step along the journey. 

To Buy or To Bother is what I would consider a 'found' location.  It is unlikely there will be a sparkling quest trail leading you here.  It is an isolated place that will more likely be found by accident.  However, in my intro to the adventure on my Patereon page I give two adventure hooks to use this location.

I like this location quite a bit.  It is very simple and has a nilbog inhabiting the perfectly square tunnels.  This strange little creature can cause all sorts of chaos by doing absolutely nothing.  I've given the little fellow a fetish for fours and a job that has him mining quartz crystals from the stone.  Tip-tap with his tiny hammer.  You'll only feel the first blow when it hits you in the head.

The side result in this was coming up with an occupation to develop for my game.  A Gatherer.  Someone who is hired by various craftsmen to find bulk quantities of common items.  Herbalist may need two bushels of wild sage for a new poultice, but doesn't have the time to do it herself, so she hires a gather who has some rudimentary knowledge of what to look for and how to harvest and store it correctly.  It's something I'll write up on a later post.

Please stop by my Patreon page and grab a free PDF copy of To Buy or To Bother.  And if you'd like print versions of the adventures sent every month or you think these will be great for your game, consider checking out the pledge levels. 


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Selling Your Loot: Part 1

Go in a hole.  Kill monster.  Take treasure.
A mantra I think we all can relate to.  It is the foundation of what fantasy RPGs are about.  Sure there are various ways to do this, with degrees of focus on different aspects and those who prefer a kinder, gentler game, but I'm not talking about those people.  

 I'm talking about my kind of people.  The people who like going into a hole, kill monsters and take their stuff.  It is simplistic, barbaric, some would say it suggests psychopathic tendencies in individuals.  Those are silly people, why would you tell a psychopath he or she is psychopath?

But I'm not here to talk about the repressed rage gamers feel.  No.  I am here to talk about the fourth step in this mantra.  Taking treasure is good.  But a lot of it you can't do anything with until you get some cold, hard coin in your bloody fist.  Of course this goes for any genre of any time.  Gangsters want hundred dollar bills and space mercs want a full card of creds.  Medium of exchange is different, but the philosophy is the same.  But since I am focused on the fantasy genre I'll be sticking to coins of gold and silver.  Not electrum through.  Electrum is for people who can't make up their mind. 

The fourth part of the mantra is sell treasure

Yeah, this one is not all that exciting, but it can play a huge part in your game.  Especially if you give experience points based on the amount of gold a character brings in (and/or spends).   Gotta have it to spend it.  But I've made it into a sub-game if you will.  It is the next part of the adventure, the most terrifying.  You've face undead abominations, but now you have to face one of the world's most challenging opponents, the greedy merchant.  

I'll break this down into different categories of treasure and how I handle each and why.  Some of this may sound fiddly, and if it burdens the game I simplify the process.  But in truth, this is very much apart of my game, the adventuring economics is a real thing.  There is a lot of money to be mad and everyone wants their cut.

In cases where a complex version of selling treasure is used, I opt to use a Charisma modifier to determine the percentage the party is offered compared to the full value of the item.  That could mean the party gets 50% of the value of the item instead of 30%.  Or it could mean the party just sold a pot metal charm to a noble, who now believes it is an ancient artifact of a goblin god.  And of course haggling makes the amounts change.  Value is fluid.

The most basic of treasures.  You find a 100gp.  Bam, you already have your money, no middleman needed.  This is the most simple version.  But it can also become one of the most intricate.  Once in a while I throw in the fact the currencies change over the years, different values for different eras, different cultures.  When an adventuring party comes across an ancient burial ground and the creature thay are fighting is a few hundred years old, the coinage will more than likely be different.  Maybe some mix of modern coins from newbs who were TPKed. 

The gold coins they find may be twice as large as the coins used today.  In weight, that single coin may be worth 5gp.  Because it is different, regular merchants may not accept it.  In this case it may need to be taken to a moneylender to exchange for the modern currency.  And of course there is a conversion fee. 

Simple: The coins are valued equal to the number.  So 5gp in the outside world is the same as the 5gp you just found in the dungeon.  No fuss. 

Complex: The coins are of a different age and/or size.  A money lender needs to be involved to receive spendable coins.  I determine the actual value of the coin and then the moneylender takes a percentage.  There is no room for negotiation because the rates are set by powerful guilds.  But if the coins are rare and their is known collector, then the coins could be more valuable than the metal.  In this case the moneylender could introduce the two parties and ask for a finder's fee 'off the books'.

Here's a quick sample of something you may find behind my screen.

  • Northmen Silver, large square coins worth 4sp.  However, there are king coins, a king coins are made from hard silver.  These large coins were used as a king's currency worth 100sp of today's coins.  But the hard silver can also be used to plate weapons.  Weaponsmith will give 25% more for these coins.  
  • Myrian Era coins.  Often found in the southern section of land, where a small, but powerful kingdom, Myria.  They used small silver coins to make transporting larger sums of coins easier.  The minting is intricate.  When the kingdom was razed, its wealth was dispersed throughout the world.  The coins are valued the same, there is a one for one conversion.  Merchants won't take them because of their size.  
  • Gold bars the size of a man's palm, weight around a half stone were popular for centuries.  Each bar was stamped with the crest of the kingdom they originated from.  The allied kingdoms would recognize this currency at a standard value.  These days they were valued at 112gp for the metal alone.  But there are collectors who are looking to find bars from the thirteen kingdoms.  The value rises with the rarity.  To find a gold bar from Prayta could fetch five times its metal value.
This kind of detail is not for everyone.  I just do a light version of it to give a place a sense of history.  An element to show that something was here many years ago and some people hold it valuable.  

Monday, March 21, 2016

Two and a Half GMs

Over the weekend we got together for a little face to face gaming.  Normally we play a board game or if someone has an adventure they want to run.  This weekend we did something a little different.  There were four of us so I purposed we each run an adventure.  The first GM would run an adventure with a 1st level party.  Then the second guy would run an adventure for a 3rd level party.  Then a 5th and 7th level party in the following adventures.

A nice twist to the entire process was +Dwayne Gillingham, GMof the 1st level made pre-gen characters.  A fighter, cleric and thief.  We decided to play the same characters through the different adventures and we would be switching.  I played the thief, and when it was my turn, Dwayne would play him.  And so on.  It was a cool concept and added a little extra fun.

In the first adventure the fighter died.  Cleric went down, but I was able to get him on the positive side of life.  So we needed 'Slayer's' brother Gus to come in as a replacement.  Dwayne had us be pall barriers for a funeral.  We were attacked by a zombie horde.  While we were beat fairly bad we still plunged forward into the crypt found an underground complex and found a necromancer, the dead guy's kid, down there with a batch of skeletons.  We lucked out and the cleric managed to turn them and we whacked the necro.  We had to leave the fighter's body down there because the skeletons were free of the turn and we didn't know Slayer that well. 

Second adventure the cleric went down.  I ran another crypt adventure.  This time the inhabitants were alive.  I used an adventure I wrote a little while ago, The Bastard Baron.  The party went into the crypt to finish off the Bastard Baron, Naszer.  The cleric died because he was stuck in a rug the entire combat.  He got whack and went down.  However the party save a cleric from the prison and he became the new cleric of the party.

In the third adventure we got through half of it.  +Rob Conley had us reclaim a villa in the name of the king.  Villa was inhabited by a mage and a pack of wererats.  Before we began the session we bought some magic items to reflect our 5th level status.  Gus, was able to purchase a Girdle of Giant Strength and now doors became optional.

So we left off there.  +Rob Conley with half his adventure done and +Daniel McEntee who was lasts howed us his cool big mp.  We'll pick up where we left off.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Threat of Death

I'll be discussing different gaming systems, some in a favorable light and others not so much.  The topic is infusing mortality into a game.  The fact is some systems do this and other systems just suck at it.  This is not a declaration that one system is better than the other, but better at developing a sense of mortality.  Danger!  Some got it.  Some don't. 

A sense of mortality is an element that is ever present in my game.  I GM a semi-realistic world, with a medieval European, and Asian, historical influence.  Literary wise, the books that most reflect my way of thinking are the Thieves World books, The Warhound and the World's Pain and throw in nearly any story of Dostoevsky or Kafka and you'll get a snapshot of where I am coming from.  Dark, gritty and unforgiving with occasional elements of wonder.

Some rule systems are more forgiving than others.  Off the top of my head I can think of the last two editions of D&D with their healing surges.  The party can go head-to-head with a batch of giant flaming skeletal, vampires mages, take a short break (or as I call it, taking a knee) a and jump back into the next fight.  This aspect of the game eliminates consequences of a battle.  I personally disdain this mechanic.  

Even Dragon Age/Fantasy Age, systems I really like have a similar mechanic and even allow characters to first aid during battle.  Are you fricking kidding me?  While I am not a stickler for hardcore realism, I do appreciate a little common sense.  If you have any experience with either fighting and/or first aid, you know that shit ain't happening.  It's hard enough to patch someone up who is holding still let along getting arrows shot at them or dodging axe blows.  Dragon Age claims to be an unforgiving, dark fantasy world, but with ability to first aid during a battle, taking a knee mechanic, along with heal spells, it's not.  The content may be dark, but getting when you get into a battle there are many safety nets in place.

These systems favor a heroic fantasy.  The system encourages epic battles and campaigns.  The mechanics allow a character more chances to get to the point of some epic accomplishment.  Absolutely nothing wrong with this.  I love Dragon Age.  I really enjoyed playing 5th edition D&D, but it wasn't until we started playing Pits & Perils that I felt that rush of "Oh shit, this could be it."

But even Pits & Perils is a more forgiving than old OD&D.  Pits & Perils works on a simple, but elegant system of hits.  A fighter has 10hp + say 3 armor (2 for chain mail and 1 for the shield). Weapon damage is either a 1 or 2.  That means a 1st level fighter can take between 7 to 13 hits before dying.  And they die once they hit 0hp.  None of this death saving throw.  No minus your Con score and then you are really dead.  Nope, 0 is dead, dead.  Amen!  But, look at an OD&D fighter with about 8hp, weapons do an average of 1d6.  So 2 hits can send your character into the afterlife.  And again, 0 hit points means its time to roll up a new guy.  Getting into a a fight can be very deadly.

And if you look at the healing mechanics for both these games, it is not easy to recover from a battle. If the party gets into a big fight they can't just take a knee and then charge into the next battle.  It takes a couple of days to recover, often longer.  Characters have fewer healing resources to burn through and they are not replenished as often.  So when they take on that ogre, a party using these systems has to consider the consequences because it may delay their travels for a week.

Some may complain this sounds boring.  It is definitely a matter of taste.  And there are also arguments about what hit points really represents, which I will not get into, because when you run out of them you're dead, not tired. 

Combat is of course the most obvious.  I also like having poison where it is save vs. death.  I often include disease in my games.  Imagine playing a game where the Black Plague is the backdrop.  Every village, home or encounter could end with infecting the party members.  Again, in newer versions of D&D, a cure disease or a paladin can take care of it fairly quick.  While in Pits & Perils and OD&D these curing disease options are fewer.  While a cleric can cure a person that takes up precious spell slots.

Again, this is my overall preference.  Going into a village infected with a plague become a lot more interesting if the party feels they could be next.  Some may find this kind of game boring, I can see their point.  Sometimes you just want to be the badass and wade into battle, damn the consequences because its not a matter of life or death, but how many you kill and how much you drink to your many victories.  But for me, for the victories to mean anything, there has to have been a chance, a big chance, that I would fail.  And failing can be interesting, it is often more interesting that succeeding. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Mail Call: Prepare to be Jealous

It has been a good month so far as mail deliverers go.  I've got gaming stuff coming from individuals, eBay, RPGNow, Lulu, and Mythoard.  In fact this is only a part of what I've gotten so far.  I warn you now not to look if you have a weak heart.

I've always wanted a copy of the Rule Cyclopedia.  I pretty much missed all of THACO time and all the versions that were 3rd editions.  However, the the type is fricking tiny and my aging eyes are struggling with it.  That's what I get for reading in the dark all those years.  The the 2nd edition DMG so far has been a pleasant surprise.  I've enjoyed the parts I've picked through.

I think I've got all the Basic Fantasy books that are available now.  Lulu treated me to them for a great price.  In the same order I grabbed The Graveyard at Lus by +Jason Paul McCartan.  A toolbox for use for White Star.  I've been enjoying mixing some sci-fi lately.  I'm hoping to use this soon to write up a few scenarios for a White Star jaunt.

The other book I grabbed was +Anders Hedenbjörk Lager's No Country For Weak Men.  I read this adventure.  It was weird.  I felt like it was something that I should have written.  There were so many things in it that I liked.  It's the first in a series of three adventures.  The second one is currently out Come to Daddy.

Another White Star supplement I added was +Timothy Brannan's Sister of the Aquarian Order.  I grabbed this one off of RPGNow.  Space witches.  Need I say more.  So with me getting the rule of White Star in a recent Mythoard I've started getting the supplements.  I'm want to use Tim's book for that scenario I mentioned earlier.

The Game Tavern is a themed gaming zine brought to you by the +Grand DM.  I owe him a review.  Always happy to exchange zines.  So if you have one and you want to trade let me know.

Circle of Hands is something I bought on a whim on Google+.  Someone offered it up for sale and I'd seen in months ago and I was interested.  I love! the cover.  But I need to spend more time with it.  My first couple times flipping through it was a bit weird.  I'm not sure why yet.

And lastly, I got the triple threat from +MonkeyBlood Design.  I'll have no shortage of mapping fodder now.

A few things I didn't get to snap a shot of was +Chris Stieha's second issue of his RND zine.  I have it in my pile to play with.  I want to feature it in one of my adventure development posts.   I've got another Mythoard headed my way.  And I ordered something else, but I've forgotten, so I guess it'll be a surprise.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Hoblin Goblin Bottle Run is Out the Door

February's Micro-Adventures are heading out the door.  Cavern of the Lost Legion is a quick underground jaunt with some undead hosts for entertainment.  Be careful not to out stay your welcome, they have a way of dealing with unwanted visitors.

The Hoblin Goblin Bottle Run is an adventure I wrote about here, Adventure Creation.  I drew my first isometric map for it and I'm recovering nicely.  Doctor said I should be able to map in a few more days.  This is a fun adventure that I'm very happy with.  It uses some very common tropes of the game, but twists them a little to make it more interesting.  And it lends itself to a follow up adventure of course.

Which means a few more trips to the book store.  Lots of expensive coffee drinks.  And possibly a new set of dice.

That's all for now.  My patrons will get them in the mail next week.

Enjoy your Saturday.  Or what ever day it is that your reading this.  If it's Monday, I'm sorry.

Friday, March 11, 2016

13 Orcs, a Night in Monteport:Adventuring Journal Start

Last night we returned to Monteport.  The megadungeon named after the nearby town.  Last time the dungeon was new, untouched.  This time it is a known thing, merchants wanting to exploit the resources.  Last time we used Blood & Treasure, this time it is Bloody Basic.  And we've streamlined it even more.  While the system is simple, our time, if last night is an example, will be monitoring our resources carefully.  We don't want to get caught in too deep with no arrows or healing potions.

This time around I am keeping an adventuring journal.  While I'm not exactly sure what form it will take overall I wrote the first session as we played, just quick descriptions of what we encountered and what we found.  Here is the link:

I'll figure out a quick color code for different pieces of information for easy reference.