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Actual Play Table Top

Adventures of the Smartwood Kids – Ken’s 11th Birthday (adventure 3, part 2)

The kids and I get back into another story of the Smartwood kids (a ‘kids on bikes’ hack of Lasers and Feelings) – this time, it’s all about the weird runic symbols on Ken’s whiffleball bat, and how they got there in the first place.

Here’s the video (with slightly leveled audio, because my kids are noisy).

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Actual Play Table Top

Adventures of the Smartwood Kids – Ken’s 11th Birthday (adventure 3, part 1)

The kids and I get back into another story of the Smartwood kids (a ‘kids on bikes’ hack of Lasers and Feelings) – this time, it’s all about the weird runic symbols on Ken’s whiffleball bat, and how they got there in the first place.

Here’s the video (with slightly leveled audio, because my kids are noisy).

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Actual Play Random Podcast Table Top

The Smartwood Kids: Session 5 (Halloween, pt 2)

We (myself, Kaylee, Sean, and Zoe) continue the adventures of Marzipan, Kenilworth, and Zoology Smartwood, as they defend the town from alien invasion on Halloween.

Categories
Actual Play MMO & Computers

Minecraft – Underwater Edition

The family and I spend a bit of time playing Minecraft. One way we spend that time is on Testertopia, a realm server we can access via Switch, Windows 10, iPad, Android… whatever.

Just lately, we found an ocean (finally), and after battling it out with some Guardians for control of an ancient ruin, we got the necessary stuff together for a new… thing.

A really pretty thing.

Basically, a new base in the middle of the ocean, underwater, in the middle of a coral reef, with a permanent breath water effect for about 60 or 70 blocks in all directions. It’s great. Here’s some pictures…

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Actual Play Table Top

Hogwarts RPG

Spent the afternoon playing Hogwarts with the kids. Elici Davies (fifth year Hufflepuff), Emma Quinn (1st year Gryffindor), and Will Finnegan (third year Ravenclaw) are ‘siblings’ fostered by the same magic-friendly muggle family.

I asked them for something weird that happens on the train ride (while will studied “A New History of Hogwarts” and ate chocolate frogs and Elici made corrections in her Potions book), and Emma/Zoe told us about the turtle drawing on the cabin wallpaper that animated and started turtling around!

In seconds, dozens of animals were rising up out of the wallpaper all through the train car, causing chaos. Elici went and got the prefects, Emma gathered up animals, and Will took some guesses about what might have caused it; his best guess – a much BIGGER version of a transmutation/animation spell that had rippled out and affected the train.

We have… a mystery!

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Actual Play Table Top

More on the Adventures of the Smartwoods

The kids and I played the aforementioned Bikes and Books game a couple times over the weekend and Monday night, getting the Smartwood kids ever closer to figuring out how and why the Assistant Principle is trying to change the town’s history to make an entirely different list of people the heroes of Fayville’s illustrious past.

Mar, the eldest, took particular umbrage at the last history-changing ritual, which seems to have replaced recognition of the towns many great women with “Men of Industry”, during the middle of a town parade. She even thought she’d managed to stop the man from affecting his diabolical plan, but although she immobilized him with some magic of her own, the magic still went off, albeit with lessened effect.

Something is going on that the kids just don’t understand. Someone else was in the Assistant Principle’s house the night Ken snuck in and found the room behind the giant clock in the house’s cupola tower – someone with a limp and cane… neither of which the AP has.

They need answers, and the only way to get them is sneaking back into that house.

This time, together.

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Actual Play Game Design Links & Resources Table Top

The Smartwood Children (a Lasers and Feelings hack for my kids)

This weekend has been chock-a-block with face to face gaming goodness with cool kids.

Friday was the 14th session of Masks: Phoenix Academy game with Kaylee and the Jamies and, I think, possibly one of the best sessions so far. (Which is good, because we’re not going to be able to play again until something like mid-August. :sadface: )

Sunday morning had a return to the The Hollow-inspired game for Sean and Zoe and Kaylee (Ryu and Grace and Angel). Things are starting to come apart, and Mr. Weirdo came to them to ask for help(?!?)

And Sunday evening, we tried something new: a Hilda-inspired weird-little-town, with Sean and Zoe and Kaylee playing siblings who are all part of the family who traditionally deal with ‘weird stuff’ in the world. Mom and Dad handle the BIG weird stuff out in the world, because “the town kind of takes care of itself” – without realizing that it’s actually their KIDS who take care of the town.

Back in the old country, their family were the Swartwoods. Grandpa changed his name when he came here, though, so say hello the Smartwoods: Mar (Marzipan), Ken (Kennelworth), and Zo (Zoology) Smartwood.

It’s basically a little bit Hilda (netflix), a little bit Courtney Crumrin, a little bit Goonies, set in the sort of town where this sort of thing happens and everyone sort of knows it, played with a Lasers and Feelings hack I made up called Bikes and Books.

The characters and game came together well and, after supper, we got ready for bed and played some more in lieu of bedtime stories. The Smartwood kids ran into a little trouble with the town deputies when Ken broke into the new Assistant Principle’s house to poke around, and they haven’t figured out why the town history seems to be … changing … but things are moving RIGHT along.

Good, good stuff.

Categories
Musing Online Table Top Table Top

A Potentially Gaming Heavy Weekend

Back to the fun stuff.
Tonight, the first proper session of Apocalypse World: Ironwall with Kate and Kim and Amanda.

Sunday, Masks: Phoenix Academy with Kaylee and Jaime and Jaime.

Monday, Scum & Villainy: The Fast Buck, with the regular crew.

(Also possibly boardgame night with coworkers on Saturday.)

I’ve got a leeeettle bit of stress about all this, since

  1. The Ironwall game hasn’t quite clicked yet, and I’ve gotten a bit of dead silence from the players when asking some questions. Things are starting off with a pretty high-tension scene, so one way or the other things are going to be MOVING straight away… (just hope it’s not “off a cliff”).
  2. Scum & Villainy is… not a great match for the regular crew. We’ve talked about it, and there’s enough interest in both the story we’re doing and in NOT changing systems mid-game that we’ve collectively agreed to keep on keepin’ on, but it’s still A Thing. (We haven’t even gotten into Resistance Rolls, which are probably my least favorite mechanic in a pile of unloved toys.)

SO: lots of gaming to look forward too, but a few landmines to look out for at the same time.

Categories
Musing

How to Train Your (Kid to Love Dungeons and) Dragon(s)

I’m probably (definitely) projecting, but the bit in How to Train Your Dragon where Hiccup and Astrid bring their kids to meet Toothless and Stormfly is a kind of “passing on this wonderful, magical secret in an otherwise mundane world” that really makes me think of introducing your kids to tabletop roleplaying.

When their daughter’s eyes open wide and light up?

Yeah, that’s what it’s like.

Categories
Actual Play

It was cute…

As I already mentioned, my kids and I are playing a game based on The Hollow (Netflix) using a hacked version of World of Dungeons: Turbo.

Everyone’s having a good time, and is totally into it, but none so much as my five-year-old Zoe, who requests the game pretty much every evening. Needless to say, time constraints and the varying moods of her siblings mean we can’t always play when she wants to.

So, instead of bedtime stories tonight, I decided to start up a little game just for me and her. And of course that began by asking her lots of questions.

(She’s a girl with a pet flying lizard (butterfly-colored bat wings).)

And what situation did she come up with?

“I’m being chased along a beach by four demon knights riding demon horses, after I tried to steal something pretty that was hanging in the window of their castle.”

“Was it something important or magical?”

“No. It was just cute. And I wanted it.”

#thatsMyGirl

Categories
Game Design Links & Resources

The Hollow, by way of World of Dungeon: Turbo

I’m running a game for my kids, inspired by The Hollow series on Netflix, and for said game I’m basically using a loosey-goosey version of World of Dungeons: Turbo.

However, the setup for the game doesn’t closely match the original World of Dungeons: Turbo premise, so I’ve already spent a fair amount of time scribbling in different abilities and such.

As a result, I figured it would be worth my time to build a character sheet I could tweak as the game went on. So I did that, and I wanted to share it not because anyone would want to run a similar game, but because I figured someone might want a sheet they could customize for their own WoDu variations.

PLEASE NOTE: I am verifiably shit at design of any kind, so this thing is pretty hacktackular, but whatever. It works.

The PDF basically looks like I intended.

The word .docx will likely shatter if you look at it sideways, but g’head and do with it what you will.

If you make a better version that’s still editable/changeable, please do let me know.

Categories
Game Design

How to Train Your Dragon with Risus hacks

I’ve been playing an RPG with my kids set in the Archipelago of How to Train Your Dragon. As a prelude to writing about the play itself, here are the rules I’m using.


Dragons: Wanderers of the Archipelago

A Risus variation for How to Train Your Dragon Adventures

(Based mostly on Risus Guard, a Mouse Guard hack I cobbled together, which in turn is based on on Evens Up, by D. Stahler, Simpler Risus from Risusiverse, and Mouse World, by Dan Cetorelli)

And of course Risus, by S. John Ross.

The Basic Rule

When dice are rolled, rather than adding up the results, each 4, 5, or 6 (4+) is counted as a “Success.”

Discard rolls of 3 or lower. In addition, sixes always “ace:” each six not only counts as a success, it is immediately re-rolled, with a 4+ result added to the success total (and continuing to ace as long as a six is rolled; the beloved “exploding dice effect.”)

Swap the “Inappropriate Cliché” rule for “Imaginative Use”: If you can explain how you use your cliché, you can try it. In combat, Imaginative Use of a cliché deals +1 damage.

“Round peg in a square hole”: If you’re using an inappropriate cliché in a test simply because you have no better option, and can’t (or choose not to) come up with an Imaginative Use, your opponent rolls two additional dice, or the number of successes needed increases by 2.

How It Works

Simple Skill Check

Instead of rolling against a target number, a certain number of successes are required to achieve a desired result, generally adhering to the following difficulty scale:

Easy: 1 / Tricky: 2 / Hard: 3 / Heroic: 4 / Legendary: 5 / All But Impossible: 6+

The process used to determine the difficulty rating in Risus — by figuring out how hard the task is in the context of the cliché’s relevance — is used the same way here, as is the idea that the degree of success or failure may affect the overall result.

As a general rule (because I like PBTA games) – getting some successes but not enough successes is a good time for a mixed result: you get some of what you want, but at a cost, or with complications.

Single-Action Contests

Both sides roll the appropriate number of dice for their respective clichés. The side with the most number of successes wins. Ties can either be rerolled or go to the side who rolled the fewest dice (Goliath rule) or most (respect the skillz), depending on the group’s preference.

Multiple-round Contests (Combat)

Each round, both sides roll the appropriate number of dice for their respective clichés. The side with the most successes wins, resulting in the loss of one cliché dice (or more, depending on the situation) for the loser. Ties can be handled as above.

Note: In combat, the ‘success counting’ die mechanic means differences in cliché levels aren’t as huge a deal.

Team Ups During Contests

In team-ups, a leader is chosen for each team (leader role can change between rounds, if it makes sense). The leader gets to count all the successes from their rolled cliché. Everyone else on the team rolls their clichés as normal, but only count sixes as successes toward the team’s goal. (Sixes from helping characters can still Ace, with the Ace rolls counting as success on 4+, as normal.)

When a team loses a round, the leader takes cliché damage.

If a team member is taken out of a conflict due to sustaining injury or being unable to roll any dice in a round due to accumulated penalties, the character’s status will be determined after the conflict by the winning side.

(Players should remember that in single-action contests and combat, opponent’s dice can ace, as well.)

Too Many Dice

Sometimes characters, teams, or (most often) their opponents will have access to clichés of greater than six dice. Don’t roll more six dice; if a cliché is higher than six, every two dice over six simply adds a success (round down). So a Unstoppable Red Death (20) would roll six dice and add seven successes.

Funky Dice?

Funky dice can still be used in this system, if you want (not sure I do, but…) If you want to use them, have ALL results of Six or higher ace. Obviously, the odds of acing on a 10 or 12-sided die-roll are pretty good.

Character Creation Options

Allocate ten dice to your clichés, as normal for any Risus character. Humans are the baseline in this setting.

Lucky Shots can be purchased as normal in the Risus rules, if you like.

Sidekicks and Shieldmates from the Companion rules can also be purchased, and should be; they work perfectly for dragon companions, as well as particularly useful, rare, or high-quality gear that is better than what you would already have as tools of the trade for your clichés.

Generally, build your dragon companion by taking away 1 die from your cliché pool to make a 3-dice cliché for your dragon. Strike Class dragons (being more rare, intelligent, and powerful) can be built with 6 cliché dice (at the cost of two character dice), but still shouldn’t have any clichés higher than the character’s highest.

Dragons can usually team up with their rider during contests, can act on their own (or at the command of their rider), and can act entirely on their own with their rider rolling to help them, if it makes sense.

Example One: Brega’s dragon companion is Moonshade, an indigo-scaled Deadly Nadder. She invests 1 die into her dragon as a Sidekick/Companion, and buys “Moonshade: Over-protective Nadder (3)” as a cliché for the dragon.

Example Two: Most dragon riders do not wear much in the way of armor (or at least the basic armor they do wear (shoulder guards and the like) rarely seem to matter for most viking clichés). Hiccup, on the other hand, as a pretty cool shield, and decides to buy it using the Sidekick/Companion rules, which allows it to help (sixes count as additional successes) on any rolls where such a crazy shield would help (though it might also work against you in some cases…)

Gronkle-iron-reinforced “Utility Shield” (3)

(Once you start tallying up Toothless, Hiccup’s Shield, Wingsuit, and other crazy gear, you start to suspect his actual clichés might be… kinda crap.)

Optional: Skills within Clichés is probably fine, though maybe let that come out during play of the character.


Scale (super-optional)

Humans are definitely not the biggest things in the world. The progression of size scale goes something like:

  • Terrible Terrors
  • Humans, wolves, speed stingers
  • Smaller dragons (gronkle, et cetera)
  • Most dragons
  • Larger Dragons (Screaming Death, Catastrophic Quaken)
  • Very large Dragons (Typhoomerang, Eruptodon)
  • ???
  • Red Death

Or, Simplified:

  • Little dragons
  • People
  • Most dragons
  • Really Big Dragons
  • Insanely Big Dragons

There are a number of different ways to handle difference in scale. Off the top of my head:

  1. Larger creatures in a physical conflict get 1 ‘free’ success for each level of scale they have above their smaller opponent(s).
  2. Funky Dice. In physical conflicts, the two scale spots directly above people use d8s; the two above them use d10s, the two above them use d12s, and the really epic dragons either use d20s, or allocate (still terribly imposing) cliché values to different parts of their body.
  3. Beyond the scope of dice: most creatures have cliché ratings, but for the truly imposing, they might perhaps be better handled as natural phenomena, rather than mere animals. The same might be said of large groups of lesser animals (a flight of dragons, for example, or a huge pack of speed stingers).
  4. All of this largely pertains to physical confrontations – social/mental conflicts would hit different clichés which would only rarely use funky dice.
Categories
Game Design

PbtA with Little Kids

(I found this in a text snippet, as though I meant to post it, but as near as I can tell, I never did, so here it is.)


The Rules

Say what you are: a crystal lady, an adventurer, a princess with a big cat.

When you face trouble, roll your two dice. If what you are helps, add 2 to the result.

  • On a ten or higher, you do it amazingly.
  • On a seven to nine, you do okay, but something else happens.
  • On a six or less, you might do it, but you’re definitely in trouble!
Track ‘damage’ on your “courage” bar.

Courage: O O O | O O O


And… thats it.

Categories
Musing

Slapped together a mix of World of Dungeons and my Star Wars World: Rebel Ops hack to play with my kids

Lucky isn't a real stat – it's a non-replenishable resource that gives you an auto success. The five stats should total +3 or so. Having a skill means you can't totally fail that thing. I'm still working out what all the special abilities do, especially "Force is with Me", which isn't automatic for anyone, even Jedi.

And… that's about it. PCs have six hit points, and damage from weapons is a static 1 to 4-ish.

 
Categories
Actual Play

After a long break, some No Thank You, Evil! this afternoon

+Sean Testerman (5 and a half) wandered into my office, pulled out the NTYE box, opened it up, and told me it had been too long since we played.

We dusted off "Ado, the Sneaky Creature who Runs Like the Wind" (and his Invisible Friend with Big Ears, Ryan), and Ado announced he wanted to visit The Hive (from the land Into the Closet).

I flipped through the various enemies available while Ado Ran Like the Wind toward the Hive, spotted the PERFECT-looking Argle Bargle enemy, and by the time he got there, Ado was greeted with an eerie silence: no bees buzzed around the Hive. He snuck inside and found out they'd all be caught in their own honey (which had magically become alive and evil – the reskinned Argle Bargle).

Ado leapt to help his bee-friends, taking a huge delicious bite out of his enemy. He got honey-walloped in return, but a distraction from Ryan and some speedy running left the evil honey mastermind too dizzy to keep fighting. Victory!

The queen, once freed, rewarded Ado with honey cakes, a gold coin, and a big party.

  

In Album 2016-09-25

Categories
Actual Play Table Top

Mouse Guard Risus with Sean and Kaylee (and Zoe!)

Last night, I swapped out normal bedtime activities for a little RPG fun with Sean and Kaylee, as I have been known to do.

For some reason, I always seem to ‘find the time’ to do this sort of thing on a night when I have a hard stop looming (in this case, a Star Wars game at 8pm), but we did manage to get the evening sorted out pretty quickly, giving us close to an hour to play.

Since we’d last played Mouse Guard (using a variant of the Risus rules set), I’d done a little shopping, and picked up a couple cool, custom Mouse Guard lego figs from crazy bricks – mix them together with a some weapons from Brick Arms, and we had pretty good minis for Conner and Laurel.

Do I need minis for this game? I do not. Not at all.

Did I want them for the kids to play with anyway, so they can gave Mouse adventures whenever they want? Yes I do.

So we grabbed our dice-rolling frisbee (hot tip: have smaller kids roll their dice in a frisbee or something similar – it really keeps the dice-chasing down to a minimum), the index cards on which we’d scribbled character sheets last time and, with Zoe tucked in and Momma running some evening errands, sat down to play.

“So, in case you don’t remember…” I began.

“We really need to figure out what happened to that postmaster mouse from last time,” said Sean, fiddling with his minifig. “If we can’t find him, there’s no way for Elmoss to get mail.”

I blinked.

I mean, seriously: the kid is five, and we haven’t played in two weeks. He can’t remember where he left the socks he had on five minutes ago, but this… this he remembered.

“I’m impressed, Seanie,” Kaylee said. She looked at me. “All I remember from last time was talking to those robins.”

“Right?” I said. “Okay, let’s investigate that house where the postmaster was attacked.”

Our Heroes

Laurel (redfur, purple cloak)
Experienced scout guard mouse (4)
Animal spirit-talker (4)
((Falcon, my monarch butterfly companion (3))
Lucky shots: 0 0 0

Laurel travels light, with a narrow-bladed sword, a few daggers, and small pack of supplies.

Conner (brownfur, red cloak)
Sneaky guard mouse (4)
Heavily armed fighter (4)
(Buzzer, my dragonfly buddy (3))
Lucky Shots: 0 0 0


The two guardmice, with the assistant post-mouse in tow, went to the head postmouse’s home and started investigating. Windows were damaged. The front door was torn off the hinges, and the inside was in worse shape.

“I think I know what it is,” intoned Sean, as Conner. He looked at me, face serious. “Blood-eyed owl!”

“Please no,” Kaylee whispered.

I'm with Kaylee on this one.

“Well, I said,” something like an owl couldn’t get into Elmoss without people seeing it, and probably couldn’t get inside the house. It was definitely something bigger than a mouse, but not huge. What do you want to check out?“

The mice did some digging, and discovered some footprints in the flour scattered around the kitchen. Laurel (Kaylee) was able to identify the prints as weasel tracks, and Conner (Sean) realized they led down into the cellar.


Right about here, Zoe (two and a half) decided she wasn’t ready for bedtime, and showed up at the edge of the table, staring wide-eyed at the dice.

“Can I play? Pleaaase?”

Yeah, I’m not going to say no to that.

“Zoe, do you want to play a butterfly?” Kaylee asked, pointing out her sidekick to me.

“No.”

“It’s okay,” I said, pulling my youngest onto my lap, “I’ve got an idea. Zoe, what do you want your mouse to be named?”

Emilie (brownfur, blue cloak)
Jumpy tenderfoot (4)
Assistant Postmouse (3)
(Stinkystripey, my bumblebee friend (3))
Lucky Shots: 0 0 0 0 0 0

“I- I’m c-coming with you,” said the assistant postmouse as the two guards headed down into the cellar.

The three mice got into the basement (some confusion here, as Zoe thought we were supposed to pick up all our things and go down into our real basement), and found a tunnel dug through the side of the cellar, behind a big shelf.

“What would a weasel want with a postmouse?” Laurel wondered. “It’s just strange.”

They followed the winding tunnel (hand-dug, but seemingly not that new) until the air began to change, becoming dustier and more mildewy… then it opened into a much broader space: the many-pillared spaces of Darkheather!

Laurel was astonished – she had no idea Darkheather extended so far under the Territories.

The mice looked for more tracks and, while they found none, spotted a light in the distance and crept toward it as quietly as possible (something Conner excelled at and the other two… well…)

As soon as they could make out voices and the sound of flowing water, they stopped. The weasel and the mouse where talking, and they didn’t sound like enemies.

“This bag is full of nothing but papers!” the weasel hissed.

“Those ‘papers’ are every message Lockhaven’s sent through my offices in the past year,” the postmouse explained. “With that, you’ll know everything they’re planning.”

“RRRRrrrgg,” the weasel growled. “I’ll take this to my masters, but if it isn’t as you say, I’ll be back here for our gold, and the next attack won’t be false.”

“Fine,” said the mouse. “I’ll be gone, in any case. I’m dead here – off to a new town and a new name. I’ll be in touch once I’ve settled in.”


“Can we grab that mouse?” asked Kaylee.

“Sure,” I said, “but the weasel’s in a kind of canoe in the waterway, and he’s already got the letters, so…”

Her eyes went wide. She turned to Sean. “Get. That. Weasel.”

Laurel moved to pin down the postmouse (working with her companion), while Conner charged straight at the weasel.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“I’m going to jump right at him and chop his nose into pieces!” announced Sean, and he did… something with his mouse figure that snapped the blade right off his little plastic sword. Oops.

Kaylee rolled enough successes (we’re counting 4, 5, 6 as successes – part of the Risus Guard rules I’m using) to pin down the postmouse, and Zoe had her bumblebee buzz right at the weasel’s head to distract him.

Sean came in, rolling his four dice, and got two sixes and a five.

Now, in this system, sixes explode, so he can roll two more dice and count them.

Two more sixes.

Roll again.

Six and a two. The kids are howling with glee.

Roll again.

Five.

“So… that’s… seven success… on four dice.”

“Daddy,” said my wife, who’d been listening in from the next room. “I think he got him.”

Indeed.

Taking Sean’s minifig mishap as inspiration, I described Conner leaping out at the weasel and chopping the sword down into the weasel’s nose so hard it went right into his head and stuck, breaking the blade off before the weasel tumbled into the water. It was a real “Lieam versus the snake” moment.

Flawless victory. The mice retrieved the letter satchel, turned the traitor postmaster over to the locals, and prepared to head back to Lockhaven to report to Gwendolyn.


Hindsight

Zoe did great! She loved rolling however many dice I asked her to roll, and could even sort the successes from failures easily by focusing on pulling out the 1s, 2s, and 3s. Time to order a third mouse guard minifig…

Sean’s ability to keep track of everything from session to session impresses me, especially because he never seems to be paying attention until right when he needs to roll dice (don’t know where he gets that from…)

Kaylee, at 10, is much more interested in the larger mystery, and she’s so supportive of her siblings, even though it slows things down a lot and means we don’t get as much covered. She said something like “all I did was pin a mouse down in the fight, but… Sean’s roll was so awesome, it made up for it.”

And, just to reiterate: Roll dice in a frisbee or something similar – it really keeps the dice-chasing down to a minimum.

So: good game, good fight, good night!

Emilie, Emilie, jump up and down. Original art by Drexilwatcher.