Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Running a Savage Funnel: Porting DCC 0-Level Funnels to Savage Worlds

Two things I like in games are starting as a schlep and having characters die the first session. The DCC-RPG does both of things fantastically well with its funnel mechanic.
I also like Savage Worlds. Rolling different kinds of dice is neat. I think it might go back to the wonder factor of when I first learned D&D from the older kid who lived across the street, "This pyramid one is a magic-user's dice. It only goes up to four, but they are still cool because they always hit with their magic missile and can also do weird stuff. The double pyramid is the Fighter's die. They are tough. This one has 12 sides, you don't use it too much." I guess this was sorta inaccurate, but the idea that certain dice are for certain things still feels cool to me.
The dice chain in DCC-RPG is also floating somewhere in this space of changing the kind of die based on circumstances and ability, but I really like its centrality to Savage Worlds.
The absence of classes in Savage Worlds is also a selling point for me. I like the loosey goosey anything goes aspect and it seems like it's easier to wing stuff. That may or may not be true, but call me Peter Kropotkin, I'm gonna stick with the abolition of the class system.
So here is my attempt at shoehorning the 0-level funnel into Savage Worlds.

Each player has four characters.
These are Extras, not Wild Cards (don't get the extra d6 and get killed after Shaken). After the end of their first adventure, they will become Wild Cards and get the Wild Die and ability to suffer wounds.

Since Savage Worlds is normally a point-buy, we need to change that. Over in the SW Forums there was this thread about random character generation. It uses a D&D style 3d6 to consult a table to see what the attribute score would be. I can hear groans from my buddies having to look up each roll for four guys each, so I came up with this idea instead. It might be a bit nuttier on the edges, but I'll find out when I run it.

For each character roll ten tensiders to determine attributes.

Evens are going to be good and odds will be bad.
1&2 Agility
3&4 Smarts
5&6 Strength
7&8 Spirit
9&10 Vigor

Evens increase a stat by one step, odds decrease stats by one step. If a stat would go below d4, each step is a -1.

Skills :
Choose a few skills that every character will have. One should be a broad Job/Occupation Skill. Anything that relates to their prior occupation falls under this. Start this skill at a d8. It can't ever be increased and does not have an associated attribute. The rest of the skills should start at d4s. Throughout the funnel adventure, the player may increase one skill per character at anytime (this includes starting new ones off at d4). Additionally, whenever a character is killed, that player gets another skill increase to use immediately.
Here's the starting skills for the Ganymede mining disaster game I'll be running at BashCon.

Job (starts at d8)
(Rest start at d4)
Computer Use

Occupation. This ties into their Job skill, either make a random table or find one like 100 Mining Jobs for a Stultifying Corporate Future

Edges: No One gets a starting Edge, though they will at the end of the funnel, preferable one that relates to what they did during the adventure.

Hindrances: Each character gets a random hindrance that the character can cash in for edges when they get to the end of the funnel and hit Novice and become a Wild Card. Here is a random hindrance generator. You could also roll and count off in the book. The best bet would be to make a table specific to what you'll be running. I think I'll put together an OUTER SPACE table that I'll post shortly.

Depending on the game type you may also want to give some starting items. I think in the Mining disaster game everyone will have a Future Phone.

Now its time to get to thinning the herd and figuring out who has got what it takes to survive a Mining Disaster, or zombie outbreak, or dhole infestation, wizard strike...

Monday, January 18, 2016

100 Mining Jobs for a Stultifying Corporate Future

Next month at Bash Con in Toledo I'm going to run zero-level funnel of a mining disaster on Jupiter's moon Ganymede.

Here is a table of 100 mining occupations for the 23nd Century:

  1. Accountant
  2. HR Assistant
  3. Staffing Manager
  4. Recruiter
  5. HR Coordinator
  6. HR Manager
  7. HR Director
  8. Safety Regulations Compliance Officer
  9. Finance and Securities Compliance Officer
  10. Health and Wellness Compliance Officer
  11. Nurse Practitioner
  12. Psychological Well Being Consultant
  13. Efficiency and Process Throughput Consultant
  14. Motivation and Personal Productivity Consultant
  15. Onsite Marketing Consultant
  16. Advertising Research Consultant
  17. Public Relations Assistant
  18. Public Program Engagement Specialist
  19. Reputation Network Enhancement Associate
  20. Public Relations Intern
  21. Public Relations Associate
  22. Public Relations Coordinator
  23. Public Relations Director
  24. Cafeteria Services Personnel
  25. Cafeteria Safety Compliance Officer
  26. Food Services Logistics Manager
  27. Assistant to the Vice President of Logistics and Fulfilment
  28. Process Control Specialist
  29. Treasury Analyst
  30. Mineral Processing Efficiency Analyst
  31. Learning Coordinator
  32. Continuing Geological Education Supervisor
  33. Postdoctoral Research Fellow
  34. Research Institution Cooperation Liaison
  35. Long Range Maintenance Planner
  36. Workflow Superintendent
  37. Process Operator
  38. Process Efficiency Optimization Specialist
  39. Data Entry Clerk
  40. Atmospheric Data Collection Array Technician
  41. Surface-Orbit Communication Tech
  42. Long Range Communication Tech
  43. Earth Communication Tech
  44. Surface Vehicle Operator
  45. Surface Vehicle Maintenance Tech
  46. Subsurface Maintenance Vehicle Operator
  47. Subsurface Maintenance Vehicle Maintenance Technician
  48. Surface to Orbit Pipeline Integrity Officer
  49. Desalinization Operations Technician
  50. Water Safety Testing Officer
  51. Corporate Communication Specialist
  52. Information Security Coordinator
  53. Information Technology Application Security Analyst
  54. Informations Systems Auditor
  55. Shipping and Receiving Compliance Auditor
  56. Corporate Outlook and Securitization Maximization Chief Strategist
  57. Director of Planning for Associate Enrichment
  58. Operational Excellence Assurance Coordinator
  59. Refreshment and Nutrition Supervisor
  60. Civil and Corporate Policy Enforcement Officer
  61. Outplacement Optimization Specialist
  62. Information Technology Application Security Analyst
  63. AI/Machine Learning Enhancement Specialist
  64. Robotics Hardware Support Technician
  65. Water Extraction Development Custodian
  66. Fusion Reactor Maintenance Associate
  67. Fusion Reactor Maintenance Coordinator
  68. Fusion Reactor Efficiency Consultant
  69. Energy Systems Efficiency Guru
  70. Conduit Maintenance Machinery Upkeep Technician
  71. Emergency Medical Situation Mitigation Facilitator
  72. Accidental Energy Output Dispersal Specialist
  73. Geological Cartographic Information Systems Architect
  74. Network and Systems Administrator
  75. Network Surveillance Compliance Officer
  76. Horticultural Maintenance Engineer
  77. Unauthorized Biological Contamination Containment Systems Upkeep Manager
  78. Chief Biomist
  79. Life Support Systems Administrator
  80. Chief Technician of Hydrology Systems
  81. Accounts Receivable Associate
  82. Billing Coordinator
  83. Accounts Optimization Analyst
  84. Team Skill Placement Optimization Facilitator
  85. Price standardization Compliance Associate
  86. Reputation Assignment Assurance Representative
  87. Entrepreneurial Spirit Encouragement Counsellor
  88. Self Motivation Compliance Provider
  89. Pharmaceutical Tracking Compliance Officer
  90. Waste Reprocessing Technician
  91. Waste Reprocessing Efficiency Manager
  92. Waste Disposal Compliance Consultant
  93. Freighter Docking Safety Technician
  94. Shuttle Operation Supervisor
  95. Shuttle Maintenance System Technician
  96. Deuterium Extraction Unit Safety Associate
  97. Deuterium Conveyance Upkeep Technician
  98. Deuterium Containment Monitor
  99. Food Storage Monitoring Associate
  100. Sovereign Entity Diplomatic Liaison 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Misery Index: Misery Loves Company and it Only Gets Worse

I’ve been thinking about some sort of mental anguish rule for a while now. It seems to me that adventuring types both imagined and real are often looking to escape or move beyond emotional pains.

My mom was decapitated by Thulsa Doom, then I had to turn a wheel for fucking ever until I murdered for the entertainment of some assholes. So I escaped to have sex with a demon witch lady before continuing my quest for vengeance. Wouldn't you know it, my Red Sonja-y girlfriend gets shot by a snake arrow. Back to killing.

I feel alienated from peer group and girls don’t really like me that’s why I hate myself, maybe it’s the way I look or maybe it’s something else. So I escape to shows where the place gets trashed and the cops get called and we run away and maybe talk some shit to a football player marine future cop who can kick my ass but again I’ll run away before I’m too badly beaten and try to get drunk and find some drugs and maybe a bit of enlightenment on a tab of LSD.

So adventurers want treasure and carousing, but why do they want treasure and carousing? Because they are miserable! So let’s make misery sorta like hit points, but different.

The next campaign I’m going to be running is a post-apocalypse game. One of the cores of this will be the suffering and misery of the characters. I’m also going to be running a convention one shot at Bash Con next month that is a funnel type thing about a mining disaster on a moon of Jupiter. So my goals for this initial pass at the MISERY INDEX is for it to work in campaign play as well as a one off.

At its most basic Misery Index can function somewhat like a sanity mechanic. The James Raggi insanity dismissal is fairly sound until one considers his description as unipolar. It is true that D&D characters act like maniacs all on their own, but what about the crippling depression when the campfire embers are low and the only company one has staring into the dark abyss is the memory of the twisted visages of slaughtered wee-goblins from the morning? That terrible wicked shit might get to even the most hardened mercenary killers.

Those are not heroic acts of self sacrifice saving the rest of the party. No it is suicide by dragon.

These rules should be usable in just about any system, though as of now the numbers are wholly untested and may need serious reworking. This is more of a starting point.

Misery Index: The Rules

Misery Index is the numerical representation of the terrible shit a character has felt, has seen and has done. It is a score that tracks the late night hauntings and the time in the mornings needed to adjust to remembering they are in fact who they are and that dreams were only a temporary reprieve.

After any rest or encampment and whenever Misery Index increases, characters must make a saving throw (Will, Magic, Wisdom Check). Failure requires a roll on the following EFFECTS Table, modified by their current Misery Index score. This roll can be skipped if it gets old or tiresome. 

Roll % + Misery Index

1-15 Under the weather
The character just sort of feels shitty, but no mechanical effect.

16-25 Feeling Down Blues
The character is down enough where social tests (persuasion, charisma checks, interactions with retainers) is at a -1 penalty

26-35 Inaction
Fuck It! is the thought of the day. The character would rather be doing nothing. Any roll made while not wearing pajamas is at a -1 penalty.

36-40 Generalized Anger
You know what, not fuck it, Fuck This! The character is pissed. On the plus side all acts of violence are given a +1 bonus. Even damage.

41-49 Misplaced Rage
No not fuck this. You know what FUCK YOU! The character is extra quick to violence today. They still get the anger +1, but they are at a -2 penalty to all social checks and have a 1 in 6 chance of attacking nearby allies in combat (This should be an extra attack, rather than a replacement. If you are using tactical minis or Roll20 grids only make the check when they are adjacent, but then maybe make it automatic, to keep the system from being gamed)

50-59 Dissolving of Bonds
Really I’ve had enough of your shit. If there are Dungeon World or 5th Edition bonds in play, cross one off. Helpful spell effects don’t help. Bardic songs are just pissing you off and inspiring jack shit.

60-68 Foolhardy Self Destruction
One time when I was having a really shitty week, like disintegration of cohabitation cuckolded shitty, I got robbed at gunpoint. I did not give up my wallet initially and got into a fistfight after being pistol whipped. I am a weakling and a coward, so D&D guys should be doing waaaaay stupider shit than this even. 

69-73 Crippling Self Loathing
Everything is -5

74 Catatonia
Don’t need a penalty because nothing is being done.

75-83 Roll Two More Times Ignoring Repeats

84-89 Roll Two More Times Rerolling Repeats

90-93 Roll Two More Times Compounding Repeats

94-97 Roll Three More Times Ignoring Repeats

98-99 Roll Three More Times Rerolling Repeats

100+ Roll Three More Times Compounding Repeats

Earning Misery Index Points
First Kill 5 points
Next 10 kills 2 points each
After that, saving throws when appropriate, success, no effect, failure the victim reminded the character of something stirring up emotions that seemed buried. 3 points
Death of a companion 4 points
Death of a loved NPC 3 points
Death of a parent sibling or mentor 5 points
Death of offspring 10 Points
Death penalties are doubled if the character has any possibility of blaming themselves for the death. 
Getting Rid of Misery Index
Only time can decrease the misery. For every month of game time, 1 point is removed.

Mitigating Misery Index
The Effects of Misery may be waived if the character engages in drug and alcohol abuse (though saves must be made or misery is incurred the following day) carousing, sex, revenge, killing and violence (should the character embrace bloodlust), dedication to a project or quest.

Awards for Role Playing the misery:
DCC = luck
5th Edition = advantage
Savage Worlds = Bennies
XP if you do that sort of thing

After I get some play in with this I’ll return to the subject. I’d love to get some feedback on this, I think with the right tweaking it could be a cool plot driver and resource to be watched by the players.