April 2, 2021 rules guns


Been tooling about with a fast, nasty system for violence resolution and then I stumbled on this


To shoot someone, roll 16+ on a d20.
If they are in cover, roll twice and take the lower result.
If firing multiple shots, add +1 per additional shot. If successful, roll for how many shots find their mark. Resolve each bullet individually.
Training or surprise will add to this roll.

If someone is shot, roll a d20.

  • Add +2 to the roll for each Injury they have.
  • Pistol-calibres add +2 to this roll.
  • Rifles-calibres add +4 to this roll.
  • Shotguns add +5 at close ranges and +2 at medium.

If the result is 10 or more, they go Down. Otherwise, they are Injured.


Both combatants roll a d12 and add relevant modifiers.

  • If the difference between them is 4 or less, both are Injured and go Down.
  • If the difference is 5-6, the high-scored is Injured. The low-scorer is Injured and goes Down.
  • Is the difference is 7+, the low-scored is Injured and goes Down.


After the violence is concluded, roll a d20 for each person Down. Add +2 for each Injury. On a 10+, they are dead. Otherwise, they are Critically Injured and will die without medical attention.

Edge Cases


Resolve as Shooting against all in the blast radius.

  • Those in the kill-zone add +8 to the roll and receive 1d6 Injuries.
  • Those in the shrapnel-zone add +4 to the roll and receive 1d6-2 Injuries.
  • Those in the tertiary-zone roll normally.


When firing to suppress, no roll is required.

I’d probably combine this with modified CONSIM initiative b/c atm I don’t know how Suppression figures in to this.

basically keep it fast and put the drama on getting hit rather than the damage is the goal here, without skimping on that part. for a wargamier feel i’d just have Down as dead no fuss no muss but this is already a hard sell for most

March 17, 2021

Against Incentive

Incentivising behaviour is bad for your game.

Axiom - Most players, most of the time, will take the most optimal option.

Incentives create optimal choices - a mechanical reinforcement for taking certain paths - whether negative (you will lose XP if you do bad things) or positive (you will gain XP if you RP well). Optimal choices, once discovered, become boring. You can incentivize the human out of the decision - there is only A Correct Choice. By removing Correct Choices, you widen the field of play - more possibilities will be evaluated, considered. In the absence of a Correct choice, everything becomes possible.

Are you interested in seeing players make choices with their characters or just slotting in to your grand design? RPGs can be more than Rube Goldberg machines culminating in your intended experience. RPGs should be more than this - and removing the idea of incentives for desired behaviour is key. Desiring behaviour in play is something we do to opponents, not collaborators. The idea of the only reason players would do something because Number Go Up’ is video-game design. Besides which - if they don’t want to do something, why is that a problem? Are they not an equal contributor to the game?

When a player acts against optimal choices, we are engaged and excited - when they reject Number Go Up, refuse the mechanical temptation and take a choice as a character - doing something which means enough to them to take a firm decision. Instead, a game could be made entirely of these moments - taking the situation as your springboard, without reference to an external, invisible, intangible rule-set.

Being Good

Many will reward good’ behaviour with XP. You save the village, you only take prisoners, you’re nice to everyone. Being good for a reward isn’t being good - it’s just optimal play. Acts of sacrifice and kindness in opposition to ease - when actively chosen despite potential loss - are what marks being good.’

Experience and Advancement

The ultimate example - and perhaps the oldest, in the field of games - is the Experience Point. How you obtain these, often, is described as the point of the game’. Cementing an objective like this can lock off possibilities, and encourage mechanical thinking’ - we should do action to accrue more XP. However, some schema are more indifferent - they do not dictate how they must be achieved. The classic GP for XP formula does not have to specify how the GP is gained - violence, theft, mercantile aspirations, MLM etc. But beyond this, why do we gather XP?

To advance.

Advancement-as-reward poisons the well of player action and agency. It is the expression of Number Go Up - some systems attach more than numbers, but the core is the same - this is the carrot being used to drive gameplay. By removing Advancement, we ask players - why are you playing - what do you want to do, freed from the tyranny of Number Go Up. This is agency and responsibility - to find worthy and entertaining objectives in the absence of an objective measurement.

Of course, characters can still grow - simply advance them internally, without reference to some prescriptive metric of advancement. If they choose to engage with local powers, ranks and titles might work. Equipment is a concern for bandits, soldiers and guerillas alike. Seeking notable treasures (and techniques) are staples of adventure fiction - characters do not become static, but collections of experiences.

An elegant example of this can be seen in What time near dawn did they climb up the other shore, Drying their wings?

But What About Themes?

A common use of Incentives is to encourage/reinforce/enforce tone - for doing things which align to the source fiction, you are rewarded. Instead, we could talk to our fellow players about what we’d like to see and agree to work towards it without the use of incentive - why do we need our efforts rewarded’? Isn’t playing fun?
We can trust out playing companions to build towards those themes - or let them drift and change in the chaos of play. Anything is better than trying to subtly encourage people like children.

March 14, 2021 odnd monster mmm


Muscle cords thicker than greed.
Take up all you possess, and carry it with you.
See what you desire, and come to possess it.

This is one of the paths a man could walk to leave humanity behind.

HD 4 / AC as Chain / Damage 1d6+2

March 5, 2021 troika background

Demiurge Assassin

Some seek Heaven through violence. This sect aim to bring violence to Heaven, and use it to kill the Demiurge.
They have spent hours poring over many tomes - and from such synthesise their creed.
To reach heaven, they must be Good.
To be Good is to forgo cruelty, spite and malice.
To be Good is to never allow the weak to be bullied by the strong.
To be Good is to make do with the humble, and to scorn the riches of the world.
Nothing in this life may be taken with them - and so their body must become the weapon.
They must die at the pinnacle of their ability - dying too soon would waste their attempt.


  • Simple Robe
  • 2d6 Incompatible Religious Icons

Advanced Skills

  • 5 Unarmed Fighting
  • 2 Charity
  • 2 Comparative Mythology
February 27, 2021 odnd rules

Magic Outside of Levels

An attempt at non-Vancian magic in a more mythic vein. Assumes the use of my ODnD hack’, albeit with the Magic User removed.

Effects beyond the mundane are achieved through the invocation of properties or through pacts with the supernatural. Effects are not bounded by level - where needed, use a characters level.

A Rough Mapping of most of the Spells in Delving Deeper and what you can do to cast them. A fuller implementation of this would tweak these spells to give them more chaos and plasticity, much like Wonder and Wickedness. That said, if you don’t use the names of the spells, the players will relate to these effects very differently. The knowledge of these rituals in treasure in itself.
The material components for One Use effects are consumed in the casting - disintegrating, cracking or simply becoming magically inert.

Spell Achieved By
Alter Self One Use: Consume a simulacrum of the target crafted with their hair and blood mixed with 100 chrysalises/cocoons. 1/day: Blasphem ous induction into the Doppelganger cult. Unspeakable rites and child sacrifice.
Animal Growth One Use: The blood of a pregnant animal mixed with stewed lilac, left to brew for a year. Flicked at the target.
Animate Dead One Use: The teeth of a Hydra are scattered over the area.
Anti-Magic Shield One Use: A circle described with ’chalk’ formed from diamond-dust and dragonbone.
Baleful Polymorph One Use: A fragment of undifferentiated Chaos, thrown as a javelin and fuelled with malice.
Bless* One Use: Blast upon a horn wrenched from the skull of a Satyr or Narwhal. 1/day Blast upon a horn gifted by the unicorn. REVERSED One Use: Release a dirge on a horn wrenched from the skull of a 6HD or less Demon. 1/day: Release a dirge on a horn wrenched from the skull of 7HD or more Demon.
Charm Monster One Use: Craft a mask of the creatures to be charmed, using their skin, blood, hair and horn. For each HD, 1 corpse must be processed. 1/day: Become a monster yourself. This one of the paths a man could walk to leave mortality behind.
Charm Person One Use: A thick pearlescent slug, gathered from the home of Dryad and spat at the target. 1/day: Ascend a mountain of stunning beauty with twelve companions, all of equal drive and knowledge. One may descend the mountain alive, cursed with this power.
Circle of Invisibility One Use: Powder derived from the eyes of a Medusae is scattered in the area.
Circle of Protection One Use: The caster coats their mouth with blessed oils and performs glossolalia effortlessly. The origin of the blessing determines whom the protection is effective against. 1/day: The prospective caster is tattooed with exhortations and banishments, using ink from a giant squid or a gall harvested from a centuries-old tree.
Clairvoyance One Use: A fragile blade of obsidian must be used to open the casters forehead, allowing their presence to slip forth. 1/day: The caster is trepanned using a drill of star-metal which is discarded in a pool unsullied by fish.
Cloudkill One Use: The lungs of certain dragons, formed into bellows.
Colour Spray One Use: Behead a light-drinking cave-eel. 1/day: The eye-lens of a beached whale is held up before a light-source.
Commune Such an effect falls outside of the scope of a spell - this being the result of major religious works. If anyone is listening at all, of course.
Comprehend Languages One Use: A local, poisonous serpent must be swallowed alive. Lasts 1d4 days._1/day:_ An ancient grammar must be recovered and eaten. Permanent: The casters tongue is split open with a golden sickle beneath a moon hidden behind the fallen Tower of Babel.
Confusion One Use: The skull of a hermit, filled with poppy-seeds is shaken like a rattle, inflicting the spell upon those who hear it.
Contact Other Plane Such an effect falls outside of the scope of a spell - this being the result of major occult research. Demons are always eager to listen once summoned.
Continuous Light One Use: The heart of a dead forge is tossed towards the target. 1/day: Some fragment of a sun must be swallowed.
Control Water One Use: The true name of the body of water must be invoked. Being transient, the name will change each time.
Control Weather One Use: Gather the first fledgling bird hatched in the area. Gather the first-born mammal born in the area. Gather the first-spawned amphibian in the area. Commingle their blood and their flesh beneath the sky and make your demand.
Cure Critical Wounds One Use: A salve brewed from the blood of a Troll and bitter roots. Each Troll corpse yielding enough for a single dose after successive reductions.
Cure Light Wounds One Use: Harvest the herbs and mushrooms from the grave of a witch unburnt. Boil them down. Spread upon wounds. 1/day: Accept a Subtle Spirit into your protection. They are hard to find, and make demands upon you. Counts as a hireling.
Cure Serious Wounds One Use: Flesh for flesh - a bath of blood. Every 1HD of creature blood spilled heals 1HP. Can be used by multiple people.
Detect Invisibility One Use: Three drops of fluid left by ghost in each eye. 1/day: Replacing an eye with a huge pearl.
Detect Magic One Use: A drop of pure-white or pure-black dog blood in each eye. 1/day: Replacing an eye with a lump of quartz.
Dimension Door One Use: A dagger prepared with the blood of a Realm Spider is used to describe a door.
Disintegrate One Use: A fragment of Outer Dark, released from a container, snakes outwards.
Dispel Magic One Use: Salt from a dead ocean, cast at the enchanted object. 1/day: Leaving a limb in a jar of salt, allowing all moisture to be drained away - leaving only a withered limb.
Enervate Dead One Use: Blessed lily-smoke is released from a container. The smoke seeks the restless dead.
Fear One Use: A mask-and-cape of Wolf-Hide is worn. 1/day: Kill a primordial wolf-mother and re-enact the Birth of the First Wolves.
Fireball One Use: Throw the shrivelled heart of a salamander, stored in cooking oil. 1/day: Sojourn to a Place of Fire and sacrifice a limb to the beings within.
Fly One Use: A bar of goose-fat, hemlock and nightshade berries is smeared on the body. A feather of gold is crushed. 1/day: Become spouse to a griffon or similar. Permanent: Become a Sphinx’ or Harpy’
Fog Wall One Use: The caster swallows eight frogs whole to charge the spell - vomiting out fog at will. 1/day: Deliver freedom to a mist-wight.
Hallucinatory Terrain One Use: A vellum map with diamond-dust infused inks is produced, describing the illusory terrain. It is then burnt.
Haste* One Use: Consume the meat of a bird or hare killed by lightning. 1/day: Survive being struck with lightning.
Hold Monster One Use: Break the legs of a statuette found in iron slag and wrapped in the flowers of an invasive species.
Hold Person One Use: Break the legs of a wood figurine unshaped by blades and buried for two months.
Hold Portal One Use: The caster fills the mouth with gravel and holds a fragment of the portal between their teeth. 1/day: Devotion to the Opener of the Way - through the murder of those bound to capture and imprison people - at least one every two months.
Insect Plague One Use: Innumerable evils must be laid upon the caster, who is willing to give their flesh up as a brood-chamber for the imminent swarm. They are destroyed utterly in the process.
Invisibility One Use: Powdered silver is cast into the air. As long as the caster does not disturb the particles with their breath, the effect is retained. 1/day: The eyes of three members of royalty must be formed into a necklace. Permanent: Infection from an Unseen. Spread through bite.
Knock One Use: A valuable key of unknown origin and use is broken. 1/day: A small pact with the Opener of the Way to capture and imprison at least one human being a month.
Levitate One Use: A bar of goose-fat, hemlock and nightshade berries is smeared on the body. A feather of silver is crushed.
Light* One Use: Charcoal from an arson is crushed and wet into a paste. The paste carries the enchantment. 1/day: Drill a hole into the top of the skull to let the light in - and then pour it forth from the mouth. REVERSED One Use: Burst the eye of a mother fox or bat. Fling the pulp. 1/day: Make a home for darkness in your chest cavity - a glazed clay sphere, inserted surgically. Alternatively, find some Talking Darkness and strike a deal.
Lightning Bolt One Use: Burn the ring-finger of a Cloud Giant, and blow the ash at the target. 1/day: Feed your right hand to Wraith dwelling beneath the Riven Oak.
Locate Object One Use: The skull of a bloodhound (or similar scenthound) is filled the skulls of nine different species of rodent. This rattle is then shaken, the sound an indicator of direction.
Magic Jar One Use: A soul-vessel is prepared, requiring a huge investment in research, blood and treasure. The transferral ritual takes a full month, during which the body must be maintained by others - any lapse in concentration causes failure. This one of the paths a man could walk to leave mortality behind.
Move Earth One Use: The hateful, parasitic Peak Crown flower is placed in the earth, where one wishes the earth to move to. The earth moves to destroy it, hills converging like wolves.
Neutralize Poison One Use: Bronze is poured over a de-fanged venomous snake. The resulting wand is waved at the envenomed object. 1/day: A poison-gland from a live serpent, worn around the belt and milked every morning, can drain the poison from objects. This fetish is useless if the donor serpent dies.
Passwall One Use: A fragment of a chisel from lost Uruk is used to mark a passage. Close your eyes and wait 1 minute.
Phantasm One Use: A sheet of gold-foil is folded into a paper approximation of the Phantasm to be evoked. 1/day: The caster must break down the barrier between their own imagination and perception through massive hallucinogen usage and several mystical revelations.
Plant Growth One Use: The caster imbibes a brew of rich loam and five lambs. They then cut themselves and flick their blood over the area.
Polymorph One Use: The caster wills themself into a new form over weeks of visualisation, will and deprivation. This new form is hidden in the confines of the mind and invokes through certain gestures and forms. Of course, in hindsight, they never changed form at all.
Project Image 1/day: The caster murders themselves in a different dimension or space, gaining the ability to invoke this other-self.
Protection One Use: The caster anoints the target with blessed water. The origin of the blessing determines whom the protection is effective against.
Protection from Missiles One Use: A bundle of arrows, each used to kill, is snapped. 1/day: A charm made of golden arrowheads, each used to kill a man, is worn.
Remove Curse Unravelling a curse is no rote matter - each much be addressed individually, as idiosyncratic as their casters.
Sixth Sense One Use: The dessicated head of a shark, pierced with two rods of silver, is used as dowsing rod. 1/day: A series of slender copper, silver and gold rods are inserted into the vertebrae of the prospective caster.
Slaying Spell One Use: A natural rat-king is killed with a mallet.
Sleep One Use: A bear’s fecal plug is smoked and exhaled. 1/day: The caster travels through Dream and back out again in a single sleep.
Slow One Use: Mud gathered from an ocean trench is flung. 1/day: A herd of one hundred and one lamed horses must be kept alive by the caster or their estate.
Speak with Animals One Use: The tongue of a pig and the brain of an owl are left to fester in a buried jar for six months. The resulting fluid is imbibed. 1/day: A series of platinum tongue-sheaths, corresponding to different manners of beasts, can be crafted.
Speak with Dead One Use: Through the use of divinatory methods, vague and uncertain answers can be interpreted.
Speak with Plants One Use: Sap flowing through the veins allows speech with plants - and is sure to cause death.
Stone to Flesh* One Use: The waters flowing from the eyes of petrified gods and demons are filled with the will to return to flesh.
Teleport One Use: Meteoritic iron-dust and ambergris, thrown at the ground.
Transmute Rock to Mud* One Use: The heart of a dormant volcano, topping a copper spike which is driven into the rock.
True Seeing One Use: The eyes of black cat - the runt of the litter. 1/day: Spectacles carved from the skull of a hermit.
Turn Undead Each burial practice has their own rituals to drive the dead back to their graves. The beliefs of the corpse in life are all that matter.
Wall of Fire One Use: The blood of a star, or other being of flame, is used to draw a line.
Wall of Ice One Use: The residue left by a Wall of Fire can be boiled and re-used.
Water Breathing One Use: A dried powder of frog-mother and buoyant seaweed is snorted. Drying the powder takes weeks. 1/day: Gills are tattooed using the blood of a giant moray eel.
Web One Use: A huge golden web of delicate threads is folded back into a small nugget. As it is thrown, it boils away, revealing the web it represents. 1/day: An infestation of spiders in the blood - introduced in egg-form and kept sated with sacrifice.
Witch Eye One Use: The eye of a witch.
Witch Lock One Use: Acorns from an oak grown around a key, ground to a paste and smeared on the item to be locked.
February 22, 2021 thinking adventures

The Principles of Thinking Adventures

  1. Systems (as in combat system’ not system matters’) offer a trade - your freedom in exchange for something else.
  2. This trade is not always in your favour.
  3. Ask yourself why anyone would, or should, incentivize behaviour.
  4. Spit in their eye if they try it.
  5. Try and be brave.
  6. Game systems should define parameters not outcomes.
  7. Tools are preferable to mechanisms.
  8. Game content should be more meaningful than game systems. If it is not, the content is weak or the system domineering.
  9. ACAB
  10. Your loyalty is to your players, then yourself. No others.
  11. Non serviam.
  12. Justification is always required.
  13. No defaults.
  14. If you meet Luke Gearing on the road, kill him.

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