It’s been quiet around here, as I haven’t had much time or energy for RPG design.
But in a little bit of good design, I’m excited about using the incredible Mac app Craft, which makes it easy to share writing or export beautiful PDFs as I go. Look for some ideas to be circulated. Here’s an example of the 2D10 game system easily accessible via a secret link from Craft:
The little post-apocalyptic RPG I’ve been working on, inspired by OSR style hack games, is officially available on DriveThruRPG and on Itch.io. I’d love it if you took a look and helped spread the word.
In WATERHACK, you play Accountants (seriously) who wander around the wastes trying to insure communities have access to water. In order to do so, you may have to fend off water ghouls, vapor vampires, waste monsters, and other strange creatures and deal with conflicts. The game uses a roll under system on a D20 and requires actual water receptacles as representative of your hero’s health. Lots of tongue in cheek humor and stuff embedded in the rules. I hope it makes you laugh!
I am open to doing a print version of the game, but I imagine there will be some errata and balance fixes as it goes out into the wild. I’ll wait until I get some of that feedback before working a print on demand option.
I am proud to introduce WATERHACK, a game I’ve been working on in the background for a while and decided to just get it over the finish line.
WATERHACK is a post-apocalyptic roleplaying game set in a quasi-future where water and liquids are really scarce, and everyone is thirsty. It uses some inspiration from David Black’s Black Hack, which is a great take on OSR fantasy roleplaying, with six stats and a roll under on a D20. Add in some Jack Vance style humor, gonzo journalism, irreverence, and recognition of the struggle for water. Oh, and fun!
It will drop on DriveThruRPG on Friday, March 19.
Here’s a preview:
The greatest environmental collapse of Earth didn’t happen overnight – the disaster unfolded in slow motion. The rain stopped coming, for all kinds of reasons. The scientists admitted it was probably humanity’s fault, but it wasn’t permanent so no one should get worked up about it. Water sources were drained rapidly over the next hundred years or so. Lush forests turned brown and crackled under the heat of the blistering sun. Rain faded to a distant memory. Only the rich could waste their precious drops on a shower. The lack of hydration became the new normal.
Add in an unhealthy dash of war, violence, and nationalism. Once wells and lakes dried up, the people packed up and moved to where they could get a drop or two of refreshment. Limited supplies meant harsh measures. Harsh measures meant anger, desperation, and chaos. Bombs, tanks, guns, spears, hockey sticks, dirty socks – whatever people had at hand became a tool to secure nourishment for their families. Some supposedly decent types even resorted to unthinkable and disgusting means to slate their parched bodies.
Whether nuclear bombs actually dropped at some point is a matter of debate. Some travelers have claimed to witness giant craters where cities used to be, tingling waves of energy melting your hair off in less than ten seconds the closer you got. Others think they’re just seeing things and need a drink.
Typically, whenever someone does find water, word gets around. People in armored cars roar in, claiming they got there first and if you don’t like it say hello to a sawed off shotgun. Religious cults descend in droves with bombs made out of old potted plants, smiling to win you over and dropping edicts that label you a heretic by morning. Cousins and aunts you didn’t know you had show up for hugs and handouts and a long sip.
Of course, this is where the heroes of this story come in – Accountants. Accountants are unlikely heroes who waltz in and out of danger to keep everything fair and negotiate some kind of peace. When wasteland warlords or drought- plagued mayors need help, they call in the nearest wandering Accountants to make life… a little easier. After all, water is life.
You get to play an Accountant, and if you’ve got the guts and ingenuity, you’ll leave the world a little less thirsty and a little safer for everyone else.
Welcome to the Waterless Wastes.
As with all of my products, I’ll be looking to respond to feedback and make adjustments for balance, gameplay, and fun.
In 2016, I released Debate Night in America based off of a Halloween game night of Cthulhu-inspired fun, mixing horror and election season tension. Because it’s been four years and we are back in the midst of a contentious election, why not revise it a bit? While the adventure still has great bones, I spent the day fixing some grammatical errors and adding some tidbits here and there to fill plot holes and round out possibilities for the adventure. Ultimately, you get about 5 more pages of goodness in all.
Elections really do matter, and while this little adventure is fun and a bit hectic, let’s not pretend that your vote won’t make a difference. It will! We can stop fascism! We can stop hate! We can make the world lurch one more step toward equality and care for all people.
Next Monday, my web host is going to have some server maintenance. I imagine it will be a painless transition to a new server, but if not, check beck. I’ve got some projects cooking… every so slowly, so stay tuned.
I’ve been combing through some of my old bits of writing, trying to find things to work on. I do have a couple of games I’m going to try to figure out in the coming weeks and have either a playtest or release before late December. That’s probably wishful thinking, but it’s good to have goals, right?
In my pile of old stuff, I have many scraps or somewhat sketched out game systems.
Some of these have elements that made it into games like Foreign Element or 2D10 or the Mark System.
Some have formatting and example text and clipart as placeholders. Do I release this stuff, put it on my website for a random passerby to consume and find something inspiring? Do I let it lie fallow in the archives?
Below I’ve attached one example. I was working on the Adventure Pit Game System to do a lot of things. The copyright notice is 2008, so I had just moved to a new city and was likely hoping to build off of Eldritch Ass Kicking. I wanted a game system that was simple and action-oriented but gave players more power to describe the after results of an action. Are you satisfied with basic success? Do you want to find good loot or set yourself up for future actions?
It’s kind of a mess, but it is an example of me toying around with things. I do believe it influenced Foreign Element in some ways, and I might even have borrowed some text here and there. Anyway, enjoy an example of a half-finished but mostly playable product.
Last week, I worked at a youth camp with an amazing group of middle school kids who were excited to play Dungeons & Dragons. One of them had received the Stranger Things box set and was eager to play. It was fun to help them learn basic rules, encourage them to try out stuff, and join in the excitement. About halfway through, I told them I’d run my own game – a quick round of 2D10.
Notes from the Session
Character creation was fast and easy. The players mastered the process quickly and went a little wild with their heroes. When playing a free form game, it is always a challenge to develop boundaries on special abilities (feats) as well as occupations. One player wanted to play a Necromancer, so we had to fine tune it. What can a Necromancer do and not do? Some of them wanted to be able to summon a giant eagle as their hero’s power. While I was resistant, I went for it. Would summoning a giant eagle work in the sewers? Does it take time for the eagle to arrive? This highlighted both the speed and flexibility of 2D10 but also some challenges. Can a less experienced GM know how to sort out boundaries?
With heroes in hand, I drafted a quick but messy adventure that challenged the players with moral choices over and over. The Golden King in his Golden City was besieged, so the King’s captain summoned the heroes from across time and space to aid or rescue their liege. Obviously, it was a one shot, so I didn’t have time for a deep origin story. The catch was that the heroes had 30 minutes before the castle’s defenses would be obliterated by winged demons. The heroes had to figure out how to enter the city to reach the castle, whether to save time by rescuing an abandoned child and her mother, barter with old colleagues and mysterious strangers, and then make an ultimate choice once they met the King and learned what was actually going on.
I’m being vague because I may write it up as a short 2D10 download.
While the adventure didn’t completely work since we ran out of time, the players did gain extra time throughout by promising to do things for their colleagues or for rescuing certain people. This allowed them to stretch their options for making choices. Battle wasn’t the only route to get to the interior castle and confront the King, but the lack of time also hampered the ability a bit to make the final moral choice really hit home. One of the players noted that the story didn’t completely fit. I’ll definitely tweak this when I write it up for others to have fun with.
I was really pleased by the dice rolling. Success was possible, but the players also rolled low enough to add some natural tension. It made things challenging. I am going to think about a passive type option, like 5E’s passive perception, since I don’t really like heroes rolling to find secret doors and stuff too often. Tedious rolling is lame!
We utilized the optional Magic Points rule, since most of their characters wanted to cast spells. We didn’t use it religiously. I’d really prefer for players to spend the magic points to add to rolls for success, making those resources finite. For this game, I asked them to subtract one for each spell they cast. It was simple, but magic points have potential for other uses.
However, if I plan to modify 2D10, I will change the Occupations modifier. The players forgot about the +5 modifier. Was it confusing? I can improve that with a simple character sheet or make it easier like doubling your attribute if you use the Occupation for a relevant action. Stay tuned.
All in all, though, it was fun to game with some youngsters! 2D10 was a blast to play!
I’m pretty happy with DriveThruRPG’s setup. At one point, they charged for free products, but I’m sure they realize that driving traffic to the site for free stuff increases the chance of people buying stuff. That’s good.
But I’ve noticed itch.io recently, and so I will be setting up another site there.
Right now, the basic 2D10 RPG is the only item available, but I’ll be adding more in the coming days.
The 2D10 RPG, in all of its one page rules of glory, is now officially Creative Commons licensed. You can use it to create your own works of creativity and imagination, as long as you give some attribution. I am glad there are fans and writers who see it as something valuable to use to power your own games and creations.
(And special thanks to Shawn E. for encouraging me to make this change.)