Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Fantasy RPG Economy

Some Background

I'm running a homebrew hexcrawl game where the characters have all been sent into a northerly wilderness to subdue and claim it for "The Empire". They are mainly exiles, criminals, or debtors, and have only the resources the land offers and what they carried with them. Soon a larger group of settlers will follow them and likely begin forming a settlement.

To emphasize the isolation we're using a slightly more complex food tracking system than I usually would. There's not really an option to go buy more rations in town at the moment - nobody has built the town yet. So they're hunting and foraging as they go, watching some food go bad before it can be eaten or preserved, and dipping into a dwindling supply of rations at times.

Last session they found a stream full of fish. The excitement at this, something normally reserved for treasure hordes in fantasy RPGs, suggested the approach is working.

Likewise, I don't normally go in for crafting systems much, but here it's going to be important to know what you can make and how long it will take, because that's probably the only way to get it. This is some serious frontier business - if your axe breaks, that was probably your only axe.

Crafting & Money

This game is using silver pieces (sp) as its baseline currency. A silver piece is worth 10 copper pieces (cp) - if most people have actual coins on them, they will be copper. 10 silver are worth one gold piece (gp), which are either old or used by institutions. We're four sessions into the current game and there's no hint of gold.

Here are the current crafting rules. Checks are usually just d20 plus the appropriate ability. If what's being attempted is something the character has training in, also add d6.

In an 8-hour workday, you can convert 1 copper piece worth of materials into 2 copper pieces worth of goods for each point of your skill check.
Skilled or desperate crafters can apply challenges to their check at -5 each:
  • If the item you’re attempting to craft requires specialized training you do not possess.
  • Make a check every hour instead of every day.
  • You are trying to create an item of exceptional quality.
If your challenged check is 10 or less, your efforts use up double the usual materials.
If your challenged check is 5 or less, any progress is lost and the item ruined, and you must pass a saving throw or trigger some calamity - the workshop is damaged, the stores of materials polluted, or something similar. 
So, given an average ability is 0 and an average d20 roll is 10, an average worker can expect to turn 10 cp worth of materials into 20 cp worth of goods. Assuming they keep 10 cp worth of that for the next day, they earn 10 copper in profit on an average day, and probably follow a budget like this.

short term saving1 cpabout 3 sp a month, which buys a tool, a suit of clothes, a head of livestock, or a lantern.
long term saving1 cpabout 3.5 gp a year, which buys a weapon and shield, or a mount.
taxes1 cp
lodging & upkeep3 cprelatively small, clean, and safe.
food3 cp
discretionary1 cpa few drinks at the pub.

That means in this economy a person can live reasonably well for 10 cp, or 1 sp, a day.

Someone who can call on that extra d6 for their check is going to have a few more cp to throw around or save most days.

Notable characters have abilities between 1 and 4 at low levels,

Food & Materials

The game also uses three broad categories of food.

Item Cost Load Notes
Provender 1 cp 3 Flour, vegetables, beans, tubers, game. Raw, bulky, prone to spoiling.
Provisions 2 cp 2 Bread, fruit, dressed meat, milk, oil. Resists spoiling.
Rations 4 cp 1 Cheese, biscuit, sausage, nuts, salt. Compact and almost never spoils.

An adult human needs one “unit” of food per day if they are undergoing strenuous activity (exploration, combat, or hard labor). Otherwise, they need half that much.

A full day of foraging can acquire 1 unit of provender for every 2 points of a Wisdom skill check. A forager can thus provide for 5 people on an average day in good conditions.

The notion here is foraging is almost certainly going to yield something, though it may not always be a lot. I will probably use the "you get 1 unit of stuff for every X points of your skill check" for other gathering tasks, like wood or stone, when it comes time to start building things.

Hunting requires a successful Dexterity check of 10 or better to secure d10 provender in the form of game. On a result of 15 or more, a plentiful hunt represents an additional d6 provender.

Unlike foraging, there is no assurance of finding something to hunt, or killing it if you do, so you may come home empty handed. However the reward of taking a large game animal is potentially a great deal of food.

At some point I'll probably use the "hit a target number to get dY units of stuff" for mining as well.

Preserving Food

You can craft with food to make it easier to carry and resist spoiling:
  • If your check is a 10, that means you can turn 10 cp worth of provender (which is 10 units) into 20 cp worth of provisions (which is also 10 units).
  • If you want to turn that provender into rations, the same roll will make 20 cp worth of rations, which is only 5 units.
  • However if you take the 10 provender, and turn that into 10 provisions, and then turn those into rations, the roll of 10 means you've still only created 5 rations, but you have 5 provisions still hanging around, so still 10 days worth of food. (Well, minus the two you probably ate.)
Somehow that feels right to me.

Monday, April 7, 2014

character origin crimes

Roll 2d6 four times:

2d6You...your...out of...but...
2murderedemployermadnessyou liked it.
3attackedteacheraddictionyou'd do it again.
4swindleddebtorsfearyou almost got away with it.
5robbedcommunityjealousyit needed to be done.
6abandonedpositionloveyou have nothing to show for it.
7slightedliegedesperationthey can't really prove it.
8desertedspousevengeanceyour memory is hazy.
9obeyedchildconvictionit gnaws at you.
10denouncedlandgreedyou were ordered to.
11defamedancestorsinactionthere was precedent.
12blasphemedchurchcuriosityyou were framed.

Each column is very broadly ranged from material/carnal to conceptual/intellectual which could allow different settings to tweak their results for each fairly easily with a positive or negative modifier. Like if you wanted characters with reasonable doubt as to their guilt, add 4 to your roll in the last column.

Some tests!
  • You slighted your spouse out of vengeance but they can't really prove it.
  • You obeyed your liege out of love but there was precedent.
  • You defamed your liege out of desperation but you have nothing to show for it.
  • You murdered your ancestors out of inaction but you almost got away with it.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Point-buy weaponry idea

Weapons do d6. You have to end at 0 points for a common weapon or 1 point for a military one.
  • Increase damage to d8 - 1 point.
  • Increase damage to d10 - 2 points.
  • +1 damage - 1 point.
  • +1 to hit - 1 point.
  • Light - costs 1 point. Lets Dexterity be used for melee attacks with this weapon.
  • Reach - costs 1 point.
  • Short range - 1 point.
  • Medium range - 2 points.
  • Long range - 3 points.
You can get extra points to spend by:
  • Decrease damage to d4 - Gives 2 points.
  • Two-handed - Gives 1 point. heavier, increased cost, can't use a shield or off-hand.
I'm intending this for a sort of crazy dungeon hex crawl where characters may have come from many backgrounds and will be encountering who knows what. I wanted a way PCs and monsters to wield basically whatever they could describe, but also something about the Dungeon World-style "this class rolls this die for damage no matter what they wield" approach didn't feel right here.

Some examples of trope weaponry:

d4 (-2) + light (1) = -1.
A special case that is intentionally not as good as other options.

d6 = 0.
d4 (-2) + light (1) + +1 to hit (1) = 0.

d4 (-2) + medium range (2) = 0.

d4 (-2) + reach (1) + close range (1) = 0.

d8 (2) + two-handed (-2) = 0.

d6+1 (1) = 1

d6 (0) + long range (3) + two-handed (-1) = 2
This one doesn't fit the pattern, which likely means it costs a lot more money, which bows do, so that works out. You could imagine a simpler hunting bow of medium range and normal cost, but that is functionally a:

d6 (0) + medium range (2) + two-handed (-1) = 1

d4 (-2) + close range (1) + light (1) + +1 to hit (1) = 1

Great Sword
d10 (2) + two-handed (-1) = 1

Hand Axe
d4 (-2) + +1 damage (1) + close range (1) + light (1) = 1

d8 (1) = 1
d6 (0) + +1 to hit (1) = 1

d8 (1) + reach (1) + two-handed (-1) = 1

d6 (0) + light (1) = 1

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Different take on new Wayshielders leveling

The table in this post showed aspects like they were locked into order. The intent is actually that the one that starts at rank 1 can become your focus over time.

Also this replaces "all defenses +1" with tiers, which apply as a bonus to all defenses and attacks. It's very likely some aspects will improve based on tier as well. It's some light baseline advancement as well as shorthand for "for every six levels you have, ...".

Oh and it has XP values on it. I'm considering going with a smaller scale than normal where it's 100XP per level instead of the more common 1000. Wondering if it will make the game feel more accessible.

Gain one aspect at rank 2. Gain one aspect at rank 1.
Increase an aspect at rank 3 to rank 4.
Increase one ability by 1.
Tier 2.
Increase an aspect at rank 1 to rank 2.
Increase an aspect at rank 1 to rank 2.
Focus boost.
Increase one ability by 1.
Increase an aspect at rank 2 to rank 3.
Increase an aspect at rank 3 to rank 4.
Tier 1.
Focus boost.
Gain one aspect at rank 1.
Increase an aspect at rank 4 to rank 5.
Increase two abilities by 1.
Tier 3.
Increase an aspect at rank 2  to rank 3.
Increase an aspect at rank 2 to rank 3.
Focus boost.
Increase two abilities by 1.
EDIT: shifting things around a bit after looking at how the numbers played out in later levels.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Revisiting Wayshielders

My first few tests of Wayshielders did not run as well as I'd hoped. It may be that the aspects of modern and old school gaming I was trying to smash together are not well compatible. However I think there are a lot of ideas and design that can be salvaged.

It was an attempt to combine the "rulings not rules" and "player skill not character skill" concepts of old-school games with the resource management and tight tactical combat of more modern games. The long list of abilities for each class and their interactions seemed to be the tripping point (well, not that long - nine per class with a few tags on each). That was several months ago and I mostly put Wayshielders to the wayside.

A discussion about character resources in Sully's Dungeon World game, specifically the notion of an animal companion as a resource that could be threatened or expended, got me thinking about Wayshielders again.

No classes, but aspects

You can model most character archetypes with just a couple main concepts and a supporting one. A ranger is an archer with an animal companion who dabbles in nature magic. A barbarian wields a large weapon, is prone to enrage, and knows a bit of thievery. A cleric is a divine servant and a healer who is capable on the battlefield.

With that thesis in mind, I'm looking at moving away from classes to aspects. (Aspect is a working title here. Something better may suggest itself.) An aspect is a collection of three passive and two active abilities. The way the leveling system is paced out at the moment characters would start with two "ranks" of one aspect and one "rank" of another, giving them two passive and one active abilities, which feels manageable at first level. At 20th level they'd have 5 "ranks" in one, 4 in a second, and 3 in a third, meaning 5 active abilities and 7 passive - still manageable.

Hirelings might have a single aspect. Followers might have two. For a grittier game you could apply the same limitations to characters.

Here's how the leveling scheme looks at the moment:
levelaspect oneaspect twoaspect threeother
1one active, one passiveone passive
2focus boost
3one active
4one ability +1
5one passive
6all defenses +1
7one passive
8focus boost
9one passive
10two abilities +1
11one active
12all defenses +1
13one active
14one ability +1
15one active
16focus boost
17one passive
18all defenses +1
19one passive
20two abilities +1

Focus. Focus.

I'm looking at having one unified resource currently called "focus". Focus is rolled at the start of each combat (not sure of the die size yet) plus your Wisdom. Any damage is subtracted from focus first. 

There is a “defend” action that increases your defenses and restores some focus as well. Some of the active abilities could enhance your defend action - commander could give focus to allies for example.

I think using focus as the resource makes sense. It’s very easy to see for magical aspects. If a rogue-like character uses focus to backstab, their defend action might represent getting into and advantageous position again for example. Also many non-magical aspects can believably grant focus.

HP will need a bit of rebalancing in light of this most likely. Totals of HP and focus feel like they will be too high as currently written. But you also don’t get to roll focus until you’ve acted - being caught unawares is deadly.

As you level you will either get to roll larger or more focus dice. (Remember that in Wayshielders if you roll multiple dice you just take one of your choice.)

Monsters and hirelings most likely will not get focus, though perhaps some advanced monsters will. Also commander-type characters become more valuable because they can give hirelings focus.

There will likely be a defend action which grants some temporary defense boosts and allows you to restore or re-roll your Focus. Imagine that some aspects will play off this.

Fear and confusion effects could attack focus. In some ways nicer than forcing people to run around or roll on a random action table.


I'm thinking of using this for a play-by-post hexcrawl where we'd have a weekly face-to-face session to resolve any conflicts that couldn't be worked out in text. Many of the potential players aren't familiar with games of this ilk but are into strategy games, so keeping the rules light with the capacity for emergent complexity will be even more important.

Some potential aspects

In gloriously incomplete and scribbly form without numbers to back them up.


Passive 1 - A morale bonus to hirelings in melee with you.
Active 1 - Your defend action grants some focus to allies in melee with you.


Passive 1 - You get a bonus to melee hit and damage if you have no focus.

Void Disciple

Passive 1 - You get a bonus to Move while in shadows.
Active 1 - Spend focus to give your attack a chance to blind its target.


Passive 1 - You get a bonus to melee hit and damage while unarmed.
Active 1 - Spend focus to give your unarmed attack a high chance to disarm its target.


Active 1 - Heal HP at the cost of the target's focus.


Active 1 - Spend focus to deal extra damage when striking from hiding.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Possible minion/mount system for Fate

The Fate game I'm running now isn't using the Drive/Ride skill, as I've often found it to be too situational, and one of the characters has something of a familiar, so I've been trying to think how to handle minions and mounts within conflicts. I read some good posts on treating them like aspects, but that feels like a significant investment for a horse or the like. It might work out well for followers or mentors, but we're in a weird gray area at the moment.

So what I plan to playtest tomorrow is:

  • Mounts and minions are Extras.
  • Mounts are free from a character-building perspective, though might take in-game resources to acquire. They have statistics akin to Nameless NPCs.
  • Minions require a refresh point and have stats akin to a Supporting NPC.
  • You choose an appropriate skill to control the minion or mount with. You could control an average mount with Provoke, Rapport, or Empathy. A minion might be controlled by those in addition to Deceive or Resources. In my game there are some magic skills - the minion in this case will be controlled by one of those as it's an imp formed of its owner's blood.
  • You can use their trained skills in place of your own within a conflict, but you use the lowest of that skill and skill you're controlling them with. So if you had Athletics +0 and were using your Empathy +2 to control your mount, which has Athletics +3, you can make an Athletics check at +2. If your Empathy was +4 you could make an Athletics check at +3.
  • Normally there is no need to roll your control skill, but I can imagine situations where opposition or the environment will attempt to break your control and you'll need to roll defensively to maintain it. I'm thinking that would be an Overcome action on their part and if you lost control it would be another Overcome action to regain it.
  • You can spend a Fate point to allow the mount or minion to act independently for a round in a conflict. You decide its actions.
  • You can spend a Fate point to use the higher of the control skill or the minion's or mount's skill.
  • Their aspects can be invoked and compelled as if they were your own.
  • They could have other effects on the narrative. If you are riding a horse it's fair to say you can travel faster and carry more, or pull a cart, without going into details.
Anyway, we'll see how it goes.