Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Review: One D&D pt. 1

This is not going to be one of my traditional reviews but I did not know where else to place it but it is a review of sorts. Regardless, I have now had time to read through the play test materials presented as One D&D under Wizards usual Unearthed Arcana release. For all intents and purposes, it looks these are going to be the building block of a new edition on 5th Edition Revised which may just be called One D&D as the title says. '

But I digress, the initial document release is called Character Origins and it clocks in at 21 pages. It covers Race, Backgrounds, and languages for creating characters. I will list the major changes and then o through the sections. 

The major core changes are:

  • Ability modifiers have been removed from Races
  • Backgrounds provide a +2 and a +1 ability bonus
  • Feats have a required level that a character must be before the qualify for it 
  • Backgrounds provide a 1st level feat 
  • Magic is no plot into three area - Arcane, Divine, and Primal 

Races: Humans (they get a bonus 1st level feat), Ardlings (are a race with animal heads that can fly for short periods of time and get some other options depending on legacy), Dragonborn, Dwarf, Elf (they gain different options depending on their lineage of Drow/High Elf/Wood Elf), Gnome (they gain different options based on lineage chosen Forest/Rock), Halfling, Orc, and Tiefling (they gain different options based on legacy Abyssal/Chthonic/Infernal).

These are the races that are being slated for the core Players Handbook. I really like the concept of the Ardlings and I am glad they are bringing some Egyptian flare into the core book. I am also happy that they  are including Orcs/Drow as a core race and makes these choices even better, is the Sunlight Sensitivity has been removed! It makes them playable and viable options (I explained my outlook about this more when I discussed The Darkness of the Drow.

Half Races are discussed in a sidebar. Basically, the player chooses two different core races as their parents and the player decides which parent decided their characters game traits (size, speed, special traits) and then the player can mix and match how their character looks from both parents. Finally, the player averages out both parents life spans. I think this is really a great idea as it opens up all kinds of character options in a simple way. 

Backgrounds: All backgrounds provide an +2 and a +1 ability bonus, two skill proficiencies, one tool proficiencies, have one language from a standard list and one from a rare list, pms 1st level feat, and 50gp to spend on starting equipment. Before the example Backgrounds are listed, there are rules to create your own background following the steps above. 

The backgrounds provided are Acolyte, Artisan, Charlatan, Criminal, Cultist, Entertainer, Farmer, Gladiator, Guard, Guide, Hermit, Laborer, Noble, Pilgrim, Sage, Sailor, Soldier, and Urchin. These example backgrounds provide a wide net but I hope more backgrounds are included such as the alternate backgrounds like Pirate and some from other official online supplements. 

Backgrounds also interact with language in a unique way where a non Rogue or non Druid player may possible know Thieves’ Cant or the Druidic Language depending on the background chosen. 

Languages: Languages are split into two different “trees” of Standard Languages and Rare Languages. The standard languages have nine options that include SIGN LANGUAGE, Common, Dwarvish, Elvish, Giant, Gnomish, Goblin, Halfling, and Orc. The Rare tree includes Abyssal, Celestial, Deep Speech, Draconic, Druidic, Infernal, Primordial, Sylvan, Thieves’ Cant, and Undercommon. 

Feats: All feats have a level requirement, prerequisites (if any), and if they are repeatable or not. The sample level 1 feats are Alert, Crafter, Healer, Lucky, Magic Initiate, Musician, Savage Attacker, Skilled, Tavern Brawler, and Tough. 

All of the feats presented appear to be balanced and they all appear to be useful. Though the level 1 options are limited in this document. To create more customizable options, there will need to be more 1st level feat options as long as they are all useful and it I snot feat bloat for the sake of feat bloat. 

Due to the level requirements of feats, I can make an educated guess that feat trees will be making a comeback. So, feats will build off of each other. This idea opens up more options and synergy for characters and their backgrounds. I can only hope that Wizards avoids the old pitfalls of 3.x of the famous pointless feat tax. For enlightening purposes, feat tax where prerequisite feats that were useless and rarely saw any play but were required to progress or start a feat tree. 

Rules Glossary: Below are core changes;
  • The spell lists are divided into three lists (Arcane, Divine, and Primordial)
  • Artisan tools cost 15gp regardless of what tool it is 
  • 15 creature types that include Aberration, Beast, Celestial, Construct, Dragon, Elemental, Fey, Fiend, Giant, Humanoid, Monstrosity, Ooze, Plant, and Undead. These types do not have rules themselves but can affect interactions
  • Gaming Sets (tools) all cost 1g
  • Musical Instruments (tools) all cot 20gp
D20 Test:
  • Rolling a 1: Regardless of modifiers, it is an automatic failure
  • Rolling a 20: Regardless of modifiers, it is an automatic success. Though it does not surpass limitations of line of sight, etc. 
  • Critical Hits: Weapons and Unarmed Strikes cause a critical hit when a natural 20 is rolled on a d20 test. The damage dice is doubled rolled. If the weapon or unarmed strike has no damage dice, no additional dice is added/rolled
Conditions: The conditions listed are Grappled, Incapacitated, and slowed. The conditions have been cleaned up and more straightforward. 

Inspiration: The main way a character gains inspiration is from rolled a natural 20 on a d20 test. The DM can also award Inspiration when a character does something awesome. A character can only possess one point of Inspiration at a time and the player can spend it to gain advantage on the roll in question. 

Though, it is odd to note that the character loses the Inspiration if they begin a long rest with it. 

Long Rest: About 8 hours of peaceful rest/sleep At the end of a Long Rest, the creature regains all lost Hit Points and regains spent hit dice equal to half of the creatures total rounded down. If the rest is interrupted by one hour of activity, the benefits are list but if the rest had an hour before the interruption happened, the creature gains the benefits of a short rest. 

Tool Proficiency: If the character has proficiency with a tool, that add their proficiency bonus. If the the character posses proficiency in the tool and the skill being used, the roll is made with advantage. 

Unarmed Strike: When you successfully hit with an unarmed strike, you can choose one of the following options:
  1. Deal bludgeoning damage of 1 + STR modifier.
  2. Grapple: Target is grappled and the escape DC is 8 + STR Modifier + Proficiency Bonus. It is possible to grab a creature one size category larger if there is a hand free. 
  3. Shove: You either push the target 5 ft. Away or knock the target prone. The shove is possible only if the target is no more then one size category larger then you. 

Final Thoughts: Most of the changes are positive and create more options and bring the focus into background and other roleplaying options. I also love the idea of how you can have to players playing the same class but have different backgrounds that actually have some game impacts. Also, I cannot stress enough how happy it makes me to see Orcs and Drow included without the sunlight sensitivity. Once again, the way half races are handled is a big improvement because of how many options it opens up. Finally, these change help smooth out some of the common issues that come up in 5e and integrate all the changes that have came up in the recent releases glom 5e.

Though, with that being said there are some Major problems.

  1. Skills Auto Succeeding on a Natural 20: If skill succeed on a natural 20 then why even have skills? This implies that so long as a player can take long enough to take 20, they can succeed at anything untrained. This also severely handicaps the Rogue (and makes them basically pointless as well) as everyone has a 5% chance of picking the lock on Orcus’s Wand chest. This is in addition to making DC’s arbitrary. Finally, it makes the already weak teamwork rules worse as teamwork gives you advantage and then it is capped out. 
  2. Inspiration: Inspiration should be gained on the result of a natural “1” instead of a “20” as it is more thematic for characters to find inspiration out of failure then an already successful task. Though the real issue with this is that characters lose inspiration - that makes zero sense and will fuel player to participate in more dice focused actions to gain it back and that there is no limit on how man times characters can benefit from inspiration from the result of the d20. If it is unlimited as implied, it takes away the drive for players to be creative or roleplay for the chance to be rewarded inspiration. Shooting from the hip, 3x per day would be fair. 
  3. Wording on Criticals: The way it is worded, it can be interpreted one of two ways. The first way is that only player characters can crit with weapons or unarmed strikes and the second way is NPC’s can crit as well. Why this is such an issue with me no really grind my gears is that 5e was slated to be written in very clear and common language but required Sage Advice blogs and one of the designers Twitter accounts to clarify rules/situations. This is a huge issue and does Dungeons and Dragons and any other system a galactic disservice. Now, I understand that there is a lot of people that have issues with taking away crits from spells (and other non weapon/natural weapon/unarmed strikes) but it does not bother me at all. This change makes sense to me as I have always viewed cites as hitting a vital spot and brings a throwback feel of death and dismemberment tables (*grognard mumble noises*). It also helps balance out the space between martials and casters as doubling damage dice from spells (especially at higher levels) can get ridiculous. Plus spells already have large advantages over swinging a sword of using a bow. 

Now, outside of the major problems, there are somethings that need to be watched so they do not become a new major problem. 
  1. Grapple: Grapple has been weakened as it is now a DC check to break free based on the formula of the aggressors 8 + STR Modifier + proficiency bonus instead of a contested skill check. For grapple to stay relevant there will need to be more systematic support. 
  2. Exotic Races: These were not presented in this document but since the release of the the Monsters of the Multiverse a lot of the exotic races unique abilities have been remove such as the Kobold’s pact tactics, etc. This has caused a lot of contention and the feeling of races being watered down (“sameness”).
  3. The backgrounds presented did not have the story element tables included. This would be a disservice is that do not make an appearance.
  4. The backgrounds missing their story element abilities like how the Pirate would not be reported for minor crimes and so forth. I do not know if these are meant to be removed or were not included to keep the document short. This is under this section because of how much flavor they add to the backgrounds instead of just mechanical bonuses and a jumping off point for character background stories.  
A lot of the other issues I have seen discussed online and from my own personal conversations with people come from a misunderstanding of the basic rules in the 5e rule book. Though, I will say it is difficult to stay on top of all of the sage advice and twitter posts. Which again, I must reiterate how this is a galactic failing of the writing and other processes to produce a final product (on top of being a ridiculous expectation for the player base). 


These are ideas or changes are what I hope will come out of all of the play test material and will make it into the final products. 
  • Straightforward translation guide for the 5e books
  • Point system to be able to build races akin to what was found in the Advanced Race Guide from Pathfinder 1e
  • For the love of all that is holy or unholy get rid of challenge ratings and all the mathematical gymnastics that goes along with it for encounters. Use Hit Dice modified by special abilities!
  • Action Economy needs to be fixed on the class level or how players use/have access to actions. There are a lot of classes that do not have consistent uses for bonus actions/reactions currently
  • Keep the focus on story and less on the tactical side
  • Keep archetypes unique, flavorful, relevant, and have their own focus. The archetypes should not feel bland or one should not completely outshine the other options on the mechanically side
  • Wizards actually stay interactive and open in the play test process and consider/play test feedback

Friday, July 8, 2022

PC Spotlight: Alex Kross/Mr. Zozo


I think I want to try something new and create a space to catalog the characters I play. I have lost so many characters to time and retirement. I think this would be a cool way for me to keep track of various characters I am playing and let everyone else see who/what I am playing. 

So,  without further ado, here is my first one. 

Game: Even Heroes Bleed

System: Blood of Heroes

Name: Alex Kross/Mr. Zozo

History: Alex Kross grew up a wealthy style as both of his parents were lawyers and rooted in high society. Instead of taking his studies seriously, he embraced the wild side of life and spent a good amount of his teenage years going to be parties and coming home in handcuffs. After he barely graduated high school, his parents threatened to cut him off unless he went to college and hopefully take the law route. Due to his parents money and connections, he got into college but switched his major to photography just to give his old man the middle finger.

Suffice to say, his parents were not pleased during his graduation ceremony when his major was announced. Alex was promptly cut off (though his mom still sends him money from time to time). After working various odd jobs until he landed a job as a fashion photographer (which also help sate his hunger for the night life). After a few years working this gig he was invited to photograph some crazy cult ritual but as it turns out, the ritual was for real and something went wrong. Alex was the only one to escaped with his life but not before being possessed by the demon they were trying to summon.

It was a hard few years as they had to learn to work and live together. The demon wants to avoid returning to hell and Alex wants to redeem his soul. 

Alex now works as a freelance photography and Private Investigator taking special interest in occult or supernatural cases. These jobs is just a cover for his true mission, which is to banish as many evil entities back to where ever the came from while saving the lives of those the effect. 

Personality: Alex is a n easy going person that does not let anything effect him. He has a nonchalant attitude that can infuriating to people around him - even in dire situations. This coupled with his love for parties can make him fun or an annoyance to be around. Alex has not really bought into the whole idea of being an hero and does not consider himself one. He has a job to due and he does it.

Powers: The binding of the demon has left him physically stronger, able to heal, detect the use of mystical abilities, and even absorb energy. Though, his true power awakens when he calls on the demon to merge with his body instead of just his soul. His transformation increases his power ten fold and allows the use of a soul searing fire, flight, and greater resistances. 

Drawbacks/Vulnerabilities: Uncontrolled Change (Magic Beasts), Secret ID, Dark Secret, Exile Voluntary,  avoids science lectures, irrational hatred of religion, fear of death, will not kill

Thursday, June 2, 2022

HAWT gets an Exalted Funeral!


I know I have been silent about this project for some time but when we last left out heroes I was preparing a Kickstarter campaign for Have Axe, Will Travel. Due to college and the order of my projects my kickstarter manager had before more the campaign was on a slow burn. It did not bother me to much because of how busy I was and I knew I would not be able to give the attention I needed to the campaign.

Well, about a month ago an opportunity presented itself for my game to get picked up by a publishing company and given support (which includes a print run) without the need for crowdfunding (it was stressing me out to be honest). I cannot state enough how stoked I am to be provided with this opportunity. 

I have been playing this close to my chest to make sure all the details got hammered out and everything had the green light. This week I was given permission to make the announcement so here it is...

Have Axe, Will Travel is getting picked up by Exalted Funeral!

With this, there is going to be:

  • High Quality Print Run 
  • PDF Options
  • Brick and Mortar Stores will be able to order copies through ACD (so don't forget to support your FLGS)
  • Promotions/Sales

The physical product is going to be 8.5in x 11in black and white saddle stitch eldritch tome weighing in at 52 pages including the covers. It is looking like the physical copies are going to $10 and the PDF is going to be $6. Below is the barcode if you want to prepare to be able to order it from your FLGS.

We are planning to release it during the week of July 15th, 2022!

I want to thank everyone for the support and continued support of this project. It could not have been possible without the support and I am hoping to be able to release more resources for Have Axe, Will Travel in the future.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

S&B: Twin Cities Edition has been released!

After a lot of hard work, my Twin Cities hack of Sword and Backpack has been released. I have been looking forward to this for some time. The “dev logs” can be found here. 

It has been released on Itch. The character sheets are included in the downloads. 

Even though this project has been completed, is it not the end of my love affair with Sword and Backpack.  There are multiple plans I have in the works for this game. 
  1. In the near future, there will be an at cost Print on Demand version from Drivethrurpg. 
  2. There will be a zine that will include rules for character growth and some adventures. I have not decided on a name for the zine or any specifics yet but there will be something soon. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Thoughts on ICRPG


So, I am not sure what this post is really going to be but I have a feeling that it is going to a pseudo review and just my thoughts on the game in the general. 

I first discovered ICRPG when its 2nd Edition was released years ago. I was really excited for it after reading through the quick start and  I ended up ordering all of the books for it and reading through the book off and on. I ran some demos of it at a local store and then I got involved in some other campaigns and my focus for ICRPG fell to the way side. The books eventually ended up on my bookshelf and I moved on to other personal projects. During this time I forgot how amazing ICRPG was and how much it really did things right in my book. 

To be honest, I forgot about ICRPG until the Master Edition was released in conjunction with Modiphius.  I got excited about the game all over again and I picked up a Master Edition copy as soon as I able to. I spent a lot of time reading through it and then I got connected with the Patreon which quickly led to getting connected with the Shield Wall and the community at large. I also had the opportunity to interview the owner of Runehammer Games Hankerin Ferinale, which was an great opportunity. This also happened to be the first interview I have ever done on my blog and Hankerin Ferinale or Mr. Hank as I have come to refer to him as has been great to communicate with. I also cannot say enough good things about the Shield Wall (the community of ICRPG fans and other Runehammer Games). Everyone has been really welcoming and helpful. There has also been some great off topic conversations and I have met some good people. 

Though, what really made everything click into place for me about ICRPG was the videos from Kane. His Youtube channel is called Kane's Kiln and I cannot recommend his videos enough. As I was watching them, I was taking some notes and nodding my head. 

Anyway, before I go on I should probably talk about the system and a few other things first so everyone has a reference point. One of the many design principals behind ICRPG is that characters, rooms in a dungeon, etc. should be able to fit on an index card. Yep, that is what the IC stands for in ICRPG - Index Card Role Playing Game. 

Creating a character consists of a couple steps.

  1. Determine a Concept
  2. Choose Your Life Form (Functions as race or heritage)
  3. Choose Your Type (Functions has class, archetype, etc)
  4. Write a One Line Story
  5. Assign 6 points to the core states (STR, DEX, CON, INT, WIS, CHA)
  6. Calculate Defense (10 + CON + Loot Bonuses)
  7. Assign 4 points to Effort (Basic, Weapon, Gun, Energy/Magic, and Ultimate)
  8. Locate Status Information (All heroes start out with 1 heart - 10hp, there is a space for a hero coin, and a mastery track)
  9. Record Abilities (these are things that are intrinsic to your character, can't be lost. Characters start off with one and can gain more through progression)
  10. Record Powers/Augments (If playing in setting where these are used)
  11. Get LOOT! (choose one starting loot from your type and three basic loot from your world)

With everything recorded, you add up the appropriate bonuses and are ready to go on an adventure.

The basic resolution mechanic is 1d20 + modifier vs. a target number. This resolution covers everything. With this core mechanic, it creates three types of actions. Though as usual. GMs can resort to free form percentile chances if a character wants to attempt something. 

And three types of turns once a situation is triggered where play gets broken down into rounds.

I know what you are are thinking, seen one d20 system seen them all right? WRONG! ICRPG takes what you think you know and forges it into something fresh, intuitive, and smooth. The game does this multiple ways.

Target Numbers: So, instead of having different target numbers for different things in the same room or scene, having adversaries with different armor classes, etc. Each room, scene, situation has a single target number. This single target number encompasses all tasks and how hard the adversaries are to hit. If the fiction/ability/loot decides to make a situation or adversary harder or easier, it is a simple +3/-3 modifier to the target number. There are some great resources like target cards out there for quick reference at the table and to show all of the players what the target number is. 

Effort: This aspect of ICRPG really turned on the light bulb in my head and I think it is a part of the ICRPG that really shines. Effort is way for characters to accomplish their goals, especially in extended situations. 

Each character has multiple types of effort they have access to.:

  • Basic d4: Efforts with bare hands
  • Weapon & Tools d6: Damage with weapons and whatever situations would benefit from tool use
  • Guns d8: Damage from firearms
  • Energy & Magic d10: Damage and effort from energy based technology or magic
  • Ultimate: This is usually reserved for critical effects or very powerful and rare technology or situations. 
This means, that during an attempt (such as an attack, climbing the Cliffs of Insanity, cracking a safe, hacking into a mainframe, arguing a point in court, etc.) if the target number is met you get to roll effort for effect. Adversaries and other situations have hearts. Each heart equals 10hp. Once your total effort meets the heart requirements, you succeed at the task. Whether that be fighting a zombie or trying to break out of jail. Sometimes, like trying to break down a door, once you meet the target number, the GM will not have the character roll again to hit the target number and will just have the player roll effort. 

Hero Coin: The all powerful meta currency. Any player can only have one hero coin at a time. There are a 1,001 ways to earn one and other players can gift you their hero coin if they see fit in your time of need. Spent a hero coin, and reroll. That easy!

Loot: ICRPG is a Loot based system and this idea is something I have never seen before. There is no traditional level based advancement or much of a linear advancement. Everything is loot based. Outside of some type/bio-form abilities, all of the characters abilities and bonuses come from loot. A character can have 10 equipped pieces of loot and 10 stored pieces of loot. Only the equipped loot can provide bonuses and abilities. It is also important to remember that loot can be lost, destroyed, and stolen!

That last statement translates as power and progression is not permanent and the characters power levels can go and up and down depending on what loot they have and what situation they are in. 

This also takes away the need for a currency based experience system and currency focus of a setting or adventure. So, in town situations become reliant on bartering which I find more RP enriching. Though there are optional rules to introduce currency in the game as well Kane's system on using coin in more of the loot based way.   I prefer Kane's system myself but your mileage may vary. 

Some examples of loot are:
  • Gilly Cloak: Armor, +1 Defense, a leafy cape, roll EASY stealth in natural surroundings
  • Torch: Illuminates NEAR for d8 rounds
  • Mithril Vest: Armor, Subtract 2 from all weapon damage against you
  • Soldiers Rations: Food, heal 1d4 HP

Movement: Instead of having feet, meters, movement squares, five foot steps, etc. There is near, close and far. That is it - easy to manage movement zones. It makes immersion so much easier and more consistent. 

Recovery and Healing: This game really handles healing well and has an action that any character can take! It is the recover action - take an entire turn to catch your breath, slap a bandage on your arm, gather your resolve, and meet or beat the current target number with a Con roll to recover Con +1 HP instantly. Healing can also happen with magical aid, medical aid, and from various other sources. Honestly, I think the recovery action is pure genius. It really gets rid of the need for a traditional party make up (Healer, Tank, DPS, etc.) and stops healing abilities from being locked behind a certain type. 

The most interesting aspect of this is that it also creates resource management. In a crucial moment do you sacrifice your turn for a second wind and maybe prevent your imminent demise or do you soldier on and help your fellows win the day?

Dying: I have experienced a lot of different mechanics for character death and have written my own. Though, ICRPG takes all of that and throws it out the window. When a character reaches 0 HP, they falls unconscious, all effects that they were doing stop, and a d4 is rolled. You got that many rounds before the character bites the dust. Though there are a few things that can migrate the imminent demise. 

The first one being is that every round after the d4 is rolled, roll a d20 and if it is a 20, you stabilize with 1 HP. The second option is someone else can come to your aid and try to stabilize you with a INT or WIS roll. If all your dying rounds pass, no natural 20 is rolled, and no one comes to help you then that is it! No backdoor, no last chance, no deal with Death or the Devil, and no passing the GM his favorite snacks.

GM Section: This is the Coup de Grace of the whole book! It is THE best GM advice I have ever seen in an RPG book and even dethrones my love for the AD&D 1E DM Guide. The section starts off with the OATH OF THE GAME MASTER!!!

I will let that sink in for minute. Go ahead, take your time. Reread it, light some candles, meditate on it.

Alright, welcome back. So this section covers all kinds of things like:
  • Getting Started
  • Locations
  • Thinking in Sessions
  • Sessions Ending/Cliffhangers/Etc
  • Easy/Hard Cases
  • Using Hearts
  • Initiative and Turns
  • Giving Rewards
  • Dynamic Dice
  • ICRPG as Plug-In
  • Story Architecture
  • Three T's
  • Three D's
  • Encounter Architecture
  • Using Cards as Dice
  • Target Numbers
  • Timer Damage
  • Defense Rolls
  • Vehicles
  • Horror Mode
  • Adventure Building the Index Card Way
  • Index Cards
  • Wizards Lock

I could write my thesis on this chapter with a healthy dose of game theory but that is for another time. There is a very important section of this chapter that really helps define how a GM runs ICRPG over other games. This is the...

Three T's: These stand for Timer, Threat, and Treat. This basically means that every encounter has a timer (a time table when something will happen), a threat (monster, trap, etc), and a treat (a way for the characters to overcome the threat). 

For the Timer, the GM rolls a d4 and sets it out on the table for everyone to see. At the bottom of every round the timer tics down. When the d4 reaches 0, something happens. This could be a patrolling monster, a trap is activated, high winds pick up, a door locks, etc. The possibilities are endless. Sorry Mr. Hank, but the GM could even use a d6 depending on the situation or the whims of said GM. I think this creates an living environment where nothing is stagnant waiting on the players actions. I do not know about you but I have been in many frustrating situations where the rest of the party spent why to long trying to come up with and arguing about a plan before entering the next room (I am talking about 30 minutes +). I remember one of these instances, I got so fed up that my character jumped up and yelled "Come on you filthy apes, do you want to live forever?" and charged into the next room. But I digress....

The Threat is exactly what you think it is for the encounter. Is it a monster? A trap? A puzzle? A portal opening? Threats do not always have to be obvious and if the characters are in a dungeon/ruins/haunted mansion/warehouse the threats can change from room to room or however you want to section it up. 

Now we are at the Treat. The treat is basically the key to the puzzle, a way to disarm the trap, the missing scale on the dragon, and so on. It could even be items hidden in the room, secret doors, a piece of a map, a way to deactivate the guardian,  or something to eat. These treats could be out in the open or hidden. The treat could be anything and effective treats should get the players to think outside of brute force and be creative about solving problems. Each threat should have a treat, regardless of how minor.

Before I go into my closing thoughts, there is something else I want to mention. In ICRPG you also get multiple worlds that give you plenty of information that makes it feel alive but there is enough room to make it your own. These worlds span space and time and there is a world for every group. I also think these give a design bases for someone to create their own world. This may just be me, but the term worlds over setting brings to mind the adage, “play worlds not rules”. There is five core worlds in ICRPG that make up its own multiverse if you will. These are:

• ALFHEIM: A continent of kingdoms and conflicts millennia old, all held together in some way by the evil of an ageless dragon called Durathrax. The king has gone missing, powers are shifting, and your friends are caught in the middle.
• WARP SHELL: The cosmos hangs in the balance as our heroes get the ride of their lives on a sentient, space-folding starship with an unerring taste for danger, and a talent for saving the universe.
• GHOST MOUNTAIN: Between heaven and hell, the people of Ghost Mountain fight to save their souls, one bullet at a time. Will the devil get his due?
• BLOOD AND SNOW: Long before the age of technology, a frozen planet holds a primal secret. Tribal folk struggle to understand... and survive.
• VIGILANTE CITY: After the mutant crisis, superhumans begin appearing all over this embattled city. It becomes unclear who the good guys really are...that is, until you and your team arrives to clean up the streets.

Alright, I know a went on a rant about my lost love for the d20. This still holds true but ICRPG is an exception. I think this is because of how smooth and seamless it runs. I really don’t feel like it has anything that slows it down. If I am being honest (sorry for the people I am going to be offend with this statement) ICRPG even makes games like Old School Essentials, Swords and Wizardry, Five Torches Deep, OD&D, etc. feel clunky. I think that is the true magic of ICRPG, it just works, works well, and is flexible. As a person who prefers wilderness scapes and city scapes over drawn out dungeon crawls I can attest that ICRPG works with any play style and it can be as combat heavy or RP focused as the group wants. As stated previously, inside the ICRPG Master Edition there are five different worlds that show you how flexible it can be and functions within these worlds without any major adjustments. You so not need an add on to play in any of the worlds or an additional book or supplemental rules.

Another great aspect that I personally find genius is the use of dynamic dice. One is called Battle Fury - place a d6 on your character sheet at 1 and add that number to the next d20 roll. Every miss bump up the d6 by 1 and use the new number. When a d20 roll succeeds then you reset the d6. The logic behind this is it can can be used in moments where the dice are no one’s friends to help stop a whiffing session. The second one is Spellburn - place a d4 on the 1 and for each spell a caster uses increase the die by one. When the die reaches 4, the caster makes a INT or WIS and if he succeeds, it resets to 1 but if the result is a failure, roll the spellburn die and for that many rounds the caster cannot use spells. This is great for world specific “how magic works” to help to keep casters from becoming to transparent and making the same action over and over again. This brings us to the Blunder - it is a critical fail on a 1 on the d20 with any attempt or check. 

One of my biggest surprises with ICRPG was that I did not feel the need to create house rules that affected any of the core mechanics, character creation, etc. I do have some notes that have come as suggestions from the shield wall that I want to include in my game but they are nothing that affect any mechanics. I do not remember the last time I have experienced this. It was surprise but a pleasant one. I think the only things to watch out for is for the GM to abuse the timer and turn it into a way to punish the players instead of using it to keep the world moving and breathing. 

ICRPG sits in a sweet spot of gaming in many aspects. The design choices obviously come from years of gaming experience with first hand knowledge from multiple games and table interactions. All I can say is pick it up and experience it for yourself and join the shield wall! If for nothing else, then for the layout and the GM section. You can find it here:

Thursday, March 31, 2022

S&B Twin Cities Edition

With my big project almost done, I am able to get back to various projects of love. One of my favorite projects is Sword and Backpack.

With this project, I really wanted to pour some love into so I have spent some time acquiring art, layout, and a character sheet for it. 

The artist I have been working with really captures the style and vibe that S&B gives off. You can find him on Instagram @herbertappleseed or Twitter @lukeryanherbert. He is great to work with. 

I also got back in touch with my layout person Jordan Martin after the holidays and the Twin Cities edition of Sword and Backpack is almost done, just a few final edits.

The final bit of good news is that , James V. West designed a character sheet just for my version of Sword and Backpack. I think it came out amazing and completely captures the idea of the game. There is a single horizontal version and a double landscape version. 

I am really looking forward to seeing this out in the wild. It has been a long time coming and there has been countless changes through playtesting and feedback. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

IOR Membership Cards are Back!


Over ten years ago, I purchased Risus: The Anything RPG Companion and solidified my place in the International Order of Risus as member #635. The membership card quickly became one of my most prized gaming possessions and I was very proud of it. This is in addition to the Companion becoming a great tool for games across the board and rivaling and even surpassing the power of the 1st Edition Dungeon Masters Guide. 

Anyway, in my long distance move my membership card disappeared and could not find it anywhere. I flipped through every book, looked in every box, every drawer, etc. It was nowhere to be found. I reached out to SJR and at the time he was out of cards and as time went on eventually decided to stop doing them so I was never able to get a replacement. 

Now that Risus is under new management , I contacted Dave LeCompte about a replacement and he was able to get new cards made and send me a replacement. Not only did he do this, but he has reinstated the membership cards across the board so new members of the order can get their official membership cards. I think this is a very important, noble, and great thing to do. The entire community and I appreciate these efforts. Also, Dave even included stick figure art!!! Woot!

So, after reading this rant, you are probably wondering what in the nine hells is the International Order of Risus? The IOR is an order for fans of the roleplaying game Risus that adhere to the charter as follows:

Article I - Our Purpose & Motto: The purpose of the Order is to promote, encourage and celebrate Risus, those who enjoy Risus, those who contribute to the Risus community, and the philosophy inherent to its design. Our motto is Imprimatur Domi - "Let it be printed at home."

Article II - Membership Standards: Membership in the Order is exclusive. However, the Order does not exclude members on the basis of sex, age, skin color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, wealth, politics, weight, height, eye color, toenail color, mode of dress, species, quirkiness of speech, religion, specific preference between Kei and Yuri and between the Thin Movie Reviewer and the Fat Movie Reviewer, preference for other game systems, or the lack of any of the preceding. In fact, the weirder you are, the better it is for the Order and the more interesting your personal Clich├ęs will be.

Article III - The Membership Card: Members of the Order bear a physical membership document in the form of a card. This card may be used, for example, to provide access to "all-Risus orgies" hosted at science fiction conventions (should anyone choose to host such a thing). This card must legibly identify the member by number, but otherwise may be of any design. A traditional template is customary, but not mandated, so that the card may be a vehicle for personal expression and/or tiny, tiny animals in need of a raft. Membership numbers unadorned with alphabet codes indicate paid-in-full supporters of Risus. Membership codes prefixed by the letter "C" represent complimentary memberships such as those granted to contributing playtesters, co-conspirators, colleagues, and other things beginning with "C". Membership codes prefixed by the letter "X" represent special memberships, which the bearer must explain if asked by a fellow member. Membership codes prefixed by the letter "F" are forgeries.

Article IV - Preservation, Transferability & Edibility of Card: Members must carry their membership card whenever practicable, and keep it relatively dry. Membership cards are non-transferable and probably aren't edible, though the latter is more a matter of theory than policy.

Article V - Use of Motto and Coat of Arms: Members of the Order are exclusively entitled to emblazon their Risus documents, public and private, with the official Coat of Arms, with the Order's motto, and with any related, cheesy web-graphics provided by the Order for such purposes.

Article VI - Psychic Bedrock: Members must think happy thoughts about Risus at least once per month, in order to provide the psychic bedrock of affection and goodwill on which the game stands, towering over the horizon and broadcasting love to the universe.

Article VII - Casual Relationship with Publisher: Any member of the Order is presumed to be a "pal" of Dave LeCompte, and upon meeting him in person, may - without embarrassment, specific rationale or fear of reproach - ask him to remove his pants. Members of the Order recognize that Dave may choose not to comply with this request, but you never know. Members of the Order may remove their own pants as encouragement.

Article VIII - World Domination: Should any member of the Order, by chance or design, become ruler of the world, he will grant all members of the Order favored positions in his regime (including, but not limited to, well-paid but otherwise meaningless positions in his bureaucracy). Should he fail to do so, and also fail to dissolve the Order by whimsical decree, he shall relinquish his membership in the Order. Members of the Order recognize that domination of a larger area or dimensional multiplicity that includes the whole of the planet Earth is, for the purposes of Order policy, equivalent to world domination for this purpose.

Article IX - The Companion: Members of the Order have exclusive and perpetual access to The Risus Companion, but may extend access in the form of hardcopy printouts provided without charge to Risus gamers at their gaming table. Members recognize that floors, decks, beds, swimming pools and trampolines are the equivalent of tables for the purposes of this policy. The Risus Companion also serves - through specific references - as the Order's secret codebook for unlocking members-only archive files, providing passwords for secret gatherings, et cetera.

Article X - Community & Mutual Affection: Members of the Order will maintain a sense of community by gathering at conventions, game retailers and game clubs whenever possible, and by hugging. Individual gatherings may exclude some members of the Order on the basis of age, depending on applicable statute and how much rampant sex and alcohol is meant to be present, or on the basis of the possible successful invocation of Article VII.

Article XI - Maintenance of Mystique: When discussing the Order with outsiders, Members are free and encouraged to invent secret handshakes, code-phrases, and imply connections to the occult in order to maintain the Order's mystique. All such references should be vaguely (or overtly) titillating when practicable.

Article XII - Gentle Conquest: No member of the Order shall create any publicly presented Risus document (supplement, campaign, et al) that implies that the Companion is necessary to enjoy Risus. Furthermore, no member of the Order will ever suggest that any Risus game, played or described by any Risus gamer (member of the Order or not) is being played incorrectly. It is the solemn belief of the Order that we are capable of much subtler, more creative and friendlier ways of imposing our iron will upon an unsuspecting universe.

The next question is, how does one become part of this amazing order? Well, there is three easy steps.

  1. Purchase the Risus Companion
  2. Be a Champion of the Charter
  3. Contact Dave LaCompte with proof of purchase and he will get you sorted out as soon as he can. 
Also, do not forget to check out Risusverse! A great place where the community hosts their content.