Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Mausritter lessons

I really do not like actual play reports. I get why people write them, but I'd rather have them be vague lessons for how this game ran and how it could apply to yours. 

Anyway, Mausritter is a dope-ass game with dope-ass mechanics. Not entirely suited for online play but what the hell. I posted an advert to (mostly) D&D groups in the country that I live - most people there enjoy 5e, so I got few responses. 

[alpha] It helps to be honest about the type of game (mechanically) that you're running.

I ran Honey in the Rafters - and it is incredibly good; great setting, treasure, encounters. I [beta] struggle with ratcheting tension in conversations, which was how my players decided to interact with the cultists. I guess playing the NPC as faithfully as possible helps, but humour and drama have their place (namely the sugar addicted cultists offered their sticky hands for the players to lick.)

[gamma] It was also difficult orchestrating first meetings. I have a tendency to jump on mechanics if they seem cool, but leave them when it would mean essentially instadeath. "What makes sense" doesn't always run, but "what is reasonable without good payoff" seems to run. I far prefer it when I let the dice fall where they may, which is why I enjoy OSR play. This happened with a tricky first encounter with Stig, where a Running save sorta made one character fall into his clutches. Only then did I roll a Morale.

Also, I really don't like online play because [delta] I am very easily distracted by things going on online. It has led to more than one mistakes when listening to players. I could still zone out, and then ask for a "caller" role to clarify exactly what was said. 

Finally, [epsilon] rulings are actually kinda hard. I had to backtrack on how caltrops work even after I had rolled quite a few damage dice. In retrospect, it was a good decision (d4 damage, or use action to sweep away), but still.

Lastly [zeta] I had a weird moment where I had to run large groups of characters against each other. I simply repurposed the Warband rules (although the rules are for far larger groups) to simulate the combat quickly. Up the damage dice here, lower the damage dice there, etc. 

When it comes to Rulings, I am reminded by the excellent OSR advice in Electric Bastionland. Especially just how one should make them. Using it on an Into the Odd inspired system just works.

Quibble with the Mausritter layout. I found myself flipping quite a bit when it came to character stuff/rest and overland travel. Minor, but still not as clean as I would have liked it. Will probably become better.  

Now for some beasts - easily portable into your Into the Odd game.

Tarentaal | 7 HP, Armour 1, STR 11, DEX 14, WIL 8, Beak (d6) or Talons (d8)
- A massive bipedal bird, red crested with speckled feathers. Four mice can ride it.
- Noted for its speed and ability to glide. Difficult to train alone.
- Makes all DEX saves with Advantage
- Wants: Safety in a flock and food.

Capybara | 10 HP, Armour 1 , STR 10 , DEX 15 , WIL 12 , Bite (d8) or Trample (d10), Warband Scale
- Gigantic semi-aquatic rodent. Agile on water and land.
- Their musk (if you can get it) is used in perfumes and potions. Rarely alone, very knowledgeable.
- Wants: Good conversation, gossip and some new leisure activity.

Capybara Families
1. The Ruda - Extremely close, work together
2. The Tupa - Traditional, take offense easily
3. The Hidra - Lazy, waterbound mostly
4. The Irasema - River traders, know many tidbits
5. The Caique - Ferrymen, can confirm/deny rumours
6. The Kauan - Warrior clan, you can hire them.

I despise being unable to process

I live with what seems like a pretty mild (but nonetheless debilitating) form of anxiety and/or depression. I am on treatment, and very carefully control my sleep hygiene, try not to drink alcohol and not to eat extremely chemically flavoured foods, and try mindfulness/meditate every day.

It's been central to how I now view the world. I became quite aware of just how absolutely different my thoughts would be about exactly the same person or situation one day to the next, or minutes after meditation. I realised just how much it seemed to do - a jokey comment would grow malignant in my head, swallowing all thoughts, leading to (sometimes painful) tension in my breastbone. 

I am well aware when I do feel like that - once I would try to think myself out of it, but alas, that fed the fetid beast. No, the only ways it would retreat would be to target the...sympathetic (in medical terms), or emotional content of the situation. This for me is impossible without medication - I really tried sleep, food, exercise, meditation. 

Once I calmed the mind, and examined the emotional earth out of which my thoughts grow, was when I could process events. Instead of the maddening two-dimensional emotion-thought, I could layer it. See the other joke, why I should not care, why it was not this impossible situation, but a product of my own mind - created by it, fueled by supposed logic.

And I wonder how many live like that? Unaware of how much anger, pain, anxiety or happiness clouds simple thought, simple perspective. I'm sure many are aware of how anger can do that, but otherwise?

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Δv/Belta: Ships & Space Combat


Your Ship already has…

  • Airlocks, but no Spacesuits

  • It is Small

  • Basic Comms, Impulse Navigation and Data Drives

  • Basic LuxSpeed Engine.

  • A Piloting console

  • A Weapons console

  • A Hull 

  • A fuel capacity

  • A small galley, and living quarters for 6 of your crew. 

  • Extra space in the ship for three additional Upgrades or Cargo. 

  1. You have three Stats: Pilot/Hull/Weapons. Plus 3 open Slots for Augments or Cargo or whatever else.

  2. Assign 1/1/2 in those 3 Stats.

  3. Pilot and Weapons point equals a d6, called a Stat Dice. Your first Hull dice is fixed at 6, the next ones add 3 to the Hull Stat Dice value.

  4. The Hit Protection of the Ship equals Hull Stat dice multiplied by 3.

  5. Total Fuel capacity is equal to (Pilot Stat+#Captain/s)x6 

  6. You may purchase one Upgrade. The crew starts with a debt of that upgrade. 

  7. Choose a name, and traits. 

Ship Combat

As always, make judicious use of common sense. For example, a drone attack would be resolved only after everybody has acted (to allow for the drone to reach the enemy ship)

The basic procedure goes as so:

  1. Everyone at the table declares which console they are in. Any useful skills the PCs can justify allow that PC to roll twice.

  2. Roll group initiative 1-3 the PCs act, 4-6 the NPCs act.

  3. Resolve Upgrade attacks (hacking, tapping comms, drones etc)

  4. Resolve Piloting tactics (ram, Luxspace jump, high-grav turn)

  5. Resolve Weapon attacks

  6. Repeat 

The Mechanical Attack goes as so.

  1. Each Stat or Upgrade has a value equal to the number of dice you can roll. (2=2d6, 3=3d6) Each Player in a console rolls a dice, along with the dice of the Console/Upgrade. 

  2. The total number of the Stat Dice is counted, with each Player having one dice they add to that total. 

  3. You roll to attack, I roll to defend, we roll any Advantages, advantages do not stack.

  4. If the defense is higher than the attack, it does nothing except protect the HP of the defender. If the attack is higher than the defense, HP is subtracted according to the difference. 

  5. Any 1’s on the dice impose a disadvantage, with advantages subtracted first, single dice rolling at a disadvantage.

  6. Tactics by the Pilot can impose a broad advantage on all PCs in an Upgrade, Pilot console or Weapons Console. They also impose disadvantages. 

It is recommended that each person, in each console, has their own dice. When a Dis/Advantage is imposed, you resolve it per player.  


Each player adds a d6 to the Stat Dice, relevant advantages get ADVd6. Example: Ship has a stat of 2, adds 2d6. Pete and Wam each add 1d6, for a total of 4d6. If Wam has ADVd6 one d6 would be rolled twice, using the highest roll.

When you attack, the players in Weaponry add a d6 for a stat point, and a d6 or ADVd6 for participation, to beat the combined Pilot Roll+Hull points of the opposition. If the weaponry beats the opposition's Pilot+Hull Stat Dice, the difference is damage. The same thing is done when being attacked. A 1 on a dice leaves progressive dice being rolled at a DisADV. Example The Weapons:1 fires. Two PCs man it. the rolls are then 3, 4, 1. A DisADV is imposed, starting on a PC Dice. Next Roll: (2,5), 3, 4 = 9 Next Roll: (3,4), 1, 3 = 7. Another DisADV is imposed. Next Roll, (2,3), (1,5), 4 = 7. Any ADVs are cancelled first.

Pilot Tactics

These are very much last moment plans. It should also be understood that these are barely the only plans - environmental aspects can be used as Pilot tactics, and should be improvised or planned for in play. Write them up.






Ram Your Hull into another

Enemy Hull Damage

Self Hull Damage (Smaller vessel or Hull Stat Dice difference)

LuxSpace Jump

Phase into LuxSpace for a couple minutes

Cannot be damaged

Next Round, Defense=Hull Stat Dice.

High-Grav Turn

Turn ship, causing HighGrav

ADV to Pilot Defense

Next round rolls have DisADV


Stop ship relative to nearby star

ADV to Weapons/Upgrades

Next Round Defense has DisADV


Switch off all ship systems

All opponent attacks are at DisADV

Cannot act next round, Boot up. 


The slots are essentially always cargo holds, until you dedicate it to a Upgrade.




Landing Gear

Allows you to Land on a Planet


LuxNav AI

Halves LuxSpace Travel


DeepSleep Quarters

Allows up to Six DeepSleep for LuxSpace travel


Secret Cargo

A secret cargo hold


Drone Bay

Allows a 3 drones of various uses to be docked


Hacking Console

Allows for hacking of systems



Spacesuit storage and refueling


Med Bay

Allows for 1d10 healing time


Dedicated Work Bay

Allows for Advantage or preparation in a specific subject. Farm/Dojo/Weaponry/Science/Animal Pen


Additional Weapons

Another Weapon Fitting (allows an increased damage dice, Special effect or more dice)


Additional Quarters

Allows space for 4 Hired Crew


Ship Traits



Inside Space



Distinct Smell


Sound dulled inside

Oddly Proportioned 

Slogans across Hull

Rattling Pipes

Feels Cramped

Banged up

Creepy Silence

Feels Spacious



Badly Lit



Brightly Lit



Inside Look

Found abandoned


Sharp Angles

Barely used

Old Model

Dull Paint Job

Previous name famed

Corp prefab 

All curves

No records (wiped/lost)

Bog Standard 

Industrial Aesthetic


Historically significant specifications 

Colourful Paint Job

Station Module (Bar/Home/Clinic/Farm etc)

Modular Layout

Baroque Facades

Space Travel

Ships all have a Lux-Engine. Interplanet travel uses impulse, Interstellar travel uses LuxSpeed through LuxSpace. LuxSpace is a type of universe having outlived 3 universes before ours. Like a capricious sea it requires focus to traverse, with a live crew, or an expensive LuxNav AI. Failure to prepare for LuxSpace travel has resulted in madness, ghost Ships, raiders and entire fleets disappearing.

LuxSpeed engines are Basic, or Complex. Complex Engines are pre-fall, and cut the time travelled in half. Basic Engines can be fine-tuned at great cost for a single trip of half-time. A LuxNav AI halves the time. An awake competent crew-member halves the time.

I assume essentially “units” of distance between stars. A Basic LuxSpeed one unit trip, no fine tuning, Deep-Sleeping crew, no encounters and fortunate LuxSpace tides, is a 144 days of just waiting.

Designer’s Note: 144 is a 12 squared. 12 has a bunch of factors so you could divide by two for quite some time before you hit a single indivisible number.

Travel inter-planet is 1 trip:1 fuel per impulse trip in a system.

Per unit LuxSpeed trip with working, living crew 1 unit:2 Fuel per person+engine.

Per unit luxspeed with Deep-sleeping crew 1 unit:1 fuel per person+engine.

Ship augments requiring energy increase the fuel cost by 1 per upgrade.

Sleeping on your trip means you could get lost (if no dedicated luxspeed navigation computer), or captured en route.


However you wish to flavour it, Deep-Sleep is cryogenic, hormonally induced, or whatever else. LuxSpace is mildly stressful, and boring, and DeepSleep allows for maximized resources. 

LuxSpace Encounters

Roll 1d6 per unit of Travel, 6 is an encounter.

Roll 1d6 if an awake crew, 1d12 if asleep. A LuxNav computer counts as if the crew is asleep.


Gravity Well (+d4 Fuel cost)


Black Hole (+d12 Fuel Cost)


Lux Tide (Lost)


1d6 Lux-Raptors (Extremely Dangerous)





Lux Piscean School (CCC if caught)



Systems Failure (+12 days)



Raider Ship



Transmissions (1-6 Chance to have value)



Pre-Verse Lighthouse (Means Beware)



Abandoned Ship



Appear in Nebula (5-6 Systems Failure)



Please let me know what you think of it in the comments!

(Also, as for the name: Belta, Δv or something else?)

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Pen & Paper Tavern Games

A person, making a world for any Tabletop RPG, will come across a question at some point in their career - whether it be in game, or outside of it; What the hell do my NPCs play as games in their spare time?

Whether your PCs find a place to sit in the crowded tavern of the bustling city-port of your fantasy world, drink martinis and cocktails in seedy bars of cyberpunk metropolii, or compete in the underground speakeasy of your steampunk frontiertown, you will need to come up with some sort of game your players can get interested in - a bar game.

I've seen variations of bar games, here and there. I've seen it done on Critical Role, in my own games, in some sci-fi actualplays I can't care to remember the name of.

So, what the hell works?
This determines how you want your players to interact with the world. When playing one of these games, you do not want them to have so much fun as to abandon the main point of the TTRPG altogether - an addictive minigame. You don't want it to be too complicated, and you don't want it to break the suspension of disbelief, and bring the players rushing back to playing a game for stakes in the real world.

So you want it to be interesting, but not too fun, simple, and (preferably) using in-universe theatre of the mind.

How to recognize a good (TTRPG) game

Simplicity, Playability, Interactivity, Reward. Let's say these are the pillars of a good TTRPG game.

Simplicity: This one is simple - this is a game within a game, you don't want to not play the game you're all here to play. Then you might as well tear one off the shelf and begin playing with those coloured tokens. You want it to be accessible, simply.

Playability: In the end, no matter how simple the game is, you want the game to play well. The no stakes "one roll and you're out" is no fun. Neither is the simple game with the same outcome. This ties into the simplicity and accessibility in your game.

Interactivity: I would like to say this one is the most vital of the bunch. You are here to play a TTRPG. Whether it be online or in mom's basement or at your local gamng store, you are here to play with other people. In this regard, you want the game to stimulate interaction between your characters, and your NPCs - this includes making it crystal clear that your NPCs are cheating, but the characters not knowing that. This can take the form of betting, constant chatter, still pokerfaces; the point is that the very act of trying to figure out the motivations of the others at the table is a vital aspect of this game.

Reward: This can honestly be anything, and is dependent on your table. Your group may just love rolling dice - let them roll dice. They might love upping stakes - give them a betting game. They might not even care about the game, but want the incredbile amounts of cash available winning it - be careful with this one, it could derail your game. Use the latter as an introduction into other parts of your world.


Let's have a look at an unbelievably simple '21' variant one of my players cooked up. The point of the game is to guess the dealers roll.

  1. Each side rolls a 1d20+1d4.
  2. Place bets 1 round. 
  3. Choose to add a 1d4. 
  4. Place bets again. 
  5. Repeat steps 3-4 until somebody folds or cannot bet higher.
  6. Reveal. Closest to, below 21 wins.

We ran this as if they were playing a card game - in a bar in a MagicPunk frontiertown. Simple? Hell yeah, I wrote the rules in six short sentences. Playable? Very much so. Not dull, uses weird dice, tense, not too many moving parts. Interactive? If you don't think being smart and guessing the other's roll, reading them and then betting is being interactive, then leave. Reward? The reward can be in the money, in the tense dice rolling, or the players jeering people on.

The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons First Edition Dungeon Master's Guide had a list of gambling games on page 215-216. They are clearly in the "normal people gambling games" category.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

On Planes: Faraway

It was estimated by the grand Magi of Tarr that the exact number of planes is somewhere in the thousands. Lay knowledge claimed only a couple of these, with spurious rumours of others which the Magi doubted exist. 

The thinking has somewhat changed over the past couple years, with disastrous experiments to measure the circumference of the world. The Professors in the Academy have devised a new theory, one which makes stuffy Magi huff and puff in annoyance. 

It is the idea that the Planes are one plane. One, impossibly large, and possibly infinite realm wherein all the possibilities of the material exist. They have named our region the Mundane, but as the urban legend would tell it, after overhearing a confused conversation by students high on Isle Zgentil 'shrooms, dubbed the rest "The Faraway."

Academy Professors are entirely correct. In fact, the Plane teems with life, personalities, and of course, the City. Many names exist for it, all of them entirely correct.
Chaos and Law are the winds, or currents, across this Plane. Think of the hairy ball - Chaos is that which cannot be combed flat. 

The Bureaucracy of Daey

The Nine Dukes rule this massive, impossibly large bureaucracy. An opulent Jade palace with numerous demon accountants and committees, the Dukes living in opulent penthouses. Intensely non-euclidean in the most frustratingly bureaucratic manner possible.
This sprawling administration of souls is a gigantic pagoda, built on an island of amber, harvested from those Aster Whales. Burnt to keep the smell of the putrid acid sea away.


The maelstrom of thaumic currents. Matter has no say, thoughts have their way, fears come alive. Apprentices not versed in planar elocution find their energies inevitably drawn into it.

Fey and Fell

Reflections of the Mundane, most say, but more probably either the flotsam and jetsam of the Mundane, or that which give the Mundane its depressive or joyful elements. Both are considered extremely dangerous.

They can be understood in many different ways. Where the Mundane is normal growth, Fey is cancer, Fell is wasting. Where the Mundane is a sine curve, Fey is an erratic line which breaks the axes, Fell an imperceptible line infinitely close to the x-axis.


Otherwise known as the Eyrie. Home of the celestial Dragons, corresponding to the Elements; Water, Earth, Air, Fire, Metal.

A peak, reaching to the heavens, or so they say.

Elemental Planes

So pure, as to immediately destroy all Material around it. Water is pure, so is Earth. These are not to be messed with. As Madness is Chaos, this is Order.


The Deep sea. The primordial. From its depths come those that no man will ever conceive or ever know.

(I like to think of this as the Immer from China Mieville. Just as endless/timeless. Those who travel to Apsu, or the surface thereof, find themselves in a cavern drip-dripping with dark water.)

Kur, or, the Forgetting

Every thing in the Plane has a lifespan, and eventually, these things slowly get eroded over time. If not remembered by those that can see, they are forgotten.

This is where those that are dead or in the process of being forgotten, are. Go deep enough into the earth or sky and you will find yourself there. A grey sky, dust for miles, and ruined buildings with strange people that stumble and grope in dim memory. They eat dust, never to be filled.

The Sky

Where the Mundane is below, Apsu is...somewhere, and the Mundane is "above" them, the sky is above the Mundane. Go far enough out, and things do not make any sense. Suns stand still in the air, stars wink out, air becomes solid. It is possible to travel through here using those ships of the ancients to the other lands, faraway.

The Sun, Moon & Stars

It is frighteningly confusing. In some cases, people land on small balls of earth in an unbreathable climate. In others, the land below winks out, to be replaced by a coloured country. Travel far enough, and you end up back in the Mundane. Are they part of the planes? Are they portals? Gods? In some cases they are, in others not.


Where the hell are the Gods?

I do not know, but I'd like to think of them as emanations of the Universal Current. Self-Aware (if that is even close to the right term) hyper-consciousnesses, like a 11th dimensional bird swarm.

If they are emanations of the current, then technically they are planes. This does mean you can travel "into" a god.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Towards SF Knave, or, Belta

I ran this game once, using the system Offworlders. It ran for a couple sessions, and I never felt comfortable with it. I do get Storygames, it was the longest pet peev of mine that I didn't grok them. Until I did - just do what it says on the box.


I want my own SF hack. I checked out SWN (too much), Impulse Drive (Storygame), White Star (your classic OD&D clone), Any Planet is Earth (haven't really played it yet, but it feels a bit vague to me.)

I want my own, and I used Knave because it's a toolkit and "HACK ME" is written all over.

Main idea - make it simple, and something which can be used quickly. A pick-up-and-play affair which sticks to the basic mechanics in Knave to make something newer, and broadly compatible with SWN and other OSR products. Allow for customization, but keep that simple, and up to rulings and Group-Rulebook interplay.

I had several ideas, like adding back classes and item-class-slot customization, but I eventually threw them away, might add them as supplemental.  The biggest "issue" that struck me was essentially that the Knave inventory system is barely suited to SciFi gaming unless you are playing a survival game. Buuut, the slot system is still neat, and I thought I'd still use it - only it'd become a central feature of your characters background and abilities, and not just a way to track weight.

Call this my SciFi Hearthacker


Your Character

Read Knave, just sorta add this to it.

Roll in order. Your Slots are your Con Defense+highest Bonus. Health is d8+Con Bonus.

You get a weapon, an object (healing patch, armour, drone, universal communicator etc) and 3d6x200 credits. Put these in your slots (not credits). Then from the bottom you build your Roll or choose Periods/Augments/Psionics. These reflect things you have done in your life, and/or just pick and choose. They each take up a certain amount of slots. Psionics can be chosen only once on initial creation, and you should choose your Psionic Discipline. Check the pic below for more.

I came up with three basic things. SF staples. A history (in the vein of Traveller), which I call Periods, Augments, as for Cyberpunk, and Psionics with the Disciplines ported from SWN. I gave the d12 some lovin' and made essentially these things.

Psionics rules: All Psion Slots = uses. Level 1 Bio = 5 uses. Level 1 Bio/Telepath = 5 uses split between the two. Recharge after hella good rest, whatever that is - Intense mediation, exercise, watching movies. Nothing which messes with your chemistry because oh boy. You can forcibly use the next level of your ability, but you would need to spend a month recuperating or suffer -d6 to all rolls.


Ship combat can be boring, I wanted to make it not. So I guess involve everyone on some level.

Three Stats: Pilot/Hull/Weapons. 3 open Slots for Augments or Cargo or whatever else.

Put in stats, 1/1/2. Pilot and Weapons point equals a d6. Your first hull point is 6, the next ones add 3.

When it comes to combat each player says where they want to be in the ship. The Pilot, Weapons, Otherwise indisposed (On an augment for example.)

Each player adds a d6 to the "Stat", relevant skills get ADVd6. Example: Ship has a stat of 2, adds 2d6. Pete and Wam each add 1d6, for a total of 4d6. If Wam has ADVd6 one d6 would be rolled twice, using the highest roll.

When you attack, the players in Weaponry add a d6 for a stat point, and a d6 or ADVd6 for participation, to beat the combined Pilot Roll+Hull points of the opposition. If the weaponry beats the oppositions Pilot+Hull, the difference is damage. The same thing is done when being attacked. A 1 on a dice leaves progressive dice being rolled at a DisADV. Exampe The Weapons:1 fires. Two PCs man it. the rolls are then 3, 4, 1. A DisADV is imposed, starting on the Stat point. Next Roll: (2,5), 3, 4 = 9 Next Roll: (3,4), 1, 3 = 7. Another DisADV is imposed. Next Roll, (2,3), (1,5), 4 = 7. Any ADVs are cancelled first.

Not so sure about the HP of the ship. It is possibly a good idea to abstract it into Hull = HP. I'm just not sure how or how much. For now, I'll multiply it by 3.

Roll group initiative each round. Movement is something like 20 units for an average ship. Jumps into Hyper/Sub Space as an action. Stunts can be attempted as per what seems reasonable - assume hacking is against a 6.

Travel is essentially 1 trip :1 fuel per impulse trip in a system. Per Hex luxspeed trip with working, living crew 1 trip: 2 Fuel per person + engine. Per hex luxspeed with sleeping crew 1 hex: 1 fuel per person + engine. Ship augments increase the fuel cost by 1 per upgrade. Sleeping on your trip means you could get lost, or captured en route. For now, fuel is equal to the (Pilot Stat+Captain/s)x6.


Essentially like Knave, with stunts and all. I dunno if I should have floating modifiers (+2) for the customization system or just straight advantage. Throwing 2 dice is always fun. A System Strain is basically just a -d4, -d6, -d8 for all healing and all Checks. System Strain is received using Drugs, Health Packs or Psionic Healing. 


Ugh - I want basics. Treat as per Knave for now. Bow and Crossbow are Gun and Laser-pistol respectively. Laser pistols have 8 shots, Guns have 6. Simple. Armour is Ascending as per normal. All prices on the Knave items multiply by 10.


More powerful = less carry even when they should be able to carry more. Weird but eh.

Space combat could be boring - fair.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Ur-Niligal the Archivist

I was bored so I made an Into the Bronze character. Use as you wish.