05 December 2022

Passive Mutations During Level Progression Alternative Rule

In Mutant Crawl Classics RPG, there is a rule on page 42 stating that a mutant character may choose to re-roll a passive mutation upon gaining a level and may burn Luck or use glowburn in the process. In practice, this gives a slim chance of improvement made somewhat greater only at the expense of Luck, which does not regenerate for mutants or manimals, or physical abilities (Strength, Agility, or Stamina), which regenerate slowly and probably not in time to prevent a character from suffering severe disadvantages during an adventure. In addition, there is a significant chance that a character's passive mutation will worsen.

The question I ask myself when I think about a rule is: Is this fun? ("Is this fair?" is another question I ask and is often linked to the first.) Is it fun to survive long enough to achieve the next level just to see one's passive mutation devolve or see it improve at the expense of one's general ability to survive? It seems contradictory. I can understand the risk involved in radiation exposure, which might be to the mutant's benefit or detriment, but that risk is part of the adventure itself, not a rule pertaining to levelling up. It wouldn't be as much of an issue if mutants and manimals could at least regenerate Luck even if it were only 1 point per day. For me, this rule is neither fun nor fair.

So, here's my house rule...

Each time a mutated character gains a level, the player may opt to re-roll a passive mutation. If the roll exceeds the current result, the character's passive mutation improves by one step. If the roll is a 1, the passive mutation regresses by one step. Otherwise, the passive mutation remains unchanged. Neither Luck nor glowburn may be used to alter results.

19 November 2022

Idle Musing on Imagination

Some months ago, a friend bemoaned the fact that she had no visual imagination, which is to say, she found it impossible to visualize anything she read, which is why she avoided imaginative fiction such as fantasy and science fiction. In contrast, I find it so easy to visualize what I read that I typically feel as if I have been transported to another world and lose all awareness of my real world surroundings. When I am immersed in a book or an article, I can't even hear someone speaking to me until they tap me on the shoulder or cover what I'm reading with their hand. As it happens, these extreme experiences have names. Apparently, my friend has aphantasia, whereas I have hyperphantasia. It doesn't alter anything, but I find it interesting that a name exists for something I have always — in my case — taken for granted.

23 October 2022

Table: Small Talk

Here is a meaningless little table for randomly generating topics of small talk, chit-chat, and casual conversation when the need arises, whether the adventurers are eavesdropping, actively participating, or overhear it in passing. How these topics may or may not lead to (or evolve into) adventure seeds is left to the reader's discretion. (I probably ought to have saved this for April of next year, but perhaps I can post a suitable variation when the time comes.)

Small Talk

Roll 1d20

The topic is...

1. Aches and pains.
2. Animals.
3. Astrology.
4. Conspiracies.
5. Crime.
6. Foreign lands.
7. Home remedies.
8. Illness or injury.
9. Legendary flora or fauna.
10. Love.
11. Luxury goods.
12. Relatives.
13. Religion.
14. Scandals.
15. The supernatural.
16. Tall tales.
17. Taxes.
18. War.
19. The weather.
20. Work.

03 September 2022

#RPGaDay 2022

RPGaDay 2022 calendar image.

Behold my #RPGaDay of 2022 in all its glory, having originally appeared on Twitter in the month of August.


#RPGaDay2022 1. "To whom would you like to introduce RPGs?": I would like to introduce anyone who is interested, willing, and considerate. Those are my only three criteria.

(I thought my answer would be longer, but that sums it up. I can provide elaboration or clarification on request.)


#RPGaDay2022 2. "What is a great introductory RPG?": I don't believe in "introductory RPGs." I believe in great RPGs that are as enjoyable for beginners as they are for experienced players.


#RPGaDay2022 3. "When were you first introduced to RPGs?": My first exposure to a role-playing product was the Monster Manual (for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons) c. 1977, but the first time I played an RPG was probably early 1981 when I was 11 years old.


#RPGaDay2022 4. "Where would you host a first game?": In my home or in a park. If the latter, a picnic would be mandatory, and a cookout would be ideal.


#RPGaDay2022 5. "Why will they like this game?": Too vague. I can state why I like an RPG, and the main reason is that it facilitates role-playing from the point of view of a character. If an RPG hinders this activity, I will not like it as an RPG.


#RPGaDay2022 6. "How would you get more people playing RPGs?": If I were a genie or other being with godlike powers? By magically enabling everyone to coordinate their schedules on a regular basis.


#RPGaDay2020 7. "Describe a cool part of a system that you love.": The standard trait ladder of Fudge, using adjectives instead of numbers, enables anyone to use the system without resorting to out-of-character game terminology. It's easy, intuitive, and universal.

The trait ladder is: Superb > Great > Good > Fair > Mediocre > Poor > Terrible.

Creative Reckoning: What Is Fudge?


#RPGaDay2022 8. "Who introduced you to RPGs?": My friend David H., whom I have known since I was in 3rd grade. For more information, see my answer for Day 1 of RPGaDay 2019.


#RPGaDay2022 9. "What is the second RPG you bought?": Probably Gamma World 2nd edition at Hobby Center or a tie between Stormbringer and Call of Cthulhu at Gen Con (when it was held at the University of Wisconsin — Parkside in the early 1980s).

To be pedantic, though, AD&D 1st edition would be the second RPG I bought if it's considered a separate RPG from Basic/Expert D&D.

So, the true chronology is
1st: Basic/Expert D&D
2nd: AD&D 1st edition
3rd: Gamma World or Call of Cthulhu and Stormbringer


#RPGaDay2022 10. "When did you start Gamemastering?": 1981 or 1982.


#RPGaDay2022 11. "If you could live in a game setting, where would it be?": My first instinct is to say the setting of Ghostbusters, because I'd really like to be a Ghostbuster as my day job (or night job).

The Ghostbusters about to save the world.

#RPGaDay2022 12. "Why did you start RPGing?": Because it fulfills a gaming desire that is not met by any other form of gaming.


#RPGaDay2022 13. "How would you change the way you started RPGing?": A thread.

By 1) sticking with the B/X D&D rules and using the AD&D books for inspiration when playing D&D,

2) reading even more of the AD&D 1e Appendix N books and B/X D&D Inspirational Source Material (p. B62),

3) resisting the temptation of Monty Haulism,

and 4) trusting myself and my friends to try the games we weren't sure we were ready for. I had some difficulty wrapping my head around how to run Gamma World and a few other RPGs, worried that I might do it wrong, and I ought to have just plunged in. Why worry? It's a GAME.


#RPGaDay2022 14. "Roll 1d8+1, and tag that many friends and suggest a new RPG to try.": Or I'll just suggest a new RPG to try for everyone who reads this. Try Zorro: The Roleplaying Game!

Zorro: The Roleplaying Game (Gallant Knight Games)

I wrote something about it here: How to Create a Swashbuckler in Zorro.


#RPGaDay2022 15. "Who would you like to Gamemaster for you?": Park Eun-bin. She's my first choice.

Other choices include Rowan Atkinson, Richard Ayoade, Jack Black, Brent Butt, Lorne Cardinal, Felicia Day, Phyllis Diller, Brother Theodore (a.k.a. Theodore Gottlieb), MC Bat Commander (a.k.a. Christian Jacobs), Phil LaMarr, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Elvira (a.k.a. Cassandra Peterson), Andrew Phung, Vincent Price, Rod Serling, Orson Welles, and "Weird Al" Yankovic.


#RPGaDay2022 16. "What would be your perfect game?": Perfection is impossible and the pursuit of it leads to madness. That being said, my optimum game would be easy to learn and teach, have rules that increase fun at the table, and enable players to reach their objectives by using creative thinking rather than min-maxing.


#RPGaDay2022 17. "Past, Present, or Future? When is your favourite game set?": It depends on which of my favorite games we are discussing. I enjoy all three.


#RPGaDay2022 18. "Where is your favourite place to play?": In my home or in a park that isn't crowded. I've also learned to enjoy playing in game parlors.


#RPGaDay2022 19. "Why has your favourite game stayed with you?": Because I never discard a game I enjoy.


#RPGaDay2022 20. "How long do your games last?": Sessions usually last four hours. When I was in junior high and high school they lasted about eight hours — sometimes twice a week! Those were the days...


#RPGaDay2022 21. "Share an intriguing detail from a game setting you enjoy.": A sentence from A Guide to the World of Greyhawk, p. 25: "The Despotrix of Hardby now pays tribute to Greyhawk to avoid being absorbed in the growing city state once again."

I wonder how many despotrices there are in the world of Greyhawk.

(The World of Greyhawk boxed set for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, 1st edition.)


#RPGaDay2022 22. "Who is your current character?": Smiley, a Healer in Mutant Crawl Classics RPG based on Wanda from Corner Gas played by Nancy Robertson. She wears a hard hat, jumpsuit, heat resistant gloves and boots, and gets mistaken for an employee by security robots.

Nancy Robertson as Wanda Dollard in Corner Gas, reading a book entitled Scientific Probability.

My previous character (also for MCC RPG) was a mutant gibbon Manimal named Barry Gibb-On. He could throw balls of electricity and, due to a mutation he acquired later, looked exactly like Barry Gibb (except when he was asleep).

Barry Gibb.
A gibbon.

#RPGaDay2022 23. "What situation is your character currently in?": Smiley the Healer is trying to decide whether to try the random unidentified medical drugs she found in a space station or donate them to a charity. (See answer 22.)

Nancy Robertson as Wanda Dollard in Corner Gas.

#RPGaDay2022 24. "When did you start playing this character?": Earlier this summer. (See answer 22.)

Not the most thought-provoking RPGaDay question (or answer), but there you are.


#RPGaDay2022 25. "Where has that character been?": Postapocalyptic Albuquerque and a space station. (See answer 22.)


#RPGaDay2022 26. "Why does your character do what [she does]?": To better challenge her towering intellect, which belies her diminutive stature. (See answer 22.)

Wanda threatens Hank in Corner Gas.

#RPGaDay2022 27. "How has the character changed?": She became a Healer and acquired a yo-yo of the Ancients, which is now her most prized possession besides her medipac. (See answer 22.)

Nancy Robertson as Wanda Dollard in Corner Gas. Monochrome image.

#RPGaDay2022 28. "Roll 1d8+1, tag that many friends with your favourite RPG cover art.": Again, I shan't be tagging friends, but my earliest favorite cover illustrations were by Erol Otus for the Dungeons & Dragons Basic and Expert Sets.

Cover art by Erol Otus for the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set.
Cover art by Erol Otus for the Dungeons & Dragons Expert Set.

Another early favorite is the cover of Stormbringer by Frank Brunner.

Cover art by Frank Brunner for the Stormbringer role-playing game.

#RPGaDay2022 29. "Who would you like to see take part in #RPGaDay?": Dirk the Dice (@theGROGNARDfile) and the rest at The GROGNARD Files.


#RPGaDay2022 30. "What should #RPGaDay do for its 10th Anniversary next year?": This is the hardest question yet. Perhaps visual prompts?


#RPGaDay2022 31. "When did you first take part in #RPGaDay?": 1 August 2017

27 August 2022

Exploding Natural 20s

What if instead of dealing double damage, maximum damage, or a random injury from a critical hits table, a natural 20 means the character gets an extra action (that may be used for an extra attack if so desired)? If that action results in a natural 20, another extra action is granted, and so on. In this case, each natural 20 offers a choice and the potential to make combat more interesting.

I think it's worth playtesting.

07 August 2022

Some Random Topics

RPGaDay situation: My answers for this year's RPGaDay are succinct enough that I decided to continue my tradition of posting them daily on Twitter and collecting them into a single article at the end of August or the beginning of September. If you wish to read them on Twitter, my handle is @Cuparius.

RPG I've played most often in the last year or so: Mutant Crawl Classics RPG

RPGs I've GMed most often in the last year or so: Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG and Ghostbusters 1st edition

Board game I've played most often since the beginning of 2020: Don Quixote

RPGs I most need to run in the very near future: Ghostbusters, Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, Teenagers from Outer Space

Other RPGs I want to run as soon as possible: Savage World of Flash Gordon (Savage Worlds), Awfully Cheerful Engine! RPG, Zorro: The Roleplaying Game.

Thing I need to adapt to RPG for a friend: Tron

Missed deadline due to annual forgetfulness: One Page Dungeon Contest 2022

Ironclad goal for this year: Publish my first zine.

16 July 2022

Last Minute DCC RPG News

Happy DCC Day! For those fortunate to live near participating stores, DCC Day is a Goodman Games holiday celebrating Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. And it's today!

Today is also the last day to support the 2022 Purple Sorcerer Games Free Tools Pledge. It's a free resource highly valued by the DCC RPG community. You, too, can be a supporter, so act now!

10 July 2022

Seeking a Squad Leader Lead

Sometime this millenium, somewhere on the blogosphere or elsewhere in the wonderful world of the Internet, I read a very entertaining tongue-in-cheek article about Squad Leader and Advanced Squad Leader that made me laugh quite a bit. I can't recall who wrote it and I seem to have lost the bookmark, so I am humbly asking if anyone who remembers it can please direct me to it or at least share the author's name and/or the article's title. Thank you in advance.

02 July 2022

Contemplating RPGaDay Again

RPGaDay2022 is around the corner (a corner named August), and this year I am trying to decide whether I should follow my method of the last few years (posting my answers daily to Twitter and then compiling them all into a single blog article at the end of the month) or my original method (posting my answers daily to Applied Phantasticality as individual articles). I know there are those who used to complain about the latter method back in the Google+ days, but I don't know if any of them even read my blogs. Twitter is more convenient, but I am disenchented with it (especially since its possible new owner was announced). As far as reach goes, I have no idea. I have a month to decide, though.

RPGaDay 2022 graphic.
[Click image to enlarge.]

20 June 2022

Free RPG Day and Mutant Crawl Classics Playtests

Tim Snider of Savage Afterworld is reminding everyone that the 25th of June is Free RPG Day and that he is running two Mutant Crawl Classics playtests (also free) via Zoom. Read the details here. Be there!