All posts by Peter R.

I have been blogging about Rolemaster for the past few years. When I am not blogging I run the Rolemaster Fanzine and create adventure seeds and generic game supplements under the heading of PPM Games. You can check them out on RPGnow. My pet project is my d6 game 3Deep, now in its second edition.

Quick and Easy Friends

I am all in favour of an easy life. Although I have never played 5e it [D&D] hasn’t changed that much in past 40+ years that I cannot look at a stat block and think I know what that does.

One of the things that I don’t like having to make up on the fly when gaming is NPCs. There is always the danger that the players seek out an NPC early in a game session and before you know it you have been playing them for 3-4hrs and you have no stats or details.

Books of NPCs are always useful and the more detail the better. One of the most popular Rolemaster books was Heroes and Rogues that detailed 24 NPCs at 7 different levels complete with backstories.

Rolemaster NPCs are not much use to most people. 5e NPCs are far more accessible because, in my circles at least, D&D is a bit of a common background. If you are playing any regular fantasy rpg it will not take a great deal of effort to convert from 5e to your favourite rules. For many people of course 5e is their favourite rules. I have heard that a lot of people play it.

This week I found The Friend Folio by Sean Van Damme and Elizabeth Kost. The book details fully worked ‘sidekick’ NPCs. They are pretty much drop in and ready to go. The book contains 20 sidekicks and is very well presented (see below).

Dwyn'Du example card

Now, I don’t know what a Shadar-kai Expert is, but I don’t need to know. I can pick that bard up and run with it/him without having to fall back on improvising something and then having to pick my notes apart after the session to build the character.

I have been gaming with the same group for 36 years now. This means that a) they know most of the stereotypes I come up with when I have to improvise and b) they know the Heroes and Rogues NPCs because they have either met them or used them themselves over the past three decades.

This set gives me a whole new set of personalities to play with.

Domains Horror

It is impossible to hang out with TTRPG designers, follow them on twitter or any social media and escape a near barrage of Kickstarter campaigns. Some are eagerly awaited and there is a flood of advocacy as people get excited about new books and games. Others are indie developers trying not to look desperate to get the minimal funding to make their game a reality.

Then there are the few who are doing things differently.

Domains is a horror genre game written by FIlip Lončar under the Ordoalea imprint.

FIlip Lončar cannot do a kickstarter campaign, to put it simply they just are not allowed in Croatia. Instead the game is out on DrivethrRPG with a full explanation of the situation.

In addition there is a record for the total earnings and the total that needs to be earned. At the time of writing that stood at 13% of a €3000 total.

This ‘everything laid bare’ approach appeals to me. It is not a kickstarter but it has the same functionality. If anything it is more like an IndieGoGo campaign as Kickstarters are all or nothing whereas IGG allow a partial successoption.

I really hope you will check out the Domains page before reading the rest of this post or directly afterwards.

When I did I had a few questions so I made contact with Fllip over Twitter and then email.

Here is a bit of our conversation, with Fllip’s permission.

Peter: What made you start writing Domains Horror?

Fllip: Honestly I wanted a good horror game. I never knew what kind of game I was looking for until I played a few narrative games and realised that NARRATIVE games ARE the way to do horror. Horror is all about the feeling, the story. And narrative games work with that. As no narrative game had the “right amount of crunch” I decided to make my own.

Peter: What makes the system stand out?

Fllip: Well the fact that it’s a ttrpg, but it shares a lot of things with narrative and pure storytelling games. I tried intertwining the core resolution mechanic with the narrative parts of the game.

Peter: It makes a change to read about a horror game that doesn’t mention Lovecraft or Vampires, is there a central ‘evil’ behind Domains?

Fllip: Well there is. But as Domains is a Horror Roleplaying System, it’s intended to create any kind of Darkness (the evil you mentioned) yourself. Meaning that this is a framework that you can use to create a Lovecraftian story, or even a Sci-Fi horror where the evil is in fact corporate greed. Everything is possible with this framework. Well some homebrewing and hacking required.
But all in all the game DOES lean towards Lovecraftian horror, while it’s not stated that way.

Peter: You have used a phrase I am not familiar with. You say the GM section advice enhances the possibility of bleed. What does that mean?

Fllip: Well BLEED refers to the transfer of emotions and feelings from the character to the player. Basically it’s all about making the player empathize with the character. THAT is what gets you scared. The realisation that the game feels so mundane and everyday that it could happen to you.

Peter: I see you also have a light OSR game. Is Domains your biggest project so far?

Fllip: Well the light OSR game was a test of my writing skills primary as I constrained myself to ONLY 2 pages. But so far Domains IS the biggest game that I have made public. I do have a few other games in planning (Shambler, Falling Star Isles, and a few more).

Peter: What does the future hold for the Domains system?

Fllip: Well for the future? I’m planning a few Domain books (settings), an Advanced Rulebook (more options, and a few more “frameworks”, like item creation, and other things to allow people to tailor make their experience with the game), and maybe a few Story books (campaigns). But the biggest thing I think will be in the future is the Open Domain Licence. Which will allow others to make their own Domains based stuff!

Peter: Is Role Playing big in Croatia?

Fllip: Not sure. In my town it’s about… Erm… 15 people playing? In total in the country I would say it’s about 2k players. So not so big IMHO. But it’s on a steady rise due to Critical Role and other game streams.

You can follow Fllip by following the Ordoalea Publishing twitter account https://twitter.com/OrdoaleaP.

If you like horror role playing and you like narrative games then I hope you will check out Domains and at the moment it is discounted to $5.52. That is not a lot to spend to support an indie developer that is trying to overcome obstacles that most of us take for granted.

HOPE Playtest

I randomly generated a mission, to raid for armory resources, and followed through to create random challenges.
Starting play I didn’t use the travel rules as hex crawling it really not my thing. That being said there is a 8 step procedure for hex crawling that will create the world before the characters complete with encounters with mutants and caches of resources.

My adventure started at an ambush, there was a raging sand storm and dragged across the road was a rusted out wreck of a school bus. Our truck slowed down suspecting a trap but the raiders had second guessed us and set their ambush so far in front of their barricade that our cautious position put us right on the perfect ambush site. There was a short fight during which my PC was thrown clear of the truck just before it exploded. The attacker was a huge humanoid that appeared to be covered in chitinous plates of natural armour.

The beast quickly disappeared into the swirling sand carrying the inert bodies of two of my team. On investigation of the wrecked truck the fourth member was clearly dead. I scavenged what equipment I could from the wreck and set off the track the beast. I had noted the direction it went and had a compass. As it turned out it was heading straight up the road past the old bus and towards the point marked on our mission maps for an old arms dump.

I followed as best I could until I reached what appeared to be the dumps location but was confronted with a forest of giant fungi. Approaching cautiously I was caught out when it started to belch out spores that made me dizzy and eventually blacked out. I regained awareness to find the fungus beating down on me but I struggled to crawl out of the mutant plants reach. My body armour had protected me from the worst harm but I wasn’t about to go in there again.

I had no means of making fire, which was my first instinct. I prowled around the bunker looking for a way in and eventually I found the egress point but still needed to get past the mutant. Finding a point where the wind would carry the sound of my rifle away from the bunker, I doctored some bullets to make flare out on impact, hoping that would do more damage to a fungus than a neat hole from a bullet. It took a fair few bullets to eventually rip the visible parts of the fungus to shreds but eventually I had a clear path.

Once I got to the door it was clear that the locking mechanism had been destroyed long ago and I could slip inside. What I was faced with looked like a giant nest made of all the wreckage of furniture from the original interior but no massive mutant or comrades. There was an open door leading to a passageway that turned out to be a gantry at ceiling height looking down on a cavernous warehouse of military gear. This is far more than we had been lead to expect. It would never have all fitted into our truck. A movement caught my eye down on the concrete floor.

The beast was down amongst all the crates. I unslung my rifle slowly hoping it hadn’t seen me. At that point I realised it was feeding and it was feeding on one of my colleagues. I carefully took aim and opened fire. I hit the beast and certainly got its attention, it then charged up the gantry towards me. A lucky shot brought it down as it was about to smash me into a pulp.

I very cautiously investigated the rest of the weapons dump and unfortunately my colleagues we both dead. There was a garage at the back of the place with a jeep, and that probably saved my life. I loaded it up with what I could. Secured the place by blocking the main entrance with debris from the nest and then tried to get back to Hope settlement.

All of my playtest was randomly generated, from the stats for the mutant fungus to the beast living in the weapons cache. My mission was to raid for just a handful of arms resources measured in in ‘units’. The random encounter actually specified an entire arms cache.

In this adventure I got to test drive the random adventures/missions, the skill system and combat. All in all it was fun to play and worked quite well. The negative was that the playtest PDF is scans of pages and as such you cannot search it for text. That lead to a lot of scrolling back and forth to find rules. The playtest rules are 79 pages so I was disinclined to print them off, although that would have solved the problem.

If I was running a session for other people I also would not be rolling for random events during the session. A little prep goes a long way in making games play smoothly at the table. The small adventure above took about two hours to play out from starting character creation to jumping in the jeep to head home. The key moment was rolling a critical for my attack in the round where the beast was in melee range but I still had my rifle loaded and ready to fire. If that attack had been anything less than a critical then the balance of power would have been very much in the mutant’s favour.

Does the game work, yes it does. Was it fun? Yes it was.

The combat is very dangerous and it could easily have turned into a TPK. If you are going to fight then at a distance and behind cover is by far the best idea.

I am not too sure about the setting. It is set 200 years after a nuclear armageddon and to my mind I cannot imagine that much 20th century military hardware surviving for 200 years. I was imagining it to be nearer nearer 20 years than the described 200 but that is personal choice and foible.

The game is a fully funded kickstarter  and it is in the process of unlocking stretch goals.

HOPE is a fun game, a bit more bleak than MY:Z but definitely in the same vein as MY:Z and Gamma World.