Modos RPG

A New Place for NPCs

In Modos RPG, there is a chapter for monsters. It’s a fun idea, because it saves GMs time by not having to write monsters from scratch, and it gives PCs ideas about the fights they could have in the future. However, it’s very adversarial because it follows the conflict chapter, as if to say, “here’s what you’ll be fighting.” I want the chapter to do more than that.

In Modos 2, there will be no monster chapter, no Bestiary. In its place, a chapter for NPCs, which is to say: everyone besides the PCs. It will follow the last character-creation chapter (Magic), as a way to say, “your character is complete. Feel free to compare and contrast it with these other characters.” Since all characters use the same creation rules, the NPCs in this chapter will be examples, friends, and foes as well.

Yes, it will be a place for players to look up the nuts and bolts of some of the monsters they’re fighting. But the game’s high level of customizability will give GMs more than enough leeway to make those monsters both deadly and interesting, no matter how much the PCs know.

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Modulok
or, Rules Modules Coming

Last night, I somehow jumped ahead to the new modules chapter. I got started by thinking about what the character attributes in Final Fantasy IV were, somehow. Next thing I knew, I had written the concepts for three rules modules in about one hour. The fun part was realizing that a rules module isn’t a full conversion – you could just play the real thing for that – it’s just enough rules to give the right feel or taste to the game.

Example: the first thing that I realized about a Final Fantasy rules module was that characters basically have an unlimited carrying capacity. Then, I remembered how extensive their combat choices were, which are severely limited by today’s standards. And what’s at the end of combat for unlucky characters? Being Swooned. I’m guessing that when I translate this into rules catalog language, there won’t be more than two rules affected for each conceptual rule. Which should make the module easy to plug in, and fast to deliver to the game.

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Hidden Material

First pass on the new table of contents is complete, and things are already looking interesting. It’s as if I’m not doing the writing, but watching some strange creature in the wild… Anyway, the new version should be a little more compact – some of the fat is trimmed – and there’s a secret chapter, as well as a grand finale built in. Let’s see what happens…

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Breakthrough: Magic Items not Allowed in Combat

As I’m writing some guidance for the new GM chapter, I came to an interesting realization: magic items don’t belong in combat. Since that sounds pretty extreme, allow me to clarify. Modos RPG 1.4 has a category of items called “special equipment.” Many of these items allow a character to do things that would effectively raise the character’s level on a temporary or permanent basis. So having items like these in the game plays havoc with the Character Level rule, but since special equipment can be fun, I can’t just throw it out of the game. The solution is to limit what special equipment can do – mechanically. First, special equipment is dramatic, so its use should remain in the dramatic side of the game – with roleplaying and one-roll conflicts. However, if the situation calls for action-by-action shots, special equipment CAN make an appearance in extended conflict (or combat), but it can’t contribute to Progress. Instead, level balance is maintained if special equipment changes the landscape of an extended conflict: by imposing difficulty penalties or changing how postures behave.

For example, your level 2 character has an endless supply of grenades, which are similar to a level 3 or 4 power (spell) like Fire3. If your character could endlessly cast Fire3, that would make his level effectively 10 or higher, not level 2. So instead of going into an extended conflict with an endless supply of grenades, the GM asks you to use a one-roll conflict, with a Physical contest to attack the enemy biker gang. You add your Missile skill points and get a result of 14, saying you “pull two pins at the same time with your mouth and chuck them at the gang.” The GM says you got a Pro, and that “the gang members scatter, leaving their bikes behind to get blown up in a glorious fireball by your grenades.”

Alternatively, you could use your grenades in combat, but instead of causing Physical damage, their effect would be to prevent opponents from entering offensive posture, as an alternative to a Movement action.

These two examples show that character level can be preserved by using special equipment to add flavor to one-roll conflicts or to create options for using skills in extended conflict – instead of creating instant-win scenarios in combat.

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91 game playing rules on the wall...

I managed to streamline 8 rules out of the basic modules on first pass – for an average of 18 rules per module. Not bad.

In the process, I decided to eliminate the Spell Maintenance perk. If a character REALLY needs to maintain at least three spells each round, he can take the new Bonus Action perk for Concentration (the skill that helps to maintain spells).

I mean, if all of your comrades are wearing magical armor that you created, someone failed to inspect the troops as they left garrison.

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Smaller, lighter, faster!

Had to axe some rules today, and move the Bonus Action rule to the Extended Conflict module, where it belongs.

Rules (re-) removed:
Light Levels
Perk Tree
Perk Substitution
Level Points
Perk Contest Limit

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They met in a tavern...

Several brave souls answered the king’s summons. In a small office within the castle, they met Aardak Silverbarrel, a retainer for the king, and as it happens, a valley dwarf. He explained the king’s special need: uniting the kingdom will be facilitated if the king has his own dracon. Most of the summoned parties accepted their task (and the rewards): Lilian, a treasure hunter, Forex, a young sage, Vrutus, a member of the king’s paladins, and the Mistress, an envoy. However, Gile Wolfworth, the only trapper to appear, thought the quest too dangerous, and turned down the king.

While following a map to the dracon’s purported location, the party stopped at a village inn to rest and prepare for a trek along the highway. Within, they met Tyriel, a grey elf who seemed to be acquainted with Lilian, and Aster, a mountain dwarf looking for prestigious work. Forex seemed uncomfortable with an open discussion of their quest, and retired to his chamber. However, the Mistress later discovered strangers lurking about Forex’s room, and the the party went to investigate, they were set upon by cloaked men…

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Additional combat training: worthwhile?

As it stands, the Specialize perk does what Armor Training and Weapon Training do, but better. The Training perks have value; they’re the only way to improve an item’s progress die AFTER you’ve already taken Specialize. But…they still don’t seem to measure up.

Each could improve your progress die, and grant an additional +1 to that result. Or, maybe each is similar to Backstabber, and you get +2 progress when using that item.

In the latter case, a sneaky bastard could use Backstabber and Weapon Training to gain +4 damage to attacking unprepared opponents, with a minimum result of +5. If so, an opponent wearing some of the best armor (d12) would barely beat the attacker’s minimum damage by taking half, and the attacker’s maximum damage result of 11 (d6 +1 +4) wouldn’t exceed the range of the armor.

A +2 bonus is similar to guaranteeing the effects of a die increase, while the die increase just gives you the potential of a higher result.

Another possibility is to increase the range of the Training perks, like Armor Training applies to all armor of a certain Physical Penalty, or Weapon Training applies to all weapons of a certain Size.

Thoughts? Please share!

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New Year's Resolution?
New stuff for 2017

A new year will obviously bring some new rules, but the question is for what are they? House rules? A rules module? A new version of Modos RPG?

Defend (parry): a Pro against a Fight skill ends your opponent’s turn (which also ends his temporary initiative advantage).

Profession: this should be renamed Produce, since that’s what the skill does.

Nova, perk: when you cast a spell that deals P or M damage, prior to rolling spell damage, you can choose to add a point of damage for each additional point of casting damage you take, up to your character level. (The idea here is to make the Mana perk more attractive.)

Lists: Skills, Perks, Gear, and Spells aren’t listed by name in the rules catalog. So what the heck are they? They’re part of Lists, which need to be added to the Modules chapter of the book, and are probably the easiest part of the game to modify. A GM could, in theory, make a completely unique game without touching any of the core modules, and simply creating her own Lists for her game.

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Game Introduction

This covers most of the bases:

Your breath fogs in the night air as you stop to rest. You stand on a mountainside staircase, not fifty feet from the grand balcony that admits visitors to the palace home of the dwarf prince Rabi Guratf. Through no small effort of climbing, conniving, and collusion, you have passed several guard stations to reach this final obstacle.
Somewhere within the palace, Prince Rabi prepares for his momentous speech to-morrow. After months of preparation, his armies stand ready, and he will declare open war on the neighboring kingdoms of humen and mountain dwarves. He has forbidden all visitors on this eve of war.
Some of you are friends of the prince. He has listened closer to his war council than to you, and turned a deaf ear to peace. You are here to make a final plea to avoid the bloodshed.
Some of you do not know the prince, but you know that war is not the answer. You are here to help the prince’s friends reach him, for your own reasons.
Your planning for this adventure yielded three final paths: scaling the palace wall, entering through the dungeon, or walking in the front door. Any route would be difficult for a full-size party, but you’ll be able to manage if you split into smaller groups. You’ve also decided that the overnight guard watch is of a manageable size (about fourteen guards plus a sergeant-of-the-guard), but if an alarm should be raised, you would be quickly overrun unless you can hide long enough for the reinforcements to go back to bed.
Choose a hero, choose a party, and prepare to make history.

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