Combat Toolkit Nears Completion

Having just a bit more crunch than the core rules the Combat Toolkit has needed a bit more testing and tuning than the earlier rule segments. Can’t wait to start writing the Stealth Toolkit.

To play test the Combat Toolkit I created a throw together, old school dungeon crawl system. Such adventure style is sure to pit the players into combat situations, and it kills two birds with one stone, as some of its novel mechanics are needed for Mists of the Carpathians.

However the dungeon adventures, as an open table, have been popular. There are now multiple player groups delving into the dungeon every week or so. So the next product to work on in earnest is going to be an open table dungeon crawl. This will probably be our first foray into print, rather than pdf only, so this is going to be exciting.

Much in the Way of Combat and Dungeons

I’m play testing the Combat Toolkit and trying to ensure that the way it gets used is explained clearly. Its difficult because of the dominance of the wargame style of the big mainstream game. I attack, I get a hit, you take hit points, you attack, you miss, I attack etc etc.

Here is a write up of a brawl from one of the play tests of All Us Gamers, I have added some “mechanics” and “fiction” labels to highlight the interplay. The Book of Struggles has most of the key mechanics in it other than the injury and healing rules:

Mechanics:

Player Characters

Mike – Doctor with aptitude 4, combat aptitude 0

Daph – Martial artist with combat aptitude 4

Frank – Ex military Private Investigator, combat aptitude 5

(average combat aptitude 3)

Game Master Characters – Gang

2 gang thugs, combat aptitude 3

Gang tough, combat aptitude 5

(average combat aptitude 3)

Game Master Character – Non Participant

Keith, bar keeper. Has a baseball bat behind the bar and his friend Dave the policeman on speed dial.

Fiction:

The players annoyed the gang earlier but moved on. They are in Keith’s bar, discussing their next step in the mystery they are unraveling. The gang members have decided to rush in and give the players a good pounding to “teach them a lesson”, then leave.

GM: The front door to the pub burst opens and the gang you were having words with earlier rush in with obvious intent to attack, no weapons visible. This is a struggle with two action groups, they have surprise giving them the advantage. What is your operation?

Mechanics:

(GM notes to herself that the thugs operation is to match up one on one and start clobbering, so they press the advantage my running at each player swinging fists hard and yelling, -2DN to them (10), +1DN to the players (13) )

Mike: I don’t want to fight, I will duck behind the bar.

Frank: Fair enough, we’ll screen Mike.

Daph: I’ll sweep up my chair as a shield.

GM: Mike, your still in the struggle unless your side advances. Weak link for group results on both sides.

The GM rolls for the thugs, its a poor result given the advantage and aptitudes:

Gang tough: Success, Thug 1: Failure, Thug 2: Dismal Failure

Success point pool 2, failure point pool 5. Group result is Dismal Failure.

The players do OK:

Mike: Failure, Frank: Success, Daph: Success. Success point pool 4, failure point pool 2. Group result is Success.

The players side advances.

Fiction:

GM: Ok, Mike freezes for a moment but then dives sideways behind the bar. Daph has grabbed the chair and swung it in front of the two young thugs, making them flinch back. Frank, you have got into it with the older beardy guy.

Mike: What’s the guy behind the bar doing?

GM: He has stood back away from the fight with an annoyed look on his face.

Mechanics:

GM: The attackers have used up their advantage, its on the table. Mike is not in a struggle, Frank is in a struggle with beardy guy, and Daph you are in a struggle with thug one and thug two. Daph, what is your operation?

Daph: I want to smash Thug one out of the way, holding off thug two.

Frank: And I’m going to gut kick the beardy guy so I can help Daph.

GM: OK, Mike what are you doing?

Mike: I’ll look up at the bartender and hassle him to call the police.

Daph vs Thugs

Thug one: Extra Success, Thug Two: Success. Equates to Extra Success.

Daph: Incredible Success

GM: Its a Hot Struggle. Daph, you swing hard with the chair. It shatters on Thug two, sending him reeling toward the bar with a bloody nose, Thug one gets a hit in giving you a minor wound but you strike back giving him one too. You have the advantage now, how would you describe it?

Daph: I’m free to be in fighting stance for a good kick and balanced to easily deflect thuggish blows and turn them against my opponents.

Frank vs Gang Tough

Gang Tough gets Extra Success.

Frank Gets success.

GM: Another hot struggle. You lay into each other and each get a minor wound, but the tough pushes you back over your chair and you fall prone. He now has the advantage.

GM: Mike, the bartender hasn’t called the police, but he has tossed you a baseball bat.

Daph: Mike, take a swing at Thug Two and keep him off my back.

Mike: Alright.

GM: Ok, Mike and Thug Two are a new struggle. Thug Two is dazed with a serious wound. (Thug two’s operation is to rejoin the attack on Daph from behind, unaware of Mike)

Mike: I’ll just swing for his head and knock him out.

GM: Thug one appears to be trying to push you back toward Thug Two Daph, what’s your op?

Daph: I’ll press the advantage to take his momentum and throw him to the floor with it.

GM: Frank? (The tough’s op is to press the advantage and kick Frank hard while he is down)

Frank: I’ll roll to my left and stand up.

Mike vs Thug Two

Thug Two: (aptitude loss from injury, -1) Failure

Mike: Extra Success

GM: The thug needs to save against the attack, he gets a miserable failure. That’s a knock out and a serious injury. As he is already seriously injured it escalates to incapacitated.

Mike: Oops. Barkeep, maybe an ambulance?

Daph vs Thug One

Thug One: Failure

Daph: Failure

GM: A cold struggle – Thug one rushes in, Daph grabs him to throw down but Thug One pulls Daph down with him. Your both on the floor in a grapple.

Frank vs Gang Tough

Gang Tough: Failure

Frank: Failure, uses a focus which results in Extra Success

GM: Frank the beardy guy tries for a kick, but your roll avoids him and your up on your feet facing him. You have him off guard and gain advantage.

Fiction:

GM: The guy at the bar is on the phone, talking to ‘Dave’ and suggesting an ambulance might be a good idea.

Mike: I’m a bit worried about the guy I brained, I’ll check on him using my medical aptitude.

Daph vs Thug One

Daph: My operation is to get the guy face down in an arm lock.

GM: Ok the Thug’s operation is to push you off and stand up.

Frank vs Gang Tough

GM: The beardy guy looks like going for some kind of kick.

Frank: I’ll press my advantage and go for a straight punch at his jaw.

Mechanics:

Thug One: Failure

Daph: Failure

GM: Cold struggle – you’re both rolling about on the floor trying to get at each other. The thug has a black eye, Daph your jacket is pushed up over your chin and getting in the way.

Gang Tough: Failure

Frank: Success

GM: You land a blow Frank, the beardy guy needs a save. A minor wound. He already has one so it escalates to painful.

Fiction:

GM: Frank, you can see he has been knocked about and is in some pain. He looks like he is going to run for it. Mike, your guy looks concussed. You start doing some first aid to keep him ok until the ambulance arrives. Daph and Thug One are still struggling on the floor under the table now.

Frank: if he runs for it I’ll let the main guy go and help Daph.

GM: The beardy guy backs off, and when he sees you aren’t following he runs for it out the door.

Frank: Daph, need a hand?

Daph: I’ve got this.

GM: The Thug seems to be trying to break off now, what’s your operation Daph?

Daph: I want to slam his head into the floor and knock him out.

Mechanics:

Thug One: Miserable Failure

Daph: Failure, uses a focus but it stays a failure.

GM: you both are banged about a bit, getting caught up in your own clothes, smacking into table legs with your shins.

Fiction:

Frank: I’ll tap the thug with my foot and yell “Oi! Time to give up!”

GM: You can hear a siren in the distance. The Thug scrambles away from Daph.

Daph: No way! I grab him and keep wrestling.

Mechanics:

Thug: Failure

Daph: Success

Fiction:

GM: Daph, you grab the thug as he rolls away and push him face down to the ground, and climb on top of him pinning him down. He is yelling incoherently.

Frank: I lean down and say “Stop struggling buddy, or she might break something”

At this point the combat struggle is over. Daph and Frank both have minor wounds. Thug one has a serious wound. Thug two has an incapacitating wound, but the approaching ambulance means he will be ok. Mike has another beer.

So anyway, we’ve been play testing this sort of battle, another we have is some guys charging into a room with swords to take on a slightly larger force, and it just occurred to me there and then. Classic Dungeon.

So I am revisiting the truly classic dungeon crawl with a new game mechanism. The nearby town is a menu for purchases and quests, and the place to return to after each delve. The dungeon is a vast maze, with levels that are harder to deal with as they get lower underground. Intelligent denizens have little fiefdoms and conflict with one another. Unintelligent beasts wander the corridors. And there are traps. Yes, old school traps, only the game rules make them interesting.

I’ve been designing it to help combat play tests but I think I will polish it up and put it out there.

Now Working on The Mists of the Carpathians Setting.

It is the middle of the 1400s. Vlad III is on his way to becoming Vlad “The Impaler”, Dracula and voivode of Wallachia as he leads Ottoman forces into that realm. There is much struggle ahead of him before he can gain that exalted position.


Against this backdrop the players become characters in a mist shrouded region of Transylvania, where there is much conflict between Noble Factions, the landed Boyars and the Church powers. Teutonic princes, Transylvanian Saxons and Knights Templar each have their secret plans. The Romani peoples, favoured for their skills as musicians, sadly also find themselves a favoured class for enslavement. Beyond the quiet rural areas creatures fey and fell lurk in the wilds, dragons (Dracul), giants (Uriași), werewolves (Vârcolac) and the dread vampires (the Strigoi or the much feared Moroi). The mountains are the source of sorcery, a power slowly fading from the world. Some may master this, and much which lives in the mountains or the deep woods is changed by its power.
The source book being developed describes a forgotten region in Transylvania, the political intrigues of the region, how to create your own factions and major characters for your campaign, and how to throw together encounters and adventure situations for players to engage.
The magic system builds on the skill system in On Aptitude adding sorcerous specialisations and professions, and the character sorcerous power pool. It includes magical conflict, including the ability to posses, using the mechanisms from the Book of Struggles. Those with sorcerous power and much skill may make items imbued with magic and a will of their own. Here are two examples:

The Gloves of Elaine

The beautifully embroidered, burgundy coloured, velvet gloves have the name “Elaine” stitched into their cuffs. They enhance the aptitude of the wearer by 2 whenever using agility to perform actions with their hands.

The enchantress, Elaine, was a woman of the Southern Teutons. Her powers allowed her to make fine miniatures of blown glass, stitch fine tapestries, and to emblazon enchanted coats of arms and symbols on her husband’s armour that aided in his defence and his presence.

20 years ago Elaine was murdered by her husband’s rival, Burn of Anglevise, while Elthic the Red was on crusade. The gloves seek revenge against Burn and his family, wishing to drive the master to steal from them, weaken their armour and weapons, make their surroundings unpleasant, or assist their foes in bringing them down with improved weapons, armour or alliance seeking presence.

The Horse Stick

Durriken the Horseman crafted this stick from a tree deep in the forest where the wild and most hot blooded stallions would stop to drink during the winter migrations. He carved a handle in the likeness of a wild horses head with a flowing mane. The rest of the stick he left in its natural form. The stick, when used to lightly touch a horses cheek or stroke its neck would enhance the wielder’s ability to calm and befriend the animal.

Although Durriken was a Roma leader of much renowned he fell in love with the daughter of a landed man in the township and their son, Remus Pangratiu, became a Boyar who resented his Gypsy lineage. He inherited the horse stick but spurned it, secreting it away.

The youngest of his seven grandsons, Gabriel Dragan, works as apprentice to the Pangratiu stable master. He has his great grandfather’s affinity for horses and has discovered the horse stick among the brick a brac of his late mother’s possessions. The stick has whispered to him and he found himself wielding it on horses he was breaking and has discovered its power.

The stick is urging Gabriel to leave his civilised surrounds and seek a life in the wild woods.

So Serious Work Begins

Work has been ongoing for this setting for some months but it is now starting to take shape. There has been some play test adventures already which are helping to flesh things out. There is still a way to go, we will keep you posted as it develops.