Everything, By Everyone

The Internet is a crazy place.  A magical, mystical, intangible world of cats, porn, information and every so often, a game or two.  I’m focusing just on the last one for now.  Online games have a lot of advantages over board games in that you have a computer to do calculations for you.  These games couldn’t really ever have a physical version.  It just wouldn’t or couldn’t work.

There’s tons of sites out there solely for games and even more that are for mainly something else, but post a bunch of games as well.  My point is, there are a million and one games on the web.  Personally, I like Newgrounds for my gaming.  A lot of people don’t like Newgrounds as it’s all user submitted, but that’s part of why I like it.  There’s a lot of real gems in there (if you stick to the highest rated lists).  Also, a lot of “professional” gaming sites post their games on Newgrounds as well.  So, I’m here to highlight some of my favorite games from Newgrounds.

The first is a game I first found YEARS ago, called Proximity.  It’s a lot like Othello, but WAY better.  The game is played on a hex grid and each player takes their turn placing tiles on the board.  However, in Proximity, tiles have a strength value.  Only stronger tiles can overtake weaker ones.  This makes the game far more involved.  It’s not just a matter of pattern anymore, there’s strategy and tactics and luck.

The settings for the game are really what clinch it, making it great.  You can really change a lot of the game with only a few options.  You’re open to variants that strengthen adjacent allied tiles or weaken opposing ones, or both!  You can change victory conditions from number of armies (total strength) or controlled territory (total hexes).  You can also change the map around, making an even more dynamic game.

For an simple as it is, Proximity is a lot of fun.  The computer player is smart enough, and the game also allows for hot-seat 2 player mode.

Mastermind: World Conquerer
If you don’t know the Mastermind series, it’s a handful of 10 or so minute short animations and they’re pretty funny.  The fifth one was kinda weird… not terrible, but…. anyway, the spin-off game is a lot of fun.  It’s kind of a Real Time Strategy, but also kind of not.  The game has a great in-play tutorial and I’m not going to even try to explain it all here.  It’s really not very complicated, but it’s just a lot of type out when you could and should just go play yourself.

The highlights of the game are hiring minions to commit crimes for you, hiring henchmen to make your minions work harder, killing those henchmen when they lose their value or get too insubordinate and defending your base from waves of military.  Like I said, there’s a lot more than just this, but the game does well in balancing it all and not making anything too complicated.  It locks a bunch of the options until you’re at the point of the game where you might need those options.

Hex Empire
A lot of strategy games use hex grids.  I mean, mathematically, it’s a slightly more balanced system for moving pieces around a board, and such, but still, not THAT much.  Anywho, Hex Empire is a 4 player war game.  Each player starts in a corner of one of the thousands of randomly generated maps and works their way across the map, capturing towns and sea ports.  Each town, port or rural area captured grants you troops to use in your battles.  The strength of each army is based on manpower and morale.  The addition of these two numbers is that army’s total strength.  Stronger armies defeat weaker ones.  Simple.  This game took me a long time to get the hang of.  It is VERY difficult if you’re not careful.  The computer is smart.  You really have to take your time and rally the troops.

What makes this game stand out, to me, is the morale system.  Each army squad has a morale score.  Winning battles increases morale.  Losing battles decreases morale.  In addition, you have the option of giving an invigorating speech to your troops, greatly increasing morale for all your armies.  The game points out your army “will only buy your rubbish once”, so you can only use this once per game.

All in all, Hex Empire is a lot like Risk, but different enough that it doesn’t feel like the same game.  With the thousands of different maps, no game ever really plays out the same.  It took me a few tries to get the hang of it and before I did, it was a very frustrating game.  Once I won the first time, though, it starting happening more often.

Posted in conquerer, empire, hex, mastermind, Newgrounds, online, proximity, world | Leave a comment

Board Game Geek

Board Game Website

I spend a lot of time looking around for new board games and reading about ones I already have.  There is one site and one site alone I go to for any of my board game needs:  It has (I’m sure) a page for every board game ever produced.  As well as a marketplace for each game, different versions, user images and videos, forums, similar games, uploaded files, popularity stats, web links, and more.  And each game has each of these exclusively for itself.

You can sort games by the BBG ranking, by user ranking, by genre or even by keywords.  It’s a great way to discover new games.  On top of that, a lot of the more popular games have web versions you can play for free in  the web links section of the game page.  
There’s a pretty large community here too.  People are always willing to discuss rule clarifications or point you in the right direction for any help you might need.  The marketplace is mostly player run and a lot of times, people are even willing to trade games, rather than sell them.
All in all, Board Game Geek is pretty great.  Anytime I’m considering getting a game I see in a store, I always check BBG first.  It’s steered me away from some what would have been bad purchases.   So, if you have any major interest in board games, I recommend you check it out.  It’s pretty awesome.
Also, as a side note, tic-tac-toe is the lowest rated board game. I always thought that was pretty funny.
Posted in board, games, review, site | Leave a comment

Combat Runner Tool

4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons Tool

As an aspiring engineer, I’m completely in favor of working smarter, not harder.  Plus, with my penchant for programming on the side, I have a habit of making my computer do my more mundane, monotonous tasks.  I’ve been a big fan of Visual Basic or Visual Studio or whatever it’s calling itself nowadays for a while.  It’s easy to pick up and even easier to make a good user interface without needing to spend too much time on it.  (Again going back to the smarter, not harder thing).

So, when I starting running 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons adventures, I got pretty tired of keeping track of monsters hit points, and attack bonuses and all that stuff.  So, my natural instinct was to make my computer do it for me.  I spent a lot of time on this tool, but it’s still not perfect.  But I figure it’s good enough that I don’t mind sharing it with the world.  I did my best to make most bugs Ignorable anyway.

If you find any bugs, please let me know and I’ll do my best to fix it soon as I feel like it.  As I mentioned before I used Visual Studio, so you might need some drivers and whatnot.  I don’t know where you get them. That’s on you.

Download Combat Runner

Posted in 4th, combat, dragons, dungeons, edition, runner | Leave a comment

Math Scrabble

Math Scrabble is just like Scrabble, but instead of letters, players get numbers and arithmetic operators.  There is a pile of equal signs that players can freely draw from.  Players will always need at least 1 equal sign, therefore they are extremely important and players should never be stuck not having one.  With regular Scrabble, there are vowels, that are required for every word, but with a variety of vowels to choose from, the chances a better you’d be able to use a vowel are higher. Tthis is not true for equal signs, of which there is only one.

For example, if a player has 2, 5, 7, 1, 3, +, and * they could play a variety of things…

  • 2 + 1 = 3
  • 5 + 2 = 7
  • 5 + 7 = 12
  • 5 * 3 + 2 = 17
All numbers from 0 – 9 would be available, as well as Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division.
Due to the lack of parenthesis, players are allowed to do the order of operations in any order they choose.  Placing a “0” before a number is illegal.  
  • 09 + 4 = 13
The above equation is illegal because of the leading “0”.
Because the game is limited to integers and has no decimal point, division can be very difficult.  Noninteger division can only really be done with two division tiles.
  • 2 / 5 + 3 = 1 / 4
The listed above is a legal play.  Because players are allowed to do the order of operations however they’d like, the player can choose to do the 5 + 3 first, making the equation 2 / 8 = 1 / 4, which is true.
Therefore, the tile breakdown is listed as follows.

Tile Number Available Point Value
1 10 2
2 8 4
3 8 4
4 8 4
5 8 4
6 8 4
7 8 4
8 6 4
9 5 4
0 5 2
+ 7 2
7 2
* 6 4
/ 4 8
Blank 2 0
X, Z and Q are uncommon letters.  Because there isn’t really this idea in mathematics, all the number tiles have the same point value, except for 1 and 0, which are certainly more commonly and easily used than other numbers.  This will change the average amount of points a player will have at the end of the game, related to a game of normal Scrabble.
Blank tiles can be used to take the place of any number or operator, as normal.
Otherwise, all the rules that apply to Scrabble also apply to Math Scrabble.
This is still very much a work in progress.  I will certainly be editing this post frequently as I work over and equalize the tile distribution and point values and such.  If you have any input, please let me know.

EDIT:  It was just brought to my attention this game basically already exists.  Sad face.  I’ll probably pick it up at some point and try to improve on it.  A lot of the reviews I read said something along the lines of “Great idea, poor execution”.  I happen to think I’m great at executions.  … … Yeah, that’s right.

Posted in math, new, scrabble | 2 Comments

Hardcore Catan (v1.1)

Hardcore Catan Variant Rules and Scenario (v1.1)
(Updated 3/15/2011)

Catan is a great game.  It combines strategy, diplomacy and forethought into a fun game anyone can play.  However, it’s not challenging.  As much fun as I have playing Catan (and I do), I would never call it a difficult game.  Any frustration comes from other players doing what they can to mess you up.  That’s all well and good, but I love a good challenge. That’s why I went out of my way to work on these new rules and variants for what I’m calling Hardcore Catan.  It’s a couple of variant rules and a scenario that makes Catan a lot harder.

Keep in mind these variants, rules and scenarios are supposed to be difficult.  They are only recommended for people looking for an added challenge.

These rules are mostly singular.  Players can choose to add one or more of these variant rules to make their game of Catan a bit harder.  Some of them require certain expansions, as noted.  Many of the rules also require gold.  Gold comes with the Traders and Barbarians expansion.  However, anything can be used to symbolize how much gold a player has; Buttons, coins, etc.  Rules for gold usage can be found in the Traders and Barbarians rulebook:

New Year
When players roll to see who goes first, the player who goes first marks the New Year.  The start of that players turn marks a new year.  If playing with Catan Event Cards from the Traders and Barbarians expansion, when the New Year card is drawn, the player who draws it now starts the new year from now on.  Some of the Hardcore Catan rules rely on the new year.

Settling Nomads
As a nomadic tribe finally coming to a rest, players start with only 1 settlement, 1 road and 1 gold.  However, in addition to drawing initial resources from the starting settlement, players may also take one additional resource of their choice.

Whenever a player rolls doubles for production, they roll again until they roll a result of anything but a 7.  Whatever number is rolled all chits of that number are flipped face down.  Those hexes no longer produce resources.  Once doubles are rolled again, the famine moves elsewhere.  The facedown chits are turned face up and the player rolls again to determine which chits are turned face down.  Additionally, if playing with Fishermen of Catan, all players randomly discard half of their fish tokens (rounded up) due to their fish rotting.

Thieving Robber
The robber isn’t preventing hexes from generating resources.  He’s stealing them.  When he does, he can now also snag a little something else.  Whenever the robber prevents any player from drawing resources, that player also must lose 1 gold.  The amount of gold lost is not related to the number of resources not drawn.  The player will only ever have to play 1 gold when the robber prevents him from drawing resources.  If the player can not pay 1 gold, he must discard a resource of his choice.

Prison Break (Requires Mega Catan; Chasing Away and Arresting Barbarians)
If playing with Mega Catan rules, when a Mighty Knight arrests a barbarian, that barbarian is placed off the board, in a separate location.  Each time the dice are rolled for production, if the number rolled is less than or equal to the number of arrested barbarians, the barbarians prison break and escape throughout Catan.  Starting with the player whose turn it is, players each place one of the prison breaked barbarians around the board, wherever they’d like.  No resources are stolen during this barbarians placement.

Barbarian Advance (Requires Cities and Knights)
Whenever the Black Ship is rolled together with a “7”, the ship moves two spaces, instead of one on the Barbarian tile.  If the barbarian ship needs to only move 1 space to attach Catan, but moves two during a single roll, the ship is still placed in the starting space after the attack is resolved.

Baggage Train Damage (Requires Traders and Barbarians)
If a Baggage train fails to drive off a barbarian, place a Catan chit (Damage token) on the topmost Baggage Train card for that Baggage Train.   A player may spend the amount of resources that was required to upgrade the Baggage Train to its current level to remove a Damage token.  If a Baggage Train ever has 2 Damage tokens, remove both tokens and the Baggage Train is downgraded to the next lowest level and it loses any commodity token it was carrying.  After a failed battle, the Baggage Train must move past the barbarians as normal by spending extra MP or go around.
If a level 1 Baggage Train ever receives 2 Damage tokens, it is destroyed and removed from the board.  The player may rebuild a new Baggage Train for 1 Lumber, 1 Wool and 1 Ore.  A newly built Baggage Train may be placed at any city the player controls.  Only if the player controls no cities, then it may be place at a settlement instead.

River Crossings (Requires Traders & Barbarians and Rivers)
When a Baggage Train crosses an unbridged river, they are given three options to cross it.  Either by taking a ferry, costing 1 MP and 2 gold; by crossing carefully, costing 3 MP; or by fording the river, taking 1 MP.  If the baggage train is fording the river, that player rolls a die and must roll equal to or less than the current level of their baggage train to cross safely.  For example, an un-upgraded Baggage Train must roll a 1 and a fully upgraded Baggage Train must roll a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5.  Failure to cross safely means the Baggage Train did not make it across the river. The Baggage Train drops the commodity token is was carrying.  If playing with Baggage Train Damage rule, the Baggage Train also takes a damage token. In either case, the Baggage Train may be placed in either side of the river after failing to cross.

No Ties
If two or more players ever are tied for Longest Road, Harbormaster or Largest Army, no player holds the card.  The card is placed off the board and no player receives victory points from it until another player has more than any other player in roads, harbors or knight cards.  If another then ties that player in roads, harbors or knight cards, the victory point card is immediately placed off to the side again.

Vicious Barbarians (Requires Cities and Knights)

Determining Barbarian Strength
Cities still count as 1 point of Strength for the barbarians, however, settlements count as 0.5 a point for the barbarians.  Round up when determining Barbarian Strength.

Determining Catan’s Strength
A player with only settlements or metropolises still counts his active knights for determining Catan’s strength.  Each city wall grant 0.5 Strength points for Catan. Round down when determining Catan’s Strength.

If Catan Loses…
Every player downgrades a city to a settlement.  If a player only has metropolises, one of his metropolis is downgraded to a city.  He chooses one of his metropolis, removes the golden gates and loses the metropolis token.  If a player has no cities or metropolises, they lose a settlement.  If that settlement was the homeport of a open shipping route, all those ships are destroyed.  Any road segments that are left attached to no settlements or cities are also destroyed.  If a knight is ever left without roads or ships on either side, that knight is removed (unless playing with Wandering Knights rule of Mega Catan).  If a player’s last settlement is destroyed, that player is defeated and no longer plays for the remainder of the game

Rebuilding a Metropolis
Any player may rebuild a lost metropolis by building the 4th or 5th city improvement in that category, as normal.  If every player already has built the 5th level in that category, the first player to spend 5 of the related commodity gains the metropolis of that category.  It can not be stolen by other players, however, if the barbarians destroy the metropolis, it leaves it open for another player to claim by spending 5 commodities.

Pair of Boots (Requires Fisherman of Catan)
The Old Boot token requires the player who has it to have 2 more victory points to win, rather than just 1 more.

Overfishing (Requires Fisherman of Catan)
When players spend Fish tokens, the tokens are placed to the side of the board into the Spent pile.  At the beginning of each new year, 1 fish token per 2 players (round down), chosen at random, is placed from the Spent pile into the Discard pile.  Once the Draw pile of fish is empty, players take what is in the Discard and use those tokens to make a new Draw pile.  Do not mix in those from the Spent pile.  If there are a limited number of fish tokens to draw when several players would need to do so, the players draw the amount they need each in turn.   If there are no fish tokens to draw, no players get to draw.

At the end of each new year (see New Year above), each player must spend 1 gold or 1 resource.  For each new year where he does not or can not, he places a Catan Chit (Maintenance token) next to one of his cities, settlements or metropolises.  At any point when a player could build, they may spend 2 gold or 1 resource to remove a Maintenance token.  Once a location has 2 Maintenance tokens, it is falling apart and production comes to a halt.  Turn the piece onto its side.  The piece no longer produces any resources and does not count for any Victory Points.  A player may get the fallen location running again by spending 6 gold or 3 resources to the bank.  This removes 1 Maintenance token from that location, turns it right side up again and allows it to gain resources.

Impoverished Settler
If a player ever has no gold coins at all, he takes a further -1 VP, in addition to the Poorest Settler token.  Penalizing players with 0 gold by a total of 3 VP.  Players may never have less than 0 VP.

No Maritime Trade
Unless players control a harbor, they may not trade with the bank.  Essentially, there is no longer the 4:1 trade available to the players.

No VP Cards
If a player ever draws a Victory Point card, from the Progress or Development cards, they immediately discard that card and draw again.  The Merchant still functions to allow improved trading, but does not count for a Victory Point.

Atlanticatan (Hardcore Scenario)

The island of Atlanticatan is doomed, although the settlers may fully realize it yet.  Their island is doomed to sink beneath the waves.

Initial Setup
Each player begins with 2 settlements and a road attached to each.

Living Dangerously
The outermost hexes of Atlanticatan are a dangerous place to live.  Any settlement or city on the coast are worth an extra Victory Point while they still stand.  Only settlements on the original coastline are worth extra Victory Points.  If a hex sinks and a settlement that wasn’t on the coast, becomes a coastal settlement, it does not gain an extra Victory Point.

Time Passing
Each time a new year passes (See New Year above), make note of how many years have past in total.  Once 10 years have past (add more years for an easier game, or less for a harder game), a catastrophic event occurs and the isle of Atlanticatan begins sinking.

Atlanticatan Begins to Sink
At the end of every new year after the 10th (starting on the 11st), roll both die.  Starting from the production chit “A“ (or the earliest alphabetically if “A” has sunk), count around in a clockwise direction around the circumference of the island, only counting the outermost coastal hexes, skipping hexes that have already sunk.  Whatever hex is chosen has sunk into the ocean.  Flip the hex over to the water side and remove the production chit.  That hex no longer produces recourses.  Only when all of the outer coastal hexes have sunk does the next inner ring have any potential to sink.

Sunken Settlements and Harbors
If any settlements or cities are ever completely surrounded by water hexes, they are removed from play.  Players receive no Victory Points for sunken settlements or cities.  If a hex with a harbor sinks, that harbor is lost and the player may no longer trade through it.

Delaying the Inevitable
At the start of each new year after Atlanticatan begins to sink, if every player discards two resources, no hex sinks this year.  This represents the settlers working together to do whatever they can to keep their island afloat.

The Robber Sinks
If the Robber is standing on a tile that sinks, place him off the board.  Once another “7” is rolled, he is placed back on the board as normal.

Atlanticatan With Other Scenarios

Many scenarios have special hexes or board layouts that are critical for their scenario.  It is not recommended that these scenarios be mixed with Atlanticatan, although you are welcome to try.

If playing with basic Seafarers rules and multiple islands are available, each island sinks separately.  At the start of each year, randomly determine which island will sink this year.  Then proceed as normal for sinking.
If a settlement or city that was a homeport for a open shipping route sinks, that shipping route is destroyed and all ships are return to the player.  If the shipping route was closed, it becomes open again, as it no longer has a port at both ends.

Fishermen of Catan
If playing with Fishermen of Catan, when a fishing tile is no longer adjacent to any land hexes, move the fishing tile inward to land.  Of the two land tiles the fishing hex was adjacent to, randomly determine which of those two sunken land hexes the fishing tile moves into.

A Player Sinks
If a hex sinks and any player no longer has any settlements or cities (or metropolis), he has lost the game and no longer takes turns or collects resources.  Any roads he has left on the board remain where they are.

Saving Atlanticatan
Once a player has reached 12 Victory Points on his turn, he has discovered a means of stopping the island from sinking and becomes the Savior of Atlanticatan and wins the game.

Atlanticatan Sinks
If Atlanticatan completely sinks, the players have all lost the game.  Perhaps in many years people will tell stories of the Lost Civilization of Atlanticatan.

Post Updates
– Expanded the Fording the River rule into River Crossing, allowing several new options to the player
– Clarified that the baggage train was meant to drop its commodity token when failing to ford the river, regardless of using the baggage train battle rule
– Fixed some formatting
– Fixed balance issues on Upkeep rule
– Clarified the Merchant in No VP Cards rule
– Clarified Impoverished Settler rule
– Clarified Barbarian Advance rule
– Renamed Baggage Train Battle with Baggage Train Damage
– Balanced and clarified Overfishing rule
– Several clarifications and balance issues fixed to Atlanticatan Scenario

Posted in catan, difficult, hardcore, new, scenario | Leave a comment

Shifting Alignment Variant (v 1.1)

Dungeons and Dragons 3rd Ed. Variant Rule (v 1.1)
Updated 10/27/2011

It’s high time I came to accept it.  Third Edition D&D is gone.  Yeah, I could still go and play it with some friends, but with no new books being released, it’s time I move on.  I prefer 3rd to 4th.  Don’t get me wrong, 4th is great.  The power system is very cool and really gets more of that “Look what I can do!” feel into the game that 3rd didn’t do so well.  But part of that lacking is what made it better.  3rd was more open to change and manipulation.  It’s much harder to make a new class in 4th, unless you want to spend days making enough powers.  In 3rd, it was much easier to make new rules and classes and such.

Anyway, that’s not really what this post is about.  If you read through the last D&D post I made, I mentioned how I love to take a small, mostly inconsequential part of the game and build it up into something bigger.  That’s what I’ve done here.  I took alignment and made it more involved.  I never much liked the idea that you can choose your alignment.  For most people, they don’t really consider being an alignment that isn’t how they view themselves, to some extent.  I’ve always said “You don’t choose your alignment, it chooses you.”  Super deep, right?  My main problem with alignment was, except Paladins, there was no major penalty for acting outside your alignment.  On top of that, a lot of people claimed to be Chaotic Neutral, but I found most of them were actually more leaning toward Chaotic Good.  This system really helps with people actually having the right alignment.  So, I wanted to make a mechanic that would make alignment more dynamic.  So I did.

This variant takes alignment to a new level.  Each and every character has scale on each axis of the alignment chart: Good v. Evil, Law v. Chaos.  A character’s alignment is based on the balance of his alignment scales.  Each time a character performs an action toward a particular alignment, he shifts on the scale, based on the action itself.  Any action has potential to shift a character’s alignment slightly, based on the DM’s discretion.

Sample Actions Effects
Cheating in a game +1 Evil
Being unnecessarily kind to a stranger +1 Good
Upholding a tradition for the sake of tradition +1 Law
Defacing public property +1 Chaos
Using another for personal gain +2 Evil
Helping another at the a cost or risk to yourself +2 Good
Telling the truth regardless of the negative consequences  +2 Law
Acting recklessly +2 Chaos
Killing an innocent +3 Evil
Giving mercy to an enemy +3 Good
Improving a town’s bureaucratic system +3 Law
Attacking an authoritative figure +3 Chaos
Performing a sacrifice +4 Evil
Building a house for the unprivileged +4 Good
Bringing a famously known criminal to justice +4 Law
Destroy a large structure +4 Chaos
Committing mass murder +5 Evil
Sacrificing yourself to save another +5 Good
Bringing order to a lawless town +5 Law
Starting a revolution +5 Chaos
Shifting the alignment of another to yours +3 *
Doing nothing for a long period of time -2 **
Casting an aligned spell 1/2 spell level, rounded down
Wielding an aligned weapon +2 ***
Performing a kill with an aligned smite +1 ****

* When changing another’s alignment to yours, choose one axis.  You gain 2 points to further yourself on that axis.

** If a character does nothing for a long time, he starts to lose his alignment.  At a certain point, the character shifts 2 points on both axes towards 0.  The length of time required for this to occur is based on the DM’s discretion, but should be a reasonably infrequent occurrence.  For instance, even a devil who stays in solitude for several years would eventually become Neutral.  However, if he spend his time thinking of evil things or plotting revenge or something similar, he would not risk losing his Evil status and would likely keep his Lawful as well.

*** Wielding an aligned weapon only grants alignment shift after the weapon has been used for long enough that it is considered your “primary weapon”. The specifics of what that means are up to the DM.

**** Killing a creature with an aligned smite will always grant +1 to the alignment of the smite, regardless of current alignment strength. However, only up to +14.

Aura Strength
Lv. 1: Feint Lv. 2: Moderate Lv. 3: Strong Lv. 4: Overwhelming
Creature 6-11 12-18 19-26 27+

At each level of aura (as per detect spells) on a particular side of an axis, the amount you gain from each action on that side of that axis is reduced by the strength of your aura.  Therefore, for a Strong force of Chaos to shift a point, he would have to do something on the level of destroying a large structure.  Even still, he would still only shift 1 point.

Conversely, for each level of aura that opposes an action, the amount shifted is increased by that much.  For instance, if a +11 Chaos Rogue were to tell the truth when he knew it would only work against him to do so, he would shift 4 points toward Law (2 for telling the truth, 2 for his Moderate Chaotic aura).  This would place him at +7 Chaos.  The stronger a character’s aura, the more he is affected by actions out of his alignment.

Starting Points
A newly created character chooses his or her alignment.  Based on the alignment chosen, the character shifts 7 points toward each extreme chosen.  For instance, a Lawful Neutral character is at 0 on his Good v. Evil scale, but +7 Law on his Law v. Chaos scale.

Any creature with an alignment descriptor starts with as many points on the descriptor’s axis as the creature has Hit Dice.  For example, a creature with the Good and Chaotic descriptors has as many points on both the Good and Chaos axis as it has Hit Dice.

Changing Alignment
If a character drops to 5 or below on either alignment scale, he drops to Neutral for that axis.  This could, perhaps, have devastating effects for a certain characters with alignment based abilities.  A fighter who dropped to +5 Good becomes Neutral on his Good v. Evil axis. The fighter stays Neutral until he performs some act that would push him above 5 on the Good v. Evil axis.   Note that using another for personal gain is considered Evil.  Therefore, if the fighter went and gave money to the church when he dropped to Neutral, he is doing so solely for the purpose to gain his Good status back.  He would still shift +2 Good for the donation, but he would shift +2 Evil for the selfishness of his actions.  This catch-22 makes gaining a Good status rather difficult.

There is no penalty for changing alignments, other then the specifically written ones, as for the paladin, monk, barbarian and so on.

Alignment Restricted Classes
Paladins, monks and several other classes are restricted by their inability to perform certain aligned actions.  Any time a character of these classes shifts even 1 point towards his restricted alignment, that axis (and only that axis) is locked and he can not shift towards his unrestricted alignment until he receives an atonement spell or repents in some similar way.
For example, a Paladin performs an Evil action and her alignment shifts several points towards Evil.  Until she atones, her alignment can continue to become more Evil, as well as Chaotic or Lawful, but she cannot become more Good.

Certain spells work differently with this variant.

Detection Spells
Detection spells work, basically, just as they always have.  However, the strength of the aura is no longer based on the HD of the creature, but rather the amount shifted on the particular axis.  Detection spells for objects work as they always did.

Note that being a cleric, outsider or undead no longer affects detection spells.  With this variant, all creatures have the capacity to be extremely Good, Evil, Chaotic or Lawful.  Meaning, a commoner who goes around helping people and performing good deeds, while never even gaining any levels, can become an Overwhelming force of Good.

It should also be noted that, with this system, each character has two auras.  Good v. Evil and Law v. Chaos.  It is possible to be a Strong force of Good and, at the same time, a Feint force of Law.

The Redemption or Temptation aspect of the spell, if successful, places the affected character at +6/+6 on your alignment.  Unless the affected character was further along in one of the axes, in which case, it keeps its original value.  From that point on, the character is free to do as he pleases, with his new alignment in mind.

Alignment Flipping Spells
Spells or effects that automatically flip one’s alignment to its opposite, do so by shifting completely to the other side of the axis.  A monk with a +7/+5 Lawful Good alignment who undergoes a complete shift, becomes +7/+5 Chaotic Evil.

As with atonement, any spell that changes a character to a certain alignment, does so by placing it at +6 of whatever the new alignment is.  A demon who turns Good, is going to be pretty new at it and will need time to learn his new ways.

Aura Empowerment Variant
A variant within this variant is the idea of Aura Empowerment.  This is the idea that the stronger one’s aura is toward any one particular axis, the more strength they have when using abilities based on that aura.  This gives bonuses to those characters who stay within their alignment and do what they can to further it.

If a character has a Moderate aura or better (as per the detect spells), their aligned spells and abilities are enhanced.  This bonus applies to any aligned spell, smite damage, bonus aligned damage of an aligned weapon and any similar effect that deals damage based on aura.

Aura Strength
Moderate Strong Overwhelming
x1.25 x1.5 x2.0

I hate making tables in HTML.  It’s the worst.

Anyway, this variant could work in 4th as well, but you’d have to bring back the 9 alignments.

1.01 Updates
– Added more specific sample actions

1.1 Updates
– Edited ranges of Aura Strength
– Added better examples

Posted in 3rd, alignment, dragons, dungeons, shifting | Leave a comment

Project Aon

Lone Wolf Gamebook Online Resource 

Many years ago, I got into this book series called Lone Wolf.  It’s a Choose Your Own Adventure series that takes it to a much more in-depth level.  Rather than the typical “Do you do this or this” situation, in these books you found items and weapons, fought monsters, collected gold and magic items and gained special powers.  It was basically a pen and paper RPG with a book as the DM.  I had nearly a dozen of these books by the time I grew out of them.  It wasn’t until a few years ago I thought back to how great the series was and tried to find something online where I could buy them again.

That’s when I happened upon Project Aon.  A whole website devoted to the Lone Wolf books and current news, updates and even errata.  More importantly, they hosted all the books in online format.  I couldn’t have been more excited.  Once I found this site, it’s all I did for weeks.  I played through nearly all the books, gathering my items and gaining levels and power. It was awesome!  However, keeping track of all of the equipment I was holding and what I was holding in my keep (yes, you get a keep) got to be a hassle.  As if reading my mind, Project Aon delivered again.  A Java application Action Chart that keeps track of everything for you! Genius.  However, never content to just make things easier, Project Aon makes it even simpler. They combined the two into an online javascript version with the chart built in.  All things considered, Project Aon is pretty awesome for all the work they’ve done.

If you’ve never heard of Lone Wolf (and, sadly, I bet you haven’t) I very much recommend you give them a look.  If you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably played a bunch of Choose Your Own Adventure books.  Lone Wolf blows all of them out of the water.  If not for me, than for yourself, read/play through the first book.  You won’t regret it.

Posted in adventure, aon, books, choose, lone, online, own, Project, tool, wolf, your | Leave a comment

Stratego Variant Rules

Independent Variant Rules to Stratego

Stratego is a classic game.  Nearly everyone I know knows Stratego and has played it at some point as a kid.  I almost feel bad adding a few rules to spice it up a bit, but not bad enough that I won’t do it anyway.

The most recent copy of the game I got was a fancy one that’s made to look like a leather bound book.  It’s pretty cool, if only a little bit ostentatious.  In there they have a few alternate rules, but they’re pretty typical, as as alternate rules go.  “Attacker wins ties”, “Reach the other side to rescue a lost piece” and “Defender doesn’t reveal his rank during an attack against anyone but a Scout”.  That last one is a pretty cool idea, but I feel like I would just end up getting more frustrated not knowing what I keep losing to.  They also don’t touch on what happens if it’s a bomb.  I guess that means you’re just throwing wave after wave of men at what turns out to be a minefield.

Most of the pieces in Stratego don’t do anything special.  The Marshal is mostly unbeatable, so that makes him special, but he doesn’t do anything special.  Really only the Miner, Spy and the Scout are unique in any major way.  More over, the Spy basically can’t do anything!  The Spy is just a terrible hassle to deal with.  If anyone attacks him, he dies.  If the Marshal attacks him, he dies.  The only way he is worth anything is if he gets the first strike on one specific piece.  So, my thinking is why not give him a little bit for use?  In battle, while most are running around swords and guns blazing, the spy is remaining aloof.  He sneaks around and gathers information and that is the basis behind this variant.

Informant Spy Variant
One per turn, you may force the other player to reveal the ranking of any of his pieces that is adjacent (not counting diagonals) to your Spy.  This does not count as your move for that turn and you may move any of your pieces, the Spy included after the opposing piece is revealed.  You do not have to reveal the location of your Spy when using this action.

This makes the Spy work similarly to a Scout, but without having to sacrifice himself, although he is still at risk by being adjacent to the opposition.  The rules for the Spy attacking and being defeated in basically every situation don’t change, but this at least gives the Spy some added use and even some extra defense if a piece moves next to him.

Rather than place all pieces on the board at the start of the game, a player is allowed to leave some pieces off the board, to bring them in later, as reinforcements.  No more than 3 pieces are allowed to be set aside for reinforcements.  Instead of moving a piece, a player may take one of his reinforcements and place it anywhere along the edge of his starting area (the back wall or side within the 4 x 10 region).  Reinforcements may only be placed in open squares and only one reinforcement may be played per turn.

The idea behind this rule is that it allows for a bit of sneaky strategy.  You can leave some pieces off of the board and spring them on your opponent if they are getting too close to your flag.  The benefit is that you have  some reserves if your opponent’s Marshal rampaged through your territory.  Your reinforcements are safe from any attack until you need them.

River Travel
Any piece may use the lakes and rivers of the battlefield to get around faster.  Any piece adjacent (not counting diagonals) to one of the two lakes may move into any open square next to (not counting diagonals) the other lake as his movement for that turn.

Not every Stratego map I’ve played on has had rivers, but they all have the lakes, at least.  So if the board you play on doesn’t have river connecting the lakes just use your imagination.  The idea is to give pieces the opportunity get across the board fast when they need to, but restrict it to only a certain region of the map.

I’ve played around with some ideas in giving each piece a small ability, like the Miner, but it ended up getting too unwieldy and complicated, so as it stands I’ll live with most of the pieces not doing anything special.

Posted in reinforcements, spy, stratego, variants | Leave a comment

Zombies!!! Additional Rules

Zombies!!! Variants and Alternate Rules

Zombies!!! is a pretty fun game series.  I mean, everyone loves killing zombies!  I really like the mechanic of how you build the city as the game progresses.  To me, it simulates being lost in a city you don’t really know.  All the different expansions all add something pretty neat to the game.  Whether it’s new buildings and weapons, or new game mechanics, or new zombies to kill, it’s just a lot of fun.  When you mix Humans!!! into the game, it adds a player vs. player rivalry that just isn’t really there in just Zombies!!! alone.

Anyway, Zombies!!! has almost 10 expansions to it.  I think the only reason I haven’t gone into a crazed lust to own them all is because each game of Zombies!!! works pretty well to be different.  That being said, I’m glad I own the two that I do have: Zombie Corps(e) and Schools Out Forever.  I got them specifically because they each added something I wanted: Government enhanced zombies and guts tokens.

So, when I play, as I am wont to do, I started modifying the rules and adding new ones.  Listed below are those rules.

Skateboard as a Weapon
The Skateboard can be used to add +2 to any combat roll, after the roll has been made.  Once it is used in this fashion, it is discarded.  Only if the player has already made his movement roll this turn does he get to keep the movement bonus this turn.

Running over Zombies
While using the event card “The Keys Are Still In It” the player may sacrifice one point of movement provided by the card to add to a combat roll, as per the bullet rules.
Ex.  A player using the “Keys” card moves 2 squares and enters combat with a standard zombie.  During combat, he rolls a 2 and decides to use 2 points from the “Keys” card to win the combat.  If he continues moving, he only has 6 squares of movement left.  He may do this as often as he likes this turn, so long as he has the points to do it.

In-store Weaponry
Rather than shuffling any weapon/item cards that require the player to be in a specific building to play into the event deck, place them off to the side.  When a player ends his movement in a building in which a weapon can be found, he may roll a die.  On a 5 or a 6, he finds a weapon of his choice that can be found in the building.  It never enters the players hand and is immediately put into play.  When the weapon/item is used, the card is removed from the game.

Separate Shotgun Shells
The “Hey, Look… A Shotgun” event card can be used whenever the player decides to use it, as normal bullets.  However, Shotgun bullets add +2 to combat for each added.  However, only 1 Shotgun bullet can be used per combat.  These bullets can not be used in conjunction with other event cards that allow players to use their bullets to affect the rolls.

Healthy Movement
For any movement roll, each player adds to their movement half their life tokens, rounded down, to their roll.  Any cards that effect the amount of spaces a player can move, affect the roll after the life tokens are added.  This effect does not happen while the player is using a jeep from the Zombie Corps(e) expansion Motor Pool.
Ex. A player rolls a 4 for movement, and has 5 life tokens.  His movement total is 6.  Another player plays the “Your Shoelaces are Untied” event card on this player.  His movement is now only 3.

Protected Helipad
For any Helipad tile that is placed, a Government Enhanced Zombie is placed on the center square.  Additionally, The “Alternate Food Source” event card has no effect on any Zombie on any Helipad tile.  They must be fought as normal.

Radioactive Zombies
At the end of each Zombie Movement Phase, each Government Enhanced Zombie infects 1 adjacent normal zombie, that zombie is returned to the zombie pool and a Government Enhanced Zombie is put in that zombie’s place.

Rather than flip over a tile each turn, anytime the players reach the edge of the map, that player places a tile from the appropriate stack attached to where he stands at the edge.  Players may reveal multiple tiles per turn.  If a tile is revealed that does not fit because of roads leading into buildings, etc, that tile is shuffled into the stack and a new one is drawn.  As normal, though, when a helipad tile is revealed, the player with the lowest number of zombies gets to place it.  The player at the edge of the map draws a new tile.

Creator’s Notes
The In-store Weaponry rule is one my friends and I have come to really love.  It’s such a hassle to draw a weapon card and have to travel clear across town to use it, especially if it’s not that great a weapon.  Plus, this system makes way more sense.  Anyone who wanders around in a store long enough should be able to find something they can use.

I’ve never actually played with the Radioactive Zombie rule (due to my lack of the Bag o’ Glowing Zombies), but I very much want to.  I’ve always liked rules and mechanics that thrive on players getting into a panic to stop something horrible before it becomes worse.  I can see the Radioactive Zombie rule fitting that to a T.

Posted in glowing, humans, variants | 2 Comments

Divine Favor

Dungeons and Dragons 4th Ed. Variant Mechanic

One of my favorite things in making new rules is finding some small inconsequential part of the game and making a whole mechanic out of that.  I do it a lot and I usually enjoy the results.  In Dungeons and Dragons, there are a lot of opportunities for me to work on small parts.  In the 4th edition campaign I run right now, I’ve taken the gods and made them practically NPCs.  I wanted to make the gods more involved as I always felt like they were very unimportant.  You pick your Primary Deity at 1st level and most characters never think about it again.

The PCs gain Favor Points with each Deity individually and can spend them by praying to that god for assistance.  But not every god can help in anyway.  Below is a chart I wrote up laying out how the PCs could spend their FP (favor points) with each god, based on skills, abilities, keywords and alignment to add to their rolls or reroll completely.  The PCs keep track of how many points they currently have, as well as how many points they have ever accumulated in their career.  If a player has a total of 10 FP then spends 7, they have 3 FP and 10 Accumulated Favor Points.

Divine Favor, Page 1
Divine Favor, Page 2

 The bottom of the first chart mentions a Godsend. This is a special ability each god possesses and each Godsend manifests differently. The people I play with have come to really enjoy the Divine Favor mechanic.  It adds an element of roleplay that everyone enjoys and keeps the PCs in character in an effort to score more FP.  Plus, with an added way to reroll a bad roll, it keeps the players in high spirits when they roll a 1 on their favorite daily power.  

Each PC keeps track of their own FP, so it’s not too difficult on me, as the DM.  The only real addition to my work is making ways for the PCs to gain Favor into each quest, although that’s really not that hard.  For a while, we played that, at each level gain, the PC would gain 5 FP with their primary deity, but that ended up being too many points, with how often I was handing them out as well.  Dropping the automatic points every level, we’ve found a good balance.    
This mechanic shouldn’t be something the PCs rely on, but rather a back-up to the back-up when something goes very wrong.  And it rewards players who stay in character and think as their characters would.  For example, the PCs happened upon a subservient zombie which obeyed their orders.  Because they accepted it as an ally (or rather pack mule / butler), they gained favor with Vecna and Orcus.  If they had chosen to kill it, they would have gained points with The Raven Queen and Pelor instead.  I try to make the FP gain based on decisions the characters make, or rewarding good (or evil) deeds.
The more astute out there might notice Orcus listed as a god.  Although he is not a god, he really ought to be.  He’s got enough worshipers and now even his own miniature! (although calling it “miniature” is insulting.)
Posted in 4th, deities, divine, dnd, dragons, dungeons, edition, gods, orcus, points | Leave a comment