Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Rappan Athuk - Stages of Play

What follows is a detailed gameplay description of my forthcoming Rappan Athuk megadungeon campaign. I tried to make it as thorough yet simple as possible, but I am sure there may still be parts unclear to some, so I encourage those who are interested in either playing or are simply into the idea of such a campaign to articulate their questions or concerns.

To be sure you understand the context in which the following applies, read my proposition for the campaign and possibly the description of the available classes (it comes particularly handy for typical exploration activities).

To put it simply, the game consists of the following parts: (1) first, the players are given information about the dungeon so they can plan ahead, buy proper equipment, and hire qualified followers; (2) then actual dungeon crawling is resolved with exploration, friendly encounters, and deadly combats galore; (3) finally, they return to base, sell loot, and spend some money. Below, you find detailed description for each stage, procedures that have to be followed, and some of the rules that help resolve the situations that arise.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Rappan Athuk - Classes

Below you can find the re-worked versions of the four basic classes that are going to be available for players in the Rappan Athuk campaignNote, that certain advanced classes and special abilities can be unlocked in play (see Talysman's Leech and Apothecary to get the idea).

Before describing each class, some general notions:
  • There are no Prime Requisite abilities, thus no bonus XP.
  • The given base XP is for 2nd level; it doubles for each level thereafter (e.g. a base XP of 2,000 means 4,000 for 3rd and 32,000 for 6th level).
  • There are no weapon or armour restrictions. Spell-casting, however, is impossible in metal armour and takes twice as much time in leather armour (thus, usually 2 rounds). Also, some other actions may be penalised or even forbidden in armour. For our purposes, "changing" takes 1 full turn.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Rappan Athuk - Starting a Megadungeon Campaign

Since I got my hands on a pdf copy of Rappan Athuk Reloaded (available on rpgnow), I have been thinking about running it. Then the new edition came out (which was reviewed by Bryce Lynch, if you are interested), and I really wanted to run this baby of monstrous beauty. So, that is exactly what I am going to do. Below you find a couple of my thoughts on the campaign, a sort of "design goals" that I intend to accomplish.

Mind you, this is going to be a Google+ game, for now, run in Hungarian.

To sum it up:
  • an exploration-driven campaign
  • XP awarded only for treasure recovered
  • extensive use of rumours and quests
  • limited number of town activities
  • unique magic items (except for potions, scrolls, and wands)
  • B/X-esque base + house rules

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Keeping Score

D&D has an explicit goal (i.e. looting treasure from dungeons), and one's accomplishments towards this end are clearly reflected in their XP total, which could easily work as a sort of score table. How about emphasising this aspect of the game?

The main goal of the game would be levelling up without dying. Achieving any particular level would earn the players points equal to said level squared (i.e. 4 points for lvl-2, 9 for lvl-3, 16 for lvl-4, etc.); losing a character would deduce a number of points equal to the inclusive sum of 1 to the lost character's level (thus 1 for lvl-1, 3 for lvl-2, 6 for lvl-3, etc.).

I would further add that the death of a henchmen also result in the loss of 1 point, thus hiring henchmen became a more complex tactical decision (i.e. not only monetary cost and number of henchmen were to be considered, but also the possibility of losing a few points) and they became more than simple meatshields. To compensate for this, I would probably give each henchmen a particular skill or asset that make them useful companions.

In order to make this work and the pace of earning points matter, the Referee needed to introduce some sort of constraint on the length of the campaign, possibly something that is independent of the players. In many board games the number of turns is fixed at the beginning of the game; Beedo's Black City Project comes to mind as a good example of implementing such restrictions that make sense in the fiction: the eponymous megadungeon is so far to the north that gold-diggers need to leave the site before winter comes and prevents their journey to home.