Further [Dungeonpunk]ing - Encumbrance (and a bit on skills)

I continue to through Untested Brain-Matter-Produce at the wall. One day I will have a play-test to see if any of it stuck.

I think there will be two types of encumbrance, physical, and mental/emotional.


Physical encumbrance works much like you might expect.

You have Inventory slots equal to (or maybe equal to X + half of) your Condition score (a hybrid mix of strength and constitution).

Some of your Inventory (depending on your Precision (a score which is about half of dexterity, the other half being the reflex score)) is Fast Inventory, which only takes a round to access, rather than a minute. Some items, like bandoleers, make more of your Inventory Fast.  

These are filled by your items, mostly. It is assumed that each item takes up 1 slot for the most part. A sword is 1 slot, as is a shield, as is a spell-book.
Some items might have the property Small (x) which means that many items can fit into a slot. For example, daggers are Small (2), 2 daggers fit in a slot.
Some items might have the property Large (x) which means they take up that many slots. For example, a Greatsword has Large (2), you need 2 slots to hold it.
Armour can take up a lot of slots, but that's the price you pay for protection.

Inventory can also be filled by special things, like water if you decide to go swimming, or a Curse of Burdens.
Most commonly, the two things you don't want to get into your Inventory are Exhaustion and Wounds.
Exhaustion you gain by, well... exerting yourself. You can get rid of it through resting, one slot's worth a day.
Wounds are a bit harder to rid yourself of. They fill up slots when you take massive damage, or something like that. They provide a penalty to Condition rolls, and take a Week's rest to remove. Particularly vicious wounds may even be permanent.


Memory is mostly much like Physical Inventory, but for your brain.

It is harder to change, in terms of putting things in there, and taking them out. Usually it takes a week's studying to do so.

You have slots (or X + plus half of) your Knowledge score (which is rebranded Intelligence).

Some of your Memory slots are Core (depending on your Insight score (which is what Wisdom wants to be, but is also only about half of Wisdom, the other half going into the Will score)) which means that you can stack up similar memories, most notably Skills.

Things that go into your Memory Slots are things like:
- Weapon or Skill proficiencies (with a further note on these later)
- A Wizard's Magical Traditions
- Memorised spells (ideally, this gets Wizards to haul spellbooks around with them and cast spells from books, which takes a bit longer, but means you don't have to go through the lengthy memorisation process)
- A Fighter's Fighting Styles
For example.

You don't have to put things like "What the king told us to do" in a memory slot, but if you do, it would help you never, ever forget it I guess.

A key thing about Memory is that skills are sort of, grouped into similar types of skill, which can be grouped together to give a big bonus; Medicine for example, could get a bonus made up of Surgery, Anti-Toxins, Wound-Care, etc. Each one of these skills takes up its own slot.
Core slots can be used to group Skills of the same group into one slot. This is the best way to become an expert at something, otherwise the cranial-real-estate cost gets too much.
It works the same way with specialising in weapons.

Hopefully this means that you can't become a total master of everything ever, and you have to rely on your team/hirelings to help you out with other things. Maybe.

Oh, right, there are also other things you don't want filling your Memory Slots; notably Strain and Trauma.
Strain is the mental equivalent of Exhaustion. Wizards get it sometimes when they fluff up spell-casting.
Trauma you get for seeing fucked-up shit. It gives a penalty to your Knowledge until you go to Therapy.
Mind-Flayers will happily gobble up your memory slots probably.

Not quite such an exciting one here, but its important. I want it to be easy to use, otherwise you never will. I also want it to be flexible, such that you can use it for all sorts. Particularly Memory slots (though I claim no credit for their inception, I know other people have come up with it before but damned if I can remember any :c so it goes) are a cool thing, I hope they work out.

[Dungeonpunk] - Ritual Spellcasting and Wizard Traditions theory-post

[As with the last couple of recent posts, I am doing my teeny-tiny bit to make the OSR a better place, in principle. This is an idea straight from the brain-noggin, there has been no play-testing for this what-so-ever.]

So I was thinking about how to make rituals good for Dungeonpunks, and I think where I ended up lead to some cool thinkings; lets dive in.


So briefly, Dungeonpunks is ripping off borrowing from the GLOG for the basic magic system, which if you aren't familiar (but who isn't?) Magic User's get a number of magic die to cast spells, which take their potency from the number of dice rolled, and/or the total of all the die, which are exhausted if they display 5 or more. There are a few more wrinkles, but that's the gist of a very cool, flexible system.


Firstly, what should rituals do? Here are the two things that I'm thinking of:

- They can be used to make spells more reliable, and
- They can be used to make spells more powerful than normally possible

Just like how some systems (such as Dungeonpunks eventually...) let you increase the chances of, or even guarantee success if you take more time, the same I think, applies with rituals. The more resources you put in, the safer/greater the results, and with rituals you have a chance to put in more and different resources than Magic Die.

Here's the rough shape of my thoughts for the system:

Rituals are spells, but they aren't directly fueled by Magic Die. You must have at least as many available Magic Die as the level of the ritual you want to cast, but you don't roll them. You can add extra magic die through other methods however.

A 1 Die ritual takes 10 minutes to perform.
A 2 Dice ritual takes 1 Hour to perform.
A 3 Dice ritual takes 1 Day to perform.
A 4 Dice ritual takes 1 Week to perform.
For each extra Die of effect, add an additional week to the casting time.

The following benefits can be applied to rituals to add additional casting die to the rituals' effect:
- Full wizard regalia, requires an inventory slot for each casting die that the ritual with have in total.
- Use of the rituals' key components (more on these later)
- An elaborate ritual space (probably equivalent to owning/building a medium sized dwelling)

The intent of these extra modifiers is to limit the use of these essentially "free" rituals within the dungeon-crawl environment, or other time-limited situations. You can still use them, but its other factors that you'll then need to think about.
[Designer's note: depending on how it works in play, its possible the additional requirements could add die without increasing the casting time, we'll see if its interesting to haul around a bundle of wizard-clothes and components to get "extra" magic die with extra limitations.]

Magical Traditions

Now, my actually cool idea; using the holes in the above theory to add to magic's "groundedness".

I like the idea of using physical components to spells, but as they are they kind of suck, in 5e at least and especially. Part of their problem is that its too fiddly to remember them all without extensive notes, and to actually use them often is lots of book-keeping.

This second problem is sort of solved by limiting it to ritual-casting, thus they are a choice that need to be weighed, is it worth giving up an inventory slot for a more powerful ritual?
But the first problem is more complicated, and this is my solution;

Spells are divided into "Magical Traditions" that all share a common list of components.

This hopefully means that there are only a few components that will ever need to be used, and since any combination of components from the tradition can be used, there should always be choices.
For particularly potent rituals, you could even demand a specific component if you wanted to.

For extra effect, I think the classic "5 W Questions" could be used to make an interesting list. For example;

The Tradition of Vexillor;

Who: A Chorus of Caged Song-Birds
What: A Rose carved from Ruby or Diamond
Where: In the centre of a Stone Circle
When: At Midnight
How: In complete Darkness

There will be a list of guidelines and probably a few tables of examples to demonstrate the principles of making one.
So far I think the guidelines are something along these lines:
Two entries should be relatively common or easy to come across (Midnight happens every day, and its easy enough to make your space really dark). Perhaps 100gp of expenditure or so.
Two entries should require some effort to achieve (There are (or should be) plenty of Stone Circles around, but they are never quite accessible as you might like, and the logistics of collecting a Chorus of Song-Birds in a medieval environment could be a bit of a challenge.) Maybe 1,000gp to gain.
One entry should be pretty hard to achieve, or even unique (a Ruby Rose could be quite a challenge to produce indeed) At least 10,000gp to get.

An further example;

The Tradition of Seutonius;

Who: With a circle of 6 other acolytes (Rare)
What: A sprig of fresh Wolfsbane (Common)
Where: Atop the Divine Mountain (Very Rare)
When: During the New Moon (Rare)
How: Whilst burning expensive incense (Common)

These are a few ways I can think of to use this system:
- Characterise a wizard and the way they cast their spells with their own spell-list and set of components to make it worthwhile to learn from a variety of wizards, particularly if you are somewhat restrictive of the way Wizards can learn new spells.
- To tie together a set of spells thematically; as in these spells are in a tradition because they share a common set of components, either because the spells are intimately related, or because the wizard who created them had that set of components easily accessible, which both have their own set of uses.
- To provide an incentive to encourage players to keep themselves themed without offering other abilities (as awesome as the glut of GLOG wizard schools are, they do add a certain pathfinder-ishness to the game again, and I am fully guilty of contributing to this of course).

You could even further distinguish between the types of spell-casting; maybe wizard "colleges" have quite straight-forward spell lists and more easily accessible components, and then the more esoteric traditions have rarer components, but better spell-lists, for example. Its a pretty flexible system I think.

It also is flexible in the way you want to engage with it; you can either entirely randomly generate it if you like, or you can put in lots of effort to create bespoke wizard traditions, even a bit of both perhaps.

I sort of envision a set of wizard tradition card-play aids, where the outside is decorated like a spell book, and the inside is dedicated to the spell-list and the components, maybe with a section for fluff for the tradition.

I think its a cool idea, I just hope it works in practice!

[Further idea that I came up with as I come to the end of typing this up and can't find a good place to insert somewhere else:
You can use these traditions to tie a new wizard to a new place, or reflect where they began to learn. If they aren't learning from a specific tradition then they get a half-filled in tradition spell list, and are missing two of their components. As they learn new spells, they can fill in the gaps of their tradition, and create a tradition of their very own.]

Fighting Styles

[Like last time, none of this is tested yet, its straight from the brain-noggin to the keyboard.]

I've been playing Sekiro. Its super good.

I was playing through and there are some abilities (minor spoilers I suppose) where you can regain your ability to resurrect by performing deathblows (specific kill actions, not just generic kills), and later on you can unlock the ability to regain life and posture by performing deathblows (at least, those are the ones I've found so far).

This got me thinking.

I have this idea for making Fighters a bit more fun without being too complex called (no drumroll please, I stole the name from 5e) Combat Superiority. Here's how it works.

Combat Superiority
As a Fighter, you can have a point of Combat Superiority (maybe two or even three heavens forbid, if you make it high enough level (and it would be very high to get two let alone three considering its intended uses)). You may spend your Combat Superiority to reroll a die to do with combat that involves you, somehow. [i.e. you can reroll your to-hit roll, or an enemy's damage roll, or a saving throw, or something like that]. Once it is spent, you can regain it by taking damage, or by "defeating" an enemy (which usually means "reduce to 0 HP).

That last sentence is the one that would be changed ENTIRELY AND COMPLETELY by my idle thought about Sekiro. What if; THERE WAS MORE THAN ONE WAY TO REGAIN COMBAT SUPERIORITY.

I know, groundbreaking, revolutionary, all that. (please, ladle on all the sarcasm you can muster for that sentence.)

I've been thinking about ways to make combat styles and schools work in a way that isn't just a list of minor abilities and bonuses. That's easy to do, boring to read, hard to balance, and is just... I don't wanna do pathfinder man. Sorry Joe, you'll never convince me. I don't see it.
I mean, its not bad, but I think I can do something better, more elegant.
I want it to evoke the Duel between Iniego and the Man in Black in the Princess Bride where they have a polite little chat about fencing theory whilst fighting each other, using the styles they are that moment using against each other!

So, getting to the point, a Fighter's Fighting Style is made up of methods of regaining Combat Superiority. It (ideally) encourages them to get into situations that their Fighting Style is suited for.

In theory, its elegant because no matter what your "style" is, you're always engaging with a single mechanic.

Your style is good against crowds of weak enemies? You regain CS for being in contact with multiple foes at the start of your turn, and for defeating enemies.

Your style empowers you as you are hurt? You regain CS for taking damage, and when you miss an attack.

Your style is all about parrying and using your foe's momentum against them? You regain CS when a foe misses an attack against you, and when... something else. I dunno.

There'd be some d12/d20 list of ones to roll on, because rolling is good, and you get two to start with. I think that would be fine.

Here's an example;

You regain Combat Superiority when...
1 - You take damage.
2 - You defeat a foe.
3 - An enemy misses you with an attack.
4 - You start your turn next to at least two enemies.
5 - You start your turn next to a friend.
6 - You deal maximum damage with your attack.
7 - You miss an attack against an enemy.
8 - You take the Dash action.
9 - You take the Withstand action.
10 - You take the Set-Up Parry action.
11 - You succeed at a Saving Throw.
12 - You move into favourable terrain.
13 - You attack each enemy for the first time in combat.
14 - You don't move on your turn.
15 - Someone you can see casts, a spell.
16 - A friend you can see takes damage.
17 - You knock an enemy Prone.
18 - You take an alcoholic drink.
19 - You begin your turn with less than 50% of your maximum hit points.
20 - You start your turn out of sight of your enemies.

(or something like that, I ran out of good ideas towards the end maybe)

I think that ideally, each option will get you back CS on most but not every turn. If it is regained by something you do, it should be either tied to a die roll, or an action that doesn't include an attack. Otherwise, you should need to go out of your way somewhat or put yourself in a specific situation to regain it. It shouldn't be easily exploitable. In other words, it should encourage you into certain conditions.

Next time, maybe I'll do Combat Mysteries/Masteries, which would provide other special ways of using CS for further differentiation.

Armour, Dodge, Parry

[In accordance with making the OSR a better place principles, this is an idea straight from the brain-noggin, there has been no play-testing for this what-so-ever.]

Here's a weird one, mostly from dark souls and such-like.

In dark souls combat scenarios, there are 3 main ways of reacting to damage:

- Tanking it with crazy armour, which reduces it down to manageable amounts
- Dodge roll through it which avoids all damage
- Parry the attack, which not only negates the attack, it also (usually) grants an opportunity to counter attack.

Amour is the most reliable method (as you don't need to actually do anything), though at higher levels it makes dodging attacks harder.
Dodging is the middle of the road in terms of skill, with relatively low risk for the chance to avoid all the damage of an attack.
Parrying is the hardest (and the riskiest) as you forfeit all chance to avoid damage, unless the parry is successful, which also gives you the chance to deal massive damage.

This trifecta of damage avoidance seems pretty cool to me, and is rife with interesting choices, without being over-complicated in the game.

If we wanted to port it over to our RPGs of choice, it isn't quite so simple unfortunately.

Parrying and dodging attacks require knowledge of enemy patterns and good timing on those actions, which obviously doesn't translate well at all.
Armour doesn't quite match DnD style games either, which is a shame.

I think we can make it work though.

We now have three numbers to track in combat in regards to defence (gasp, that's more than one! will it work? no idea).

You have your Dodge Rating, which is tied to reflex/dexterity. This functions like AC in DnD-likes. If an enemy attack roll is under your Dodge Rating, you take no damage.

You have your Armour Rating, which is tied strictly to your equipment. This is damage reduction; the better the armour, the more is subtracted from incoming damage, down to a minimum of 1. Your Armour Rating is also subtracted from your Dodge Rating, or something to that effect.

Finally, you have your Parry Rating, which is tied to your weapon skill. If the natural result of the enemy attack roll is equal to or less than your Parry Rating, they deal no damage, and your deal damage to them, as if you had hit them.

There is something to be said about having "active defence" rolls for things like dodging and parrying. There is also something to be said about keeping rolls down to a minimum, which is what I have gone for here. Hopefully its simple enough that its not going to be overly tricky in play.

It would probably also necessitate smaller numbers that regular DnD-likes, as anyone wearing armour takes less damage all the time if they are hit, but that'll come out in testing I think.

It also opens the door for more interesting "defensive actions". 5e's dodge is all fine and dandy, and LotFP and such's "defensive stance" or whatever it was called is also fine, but with 3 defence types, we can get more funky.

Withstand; forfeit all Dodge Rating, double your Armour Rating.

Dodge; forfeit all Parry Rating, enemy attacks have disadvantage.

Set-up Parry; forfeit all Dodge Rating, double your Parry Rating.

Its a shame I can't quite justify having a nice little defence triangle where each different action forfeited a different defence rating, but we live in an imperfect world, and that's why we can't have nice things.

I like that it seems that each action will be more or less useful depending on your set-up, and the situation, I suspect that much of the time, one will be better, but none will be terrible, and they'll all get their chance to shine.

Hopefully. We'll see I suppose.

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