Archive for the ‘ Product Development ’ Category

Q Is for Quizzical Questions Queried

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Musical Interlude

In The Boogie Knights of the Round Table (BKotRT), the player who succeeds at an action gets to narrate the results of the action. If the action is unopposed and the player fails to meet or beat the difficulty number (DN), this means the GM gets to narrate the results of the failure.

But what if the heroes are involved in a mystery? It’s easy enough to assign a clue or a crime scene a DN and then have the players narrate how their heroes approach the mystery. Then dice are rolled, and totals are compared to the DN. Simple, right?

Well, sort of. Let’s imagine Christopher’s hero Uriah Gandalfini studying a crime scene in an alley. Uriah knows that a violent crime was committed in the alley, but he needs more information than that. Fortunately, he has an acoustic guitar with him, so he strums out the beginning chords of his new song, Revealments of Ragnorak. The GM assigns a DN, and Christopher rolls the appropriate dice.

If he meets or beats the DN, Christopher narrates the results, not the GM. This means that Christopher gets to decide what information he uncovers in the alley about the crime. That’s sort of the opposite of the way detective work tends to work in RPGs. On the other hand, if Christopher doesn’t meet or beat the DN, the GM gets to narrate the results, which seems easy enough unless the information in the alley is essential to further progress in the adventure. If that’s the case, it’d be bad form to narrate Christopher’s failure as a complete failure on the part of Uriah.

These two different situations highlight the free-form, improvisational nature of BKotRT. The GM probably shouldn’t get too attached to a particular set of events or conclusions. The more the players succeed with their dice rolls, the more the players get to decide the details of the story. Also, failure doesn’t mean failure. It could mean success but with complications or unwanted consequences.

April 20th, 2015  in Product Development No Comments »

P Is for Purchasing Stuff?

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Musical Interlude

The Boogie Knights of the Round Table (BKotRT) does not include tables of equipment, weapons, vehicles, et cetera. There is no system for tracking money, monetary rewards, and other things related to expense reports. That sort of bean counting is fine for other games, but BKotRT isn’t about resource management as part of the struggle to survive grueling, violence-laden adventures. BKotRT is about the eternal spirit of rebellion against the collectivist forces of the Man.

So, one may ask, how do I know what equipment my hero has? The simple answer: Your hero owns the equipment your hero would reasonably own according to his qualities.

Beau Mandy, for example, would own a banjo. He certainly still has his costumes and other accessories from his days as a rodeo clown. He’s probably got a thick folder of legal documents pertaining to his status as an ex-con. We’ve already noted he owns a vehicle. Being full of homespun wisdom, he might own collections of writings by people like Will Rogers and Mark Twain. Does he own an M-16? Probably not. How about a high-quality combat knife? Again, probably not. Could he walk into a brawl swinging a tire iron? Of course he could. We’ve already seen him change a tire.

What about Uriah Gandalfini? Well, he’s a progressive rock wizard, so he probably has a few tomes related to the arcane arts as well as musical instrument of some sort. Probably a cello. As a high-brow lyricist, he’s got pens and journals, probably a collection of books about mythology, and a public library card. Since he’s an adult, it’s reasonable to assume he also owns a vehicle. He’s got clothes, a place to live, and so forth. Does Uriah have an all-seeing crystal sphere? Doubtful.

If, during the course of an adventure, a hero finds himself without his stuff, he might find his qualities reduced in utility or completely useless, depending on the situation. If Beau loses his banjo, he’s still an ex-con who can play the banjo, but he’s going to have to pass on that picking-and-grinning jam session unless someone loans him an instrument. Equipment can be lost, replaced, and acquired during the course of an adventure as the story unfolds. Can the heroes steal a Ferrari? Sure, and then they can use it in a high-speed chase.

But, there’s a catch. Between the time one adventure ends and the next begins, stuff not appropriate to a hero’s qualities goes away. This is part of the story. Last adventure, Uriah stole a Ferrari. At the start of the new adventure, he’s back to driving his hatchback. What happened to the Ferrari? Well, that depends on what makes sense and what makes the story entertaining. Likewise, Beau may get his hands on a machine gun during the course of an adventure, but he’s not going to get to keep it as a permanent part of his gear.

Permanent changes in stuff occur almost always as a specific reward from the GM or from the addition of a new quality. Otherwise, just like in a TV show, the heroes start each new episode pretty much the way they start every new episode. Heck, in some shows, the heroes’ clothes don’t even change all that much. Watch a few episodes of Magnum, P.I. to see what I mean.

April 18th, 2015  in Product Development No Comments »

N Is for Non-Player Characters

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Musical Interlude

None of the character creation rules posted earlier this month apply to non-player characters (NPCs). The players’ characters are the heroes, and they get special treatment at creation time. In contrast, NPCs are challenges, enemies, or resources, and they are typically defined by one or two qualities and a certain number of hit points.

Most NPCs are people, animals, or something similar. The GM just assigns whatever qualities seem appropriate. One or two qualities is usually enough. These qualities are assigned a couple of dice chosen to reflect the NPC’s average level of difficulty. Then add a certain number of hit points, usually no more than 3 hit points per hero. Consider, for example, a Glass-Jawed Brawler. He’s a rough and tumble sort of fellow. He packs a hefty punch, but he usually gets by on intimidation, which is good since he can’t take a punch. Make him a Glass-Jawed Brawler 2d8. Give him 1 hit point per hero for physical damage, but 3 hit points per hero for social damage.

In The Boogie Knights of the Round Table (BKotRT), a situation can also be an NPC. That mysterious package could be a Devilishly Clever Bomb 2d6. Those dice don’t necessarily tell how much damage the bomb does. Instead, the dice are pitted against a hero’s attempts to disable it. This could be played as a simple action or an extended action, but in this latter case, the bomb needs hit points.

Finally, an NPC could be several foes who individually aren’t significant but together represent a threat or obstacle. Perhaps a villainous dee-jay develops a mind-control turntable. He could attack the heroes with a Mind-Controlled Mob 1d6+1d8. The mob has a shared hit point total. Every time the mob is injured, narration describes a few casualties, drop outs, retreaters, et cetera.

The emphasis in BKotRT is speed and fun, not intricately detailed game prep. These guidelines for NPCs are designed to facilitate these goals.

April 16th, 2015  in Product Development No Comments »

M Is for Magic, Mutants, and Martians

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Musical Interlude

For the past twelve letters, the world of The Boogie Knights of the Round Table (BKotRT) has been in many ways comparable to the real world of the seventh and eighth decades of the twentieth century. Here’s where things get a little bit weird. Magic, psionics, alien, and super-powers exist in BKotRT. In order to see how these fantastical abilities work within the context of the rules, we need a new sample character. Fortunately, Christopher wants to play one of these amazing heroes. He gets an index card, a pencil, and spends his points. Here’re the results:

Uriah Gandalfini
Kung-Fu d4, Brains d10, Cool d6
Progressive Rock Wizard d10, High-Brow Lyricist d6

With his Progressive Rock Wizard quality, Uriah is capable of a wide variety of magical feats that revolve around mythological references, strange key changes, and piercing shrieks. Let’s put Uriah in some situations to see how his sorcerous rock powers work.

A trio of goons chase Uriah across the rooftop of a hotel. Uriah sees the edge of the roof coming up fast. Darkness yawns on the other side of roof’s edge. Without slowing down, Uriah leaps, calling upon the wings of Icarus to assist him. Christopher rolls Kung-Fu plus Progressive Rock Wizard, or d4+d10. The GM sets the difficulty number (DN) at 10. It’s a long way down and across to the roof of the nearest building. Christopher just makes the roll, and Uriah flies on shimmering wings trailing rainbow sparks to land safely on the roof of the Chinese restaraunt across the alley. The goons skid to a halt at the roof’s edge above, none too happy about losing Uriah.

A few moments later, Uriah is on the street, head down and alert. He sees the swirling red and blue lights of a cop car reflected off the buildings ahead. Knowing that the corrupt cops he’s been investigating have been alerted, Uriah pauses. There’s nowhere to hide. He leans against a brick wall and hums the chorus from his song about Pluto’s cap of invisibility. The police in the car match their die roll against Uriah’s Cool plus Progressive Rock Wizard. Uriah wins, and the police pass by without spotting him.

The process for extended actions would work in a similar manner. Uriah could call upon the cacophony of chaos can attack a foe’s sense of decency. Rolls would be made, totals compared, and the appropriate damage inflicted. Mental and alien powers work in much the same as described above. A Grizzled Mentalist d8 or an Alien Intelligence Possessing a Go-Go Dancer d6 could use their respective qualities for various feats that fit those themes.

I’m considering making hero points part of the requirement for such versatile feats, but I’m also not convinced that’s necessary. Other qualities can be versatile as well, and it’s possible the instinct to impose an additional burden on supernatural/superhuman qualities should be ignored.

April 15th, 2015  in Product Development No Comments »

L Is for Let’s Dance

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Musical Interlude

Sooner or later, any group of heroes adventuring in the world The Boogie Knights of the Round Table (BKotRT) will find themselves embroiled in some sort of artistic battle: a dance off, a free flow rap slap down, dueling banjos, et cetera. When the conflict starts, it might be tempting to pit the heroes against the opposing team, and then start rolling dice, comparing numbers, figuring out who takes how much of what type of damage. Ah, good times.

But, this isn’t what happens in, say, a dance off. Yes, the heroes and their opponents are competing against each other, but they are competing against each other the approval of the audience. The team that wins is the team what wins over the spectators. Before the contest starts, the GM decides how many approval points are needed to win. He also gives the audience a quality, such Jaded Hip Hop Mob 2d8. Keep an eye on the average the audience can roll. Jaded Hip Hop Mob’s average roll would be 9, which gives the GM a gauge for how tough the crowd is. For approval points, I recommend 1 to 3 per hero. Then, the battle begins.

Deal out cards just like an initiative situation. It’s okay if the action doesn’t really flow this way. BKotRT doesn’t mind nonlinearity. Maybe the heroes take the stage, play their set, and then the next act takes the stage in the actual sequence of events. That doesn’t mean, however, that the action at the table needs to go that way. Go all Brian De Palma split screen, and mess with time as well. The crowd isn’t going to make its decision until it’s seen every act, so you might as well imagine the conflict as a montage where the action is more important than the actual sequence of events.

Run the conflict as a normal extended action. Each player takes a turn describing his hero’s contribution to his team’s act. When adjudicating, keep in mind the appropriateness of qualities. Beau Mandy’s Ex-Con Banjo Player quality serves him well at a bluegrass hoedown, but not quite as well staring down the angry faces surrounding a speed metal mosh pit. The GM rolls the audience’s quality. If the hero wins, he doesn’t do damage, but instead earns approval points, which are calculated the same way damage is. The first team to earn the necessary number of approval points wins the audience’s favor and the contest.

April 14th, 2015  in Product Development No Comments »