U Is for Under the Man’s Thumb

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Musical Interlude

This month of The Boogie Knights of the Round Table (BKotRT) has frequently mentioned the Man, but no post so far has been devoted specifically to the Man. It’s time to remedy that because understanding the Man is important for understanding the world of BKotRT. First off, it must be known that the Man is not a man. He’s not a he.

Instead, the Man is a perverse system perpetuated by cabal of powerful individuals occupying diverse positions in society. The Man includes politicans, businessmen, CEOs, advertising execs, preachers, professors, and more. Those who comprise the Man hold to a variety of creeds and opinions, but they are unified around a common goal shaped by a common belief.

In short, the Man understands that a divided people are more easily manipulated and subjugated. Consequently, while the Man may use fine words and deliver noble-sounding platitudes, he is always selective about his audience. The Man twists words to create a pervasive worldview built around two interpretive lenses: tribe and class. To the middle class, he warns about the threat of the swelling lower class and the rapacious greed of the upper class. To the black man, he talks about the endemic racism of the white man. To the environmentalists, he talks about the crushing burden of population growth, especially in the so-called Third World, and in the Third World he talks about the dangers of imperialism.

When a new idea or form of expression becomes popular, the Man works to turn transform it from popular to populist, which is just another way of fomenting division. Popular is genuinely of the people. Populism is catch-phrases and fads turned into marketable political merchandise. Thus, society goes from Waylon Jennings to Luke Bryan. Hip hop goes from Kurtis Blow to The Black Eyed Peas. Punk goes from The Ramones to Nirvana, and gets relabeled “alternative” along the way.

The heroes of BKotRT stand against the Man, striving to keep their art pure. They stand for the man on the street not the Man on Wall Street. During this eternal struggle, the heroes must remain alert. The Man does not tolerate opposition for long, and the dangers are real. Just ask Federico García Lorca, assuming you can find whatever dark hole the Man dragged him into.

Stay strong, and play loud!

April 24th, 2015  in Product Development No Comments »

T Is for Taking a Day Off

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Musical Interlude

That’s right. I’m taking the day off. No Boogie Knights post today. I heading out for a meeting about a pilgrimage to England and Ireland for my children, and then I’m heading over to Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church for the monthly meeting of the Walsingham Holy Smokes Society.

That’s right. I’ve got a date with a few shots of Krupnik, perhaps a Jacobite ballad or two, and doing something other than fretting about work.

Huzzah.

April 23rd, 2015  in RPG No Comments »

S Is for Sudden Developments

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Musical Interlude

Back to the topic of hero points in The Boogie Knights of the Round Table (BKotRT), I find myself drawn over and over again to one of the concepts fundamental to Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. In that game, heroes can use a Plot Point (that system’s name for a hero point) to alter the current scene. This alteration creates what in BKotRT is a quality with a die rating. The hero then can use this quality as part their narrated action. I like this idea, but the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying version is a tad too complex for BKotRT.

So, let’s simplify.

For the cost of a hero point, a player can narrate a sudden development during a scene. This can be a change to the environment (Blaring Fire Alarms), a lucky break (Keys in the Ignition), a useful bit of something (Gas-Powered Chainsaw), et cetera. The only real limits are the power of the player’s imagination, the force of his narrative, and the good nature of the GM. The new quality is rated at 1d6. The player can then use the new quality as part of any action in which he can reasonably narrate the new quality’s influence. This ends up giving the player three dice to roll: ability score plus two qualities. The player then picks the two best dice to generate his hero’s action total.

The duration of the new quality, who else can use it, and other such questions are too numerous and wide open to try to come up with much in the way of rules. In short, if it makes sense and/or makes the story better, a sudden development quality may be used by a wide variety of persons active in the current scene, to possibly include the bad guys.

April 22nd, 2015  in Product Development No Comments »

R Is for Rest and Recovery

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Musical Interlude

The Boogie Knights of the Round Table (BKotRT) doesn’t currently have a system for healing. Heroes have three sets of hit points, and those hit points recover at a rate more or less determined by the GM and what makes sense in the story. Such healing is generally assumed to occur in between scenes.

But what if a hero has a quality related to healing, such as Operatic Paramedic or Attentive Bartender? Shouldn’t this sort of hero be able to make some sort of roll and restore hit points to his target? Seems reasonable to me. And what about hero points for emergency recovery? That’s a fairly standard application for things like hero points. That also seems reasonable.

Here’s what I’m thinking:

A hero with an appropriate quality can roll against a difficulty number (DN) set by the GM. If he equals or exceeds the DN, his target recovers hit points equal to one-half his maximum total. Uriah has 4 Kung-Fu hit points. If he’s down to one, and a hero applies first aid successfully, Uriah regains 2 hit points. Just to keep things simple, hero points can work the same way, but without the dice rolling. I’m inclined to limit healing to once per scene.

April 21st, 2015  in Product Development No Comments »

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 »