April 25, 2016

Questing GM's Guide to Playing 5th Edition D&D for FREE (AND LEGALLY)!

Between the published books, supplements, adventures, dices and the tools you need to play the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, the cost of getting into this edition may seem daunting and need a large investment at first. But that isn't the case. Far from it. One might say that getting into this edition of Dungeons & Dragons has never been more easier and cheaper than previous editions.

In fact, it is very possible to have a fully functional group playing the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons without spending a dime, and without resorting to any illegal means at all.

So for the cash-strapped player who wants to get into the new edition, here are some possible ways and suggestions to help you:
  1. Get the Basic Rules.
    The first essential buys anyone would tell you to get at almost every edition of D&D would always come down to the what is commonly known as the core rules; the Players Handbook, the Dungeon Master's Guide and the Monster Manual. While players are usually required to buy only the Players Handbook out of the three, going at around RM150-250 apiece (depending on where you buy it) certainly won't be going easy on your wallets.

    But before the 3 core rulebooks were released, Wizards of the Coast had actually released the Player's Basic Rules, which you can get entirely for free (legally) here. In it you already get the bare essential races (elves, dwarves, humans and halflings with their associated sub-races), classes (the standard 4; fighter, cleric, rogue, and wizard), and it has ALL the rules you need to play the game that you would find in the Players Handbook.

    In the Dungeon Master's Basic Rules, aside from giving you the tools to create the building blocks of an adventure or entire campaigns, it has the stats of monsters from the lowly Rat to the majestic Adult Red Dragon, not to mention the most common Magic Items your party will ever need. This is practically the Dungeon Masters Guide and Monster Manual combined into one. That's like killing two giants with one spell.

    In fact, one added advantage of the Basic Rules over the hardback and printed rulebooks in this edition is that they are updated and incorporated with the latest erratas that Wizards put out every now and then throughout the lifecycle of the edition. You only need to re-download the latest version of the file for the latest updates, but try adding new paragraphs or writing over your expensive hardbacks.

    Basically, with just the Basic Rules alone, you already have the main engine to play (and even run) the game. The only thing you are missing out are just more options, but nothing is stopping you from replicating the Barbarian class with the model of the Fighter class, and a creative DM can make do with the guidelines and stats of the monsters to make their own version of an Aboleth. The only thing you need is just an electronic devise where you can view the downloaded files, or an internet connection to peruse the web (and mobile friendly) version of the Basic Rules (Players, DM).
  2. Embrace the Digital Revolution.
    Tabletop roleplaying has come a long way from its paper, pencil and dice days. If a gamer from the early days of roleplaying time traveled to the technological options that we have today, he would have failed that Wisdom saving throw against awesome. There is a huge selection of apps (mobile, web or otherwise) that can help from creating characters for players to managing your game as DMs, and they are only going to be more the longer the edition ages. Even non-RPG/D&D specific apps can be used, if the GM has the right gaming and organising mindset too. (You can find more suggested apps from this thread at the Dungeons & Dragons in Malaysia Facebook Group)

    Until you can afford your first set of shiny (and hopefully blessed) physical polyhedrons, dices have now been codified into random-number generators (for Android or iPhone), so you should probably be praying to the algorithm gods (or RNGesus) until you are initiated into the mercy of the One True Dice God.

    Even the entire tabletop experience has been put on online virtual platforms, and has highly improved from the days of forum-based roleplaying or real-time web clients. Decent free virtual tabletops (VTTs) like Roll20, provide not only just the most basic (and some pretty advanced) tools you need, but the endless possibility of playing with anyone and anywhere with a decent internet connection (that probably needs much less than a typical MMORPG).

    While there are top-notch apps and software that you can pay for, there are just as many if not more free apps for the thin wallet gamer. The only investment you need to use these tools is the time to learn how to use them.
  3. Buying as a Group.
    A gaming group is a sacred bond than most realised. Having the perfect gaming group is harder than finding that perfect girlfriend (and if she is not a gamer, she is not the ONE). Taking bad relationship advice from a gaming blog aside, having the perfect gaming group means that you are almost guaranteed to have endless hours of fun and memories, a lasting friendship, but also an avenue to the powers of Economies of Scale. Yes, having a gaming group can drastically reduce the burden of paying up the expenses of gaming.

    Think about it this way. If you are in a group that plays together, how many PHBs do you really need to have on the table during the session? If there is only one DM in the group, wouldn't it be cheaper if everyone chipped in to buy the DMG or MM, since he or she is doing all the hard work to run the game for the group anyway? If another person in the group wants to be the DM, the current DM can just handover the set the group had already bought, rather than the new DM having to buy their own set.

    Just on a rough calculation if a group of 6 (5 players and 1 DM) buys 2 copies of the PHB, and 1 DMG and MM at an average price of RM230 for each book, it splits into just over RM150 per person (RM230 x 4 / 6). That might be a heavy initial investment to make at first, but it is certainly cheaper than having to buy one of the books alone, and at RM150, you probably wouldn't be able to even put one on your shelf. Also remember that these books have a high reusable value (or ROI) because they are fuel for anything that can happen on the table. It certainly makes that new PlayStation 4 game look less worth its money.
  4. Remember the Bare Essentials.
    Although there are plenty of shiny stuff and cool tools to buy for tabletop RPGs, when it all comes down to it, just remember that you only need very few things to play a tabletop roleplaying game.

    Aside from a character sheet (that can be just an empty piece of A4), a makeshift dice (or RNG) and the free rules, you already have the most powerful and cheapest tool to play; imagination. A single person's imagination is already more vivid and memorable than the most cutting edge graphics that a computer can render, and a shared imagination can be an almost transcendental experience.

    With just the barest essentials, a session can be as impressive as one that has the fanciest technology and gaming tools at their disposal. Remember that it's not about the tools at your disposal, but how you use them. So don't let money be a barrier to you from playing a game of Dungeons & Dragons and having fun.

Last Updated: 27/4/2016

March 7, 2015

{Quest Log} A New Adventure Begins...

Again an unexpected silence has fell upon the blog and it is frustrating to know after so many attempts to get my blogging swing back, it hasn't been right. However, unlike my previous unplanned hiatuses, my gaming activity has not been completely down. In fact, I had managed to finish running The Lost Mine of Phandelver with my gaming mates from my schooling days through the power of the internet (i.e. Roll20).

I may or may not return to complete the [Let's Look At] series that I had left off since I believe almost everyone by now would have familiarize themselves with the Basic Rules, if not the Players Handbook.

While the experience I've gathered from there would be a tale to tell another day, I'm (re)starting this new series of blog posts to put me on track to a regular posting schedule. I'm calling this the {Quest Log}; a simply log of my gaming adventures in real life. While I know not everyone loves to read about blow-by-blow details of the gaming sessions of other players, I'm making this a reason to make sure this blog doesn't stay dead too often.

For the inaugural post of this new series, I'm glad to announce that after running 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons as a DM, I have finally been given a chance to play it as a player!

An old gaming friend of mine has opted to run a test-run session, having found some time to catch up with the latest edition, and I couldn't be more voluntary to sign up. While I would also love to continue growing and learning about the new rules, it is always quite a different experience to use the rules from the perspective across the screen.

The DM this time would be running a homebrew and has already given us a title for the adventure. His synopsis is as below:

It's the Age of Withering, and the world is dying. For hundreds of years, archmages in all the realms tried in vain to stop its slow death. When sustenance became scarce, the imminent doom drove everyone mad for their survival. Then one night the stars aligned and showed a young seer the answer: Exodus. Her followers constructed The Threshold - a colossal magical construct that maintains a portal to a young and lush new world.
Two generations later, in the twilight years of the Old World, the Great Exodus was almost complete. All have fled to the New world, but few chose to remain: those who protect The Threshold, those who refused to leave, and the Last Prince.

Already I'm liking the setup, though where all our characters would fit into this story (are we the last protectors? Or those making the Exodus?) hasn't been discussed and cleared yet, as of character generation.

Since our DM is stationed in a state away from us, we were called to game on Roll20 where we would convene for character generation. Character generation happened throughout the whole of last week and there was a total of 5 of us who turned up. Using the standard character generation rules from the Basic Rules, I created a Fighter. I hadn't put much thought of what kind of character I wanted to play before the gen session, but I was easily inspired and guided by the Backgrounds and Personality chapter to find the niche that I wanted to fill.

So I introduce to you: Mecurius Voltan

Fighter 1 (Background: Soldier, Specialty: Officer)

STR: 17 (+3)
DEX: 14 (+2)
CON: 16 (+3)
INT: 12 (+1)
WIS: 14 (+2)
CHA: 14 (+2)

Hitpoints: 13
AC: 16 (Chain Mail)

Melee Weapons:
Pike (+5 to Hit, 1d10+3 Piercing Damage), Long Sword (+5 to Hit, 1d8+3 Slashing Damage)

Ranged Weapons:
Light Crossbow (+4 to Hit, 1d8 Piercing Damage)

Skills Proficiency:

  • Animal Handling (from Soldier Background)
  • Athletics (from Soldier Background)
  • Intimidation (from Class)
  • Perception (from Class)

Tools Proficiency:

  • Vehicle, Land (from Soldier Background)
  • Gaming Set (Dice) (from Soldier Background)
Our first gaming session could happen in about a week from now. I hope I will be able to post about it when it finally happens. 

August 1, 2013

[Let's Look At] Mutants & Machine-Guns: A Gonzo Post-Apocalyptic RPG, Part 11: Sample Combat 2

Several weeks ago, I was delighted to find a couple friends of mine in my hometown have been up to something exciting, and I thought what better way than to launch a new series of posts to revive this long-dead blog. [Let's Look At] is where I try to read through and dissect every chapter and corner of a new RPG that I have yet to play, and explore it with all of my musings about its design, some notes, and experimental plays to better understand it. I don't really intend these examinations to be a review of the game, but rants and raves may seep through the seams at times.

In my last [Let's Look At] post, I pitted my sample characters against a group of Spike Mushrooms that were quite easily dispatched to demonstrate the Combat rules of Mutants & Machine-Guns.

While the sample scenario did an admirable job of showing how the basics of the Combat rules worked, there were a few concerns that I wasn't able to showcase in that scenario due to the fragility of the enemies. I wasn't even able to show how Psionics worked because the Spike Mushrooms were taken down so easily within 3 rounds.

So I decided to run another combat scenario, this time with much tougher enemies for my characters to see how the tactics and the dynamics of the combat would turn out differently with more challenging critters. This time I would set my characters against a group of Porkers, also found as one of the sample critters in Mutants & Machine-Guns.

Continuing where I last left off my characters...

Clearing the previous occupants of the wreckage site, our characters burned the bodies before conducting a thorough search with a better peace of mind. Though still cautious in case more critters showed up, our characters managed to find some much needed ammunition and food from the site. After they were done, the sky was slowly turning dark, and our characters decided that they would camp on the site for the night in a defensible position from any unwanted intruders in the night.

After having their meal of canned mushrooms which the previous occupants were more than glad to leave alone, the Pure Human and Mutant Human decided to turn in while the Evolved Animal would take the first watch. As the humans soundly went into sleep, the mutated tiger gazed upon the stars of the night sky and for a moment, forgot the troubles of surviving in the wasteland. That would not last forever, however, as his keen sense of smell picked up a whiff of danger in the wind; a smell of fur and feces that unmistakably belongs to a group of Porkers, who thought that they could ambush the sleepy crew. There were 3 of them, he could tell.

Quickly waking up his comrades while having his battle axe drawn, the Pure Human and Mutant Human were able to arm themselves with their firearms and close-ranged weapons while awaiting the approaching intruders. Sensing that their prey had long detected their presence and were ready for them, the Porkers emerged out of darkness and charged towards them...

Because the characters were attacked before the day had past, I would assume that my Mutant Human was not able to generate any new Detonating Pods, so she continues to only carry 1 that is with her. Also, I am considering that the characters had rested a full evening, so their Hitpoints are restored back to full after their last encounter. 

Combat Setup
Round 1

Like before, I would use the same initiative for the Porkers, while each character would have their own chance to roll for their own initiative. After rolling their Combat Rolls, this is the initiative order for combat after adding their respective Combat ability;

Mutant Human 10
Evolved Animal 8 
Pure Human 5 (simultaneous)
Porker 5 (simultaneous)

Making sure that her pistol is loaded, the Mutant Human takes the lead and steps forward to get into range of the Porkers and uses the Move action to get into plane B.

Up next, the Evolved Animal follows behind with a Move action to plane B carrying his battle axe as he notices that two of the Porkers are armed with Clubs, while the third has a Shotgun.

The Pure Human grows a little nervous but follows behind his comrades with his Shotgun and takes a Move action to join with his comrades.

All the Porkers grunt through their nostrils as they move to plane E with their Move action and end the round. 

At the end of Round 1
Round 2

Entering into Round 2, the Mutant Human takes another step with her Move action into plane C that puts her in range to fire her Pistol at the Porkers. Rolling 2 from 2d6 and adding her Combat ability gives her a total of 5, which misses the Porker with a Defense of 9. She rolls 2d6 to see if she has to reload her weapon and doesn't get a double.

The Evolved Animal stands next to her after using his Move action but doesn't have a ranged weapon to use on the Porker, so he ends his turn waiting for them to close in.

Stepping into range after using his Move action, the Pure Human fires his Shotgun at one of the Porkers. He also misses with his total roll of 6 after adding his Combat ability and the battle is off to a bad start for the characters. Rolling 2d6 at the end of his turn, he gets double 2s on his dice, which means that he has used up all his ammo in his Shotgun and would need to reload it before he can use it again.

The Porkers take one more step closer towards the characters with their Move action into plane D, except for the one armed with the Shotgun who fires it at the Mutant Human. Hitting a Defense of 9 with his Combat ability of 3, she takes a critical 9 Damage from the blast, knocking down her Hitpoints to 6. Rolling to see if it needs to reload, the dices tell him that there is more where that came from. Already the tide of the battle is swinging in favour of the Porkers.

At the end of Round 2
Round 3

Badly wounded from the single Shotgun blast of the Porker in the last round, the Mutant Human desperately needs to regain the lost Hitpoints if she wants to keep fighting. With the situation calling for it, she takes a Psionic action and decides to use Life Leech to drain some Hitpoints from a Porker in the adjacent plane. To use her Psionic Mutation she must lose 1 Hitpoint, taking it down to 5 and then make a Mental roll to see if she successfully uses it. She rolls a 7 out of 2d6 and adding her Mental ability of 3, she passes the Target Number of 9. Whipping the Porker with a psionic lash, the Porker takes 6 Damage out of a d6 but has 4 remaining Hitpoints, while she regains the same amount to her Hitpoint, bringing her up to 11. 

With his Move action to plane D, the Evolved Animal charges towards the unhurt Porker and swings his battle axe to draw first blood. Hitting a Defense of 11, with his roll and Combat ability, the axe deals 5 Damage, taking the Porker's Hitpoint down to 5.

Forced to use a Reload action, the Pure Human watches helplessly as the battle is joined.

The drained Porker tries to step towards the Mutant Human but according to the rules, combatants are not allowed to pass through enemies that are in the same plane. Since the Evolved Animal is in the same plane, he has effectively created a bottle neck that must be eliminated before it can move forward. With no other target it can attack, the Porkers of plane D goes for a flanking attack on the Evolved Animal to take it out. The first Porker gets a total of 11 for his Combat Roll over the Evolved Animal's Defense of 9, bludgeoning him with 3 damage out of 1d6 to reduce his Hitpoints down to 8. The next Porker attacks and hit a Defense of 9, just enough to deal an additional Damage of 3 to the Evolved Animal and pummeling his Hitpoints down to 5.

Seeing the Mutant Human using her Psionic Mutation, the Shotgun-wielding Porker decides to fire another shot at her. Hitting her Defense of 9 with a higher Combat Roll of 11, she barely survives with 3 Hitpoints after taking 8 devastating Damage from the Shotgun. Rolling a 2 and 1 indicates that the Porker doesn't need to reload on his next turn, as it is ready to finish off the Mutant Human once and for all.    

At the end of Round 3
Round 4

Although taking heavy fire, she plans to take a risk to put an end to the Porker she had used her Life Leech on. With her Use an Item action, the Mutant Human draws out her Detonating Pod from her stash and tosses it at the Porker. Here comes the tricky part. In the rules for Detonating Pod, it is unclear what is its range and whether she needs to make a Combat Roll to hit the enemy with it. So for the sake of following the default Combat rules, I would ask her to treat it as a normal attack that requires a Combat Roll.  With a roll of 9 and adding her Combat ability of 2, she hits at 11 which is more than the Porker's defense. The pod explodes on the Porker dealing 5 damage out of 1d6+2, killing it into a cloud of bacon.

Still joined in battle with the other Porker, the Evolved Animal continues his attack with a Combat Roll of 8, which is parried by the Porker's club.

Desperate to distract the ranged Porker from killing his mutant counterpart, the Pure Human aims with his Shotgun and fires with a Combat Roll of 9. His shot deals 6 Damage to the Porker, while he taunts it to get its attention. Meanwhile, he cocks his Shotgun to find there is still more shots to fire.

Not disheartened by the fall of his compatriot, the Porker on plane D continues to attack the Evolved Animal and hits it with a Combat Roll of 10, and dealing only a minor Damage of 2 to take its Hitpoint down to 3.

After taking a heavy hit from the Shotgun of the Pure Human, the ranged Porker realises the true threat that is on the battlefied. He swings his own weapon to fire at the Pure Human and hits him with a 9, dealing 9 Damage to him to reduce his Hitpoint down to 6. Pumping his weapon once more, the Porker intends to finish the job without needing to reload on his next turn.

At the end of Round 4
Round 5

Seeing the dire situation that they have fallen in, the Mutant Human tries to even the odds by trying to kill the most dangerous Porker with its Shotgun. Trusting in her Mental ability more than her Combat ability, she uses her Move action into plane D to get into range, and takes a Psionic action to use Life Leech on the ranged Porker, hoping to drain all of its life force to kill it. After cutting her Hitpoint by 1 down to 2, she makes her Mental roll and gets a total of 11 to successfully use her psionic mutation. With all her concentration, her pulls out a total of 5 Damage from the weaken Porker and kills it while she subsumes its life energy into her, bringing her Hitpoint up to 6, since the Porker only had 4 Hitpoints remaining.

Seeking to finish the battle, the Evolved Animal goes for another strike at the last Porker and barely strikes true with a Combat Roll of 9. The Porker tries to block the attack one more time with its club, but the Evolved Animal's attack was so ferociously that his battle axes cleaves through the weapon and rends a huge tear from shoulder to torso, killing it with 8 Damage.

At last, the battle is over as the characters take a few moments to breath a sigh of relief from the bloody encounter. They decided that it would be too dangerous to remain in the wreck site if more of the Porkers come poking around for their lost comrades and quickly pack up to leave. Of course, they didn't forget to take along that dangerous Shotgun the Porker was using, which would be very useful in future adventures.

Combat Ends

That was a really close call. I nearly lost a couple of my characters there but admittedly those Porkers are pretty dangerous with a high Combat ability of 3, which makes hitting a 9 Defense quite easy. It was a good scenario though because the toughness of the combat did allow me to see some of the quirks and gave me some some thoughts about combat.

Firstly, any combat-related Mutations should have proper combat-related explanations, especially if they need a Combat Roll to use and its Range, if any. It's hard to adjudicate sometimes because with unclear rules, there can be many interpretations of it.

Completely not allowing combatant to passed through an enemy on the same plane feels a little too restrictive and can be exploited. By restricting combatants from moving pass an enemy would just encourage 'bottlenecking' tactics that I demonstrated earlier. I suggest that combatants should be allowed to make a Combat Roll against the enemy with the highest Combat ability on the same plane. If they are higher, they may pass and failure means they have to stay (maybe incur an Attack of Opportunity kind of consequence). I'm basing this that is something similar to the Flee rules, which I didn't get to use in this scenario, but I think having a chance to do this means it could add another dimension to the tactics of combat, instead of 'charge-and-kill'.

Again I think there should be rules for firing into close combat, although I deliberately tried not to do that in this scenario. However, ranged weapons just feels a little overpowering as it is when compared to close combat, especially if they can be used in any kind of situations. I'm guessing that they shouldn't be allowed to be used when the character is in same plane with an enemy, but that hasn't been stated in the rules as well. Maybe having certain conditions to 'force' characters into close combat could balance this factor.

I liked how using Psionic Mutations are a risky gamble like how often my Mutant Human could have died if her attempts had failed. It's a good thing for players to weight the benefits and risks about this aspect of this mutations and the payoff after a success feels about right.

Another small suggestion that I might add is to allow characters to take their Move first or after they have taken their other action. This could add some tactical element for the player and makes combat feel less restrictive, if they want to be able to make every one of their actions count.

Until there is a new update for the rules, which I think could certainly benefit it, I think this concludes my [Let's Look At] series for Mutants & Machine-Guns. I believe the designers can further solidify some of the foundations of this otherwise really quick and fund game to play, and there is certainly more potential areas that it can expand to, though I think that would be the subject of many more supplements for this book.

So for now, see you in my next post when I find something new to write about.    

July 25, 2013

[Let's Look At] Mutants & Machine-Guns: A Gonzo Post-Apocalyptic RPG, Part 10: Sample Combat

Several weeks ago, I was delighted to find a couple friends of mine in my hometown have been up to something exciting, and I thought what better way than to launch a new series of posts to revive this long-dead blog. [Let's Look At] is where I try to read through and dissect every chapter and corner of a new RPG that I have yet to play, and explore it with all of my musings about its design, some notes, and experimental plays to better understand it. I don't really intend these examinations to be a review of the game, but rants and raves may seep through the seams at times.

For the past [Let's Look At] posts, I started going into the character creation process for Mutants & Machine-Guns. Now that I have a character for each of the Races (Pure Human, Mutant Human and Evolved Animal), I can move on to the next part of the rules that I wanted to test out with these characters.

To test out the Combat, I would be creating a simple scenario to test run the Combat rules and see if there are any deficiencies that would need to be addressed, but more importantly for me is to see how smooth and/or easy combat can be run by me as GM.

For the sample scenario, I would have my characters be attacked by a group of four Spike Mushrooms; the sample critters that were provided at the end of the rules, using the battle field that is provided.

So let's begin:

After traveling for days across the wasteland in search for anything they could salvage, our characters have stumbled upon a wreck site. Delighted that they may find something useful stashed underneath the wreckage, their joy was shortlived when they heard angry chattering surrounding them. Little do our characters know, they had walked into a temporary lair of a group of Spike Mushrooms, and the owners are not too happy in having guests.

To begin combat, all the combatants are placed at the ends of the battlefield with the characters on plane A, while the Spike Mushrooms are on plane F. For the sake of this combat, I would consider that my Mutant Human character had generated 1 Detonating Pod from her Mutation for the day, which she keeps as her equipment.

Combat Setup

As combat begins, we first decide who would go first. So each of my characters would roll their own separate Combat Rolls, while I decided that the Spike Mushrooms would share the same Combat Roll for their order.

Pure Human rolls 7 from 2d6 plus his Combat ability of 2 for a total of 9.
Mutant Human gets a 7 too and her Combat ability is also a 2 for a total of 9. 
Evolved Animal gets a 5 from his 2d6 roll, but add a 3 from his Combat ability for a total of 8.

The Spike Mushrooms all share a roll of 12 and with their Combat ability of 1, they go at 13.

While my Pure Human and Mutant Human share the same initiative count because of their same results, neither of them would need to re-roll or compare their Combat ability because in Mutants & Machine-Guns, it says that characters that get the same Combat Roll result would act simultaneously. 

So this would be the initiative order for this sample scenario.

Spiked Mushrooms 13
Pure Human 9 (simultaneous)
Mutant Human 9 (simultaneous)
Evolved Animal 8

Round 1
Armed with nothing but their spiked heads, all the Spike Mushrooms use the Move action to move up one plane as they angrily chatter amongst themselves on what they should do to these scavenging invaders.

Up next, unable to reach the Spike Mushrooms with their ranged weapons (both with a range of 2), the Pure Human and Mutant Human also take the Move action to move up a plane as well.

Lastly, the Evolved Animal gripping his Battle Axe and eager to have a bite at his enemies also charges forward with a Move action.
At the end of Round 1

Round 2
Seeing their enemy getting closer, the Spike Mushroom advance as they want to get closer to engage with their enemy and use the Move action once again to move up to plane D.

Finally within range of their weapons, Pure Human pumps his Shotgun and fires into one of the Spike Mushroom. He uses the Attack action and makes a Combat Roll against the DEF of the Spike Mushroom to see if he hits. Rolling a 6 out of 2d6 and adding his Combat ability of 2, he hits a DEF of 8, which exceeds the Spike Mushroom's Defense of 5. As the buckshot tears into the flimsy body of the Spike Mushroom, it deals 5 Damage out of 1d6+3, just enough to put the Spike Mushroom out of commission.

The Mutant Human seeing that a blast from the Shotgun is able to kill a Spike Mushroom, tries using her Pistol from the same range to get the same effect on another Spike Mushroom. She rolls a 5 for her Combat Roll, adding a 2 from her Combat ability which hits a DEF of 7; more than the DEF of the other Spike Mushroom. Not as effective as a powerful Shotgun though, her Pistol only deals 3 damage from 1d6 but badly hurts the Spike Mushroom by taking its Hitpoints down to 2.

After firing their weapons, both Pure Human and Mutant Human will have to roll 2d6s each to see if they need to reload. The Pure Human gets a 6 and 2, while the Mutant Human rolls a 4 and 3. So both of them are free to fire again in the next round. 

Not distracted by the bangs of his allies weapons, the Evolved Animal runs close towards the enemy, gripping his Battle Axe ever tighter and grinding his teeth to bite into some Spike Mushroom.
End of Round 2
Round 3
Seeing one of their own being taken out further enraged the unwounded Spike Mushrooms as they charge in and use a Move action to enter into plane C where the Evolved Animal had entered in the last round. But for the one that took a shot is starting to falter and decides to fall back into plane E to make towards the exit.

Charging headlong into the Evolved Animal, both the remaining Spike Mushroom rushed towards him head first with their spikes as they try to impale him. The first Spike Mushroom rolls a 9 out of 2d6 and adds 1 for their Combat ability for a total of 10, which is more than the Evolved Animal's unmodified DEF of 9. The Spike deals 4 Damage to the Evolved Animal.

For the second attacker, the Spike Mushroom gets a total of 9 for his Combat Roll, which is barely enough to rip into the Evolved Animal and deals another 3 Damage to the him. Taking both hits head-on, the Evolved Animal is weaken down to 4 Hitpoints from his original 11.

Seeing the ruthlessness of the enemy in close combat, the Pure Human decides that it would be best to support his wounded comrade if he could down one more Spike Mushroom with his Shotgun. Since there aren't any penalties for firing into close combat In Mutants & Machine-Guns, so without hesitation he fires another shot at one of the Spike Mushroom engaging with the Evolved Animal. Hitting at a DEF of 8 with his Combat Roll, the Pure Human's Shotgun blows a hole into the Spike Mushroom with 8 Damage, killing it.

Not willing to let her target get away, the Mutant Human pursues it and uses a Move action to move into plane C. Aiming down her sights, she rolls a total of 8 for her Combat Roll and hits the fleeing Spike Mushroom, putting a bullet through its spiked head and downing it with an additional 2 Damage that it had sustained earlier.

Both Pure Human and Mutant Human cock their firearms once again and still find another bullet loaded into their chambers (Pure Human: 1,3, Mutant Human: 5,6).

Taking a real good beating from the initial charge of the Spike Mushroom, the Evolved Animal smiles a sadistic grin from his bloodied maw as the rush of close combat fuels his primal instincts. With a predator's eyes, he swings his Battle Axe at the standing Spike Mushroom and hits it with a total Combat Roll of 8. With one mean swing, he cleaves his opponent into two and kills it with 5 Damage.

Combat Ends

Well, that scenario ended a little easier than expected but it did give a real good sense of how combat feels like. There weren't a lot of variables that could have happened in this combat, although I wanted to try out the Flee action but that would seem to require tougher opponents to outlast from being fired upon.

Some of my thoughts after this combat.

For the sake of speeding up combat, I think combatants should be allowed to use the Move action twice, so that enemies or characters that need to get into close combat won't have to waste their turn by just moving and not doing anything for their second action.

It's either that or there should be some form of penalty to firing into close combat because as witnessed from my Pure Human character, they are more than happy to stay behind and out of harms way while they keep using their ranged weapons until they have to reload.

Although I had initially thought of having only one sample combat scenario, but there were a few other concerns that were at the back of my mind while I was playing this one out, but the critters were not tough enough to let me see those concerns being played out. So to demonstrate some problems that I foresee in this combat rules, I'm going to be running another sample scenario with some tougher enemies then may be I be able to see what happens.

So I will see you again in the next post of [Let's Look At] as the adventure of our characters continue.        

July 18, 2013

[Let's Look At] Mutants & Machine-Guns: A Gonzo Post-Apocalyptic RPG, Part 9: Creating an Evolved Animal Character

Several weeks ago, I was delighted to find a couple friends of mine in my hometown have been up to something exciting, and I thought what better way than to launch a new series of posts to revive this long-dead blog. [Let's Look At] is where I try to read through and dissect every chapter and corner of a new RPG that I have yet to play, and explore it with all of my musings about its design, some notes, and experimental plays to better understand it. I don't really intend these examinations to be a review of the game, but rants and raves may seep through the seams at times.    

Last week I created a Mutant Human character and found that deciding whether to distribute your Ability points after rolling for your Mutations would have an effect on your decision. However, since the rules never clearly stated on whether doing so is allowable, I decided to demonstrate what would happen if I had created a mutant character by distributing my Ability points before rolling for the Mutations.

For this Evolved Animal character, I'm going to distribute my Ability points with a pre-defined concept first and then hope that my Mutations would complement my character's build afterwards so that it can maximise its potential in what I intend to do with the character.

So, for my Abilities, I'm going to distribute my points to be thus:

Physical 3 (max)
Mental 1 (min)
Combat 3 (max)
Social 1 (min)

The concept that I'm going for is this character to be a mean killing machine and a close combat specialist. So for my base animal I would go for a Tiger, which should give me the Natural Weapon mutation that would useful be in close-combat. After that, I would randomly roll for my two other Mutations.

My first mutations was a 36 (6,3) which gives me Psi-Charm, a psionic mutation which wouldn't be useful due to my low Mental ability that would make it too risky to use (I would need to roll a total of 8 from 2d6s).

The second mutation I rolled for was a 26 (2,6) which is for Life Leech, another psionic mutation the same as my previous character.

Wow, none of these mutations would help my character's close combat build in any way at all.

I was hoping to gain some DEF-related mutations, but looks like it would just stay at 9.

Now for Hitpoints, the Evolved Animal gets 8+1d6, which is the lowest amongst all the races, and I rolled a 3 for a total of 11.

Onto purchasing of equipment, my starting TU is 6 out of 2d6 (4+2), which isn't a lot to spend on. Since the best weapon that I could afford to buy with that is only a Battle Axe that does 1d6+2 damage, which is less than my Natural Weapon (1d6+Physical [3]), I opted to just improve my Defense by 1 with a Leather Jacket for 5 TU, and I'm keeping the remainder TU

Overall, the results turned out to be quite sad, but I think this perfectly demonstrates the effect of having random Mutations. While I would say getting them randomly is part of the fun in the character creation process, it is one of the major motivating factors for a player to decide what concept their character would be.

I hope the designers would give this some thought and address it, if they plan to make a revision of the rules in the future.

Well, that's all for the character creation process of Mutants & Machine-Gun. The next step would be to use the characters that I have created as examples when I look into how the Combat Rules works for the game in a combat scenario.

For my next [Let's Look At] post, I would be using the same three characters that I have created and run them through a Sample Combat.