Four amazing 2017 Papo dinosaurs

Happened to check in on Papo dinosaurs and they have some pretty cool new releases that I’m definitely gonna keep an eye out for at my local stores. Some are just recolors, like a blue velociraptor and “egg stealer” oviraptor, but those are likely reliable sellers for them.

First of all my favorite: the humble and almost-smiling Polacanthus. In other words a different Armored version for me.
polacanthus

The other dinosaur I’d most likely buy is the Cryolophosaurus, for his upright, almost birdlike pose. Very unique look for a predator, and depending on the size a cool alternative to a t-rex.
cryolophosaurus

Very nice looking Acrocanthosaurus (brutal name to say though). I didn’t hugely like the tail-in-the-air pose from a few previous Papo designs (namely Carnotaurus and Dilophosaurus because I found it unbalanced depending on the casting. But it’s certainly a dynamic pose. Very nice blue/orange skin too.
acrocanthosaurus

Then a Ceratosaurus. Very nice coloring and skin detail, but I worry about how well he’d balance since it looks like only one foot is the point of contact. Interesting take on the crested head though.
ceratosaurus

Battle Report: Operation Black Box

Finally a battle report! The elapsed time since my last game session here is criminally long, and well overdue for some new content. So I wrangled together a few posses, grabbed a pal, dug up an old childhood F-14 Tomcat airplane model, and set out to play some Dinosaur Cowboys v2.6!

Also some of the inspiration for one of the posses comes from the Defense of the Ancients computer game. In other words the moba Dota 2, which just had a huge 7.0 patch update. The largest tournament for professional e-sport players of Dota 2 has a prize pool of $20 million plus. So yeah, players of that game should recognize some familiar names and roles, like Vanguard the tanky leader, or Desolator the ranged sniper.

Also I realize I mix up my past and present tense when I write these. I really don’t mean too, but it’s such an ingrained bad habit I have trouble breaking. I think it’s because I writing the session report after the fact, so I tend to the past tense, but sometimes think of new information and use the present tense. Hopefully it doesn’t throw you off too much.

Background
Rumors have started of a strange new allegiance in the wasteland: Ascendants. Some sort of sky people…old tech scientists drifting down from on high…power and concepts beyond Dusters and even Neotechnoist reasoning. Word of an artifact spreads to eager ears in the noble, wealthy circles in the city of Hope. Some kind of aerial war machine was found. Records were searched in secret, and a highly specialized and trained commando squad was dispatched to recover a “black box” from this old tech airplane.

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But the commando squad was not quite as airtight and flawless as their Neotechnoist hirelings would like. One of the members, fearing the corrupting influence of old tech, went rogue and started trying to raise a posse to fight off the commando squad, destroy the black box, and stop any war machine from being recreated.

Setup
dc-operation-black-box-0019The central feature of the table was the crashed and decaying F-14 Tomcat. I used a bunch of trailing rocks to make a slide/crash zone and hopefully give some sense of weight to the plane. The pilot was likely heading for the softer jungle at the edge of the table, but fell short and crashed into a solid stone hill. Otherwise an old corral/pen containing barrels and a sabertooth skeleton, a few hills and the usual trees, and the table was set.

A simple “Edge” deployment would be used, along the long table edges, to really start close to the airplane.

A turn limit was set: 6 turns, with a situational 7th if either the black box or engine parts were still in play at the end of the 6th turn.

Objectives
dc-operation-black-box-0016For this game Secret Objectives would be used. Specifically the Delta Commando Squad had to “Smash & Grab” the black box and engine pieces from the airplane. The Eastwood Rovers had to “Demolish” the same pair of objectives. And there was a main public Objective of “Capture” with the F-14 Tomcat being the contested objective.

dc-operation-black-box-0024The black box and engine parts were represented by pieces of actual computer RAM, which looked pretty neat and fit well! They would have DEF 2 and HP 10.

Features
As for Features a few “Weapon Emplacements” were used as part of the airplane. Specifically a Flare Gun (represented by the black minigun on the model), and a pair of Wagon Blazer equivalents (basically flamethrowers) which originated from the missiles hanging under the swing wings.


Posse: Delta Commando Squad – 130 IP, $1,700 ND, 4 traits – PDFSaloon
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I busted out some old, old figures for this posse. Like high school era Plague Marines from Warhammer 40,000. One of the few times I tried to do a consistent, matching color scheme. I also used my new-ish Dilophosaurus toy dinosaur, made famous as the “spitter” from Jurassic Park.

As mentioned above the intent was the mirror some of the functionality from Dota 2 items into Dinosaur Cowboy characters. Starting with Vanguard (a shield in the computer game) who is represented here by DEF 3, HP 14, and the Thick Skin trait (a one time boost of +2 DEF). Next up was Bloodthorn, a midrange damage dealer with a Volcanic Pistol and Coil Gun for utility. Then the sniper Desolator who has a Twin Rifle, but the miniature has a massive lascannon haha. And finally Skull Basher, a melee monster with a Claw Axe and one of my favorite close combat traits: Onslaught (+4 Attacks instead of +1 on Charge). The Dilophosaurus was bought as a Raptor, in this case named Iron Talon, who is Feral but has no traits.

The strategy and plan was to rush and capture an objective and hurry it off the table with Skull Basher. Sort of a trade off since he ideally wants to be moving forward into melee, not away from the violence. But he’s also significantly faster than the rest of the human members. Otherwise the rest would setup a perimeter, rain down fire, and let the dinosaur distract and hold off the enemy.

Posse: Eastwood Rovers – 130 IP, $1,700 ND, 4 traits – PDFSaloon
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dc-operation-black-box-0004I think this is the debut of one of my new-ish (notice a trend?) miniature that looks vaguely like Clint Eastwood from his spaghetti westerns. I mean not as much as another mini I have, but certainly a generic looking cowboy fellow. I had painted a “fan the hammer glove” on his hand, to help grip the hammer. Otherwise the miniatures should look familiar, except maybe the defector Plague Marine. He was actually from an old, old game I wrote called “Twilight” (yes, before the movies), which is why he’s customized for an RPG and on a hex base.

Also yes I know the posse picture above is washed out. I didn’t have much luck, but the rest of the photos are spot on, thankfully.

Anyway to celebrate the newly painted miniature the rest of the posse is somewhat Eastwood themed. The leader is named Pale Rider and has a massive Ranch Blaster, with the usual plan of using Fan the Hammer weapon ability then the Speed Reload trait to be ready to rock. Alexander Keith is my recurring bartender character, and a paintjob I love. He had the mighty Streetsweeper Shotgun and the dicey, but potentially life saving trait Inspire. Sister Sara is the medic, because I really like the healer type traits like Doctor. D12 times two is a lot of potential healing. Powder Monkey was a funny case, since he looks like a Savage but is actually a Neotechnoist. So a reversal of the usual “going native” empire soldier, and is instead a naturalized wildman trying to meld with the upper classes. And finally the defector from the Delta Commando Squad was represented by Dominator (from the Dota 2 “Helm of the Dominator”). He had a Cutlass but likely not enough Defense or Hitpoints to reach combat with it. The dinosaur was a Fin, one of Papo’s better sculpts (which is saying a lot considering their high quality!) who is named after a less popular Eastwood movie: Eiger.

The plan is simple: shoot objectives. Pale Rider will be the main attacker in that case. Sister Sara will move forward with Keith, Powder Monkey, and Dominator, and try to keep them all healthy. Eiger will likely shield Dominator, or try to get into close combat as a team.


Turn 1
The Delta Commando Squad setup first, opting for the right side, or east, or kitchen-ward, haha. They were able to deploy Skull Basher far enough forward that he could reach the black box objective on the first turn. On the opposite edge the Eastwood Rovers set up in a fairly tight formation, since there were no explosive weapons to fear.
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The first turn more or less nullified the Secret Objectives, which was kind of funny. Pale Rider and Alexander Keith were able to destroy the engine parts objective on their side of the table. And Skull Basher grabbed the black box on the other.

In terms of shooting at living things Powder Monkey managed a lucky hit on Iron Talon that caused Panic. The dinosaur had edged forward around the hill, but still presented a fairly big target. Iron Talon attempted a far 5″ Charge against Eiger, but failed and was a bit exposed. From on top of the hill Desolator hit Alexander Keith for 6 damage. The bartender then failed his Bravery Test and would be Fleeing. The Commando sniper had a fairly good view of the battlefield, but the F-14 Tomcat did a good job of blocking line of sight for some of the approach.

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Turn 2
This turn the dinosaurs met in combat. For all the thematic dinosaur training and discpline, and both player’s idea of using the dinosaur to distract human enemies, the beasts still went right for each other and started tearing in. Iron Talon succeeded at his much closer 1″ Charge, hitting Eiger quite handily. Bloodthorn mounted the tall hill the F-14 Tomcat had crashed into, and fired down at Eiger. The Fin dinosaur took a pounding and was quickly down to 6 HP.

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Meanwhile Skull Basher rushed the black box towards the table edge, as was the Delta Commando Squad secret objective. Vanguard mounted the plane, trying to draw a bead on an Eastwood Rover. The leader trusted in his DEF 3 to keep him safe in the mean time.

Sister Sara did her medical duty and healed Alexander Keith back to full Hitpoints, thanks to her Doctor trait and Small IRP. Keith had fallen back from Fleeing. The pair were a bit away from the plane, under the wing of which Dominator advanced to try to avoid shots from Desolator.

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Turn 3
Both dinosaurs were in rough shape after being the focus of various attacks. Dominator rushed out from under the plane wing, used his Berserker trait for +2 Attacks, and managed a Charge against Iron Talon. The Cutlass did solid work, hitting for 9 damage, which left the surprised Iron Talon with a mere 1 Hitpoint. The dinosaur Panicked at this.

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dc-operation-black-box-0073Unfortunately for the Delta Commando Squad player, Iron Talon had a 1A-5D claw, Eiger had 6 Hitpoints, but because Iron Talon had 1 Panic he suffered -1 Damage. Amazingly though the attack was a Critical hit, resulting in exactly 6 damage, so Iron Talon killed Eiger. But Sister Sara was quick to finish up Iron Talon, similarly killing the wounded beast.

At this point Skull Basher successfully captured the black box objective by bringing it to the table edge. Hooray for them!

On the deadly hilltop, Powder Monkey hit Bloodthorn quite hard, making the commando Flee. In return Pale Rider takes a tiny shot from Vanguard, who then ducks off the exposed top of the airplane.

dc-operation-black-box-0077dc-operation-black-box-0079dc-operation-black-box-0083
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Turn 4
dc-operation-black-box-0094So far Dominator has been called a defector. But from the Delta Commando Squad point of view, he’s a stone cold traitor. The voodoo of dice agreed, as Bloodthorn lined up a pretty tough shot from his elevated perch. Then proceeded to 1-shot Dominator with an amazing roll. He hit for 10 damage, and Dominator only had 8 HP. So that was a surprising turn of events.

Unfortunately for Bloodthorn this was also his doom, as Powder Monkey returned fire and avenged Dominator’s death by killing the enemy commando. So far Powder Monkey’s Bronto Gun hasn’t been hugely needed, as he’s shooting DEF 0 or 1 targets.

Meanwhile Pale Rider hugs the rear fin of the airplane, and not to be outdone, returns the 1-shot by outright killing Desolator. There was some concern for the Eastwood Rover player whether they’d ever be able to safely advance under the sniper fire of Desolator. But a solid roll with a Ranch Blaster sorted that problem out right quick.
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In response to the unspoken leader-to-leader challenge, Vanguard boldly stepped onto the top of the airplane. He activated the Thick Skin trait, which gives +2 Defense until the start of his next activation. So total DEF 5…wow. Call the Bronto Gun pronto!

As if to demonstrate how feebly the enemy shots will be, Alexander Keith climbs up the airplane wing and tries to hit Vanguard with his Streetsweeper Shotgun…on a 13+. Needless to say he doesn’t have much luck with 2 Attacks.

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Turn 5
The Delta Commando Squad started the turn with just Vanguard and Skull Basher left, whereas Eastwood Rovers still had four survivors.

The use of Thick Skin by Vanguard was interesting, since as mentioned the trait stays in effect until the start of his next Activation. Which means he wants to delay activating as long as possible, to tank as many shots as he can.

The turn starts well in that regard as the Eastwood Rovers win initiative and have to activate first. Powder Monkey moves to the edge of the stone hill and tries his Bronto Gun, needing a mere 8+ to hit. No luck, a miss!

Pale Rider sees the armored beast of Vanguard, and decides to switch targets to Skull Basher instead. He moves to Short Distance, grips his Ranch Blaster, and uses Fan the Hammer for a brutal 6 damage hit that makes Skull Basher Flee.

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Vanguard is still trying to hold his activation, so Skull Basher runs away due to Fleeing, then tries to Hustle back. Certainly not the most effective posse member due to spending half the game herding an objective, then getting shot in the face when it’s time to chop things.

The Eastwood Rovers win the next initiative, so Vanguard gets possibly the best value out of Thick Skin ever as he maintained it through 4 enemy activations. However Alexander Keith and Sister Sara are focused and on a mission to roll some hot dice. Keith hits for 7 damage, even though he needs 11+, and this makes Vanguard Flee. Then Sister Sara hits for another 7 damage (at 10+ to hit) which outright kills Vanguard! And to add insult to injury Skull Basher fails his Bravery Test for having his leader taken out of action and is Fleeing.

Turn 6
At this point the game was pretty much over, but the Eastwood Rovers player wanted to get a bit showy in how they kill Skull Basher. First they won initiative, and moved Alexander Keith to the Flare Gun mounted on the F-14 Tomcat. The intent was to get the Illuminate effect on Skull Basher, applying a -2 DEF penalty to make the rest of the posse hit a lot easier. But instead Keith got a Critical hit on the Flare Gun attack, resulting in 4 damage which killed Skull Basher!

So a win for Eastwood Rovers by both objective and posse wipe!

dc-operation-black-box-0127


Conclusion
Quite an interesting game. The F-14 Tomcat made a great centerpiece with lots of nooks and crannies to block line of sight in. The game certainly spiralled out of control for the Delta Commando Squad player. Pretty rough having Skull Basher moving the objective for a lot of it. And of course the luck of Keith and Sara both hitting such unlikely, highly damaging shots on Vanguard. Just goes to show as intimidating as high Defense is, eventually weight of fire can bring the target down.

Anyway hopefully you enjoyed the battle report! And maybe the black box will make another plot appearance in a future session…

Looking ahead to v2.7

incremental-changeDinosaur Cowboys v2.6 is amazing. I’m super happy with the rules, which is why I haven’t felt the need to touch them for over a year and a half. And I know I’ve been saying it for 5 years (since v1.0), but I’m almost done tweaking the rules. I mean at some point I have to be. And I’m very tempted, like a 50/50 split, on whether I should even do a v2.7. But I have accrued a minor list of changes. No timeline for this, and like I said I’m still on fence on whether it’s even worth doing.

Savage Allegiance: The biggest one (and impetus for a possible release) is around balancing the Savage Allegiance, which if you “zero them” back to Bandit status (of having no stat changes) they actually GIVE you +2 IP. So you could recruit and entire posses of Savages, zero them to normal, and get +10 IP. Like I said, minor…but also very annoying to have. I’m a bit miffed with myself for even missing it this long. Dusters technically have the reverse problem (of resulting in -2 IP to zero), but that’s mostly due to Hitpoints costing 6 IP to increase but only giving 4 IP to reduce.

The fix for Savages is simply to change Speed to cost 10 IP to go from 4″ to 5″, instead of 12 IP. This has the side benefit of bonus movement being cheaper and easier to attain. I always want entities to move further. Heck it’s one of the main reasons the base number of squares someone could go in Life of a Dinosaur Cowboy RPG was a generous EIGHT!

Otherwise a few style tweaks to the rulebook, a bunch of trait adjustments and trivial rewords, and maybe a few new weapons or features. Here’s my entire list:

Other Changes
– Add an image to the footer
— Small dinos, jungle grass (similar to Saloon), cactus in the corner, maybe image wrapping page number, etc.
– Add some “Rain” features?
– Add some alternative weapon names for famous mountain men, like the Jeremiah Blaster or whatever
– “Turtle” trait needs to say “apply Stopped to self _next Activation_” in the same way “Rush” does
– “Try Again” should say “re-roll an entire set of attacks”, as should “Lucky”. Maybe “Attack Roll” to be consistent with things like Hail of Shots?
– Whirlwind should specify Close attack affects all adjacent enemies, since otherwise it sounds like a free/bonus attack. Maybe should be Attack – Whirlwind?
– Shake it Off should be applicable to nearby ally as well. Maybe be 2/all instead of 1/2 negative effects? Also rename to “Shake it Off!” (exclamation mark for shout)
– Attack – Forceful should be buffed to +4″/+6″
– Attack – Punishment should just be +2/+4 damage (lowercase too), not specifically saying _weapon Damage_
– Attack – Headshot should say (instead of 12+) in brackets
– Eagle Eye should be +4″/+6″. Should technically be an Attack – Eagle Eye?
– Rush and Turtle should say “but apply” instead of “and apply”
– Add second tier Racer for +2/+4?
– Add an Attack – Quick Shot that gives a free attack at -4/-2 Dam (min 0)?

Saloon Updates
Of course there are also a few Saloon bugs I’ve run into, or improvements I want to try:
BUG – Selling weapons still show up in inventory?
BUG – Dino selling is not saved to the URL or reloaded at all
IMP – Allow dinosaurs to “buy” Trample and Gore beast attacks
IMP – Add an option to select Variant Rules to apply to a PDF?
IMP – Generate QR codes for The Saloon links?
IMP – Make a mobile version of The Saloon pages?

Recent fan posses

lead-adventure_game-postRecently I noticed a few hits coming from Lead Adventure Forum, specifically a thread about cowboys vs dinosaurs where my game was mentioned. I always like free exposure for my game. The cool picture to the right (with some of the nicest buildings I’ve seen) unfortunately used a different ruleset, but is still in the right genre.

Simultaneously some fans created almost ten posses on The Saloon. So I’m gonna go with my gut and say these items are related. If the fans wants to speak up and comment here I’m more than happy to hear from them – see if they played any Dinosaur Cowboys games, and how their posses worked out. :)

EDIT: I was way off, the forum post and posses were unrelated. See the user comment below for details of a cool battle report and setup!

Anyway I thought I’d highlight a few of the posses (much like I did with Doom Eagle’s creations), since I see a lot of interesting and fun elements, and you may not check The Saloon as regularly as I do.

  • The Bloody Rustlers – Some real cowboys in this posse. The Leader is armed with a Rope Lasso and Harmonica, which is an interesting combo, especially since they also have the Wrangler trait. Nice to see a unique approach to combat beyond “pistol and good RTN”. I also like the hardcore member who has a Stick of Dynamite and a focus on Punching. I can only imagine them running forward, throwing the grenade, and following up with some savage melee. Anytime the Boxer trait is used I consider that a win.
  • Exodus – Posse built around the massive $1,000 Titan dinosaur, but also having a powerful leader with a Grenade Launcher and the Strong Rider trait. A brutal combination to be mounted on such a beast. I like the remaining member being a support type character with a Flagstaff.
  • Jungle Gentry – I really like the name of this posse, and the split of 2 Neotechnoists and 1 Savage. Especially because the Savage is a “by the books” doctor statistically (Triage and a pair of IRPs), except I like to imagine him themed as a rustic shaman hired by a pair of foppish nobles.
  • Dem Bois – Cool gang with lots of elements I like. First of all a minor doctor character with Triage and a Large IRP. Second an Energy Sword…enough said (love that weapon). And of course the Big Game Hunter with a Bronto Gun. Even the name “Myrtle the Turtle” for the Armored dinosaur (who hilariously has Sprint for a nasty surprise). I could see myself playing a posse like this.
  • Professional Funyuns – A bigger posse with some solid members. Nice to see the Broken Bottle and Serrated Knife being used…both of which seem like pretty brutal/vicious weapons. Another good Boxer trait usage. And a member with dual 100kW Six-Shooters, perfect for the “Dual Wield” Variant Rule. I’d be interested to know if the intent was to pile on the Ducky dinosaur to move into melee, or slog forward (as the Speeds are a bit low) and try to survive on healing and high Hitpoints.

Project status, aka what have I done for 8 months?

my-posts
Been a while? Yes, it surely has! Last post was about 8 months ago. What have I been doing since then? Where are all the projects I was so excited about? How can time fly this fast? In summary to every question you might ever have: I wrote and extensively played 2 RPGs, I combined all my rules into 1 blog, and was repeatably interrupted and distracted by general life stuff.

Overview

house-of-the-dying-sunHorizon Games Blog Consolidation – Done – This is related to my new project Fickle RPG (mentioned below). Long time readers or the especially observant might notice a new logo and link in the right sidebar. Well I was about to create yet another WordPress blog for my Fickle RPG rules when I realized I would have over half a dozen blogs if I did. That’s ridiculous.

So instead I painstakingly consolidated ALL my projects, rules, and ideas into one place: Horizon Games. Seriously that was quite an effort, but I’m happy with the result.

I collected content from all my childhood games, brainstormed projects, and rules in progress and put them onto Horizon Games. I covered Life of a Dinosaur Cowboy and Dinosaur Cowboys there as well. So for any non-DC related news or updates check out that blog instead. In other words if posts and content are dead here look at Horizon Games as I might be working heavily on another game at the time.

Bad News

Life of a Dinosaur Cowboy RPG – Cancelled – Perhaps “postponed indefinitely” would be more accurate. I still like a lot of ideas in this game, but two issues are holding me back:

  1. Playtesting: Nearly impossible to solo playtest 4-5 unique PCs plus enemies. A large component of the DC RPG was the idea of turn collaboration and that’s also lost in a solo test.
  2. Too Many Mechanics: From the neat D&D Next style advantage/disadvantage, to Echo Death style skill/power lists instead of classes, to allocated damage dice pool, to shared action points/orders per turn, to codified non-combat solutions, DC RPG has a TON of unique game mechanics thrown in. And I say thrown in very specifically, as I more or less dumped every single cool mechanic I had thought of or seen in the past while into this game. Which results in a mechanically overwhelming game, and one that is arguably doing a lot to achieve very little.

What I instead am doing is splitting a lot of the neat mechanics out into separate games, namely Echo Death and Fickle RPG.

Skies and Slums Expansion – Postponed – This is basically my “catch all” for future Dinosaur Cowboys development. I’m pretty tired and fatigued with tweaking the core rules, which I’ve mentioned before (basically the past 2-3 years have been “this is the last version”). If I ever DO get the urge to add or tweak a bunch to this game, it’ll be under the guise of the Skies and Slums expansion.

So until I DO get that urge, I’m going to postpone this expansion. I could add a whole bunch of new features, allegiances, weapons, dinosaurs, etc. But I want to do so only if I’m excited with the idea, and involved with the project. Which right now I’m not. My focus is elsewhere.

Mixed News

Dinosaur Cowboys v2.7 – Soonish – Although I just said I don’t want to tweak these rules much longer, I actually admittedly have a few minor changes and balance updates I need to do. They are so incredibly minor that I could realistically call it version 2.60001. Also because the changes are so small I’m not hugely motivated to do them.

Regardless I’ll cover the specifics in a post very soon, and look for the release a bit after.

Good News

Dinosaur Cowboys Battle Report – I want to sit down and play DC again very soon, mainly to use a childhood jet airplane model (specifically a swing wing F-14 Tomcat) as a center piece for posses to fight over. I also want to do my “Civil War” style game with the same posse on both sides.

So with luck I’ll get my table setup, wrangle a player, and get a battle report going before the new year.

fickle-logoFickle RPG – Released – What is Fickle RPG? Well if you paid close attention to the DC RPG mechanics, you might remember the concept of “fickle” vs “flat” allocation for a damage dice pool. Great mechanic! But as mentioned above pretty much tacked on to a cumbersome, overburdened RPG.

So instead I split that mechanic out, polished it, and made a (get ready for buzzwords) light cooperative narrative RPG with interesting and choice-drive mechanical resolution ready for any genre/theme. That game is Fickle RPG

Quite a history behind the game. You might remember a year or so ago I made a post about game design, and asked the critical question “what if there was a tabletop game where combat resolution was as involved, interesting, and full of meaningful and unique decisions as the movement phase?” I think Fickle RPG answers that by having an interesting resolution system full of choice.

I had the basics bouncing around my head for quite a few months. Meanwhile I was playing a Star Wars RPG called Age of Rebellion (Fantasy Flight Games) which my friend was running. But they needed to take a hiatus. So my weekly gaming night was free. On a whim I asked the other players if they wanted to playtest a light RPG I had been working on. The interest was there…the rules weren’t. As in I hadn’t actually sat down and written the rules. So having scheduled a session for a game that didn’t exist, I hastily wrote the rules, and we played.

This initial session of Fickle RPG went really well and gave me hope that I was onto something. So I ended up running the game many more times in the past ~3 months, for around a dozen different people, between 4-5 campaign threads. Some of the players hadn’t even touched a game more complex than Settlers of Catan.

So anyway if you take one thing away from this blog post, it’s that Fickle RPG has been my focus for over half the time since my last post.

Party of Light – Played – Somewhat related to Fickle RPG, I also made another light RPG called Party of Light. The intent was to play a one-off session with my family and nieces. So the core concept is to teach roleplaying basics, different dice, etc. to kids. I’ve since played this game 4 times (so far!) and it’s been great at achieving all those goals. My nieces have had a lot of fun with it, and the game is still engaging enough for adults. Win-win all around.

If that sounds interesting be sure to read more about Party of Light. Notice how handy that Horizon Games blog is already?

Other News

Besides that what have I been doing? Preparing for my wife to give birth to our second kid. That’s been a pretty central focus. I’ve switched office locations with my work, which added a lot of commute. I’ve been running a lot of Fickle RPG nights with friends. I’ve been playing a ton of computer games like Heroes of the Storm, Vermintide, and Zombasite. I failed miserably at writing Nanowrimo this month. All in all plenty of non-Dinosaur Cowboys stuff. :)

I’d probably write more here, but I literally just finished describing my new rules on Horizon Games, so I’m tired of repeating the same text.

[RPG] Preliminary rules prototype

As I mentioned in my last post this idea is on a bit of a hiatus. But I figured for completeness I’d share the rules so far. What’s funny is my favorite part is actually the combat resolution system, just like how that was one of the core features to survive in Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish from inception to today.

Anyway without further ado check out the very early Life of a Dinosaur Cowboy rules PDF

Some-RiflesAs for the resolution system I like, let me pour out some info on it:
The main idea is you roll 1D12 and try to get above a number. That number could be set, or based on the enemy skill, or against a statistic, etc. You can do the action quicker (“Hasty”) but then you roll 2D12 and choose the lowest, or take your time (“Focused”) and again roll 2D12 but choose the highest. In the case of combat there is a second step if you succeed on the roll. That is to allocate your Damage Pool between Fickle and Flat damage. Fickle means you roll dice, Flat means it’s added on. You’re rolling against the target’s Grit (say an 8). But the fun part, and where the mechanic really shines (and fulfills my hope of “resolution being as interesting as movement”) is you need to succeed with at least 1 Fickle roll to do any damage. But the Fickle rolls have a chance to fail, whereas Flat damage always comes through. Fickle can also Crit (on a 12), but can also Fumble (on a 1). So there’s a balancing act of how much Fickle vs Flat to choose depending on the target’s Grit.
That might have been a rambling explanation, but that’s why I’m posting the rules. So say I have a 6 Damage Pool and the target has 4 Grit. 4+ on a D12 is pretty easy odds, so I’d probably allocate only a single Fickle point and the remaining 5 pool to Flat, meaning I roll 1D12 looking for 4+, and if I succeed I do 1+5 damage. But what if their Grit was 9? Do I go all in Fickle? What if I had a skill that increased my Crit chance? Would I want more Fickle or would the potential Fumble not be worth the effort? So some neat decisions there.

[RPG] Example character sheet

I honestly CANNOT believe it’s been a month since my last post. Talk about time flying, that’s just unreal to me.

So what’s been happening with the Dinosaur Cowboy RPG? Well first of all I did get a solo playtest in with some rough mechanics. Like I said I like to get a playable prototype done asap. I ended up with a pretty well fleshed out character sheet, which you can see (and download) below:

dc-rpg-sheet-001
Download the DC RPG Sheet PDF

The playtest revealed a few stumbling blocks for me. First of all simulating 5 players plus enemies in a combat situation is extremely tough. Especially as a large part of the shared turns is the idea of player banter and group decision making, which is obviously lost with a solo playtest. And second I think I’m letting mechanics and ideas bleed over from one of my other recent brainstormed projects.

So what am I gonna do about this? I think I need to convince at least one or two friends to playtest with me. But it’s tough to get enough dedication or interest to try a prototype for any length of time. But seriously playtesting an RPG is really hard otherwise.
As for the mechanics the “activation pool” spent freely in a shared turn is very similar to the diceless Hackers game I mentioned before. Again in a wild sense of time flying that post is almost a year old. Normally if I’m starting to implement mechanics from another game it means I should finish the initial project first instead of cludging it into another game.

So I think I’m going to focus on that. Which means I’m as flaky as a high school teenager as I flip flop between ideas. I think having a blog like this is an upside for motivation, centralizing ideas, and putting down some concrete material. But the downside is I feel obligated to my imaginary readers to finish what I announce. But I think the playtest was pretty demotivating, and all it really did was make me want to finish the Hackers game.
Update: The game is called “Echo Death” and you can see the early workings at http://echodeath.wordpress.com/

I guess I’m saying I don’t know where the Dinosaur Cowboys RPG will end up, or whether I’ll fully finish the Hackers game, or what. But yeah, just not feeling it right now. We’ll see where we end up by the next post.