Friday, June 10, 2016

Notes for BRP Encounters

Encounter profiles, or "stat blocks", can be a major stumbling block in scenario design for the busy GM. You're trying to ready an adventure. You have a location, you've sketched out the situation, considered the options and flow of events, and then you have to set up the details of the encounters.

RuneQuest is a fine game, but for any version of RuneQuest this would mean stopping to fill rows of characteristics, skills, and AP and HP for every hit location.

Even for BRP (without hit locations) or Magic World, if you go by the book you complete something like this:

Hill Bandit

STR 12
CON 10
SIZ 13
INT 10
DEX 14
APP 10

Move: 8
Hit Points: 12
Damage Bonus: +1d4

Attacks: Hand Axe 35%, 1d6+1+1d4, Recurved bow 35%, 1d8+2
Skills: Hide 50%, Move Quietly 50%, Ride 75%

Armor: 1d6-1 points leather

Notice the space it takes on the page, and the need to note every detail for a bandit who might be taken down by one or two hits. Of course, you could rely on a bestiary or a published scenario, but you're still scanning and copying out details when the encounter starts.

Now, in an old issue of White Dwarf, you might come across a Stormbringer encounter profile somewhat like this:

Hill Bandit
STR 12  CON 10  SIZ 13  INT 10  POW 9 DEX 14  APP 10  HP 12
Attacks: Hand Axe 35%, 1d6+1+1d4, Recurved bow 35%, 1d8+2
Skills: Hide 50%, Move Quietly 50%, Ride 75%
Armor: 1d6-1 points leather

Which is certainly much more efficient and easier to create. We can work with this to create an encounter notation that takes a fraction of the time a full stat block requires.

The Encounter Note

Here's the format for a compressed BRP note-style encounter line:

Encounter: description
HP x, DEX x, STATS x, Mov x
Attack % (damage), Armour (x)
Skill x%

Which for the bandit above might look like:

Hill Bandit: Tough, sneaky ambusher
HP 12, DEX 14
Hand axe 35% (1d6+1d4), Bow (1d8+2), Leather (2)
Sneak & Hide 50%


Encounter = basic title: description = how this encounter will be played and described

HP x = Hit Points come first; they matter most (and they also show roughly how tough this encounter is)
DEX x = DEX, because the next thing you need to know is the DEX-rank for actions in a round
STATS x = any other characteristics (STR, CON, SIZ, INT, POW, APP) that are significant in this encounter or exceptional for the character; if they're average or not likely to be used, leave out and make them up on the fly
Mov x = movement, but only if faster or slower than standard

Attack % (damage) = combat skill and (damage + damage bonus), Armour (x) = armour type (points)

Skill x% = any significant skills (don't worry about the right name; you know what they're for)

Notes = any other plays/notes that are relevant

The idea in this format is to keep the most important information foremost and minimize clutter and unnecessary detail.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Roll and Read advanced version

This post picks up on the system for Roll and Read solo play, with a different die and extended for group RPG play. It's also based on a micro-system submitted for the 200 Word RPG Challenge.

Roll and Read

The key to Roll and Read is that, however you set up the character, the player and the GM agree on the expected outcome of the action before the die is rolled. If the die comes up high, then things go better for the character; if the roll is low, things are worse.

In this case, a warrior is expected to hit a foe, a wizard is expected to cast a spell, a scout is expected to pass unseen through cover. If the task is harder for some reason, then only partial success can be expected, and the character needs a lucky or even exceptional roll to do well. On the other hand, if the task is easy, then only an awful roll will have an effect on the outcome, although an unlucky roll may cause complications. There are no modifiers, ever, because the circumstances are already built in to the range of expectations.

The system also heads off the effect of pure dumb luck. A novice won't necessarily fell a master because of a lucky critical; a master won't necessarily foul up utterly because the die rolls low.

The advanced system uses a d10, because the range of results can be split into five categories, and centers on the expected outcome.

When you meet danger (skirmishes, traps, natural hazards), discuss the expected outcome, take action, and then roll a 10-sided die. The GM will determine the consequences accordingly.
1-2: Awful/Poor
3-4: Unlucky/Weak
5-6: Expected/Middling
7-8: Lucky/Strong
9-10: Advantageous/Exceptional
As before, if the character seems to hold a great advantage in terms of skill or circumstance, then roll two dice and take the best.

And, if the roll seems like sheer bad luck or runs against expectations for the character, then the player may spend a point of Res to reroll (representing the character's effort and resolve). If this roll is Exceptional (9-10), then the Res point is not lost.

Characters in Roll and Read

Characters can be generated free-form, with a short list of skills, abilities, knacks, and characteristics. 

They have one common score, Resources/Resilience (Res), a measure of resourcefulness, resolve, level, luck, and even hit points. If you want to take an experience levels approach, then character can begin with Res [1] and gain Res as they adventure. If you want characters to have a better chance of survival from the start, begin at Res [3]. Res should be used to represent character ability by gaining rerolls on critical efforts.


Combat is a matter of rolling, comparing, and reading a result. Hence, a squad of attacking gremlins might pose a slight threat for an armed warrior. In combat against these gremlins, if you’re Unlucky, you’re hit. This character would stand on equal or slightly better terms with a ragged goblin, and so probably wound with an Expected/Middling roll, and a Strong roll would read as a vital hit. But even an armed and armoured knight would have to be make an Exceptional roll to hurt a powerful dragon.

Where the roll is low enough that the character is wounded, deduct a point of Res. When the last point of Res is lost, the character is out of play for the rest of the scene. The player can then decide whether the character continues on play or is discarded.

[This section updated 11/23/16]

Encounters and Hazards

For the sake of comparison, encounters, and hazards, can be ranked on the Poor to Exceptional scale. Encounters can also have individual or group Res.