Limitless Worlds

Limitless Worlds

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Action Roll

Now I'm going to start getting into the meat of the Pulpwood! system, by actually getting into mechanics.

And I'm going to get to the meatiest of the meaty right off, the resolution system for Pulpwood!, known as the Action Roll.

The Action Roll is the dice roll you make in Pulpwood! to resolve mostly any kind of conflict. Though pulp heroes are larger than life, there is still an element of suspense and luck to everything they do. Thus the need for a random resolution system

The Action Roll is a simple d20 roll, with the sole aim being to meet or exceed 20. That's it, nothing else. There is a little bit of math behind what is added TO this roll, but I will very simply line it out below.

1. When you make an Action Roll, you take the most appropriate attribute modifier relevant to the situation.

2. You must determine if any of your skills is relevant in the current situation, and then take the total skill ranks in that skill and apply it as a modifier. If more than one is relevant, you take the highest ranked one.

3. The DM applies a modifier he thinks is appropriate given the situation. This usually ranges from -5 to +5

3. Roll the d20. Add both your attribute and skill modifier, and if you meet or exceed 20, you succeed! If you do not, you fail. A natural 20 on the die is an automatic success, called a Flourish, while a 1 is an automatic failure, called a Fumble.

Here's an example:

Albert 'Big Thunder' Thompson, a professional boxer of the Pugilist class, has managed to get himself cornered on a roof by some mobsters after he refused to throw one of his fights, which cost the local mob don a healthy chunk of dough.

Big Thunder is extremely outnumbered, and the only way out is across the roofs. He notices that the adjacent building is only about 10 feet away, so he decides to risk it and jump across.

The GM calls for an Action Roll, modified by Dexterity and Athletics. Big Thunder has a 15 in Dexterity, affording him a +2 modifier (modifiers subject to tinkering). He also has 6 ranks in Athletics, which is not surprising considering he is a Pugilist. The GM says that he will incur an additional -2 penalty, considering he is turning his back to a bunch of mobsters, and making a jump he has never tried before.

So, counting all that up, Big Thunder has a +6 to his Action Roll, meaning he has to roll a 14 or more to successfully land the jump. Big Thunder's player rolls, and he manages to get a 16 on his roll. Big Thunder easily leaps across the gap, and lands on the other roof unscathed.

Another thing to consider in Pulpwood!, is that failure is not catastrophic. If Big Thunder's player had only rolled a 12, Big Thunder would have leaped across and managed to grab onto the edge of the adjacent building. The next round, he could easily pull himself up.

Remember, these are Big Damn Heroes. Big Thunder won't die lying in a dumpster. He's gonna scratch and claw for his life.

However, if Big Thunder had gotten a Fumble on that roll, he would have definitely hit the ground. Fumbles are supposed to be awful setbacks, instead of the minor ones provided by a simple failure.

A Flourish probably would have let Big Thunder soar over the gap, landing safely and getting a head start on his run. It's the GM's job to determine what happens with each result (Success, Failure, Flourish, Fumble), and to keep it interesting.

Well, I think that's all for now. Next time, I believe I'm going to go over the bare bones of a character: the attributes.

See you later!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Skill System in Pulpwood!

So, I like skill systems in RPGs. However, I think skill system can suffer from needless bloat in trying to cover every single skill available. So, skills in Pulpwood! will be very 'generic', but also easy to understand

In Pulpwood!, there are 12 skills. They are:


All of these are ranked from 0 to 10, which is added to the Action roll when doing an action related to that skill.

In pulp stories, the hero is generally only REALLY great at a few things. Indiana Jones can't fly planes while they are crashing, but he can try. Indiana Jones' specialty would probably be Athletics, or maybe Diplomacy.

So, to keep with the theme of 'exceptional in one area', each class has one of the 12 skills as their Class skill. This enables them to do things with the class no one else could do, with some classes getting into supernatural abilities as they progress.

But you might be saying "Shouldn't someone who has a 10 in piloting be an expert pilot?" The answer is no, because the Pilot is an expert pilot. That's why it's his class. If you were not a Pilot, but had a 10 in Piloting, you could pilot a vehicle as well as a normal person could, with only minimal training. This means you could fly a regular plane (bi-plane/cropduster), boat or car with no difficulty, and could probably do a few risky maneuvers if you need to. However, you wouldn't be able to do something more advanced like drive a tank or a spaceship (with an exception I'll mention in a later post). Only the Pilot can drive the cool stuff.

Furthermore, classes are going to rely heavily on their class skill to get things done in Action Rolls. Some of these will take a bit of figuring out, but I believe in myself.

Each skill starts at 0, except for the Class skill (which will either start at 2 or 3, I'm not sure). Then, every level, the character gets skill points based on the type of class they are: Brains get  3 points, Brawn gets 2 points, Wit gets 4 points. I don't know exactly what the rules for spending these will be (in terms of how many ranks per skill per level you can get), but it will be a 1-for-1 basis. So, if you had a 7 in Piloting, and then you spent 2 points on it, you'd have a 9 in Piloting.

So, that's the long-and-short of it for now. I think it's pretty simple, and people should get a hang of it quickly.

Next time, I'll explain the main conflict resolution mechanic in Pulpwood!, the Action Roll.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The World of Pulpwood!

The era is the 1920s. The world is large, diverse and energetic. Colonialism is slowly dying in Asia, the US is starting to emerge as an important nation, Russia is swiftly headed towards Communism, and trouble is brewing in Germany.

It is an age of exploration, adventure and danger. Everywhere you turn, there are gangsters, cults, mysterious ruins, strange artifacts, exotic people and strange locales. Many people stay at home, content to sit in the safety of a 2.5 child household.

But not you! You heard the call of adventure, and responded! You grabbed your pack and your gear, and equipped with not much besides your knowledge and expertise, you head out to explore the world and see its marvels.

Some people say that the pulps are just stories, but you experienced enough to know that what the pulps tell is not hearsay.

Welcome to the development blog for Pulpwood!, an OSR tabletop RPG focused on the adventure pulp genre.

In Pulpwood!, you and your friends will play the role of pulp heroes. You'll travel the world, solve mysteries, find strange artifacts, having daring brawls, shootouts and dogfights, and foil the most heinous villains the world has ever seen!

Features of Pulpwood!

  • Play as one of 3 classes, and customize them through the use of Talents. Be the wise Scholar, the strong Adventurer, or the sneaky Adept.
  • A simple rules system that takes bits from the OSR and modern game design. The rules will be lite-weight and bleed into the background, but they will involve unified mechanics that you will easily remember. The goal is to make the players only pick up the book when they level up.
  • A mysterious world where magic items are rare, but the ones that do exist hold powers beyond comprehension. Don't think Wand of Fireballs, think Ark of the Covenant.

How far along is Pulpwood?

Not very, at this point. Currently, I am going through the concept phase; figuring out how characters work, ideas for combat, etc.

What's this blog for?

So you can monitor my progress as I continue along in Pulpwood!'s development. I want everything I do to be transparent, and I will 100% take into account comments and feedback.

When will it be released?

I'm hoping before I go back for college, which is mid-September. If it is not 100% done by then, it should be darn close.

So, that's it for now. Keep looking back at this spot as I put up more thoughts as I construct Pulpwood!

Have fun!