8 Hour Game Hour 3 & 4: Getting into character creation.

Hour 3

I’ve now covered defining the basic attributes. Nothing really revolutionary here. It didn’t take me an hour to come up with the text I added… I spent quite a bit of time sketching out schemes for how the more advanced pieces will fit together, so I can lay the groundwork here.

I expect the 4th and 5th hour to also go to character creation, as I have to define secondary attributes derived from the basic ones (won’t take too long) and skills (which likely will). When that’s finished, with three hours left, I’ll start working on both more detailed examples of conflict resolution and combat (which will kind of go hand in hand), and then see how much time I have left for fleshing out other parts.

Updated link.

Hour 4

…okay, apparently I was so hyperfocused on this that I didn’t remember to hit publish before I flipped back to my word processor windows. Well, up above is what happened in hour 3. Hour 4 has gone about how I expected it to. I finished secondary attributes and am 1/3rd of the way through a basic, bare-bones, settings-agnostic skill list.

As I fill out skills, I’m starting to think about complexities like how does something like a perception check function in a diceless system based on resource management? For you to know you have to spend any resources to try to detect an ambush, you have to be told there’s something to detect.

Possible solution: assume that alertness, rather than action, is an ongoing state of being. If you spend X resources in a day on general alertness, that stands for all Awareness operations where you’re not actively searching/scrutinizing. You could up your alertness at any time (subject to normal maximums), but not get points back by decreasing it.

This would allow it to function similar to passive perception in recent editions of D&D, in that it would allow the game runner to compare values without alerting you what’s going on. It would also keep the risk/reward model intact, because if you decide to spend more resources for alertness early on, you don’t have them, but if you wait until you think you’re in a dangerous situation to spend them, it might be too late.

I’ll probably have an updated document at the start of Hour 5.

8 Hour Game Hour 2: Conflict Resolution & Character Architecture

In the second hour—the first hour of real development—I sketched out a basic conflict resolution system for NoDice Odyssey (pronounced “Nodyssey Odyssey”) that substitutes resource management for dice while still maintaining an element of risk/reward calculation. Inherent in this system are some basic assumptions about character architecture and design, which will be my next step.

As I hit major milestones such as this, I’ll be posting links to a snapshot of the document. Note that it’s understandably rough and doesn’t have all the normal definition of terms and introduction of concepts I would put in an RPG doc to keep it accessible.

Link here.

Going into hour 3 as I come back from a brief lunch break, I’m focusing on character creation, which will involve fleshing out those six basic attributes and defining the generally available skills. When that’s done, the game will be technically playable as a very light, setting-and-genre-agnostic system, albeit one that can’t handle special capabilities (magic, superpowers, psionics, etc.) or equipment.

My 8 Hour Game Design

Okay, this is kind of random (but what do I do that isn’t?), but I’m in a creative mood and my story brain is not engaging today. When this happens, I tend to default to game design. I’ve got multiple game design projects floating around between my back burners, but in the interest of bringing something to fruition I’m setting myself a challenge and giving this new experiment a limited scope.

I’m going to design and then release a playable RPG system over the course of an 8 hour workday (with a half hour break for lunch).

This includes the hour that just passed, by the way, because I’ve had ideas jangling around in my head since I woke up. Seriously, when I’m stressed and feel like my life is out of control, my brain wants to design systems for simulating and controlling worlds.

I do have a lot of material lying around for other games, both in digital and neural forms, so to make this challenge a little more honest I’m going to do something I haven’t done before: diceless. This will be double fun because I haven’t played or read a lot of diceless games, either.

Working title for the project is “NoDice Odyssey”. It’s pronounced “Nodyssey Odyssey”. I will post updates on or about the hour all day.

Monday Morning Monster: Blight Dryad

Blight Dryad


A blight dryad is a wretched creature that results when a dryad is corrupted by the Shadowfell or killed by necromantic blight. Blight dryads hate everything green and growing, and have a passionate antipathy for the living, particularly elves and fey creatures.




Monday Morning Monster: Cobra Lily (5E)

Cobra Lily


Mundane cobra liles are a predatory plant named for a fanciful resemblance between their hollow, folded-over tube leaves with a protruding curl to the head of a rearing snake that is sticking out its tongue.

Some arcanist in ages past found inspiration in this semblance for dire experiments with an ambulatory and venomous variety, creating a petite and unassuming assassin with a deadly sting. As cobra lilies propagate by sending out runners, it was almost inevitable that the creation would escape into the wild, where they may be encountered either as natural growths or deliberately sown guards. Black and green dragons in particular are known to cultivate them throughout their territory.

The cobra lily is an example of a monster that is more of a hazard than a straight-up battle. It has few hit points and wouldn’t last long in a stand-up fight as a solo creature, but a party who unsuspectingly runs into a patch of them can have a few good “uh oh” moments. They can make for a good sideline threat in any fight against a larger monster that takes place in an overgrown environment.

At the DM’s option, not only may the poison from the plant’s leaf-sting be harvested, but the fluid responsible for the plant’s alluring scent may also be preserved and distilled into a more potent form. This form, if sprayed as droplets in the air and inhaled, makes the victim susceptible to the next suggestion made (as if they were under the effects of the suggestion spell) if they do not succeed on a DC 13 Constitution check. The difficulty of processing this fluid and the value of the resulting fluid should depend in part on how rare the DM desires such an item to be. 250 gp would be a good benchmark, as it would be similar to the value of a scroll of suggestion.

Deepjammer Update

Quick update to the assembled Deepjammer players and prospective spectators: after getting knocked out of the groove by the news from the homefront the other week, I’m about ready to begin the game. I have part of today earmarked for re-reading all of the written material I assembled for the campaign setting to make sure it’s all as fresh in my head as it was when I wrote it.

Deepjammer: D&D as collaborative storytelling experiment.

So, those of you who follow me socially pm the mediums may already know that I’m doing a little experiment with a play-by-email D&D campaign as a sort of experiment in collaborative storytelling. The setting is a homebrew campaign setting called Deepjammer, because it started out as a mash-up of the Spelljammer setting and Deep Space 9.

You can find out more about it here.

After a lot of back-and-forth with the potential players in email, we’re close to getting things rolling. If you’d like to follow along at home, I’ve set up a mailing list that you can subscribe to here. That same page has a link for automatically generated archives (it’s empty right now), so you don’t have to subscribe to see what happens. I may also post cleaned-up recaps on the Deepjammer site.

Monday Morning Monster: Jack o’ the Lantern

Jack o' the Lantern (2)







Resembling a scarecrow with a burning jack o’ lantern for its head, a jack o’ the lantern differs from the more familiar animated scarecrow in being a spontaneously created undead being rather than a deliberately created construct.

The story goes that when a sufficiently hateful or angry and murderously evil person dies in a pumpkin field, the murderer’s soul, seeking purchase on the material plane either to avoid an unkind fate in the lower planes or to seek revenge against its killer, can either move into one of the pumpkins or seep into the soil and from there enter a gourd.

A pumpkin so inhabited by a soul will grow tall and round and slightly misshapen in a way that vaguely suggests a humanoid skull. Anyone who looks closely at or touches the pumpkin will receive a suggestion (as per the spell; save DC 13) to carve a face into it and put it on a scarecrow body. The first night that the light of the full moon shines on such a scarecrow, a fire will ignite inside its pumpkin skull and it will be animated into a grim mockery of life.

The anger and hatred that the jack o’ the lantern’s spirit feels fuels its existence. While a jack o’ the lantern is a free-willed creature with all the knowledge its soul possessed in life, it is incapable of tender emotions, calm rationality, or mercy. Any better qualities the soul may have had are burned away in the fires of rage.