Today Is the End – RPG Tool for a Present Day Apocalypse

Warning ⚠ Linked, unaffiliated content has mature themes of violence, blood, and everything “Nano-infested doomsday RPG about cybernetic misfits and punks raging against a relentless corporate hell” would imply 💀

Dark-fantasy Mörk Borg is all about the end-times. From the set of Miseries to the seventh and final obliteration, the end is nigh.

The ending is also abrupt – slam book closed, burn your game sheets. To eek out a bit more play, I created an awarded module The Final Hours of the Final Day (read about it in the post).

Problem: That set of fictional cataclysms depend heavily on the lore, setting, and rules of Mörk Borg. Prophesies, grim fantasy, monster rules.

So it struck me: what would a present day apocalypse look like? Thus this new system-agnostic modern module Today Is the End.

Let’s discuss:

Today Is the End

A grimdark, modern-themed list of 36 terrible ends to the world. Rolling D66 (one six-sided die is the first value, a second D6 the second value) selects a tragedy to bring into the game to send a one-shot night of play or a whole campaign off with a bang.

From the rules:

The seventh seal is broken, the final war begins, the bombs drop, the world burns, and the enemy calls upon society and soul. These are your final hours. Every 15 to 30 real-minutes (or 1 hour game time), roll D66 twice on the below. If the same number has been used before, use the next highest that is unused.

The curtain falls for the last and final time when:

  1. all characters the players have or could play as (such as friendly NPCs) are dead and gone,
  2. all six of a section have been enacted (crumple and burn the pages here – existence snuffs out without warning),
  3. actions have miraculously stopped the machinations of the End Times.

Meant to come at the end of what already may be a long gaming session, Today Is the End careens headlong into chaos and cataclysm at a literally-breakneck pace.

To cater to any game system set in the modern world, Today Is the End relies on random trait selection and ‘qualitative’ difficulties (is it easy, moderate, or hard to do?).

Find Today Is the End here on Google Docs: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1akgCDW6yAVIEOThIfabPMF9tDJTlG26i_tTOPUj2P7w/edit?usp=sharing

Calling Artists From the Rubble

Like The Final Hours, I am looking for an artist open for commissions! Whether in a Mörk Borg style or its cyberpunk sibling CY_BORG, I want to talk business 😁

Finally, the legal stuff:

https://morkborg.com/license/

Compatible with CY_BORG. CY_BORG IS ©2022 STOCKHOLM KARTELL.
Today Is the End is an independent production by Jimmy Chattin and is not affiliated with Stockholm Kartell. It is published under the CY_BORG Third Party License.

Ready to play? Keep an eye out for a CB-related list of ruin next year along with a space-faring sci-fi rapture too.

In the meanwhile, shoot me your artist recommendations and suggestions on changes / replacements to Today Is the End. Cheers to your much-less-eventful end of year!

Any Dice for Any Game

I have written before on converting D100 and D20 dice systems to 2D6, but never have I ever brought all these dice into one place.

For your and my convenience, a table to convert any dice for any game rolls you may encounter, percentages of that outcome and at (>=) or over (>) the number specified:

QualityD100 >%D20 >=%D10 >=%2D6 >=%
Easy2575580380583
Medium50501055650758
Hard75251530920927
Very Hard9552051010118
D# Conversions

Do the percentages match? No. Is it worth it to be exact? Also no – these are for use in games of fun and non-monetary chance, each no more than ~10% from one another. As I once heard from a lead game designer (in paraphrase): “If a change isn’t 10% or more, it doesn’t matter.”

Note: Some games start the player’s characters strong, or the goals are to instill a dire feel in play. That just means to up the tiers of quality by 1, e.g. easy rolls as if medium, medium becomes hard, etc.

What About Other Dice?

Anything smaller than a single D10 or two D6 is really hard to make work intuitively.

Going back to the ~10% difference, look at a D6 -> a ‘very hard’ roll would be a 6 or more on a D6, a 17% chance of happening with a single die. We violate the ~10%-or-less rule. Could we make it happen? … Yes, if a roll requires a final number greater than the faces of the die (e.g. a 25 on D20), but now we are getting into some severe nitty-grittiness.

Don’t Forget the Stats!

If using a system specifically designed for a ‘DX’ roll but a player brings a ‘DY’ to the party, make sure to convert the stats any fictional character uses from ‘X’ to ‘Y’.

Example: A D10 is used for a D20 system – stats for the D20 system need to be cut in half in how they would add or subtract from the D10 roll.

An example for the example: A +4 Toughness stat would add to a normal D20 roll in the game. However, since using a D10, only +2 (half of +4) would be used when D10 is rolled.

Here is another: A D6 is brought to a D20 system. Stats would thereby be about one-third as applicable (+3 becomes a +1).

Hope this helps if needing to get people playing quickly at your table with any dice for any game. Might put this into something printable for an index card – let me know if I ought get that going sooner than later 👍

Cheers to you rolling what you need to 🎲🎲

The Final Day – RPG Tool for the End Times

Warning ⚠ Linked content has mature themes of violence, blood, and everything “a spiked flail to the face” of “a pitch-black apocalyptic fantasy RPG about lost souls” would imply 💀

October had the goal to make a Mörk Borg moduleThe Final Hours of the Final Day is it, the perfect RPG tool for your own game’s end times 🔥

What Is The Final Day?

A grimdark, fantasy-themed list of 36 terrible ends to the world. Rolling D66 (one six-sided die is the first value, a second D6 the second value), select a tragedy to bring into the game to send a one-shot game or a whole campaign off with a bang.

From the rules:

The seventh seal is broken, the onslaught of the seventh Misery begins. These are your final hours. Every 15 to 30 real-minutes (or 1 hour game time), roll D66 twice on the below. If the same number has been used before, use the next highest that is unused.

The curtain falls for the last and final time when:

  1. all characters the players have or could play as (such as friendly NPCs) are dead and gone,
  2. all six of a section have been enacted (close and burn the book – existence snuffs out without warning),
  3. actions have miraculously stopped the machinations prophesied by Verhu of HE so long ago.

Meant to come at the end of what already may be a long gaming session, The Final Day careens headlong into chaos and cataclysm at a literally-breakneck pace.

While catering to the stats, lore, and ‘weird’ of Mörk Borg, The Final Day can be brought into any fantasy setting – stat effects can be either random stats or a best-call for the system in question, monsters are monsters or their near counterparts, and difficulties are generic enough for any system (minimum 10% change in probabilities).

Find The Final Hours of the Final Day here on Google Docs: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1dnWZciEVZwBLRh73qAV9NG6b1JzwydF1gc2lvCPF3m8/edit?usp=sharing

While Your World Burns:

I seek out a graphic artist open for paid commissions who would put together The Final Day in the style of other Mörk Borg content. Send your recommendations my way!

Finally, the legal stuff:

https://morkborg.com/license/

Compatible with Mörk Borg. MÖRK BORG is copyright Ockult Örtmästare Games and Stockholm Kartell.

The Final Day is an independent production by Jimmy Chattin and is not affiliated with Ockult Örtmästare Games or Stockholm Kartell. It is published under the MÖRK BORG Third Party License.


That’s it! Working on a modern day, system agnostic version of The Final Day – expect a post on that soon.

In the meantime, shoot me your suggestions and artists who are open for work! Cheers to your gaming ~

BITS of Only War

All links leading out of jimmychattin.com are unaffiliated.

  1. The Core Mechanic
  2. The Stats
  3. The Fun BITS
  4. Notable: Supply Lines
  5. Notable: Regiment Creation
  6. Notable: Vehicles
  7. Notable: Force Fields
  8. Notable: Augments
  9. Notable: Levels of Damage
  10. Notable: NPC Comrades
  11. Notable: Compatible With Other Games

Warhammer 40,000 Only War is a grimdark soldiers-at-the-front game that is inundated with minutia that makes the title more a tactical simulation than a game-for-fun as-is.

Big game tomes tracking every little thing makes sense – back in 2012 during the game’s publication, D&D was the primary RPG example in town, Only War itself based off of the piles-o’-dice tabletop wargame WH40K. There is so much here, this blog post will have to be abridged (not a full conversion of the main features to BITS).

The publisher has since come a hugely long way with Age of Sigmar: Soulbound, yet there are still gems here applicable to the BITS system. Skimming over some areas of detail, I introduce to you the best BITS of Only War:

The Core Mechanic

Skipping the dice piles of the wargame or the recent Soulbound RPG, Only War requires rolls at or under a percentage, that percentage being a combination of ability, skill, context, personal modifications, target modifications, and other tidbits.

There is a boatload of math here, each modifier being a range from -60 to +60, in increments of either 5 or 10. Ouch.

BITS is here to save the day for us: Genericize the difficulty, add minimal additions to rolls, and roll 2d6 at most.

DifficultyTierRollExample
Easy15+Rabble, conscripts, untrained guards, small beasts.
Moderate27+Professional guards, foot soldiers, trained.
Hard39+Specialists, veterans, brutes, large beasts.
Very Hard411+Captains, elites, killers, vicious beasts.
Legendary613+Demi-gods, lords, titular mortals.
Near Impossible1015+The gods made flesh, god-like beings.
BITS Difficulty Reminder

Let us skip the rest of the mechanic since most all of it can be replaced by BITS for faster, easier play.

The Stats

Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill, Strength, Toughness, Agility, Intelligence, Perception, Willpower, Fellowship.

9. 9 stats, not counting Wounds (health), Fatigue (disadvantage on things when fatigued), Sanity, Corruption, and different Speeds and Sizes and Encumbrances.

Humans can recall only 7 things (+/- 2) in memory, so including 9 stats and more about the character being played plus the equipment of that character plus what is happening with comrades plus what is happening in game… No good.

BITS mitigates this with Body, Insight, and Thought. Here, we can take an average of the Only War stats that correspond (each stat averages to 31%: 2d10 + 20), and giving stat points for what percentage comes out:

BITSOnly War Stats
BodyWeapon Skill
Strength
Toughness
Agility
InsightBallistic Skill
Perception
Fellowship
ThoughtIntelligence
Willpower
BITS Stat Conversion
Heroic ModeAlt. Semi-HeroicAlt. Human-ishAlt. Humbling
0-16% = 1
17-50% = 2
51-82% = 3
83-99% = 4
0-39% = 1
40-69% = 2
70-89% = 3
90-99% = 4
0-49% = 0
50-69% = 1
70-84% = 2
85-94% = 3
95-99% = 4
0-2% = -4
3-8% = -3
9-16% = -2
17-27% = -1
28-71% = 0
72-82% = 1
83-90% = 2
91-96% = 3
97-99% = 4
% Range to BITS Value
(Semi-Heroic is the best fit, Heroic second)

I won’t drawl on the trainings/skills a character has either – as is the typical, there are too many. So instead, base skills (the “Specialties” of BITS) on the role the character plays: Are they a pilot? A driver? The vanguard? A mechanical, biological, or software technician? A psychic (aka magic) user?

Let the character role decide what the character can and cannot do with advantage because it is safe to assume the characters are competent to some degree.

As for health, using Soulbound‘s B+I+T+S or a 2d6 or even d6 can lead to different experiences, whatever the game should “feel” like at your table:

HealthKind of Play
B+I+T+SHeroic, 1-to-16 range
2d6Semi-heroic, 2-12 range, average 7
d6Deadly, 1-6 range, average 3-4
Healthy Conversions

The Fun BITS

A brief here before the next sections: What follows are the parts of Only War that really stood out to my design-eye.

These mechanics either are fully formed and standalone, require minor tweaks, or are great inspirations for BITS. Keep in mind that the following may not be 1:1 representative of Only War, but at least has a basis from the work done there.

Notable: Supply Lines

Or as the game calls it, “logistics.” Characters can get any gear they want, but they must request it and they must roll to see if it arrives.

Gear is gear – every game has equipment. Yet no game yet come across has quite this wartime mechanic of supply lines! (Band of Blades may come close – it has been awhile since reading up on it.)

Logistics shines because depending on who the characters are, what their army group is, where the battle is taking place, and how the war is going overall changes what is likely to be available.

When it comes to bad logistics rolls, an army group isn’t left to sticks and rocks. A saving grace is that every regiment has its own stock of basic kit, a class of weapons and items they have in spades. Not fancy, but an army won’t be for want!

The implementation is as math-heavy as the rest of Only War. A route BITS can take may look like:

  • Every player may attempt 1 requisition between missions, adding their Insight stat to how they barter / promise / beg / threaten / steal for it.
    • If the players are in retreat or in a break-neck push ahead, requisition cannot happen.
  • The effectiveness of the item is the base challenge of the roll (tier 1 quality = 5+ roll, 2 = 7+, etc.).
  • The whole squad can get basic infantry gear; heavy or specialized infantry gear or vehicle parts must be rolled for one at a time while acquiring a single vehicle increases the challenge of the roll to the next level (e.g. a tier 1 scout vehicle becomes 7+, not 5+).
  • Advantage to the roll if winning the last battle by a landslide (utter destruction of the enemy), the next mission is “the big one,” or the item is part of the “standard” for the group. Disadvantage if the previous mission was a real beating for the characters, the next mission is a full wartime evacuation, or the item is especially “exotic” (i.e. alien, heavily modified, experimental, part of a different military branch [not the army], etc.).
  • Apply other boons or banes based on the conditions of the field, for example:
+1 to Roll-1 to Roll
Fresh Shipment / OverstockedBase Recently Raided
Friendly Industrial / Fortress WorldBackwater / Naturalized / Enemy World
Session 0 (Before Entering War)Base Depot / Facilities Destroyed
Longstanding Base (1+ Year)Trivial Forward Operating Base / Camp
Winning the WarLosing the War
Deadly Next MissionMinimal Enemy Force Expected
Logistics Modifier Examples

Why not include the requisition of support as well during the mission? Being able to call in a tank company, have a friendly regiment on the flank, rely on air support, or signal an artillery barrage all adds to play for sure!

And of course the Game Moderator (GM) can choose if a piece of kit is even available to be rolled for – a super-heavy battle tank may simply not be around on a cut-off backwater of a warzone!

Notable: Regiment Creation

Creating an army and the soldiers who play a part in it is =superb=.

Only War walks a player through the fighting style, homeworld, standard kit, commander disposition, and even lore of the battle group they wage war on behalf of. All this before a character is made!

The regiment establishes kit, special rules, and bonuses players may (or sometimes must) apply to their characters and operations. Everything from vehicles to resources to tactics become available, as per these examples from the game:

RegimentGeneral Features
Cadian Shock TroopsPoster-boy soldiers. Solid firearms and a squad APC.
Dadv to disobey orders. Lasguns and launchers.
Catachan Jungle FightersLone-wolf guerilla fighters. Extra health.
Adv in ‘nature’, Dadv cooperating. Flamers and knives.
Death Korps of KriegGas-mask-wearing attrition and siege group.
Adv to push forward, Dadv to fall back. Artillery.
Elysian Drop TroopsDeath-from-above. Anti-grav devices, maybe a dropship.
Not that strategic (less Thought). Carbines and bombs.
Maccabian JanissariesZealots. Solid firearms and more advanced weaponry.
Good Insight, Dadv to fall back. Cannons and plasma.
Mordian Iron GuardArmored regiment. Get a tank and combat drugs.
Dadv for actions taken while in the open. Small arms.
Tallarn Desert RaidersMounted hit-and-run. Scout walkers and extra HP.
Extra movement when ambushing others. Launchers.
Vostroyan FirstbornElite backliners. Extra stat point, solid standard gear.
Dadv on lower-born social tests. Sniping and auto guns.
Example Regiments

There is so much more…

I might make a blog post that is a direct get-started conversion where homeworlds, commanders, et. al are covered in depth – for now, group creation in Only War is now the basis for BITS!

Notable: Vehicles

BITS lacked a firm understanding of how to implement vehicles before Only War. Now, the inspiration:

Vehicles are a unit type above Infantry – Infantry have a disadvantage to harm them (though perhaps some bonus +1 or the vehicle tier for shooting the broadside of a barn, e.g. large vehicles?).

Further, vehicle BITS tiers (1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 10) add a ‘0’ to the end of the tier for the vehicle’s hull health, e.g. tier 1 becomes 10, 2 20, etc.

Same ‘0’ applies to vehicle-grade weapons. A tier-1 effectiveness vehicle weapon does 10 damage, and so on.

Combat vehicles are either without extra protection or are “armored,” impervious to non-explosive, non-anti-armor weapons.

Optionally, a scale can be introduced to equate with infantry protection where it reduces incoming harm:

ArmorEquates to
0No extra protection, canvas, open
1Light infantry, flak fabric, car door
2Medium infantry, plates, car frame
3Heavy infantry, carapace, car engine block
4Super infantry, powered armor, combat vehicle
6Heavy combat vehicle, mobile weapon platform
10Ancient / Exotic / Experimental protection
Vehicle Armor Point Array

For every tier, a vehicle gets 2 features aside from whatever motive (wheeled, tracked, or walking) it uses. A tier 1 scout could have any of the following, up to 2: mounted infantry weapon, mounted vehicle-tier weapon (counts as 2 systems), a fireteam carrying capacity (4-6 infantry, heavy weapons and ‘larger’ personnel counting as 2 infantry), armored, hover engine, turbo engine, slaved cyborg operator, damage control, amphibious functions, large replacement parts, etc.

Notable: Force Fields

AKA “shields.”

Only War defines how BITS handles these kinds of ‘magic’ fields of protection!

First, they do not overlap. Only the strongest field applies at a time, though pop one, a second might be in place.

Next, effect tier must be equal to or greater than the field itself, otherwise all of the effect is negated completely (a tier-1 pistol and a tier-1 vehicle gun are treated the same). But fields remain ‘ablative,’ in that once damage arrives that is on par with the field, the field only goes down 1 point in effectiveness in exchange for stopping all damage. The new effectiveness – until recharged – can then be attacked by lesser-effect weapons.

Example: A tier 4 vehicle-mounted shield takes 2-damage small-arms fire. The damage doesn’t make it through and the shields hold at 4. (Attention is drawn to being shot, however!)

Then an airstrike arrives, doing 4-damage to the shield. The shield decreases in power to 3, stopping all of the airstrike’s effect. But a second airstrike arrives, again at 4, dropping the shield now to 2. A small-arms rifle takes a potshot for 2, now able to damage the shield down to 1.

As the vehicle’s turn ends, the shields recharge back up to 2. This stops pistols, but won’t stop rifle or heavier fire more than twice.

Should actions against the field critically succeed when the damage is at or above shield power, the field ‘pops,’ reducing to 0 to stop the attack (and if especially egregious, a GM might think the field has run out of power or requires maintenance!).

The above is a tentative scale of field shield power, though it could be split into Infantry-Vehicle-Ship-Planetary scales:

TierExample
1Personal Field
2Combat Field
3Containment / Wall Field
4Vehicle / Building Field
6Spaceship Field
10World Field
Example Field Strengths

Notable: Augments

Robot eyes, regrown limbs, spare organs? The idea that any character can be saved from extreme physical harm – at a cost – is stellar.

Replacement parts are noticeable, but as standard do nothing ‘extra.’ Requisition, time, and medical and technical talent can be spent to, say, breath in any atmosphere, run faster, lift heavier, punch harder, see farther, or just have laser eyes 🙂

Notable: Levels of Damage

In a strange way, Only War has both a bean-counting health system (typical of RPGs), and an abstracted level of wounds.

The level of damage affects a character’s healing rate and NPC comrades. Once more severe levels are healed, it is easier to heal the rest. My take:

Only War Harm TermApprox. HarmNotes
Critical< Body stat left of life7+ Luck test each day of complete rest to heal 1.
Heavy> Body in harm,
> Body left
Each day of complete rest to heal 1.
LightHarm <= BodyEach day of no further harm heals 1.
Abstract Character Health Levels

This seems a little heavy handed – why not heal 1 based on the context of where and how healing is done like most other games? (D&D “rests” come to mind.) Regardless, state is something to keep in my own game-design back-pocket for a while yet.

In the meantime, a handful of health is optimal (certainly not more than 20), perhaps spacing states at half- and quarter-life marks, rounding up. (Again, analyze this another time 🤷‍♂️)

Let’s consider NPC comrades:

Notable: NPC Comrades

Every player character in the game is supposed to have a “comrade,” someone who follows them around, follows orders, and provides support. (Excluding some chosen roles during character creation.)

Having a battle-buddy is nifty, though comes with caveats. It bolsters the number of soldiers to make a squad, provides some mechanical and narrative flexibility, but also adds a greater burden on the GM to track yet other NPCs. I am a bit on the fence with these kinds of henchmen, so it needs further investigation.

NPCs are either unharmed, wounded, or dead – there is no middle ground! Nor excess tracking of health. A single hit of any caliber reduces the NPC’s state, though extreme harm (in excess of the NPC’s effect tier, or double the tier or more?) should count as at least 2 hits.

When healthy, they take orders, can do tasks on their own, and generally support the player character with a +1 ‘help’ to rolls.

StateWhat It Does
UnharmedGreat. Sticks around.
WoundedCannot run (‘Slow’ speed).
Would assume they have Dadv or reduced effectiveness.
Takes a week of rest to heal.
DeadNot doing great.
Mark the name down, when and how they died.
Get a new comrade back at base.
Comrade States

BITS will explore adding a fourth state, “critical,” where NPCs could be carried back to base for saving, or left behind to hold back an onrushing tide!

Only War lacks a “lookout sir!” rule; a comrade can intercept incoming fire on behalf of their leader. Rather, only when doubles are rolled when targeting the player do these NPCs get hit. This is messy, so BITS adds “lookout sir!” when a hit would kill the player character and not otherwise hit the NPC (an explosion would hit both characters regardless).

Notable: Compatible With Other Games

Blows my mind that more games fail to include integration or conversion specifications with other titles. Maybe it is the problem of ownership and copyright, should a system such as D&D combine with Mörk Borg by name 🤷‍♂️

In any case, Only War fits itself nicely alongside other titles in the Warhammer 40,000 RPG line. The game is thorough with the mechanical tweaks and also cautious with the theming, reiterating what Only War is meant for versus the ‘feel’ other titles expect to provide.

2600 words, and barely scratching the surface of Warhammer 40,000 Only War!

Like fitting a foot into a too tight shoe, a great feel and look once there after putting in the work. That is what BITS is – a tight, sleek frame for the games that go in, running like a charm ~

Only War is no different. While BITS applied some of its principles to help Only War conform to a more concise feel, Only War gave as good as it got. Multiple points of inspiration came from Only War that BITS is already applying in game drafts soon to be shared!

What are you taking from BITS of Only War? The war tracking? Army building? Force fields? I want to know – share your insights and this post and we’ll meet again in a bit! Cheers ~

October November Goal Review

It is that spooky time of the year! 👻🎃💀 When we review the last month and propose for the new 😱

October Goal Review

  1. A Trip and a Wedding
    • Won! Despite exhaustion, the overlanding trip taken and wedding afterward were absolute blasts. Seeing old friends (some not since 12-14 years ago) and making new ones has been… I need more of it in my life. A few other lessons were learned too, some I will capitalize on in November. (See photos and follow on https://www.instagram.com/jimmychattin/)
  2. Mörk Borg Module
    • Won! Made the module The Final Day, or The Final Hours of the Final Day. D66 world-destroying cataclysms meant to wipe out all player characters and every monument that ever stood. Blog post on this later 😉 No bonus for the artsy splash or BITS conversion (very close to this conversion, though!).
  3. 20 Hours Machine Learning
    • Failed. Didn’t touch the lessons 🤷‍♂️
  4. 20 Hours Unity
    • Won! I now know more about the engine. Enough that I could talk shop about it, so onto the ol’ resume it goes~ No bonus for making a game over 10 extra hours, though I dedicated about 4 hours to remaking Flappy Bird 😃
  5. 15 Minutes Daily Engagement
    • Won! Time was put in, but not consistently >_> I hold responsible goal #1, a 9-10 day affair that wiped out the first third of the month from being online. No bonus here for 20 total engagement hours.
  6. Move or Half-Year Review
    • Won! The move is underway! Getting to live with some great and grand folks because of it 🙂 But, that means November will require EOY reviews!
  7. Bonus: Marathon War 2P
    • Nothing here – did not touch the bonus.

November Hiatus

After some realizations in the first half of October, I have decided to take November as a month of hiatus. I’ve done so before, and the close of the year is just… convenient!

Write blogs, read articles, brainstorm projects, visit friends, build something new, and maybe play a game or two. Also getting ahead on the year-end review is a thing I should do too. Here are some prospect for your review (that I may make into goals if I get ready to):

  • EOY Review collection, with a bonus for Media and an Outline.
  • 6 Blog Posts to help fill out the year.
  • 20 Game Hours, especially since I am like to have a VR headset at my disposal 😎
  • 20 Study Hours of game engines, both for tabletop and virtual environments.
  • 8-10 Hours of Outreach again.
  • Private Engagements of personal and social nature.

October was uncomfortably tough. It felt like a constant rush to get all the goals and other things handled (you know, the stuff of life). Led to an 83% success rate which, while acceptable, made me feel guilty for taking any rest.

That is no good, especially for someone who tends toward workaholism 😐

High time for a break, wouldn’t you say? I may give myself task credit if I change my mind after Halloween. For now, I collect myself and my notes from the past year, write a few blogs, attempt to relax a minute.

Cool? Cool. Forget not to take some time for yourself too, shared with friends and other family. Cheers to your November, folks!

BITS – Mount Up Fantasy Settings

A cornerstone addition for any fantasy or medieval roleplaying games is the trusty steed. Whether mounted by a knight or pulling the cart of 💩, if a game has swords, it is ripe to have equine to swing swords from.

Here’s how they get implemented in the BITS system, though the rules below are quite system-agnostic.

Basic Stats

Horses are a Tier 3 creature, meaning they have 3 hit points and are fairly difficult to hit and dodge (a 9+ roll to succeed against). However, unless it is a trained war horse, a horse should be unlikely to attack unless driven to, and that with disadvantage.

As for temperament, horses naturally avoid doing and receiving harm. Rather, eating and herding with other horses is the preference.

Mount Up

Being atop a horse automatically gives one a height advantage over other characters. Whether attacking or seeing over low cover, a mounted character has it.

However, the height comes at a price: A mounted character can be picked out from a crowd and has little (if any) cover themselves.

There is a bonus to speed though. Walking or galloping, horses give double the speed of a human for longer. E.g. instead of moving into the next area as a move, the horse can move into one area and then the next, or instead of ~10m run a horse may sprint ~100m.

If a horse suddenly stops (either from an obstacle or legs being shot out from under a rider), anyone mounted must suffer the consequences.

If walking or standing still, a d6 roll of 4-6 means the rider is fine. 1-3 means the rider is trapped under the beast and needs a Body BITS test to get out. A 1 also breaks the leg of the rider.

If galloping, roll d3. The result is how many 10s of meters the rider is thrown (e.g. 2 is 20 meters), with 3 damage for every 10 meters thrown.

For the number of those mounted, only one armored (or especially large) rider can be on a horse at a time. If unarmored, the horse can mount two at a time, even if one or both riders are injured.

Panic

What’s a horse without flared-nostril panic?

Horses must roll for panic if anything ever surprises them. These can inclusively be attacks (including surprise slaps to the behind), sudden visions of much and rapid activity, horrific scenes and smells, and loud noises.

A sample panic list, where failing a 7+ Insight BITS test sees the animal lose control:

  1. Buck. 11+B BITS test to hold on.
  2. Rear up on hind legs. 9+B BITS test to hold on.
  3. Bolt. The horse gallops randomly d6 times. 7+B BITS test to hold on.
  4. Shriek. All horses a room away (~10 meters) also panic.
  5. Sudden stop. If not moving, the horse backs up d6 times (or stops when going into a wall or the area to the rear).
  6. Nothing happens. After a start, the horse is controlled.

Chariots, Coaches, and Carts

Chariots are two-wheeled carts that need at least a driver and one horse to operate. They can be large enough to carry one or two passengers / archers / lancers with two or four horses, respectively.

Though lacking the height advantage of a mount, a chariot offers half-cover to those inside from at least the front if not the sides. War chariots can also include armor and bladed wheels.

Coaches are enclosed boxes that need a driver on the outside to work. Any number of horses can be used to pull a coach.

Those inside a coach have full cover but no height advantage. Those on top or driving have height advantages, but no cover. Coaches can be armored and even outfitted with weapons.

Carts are the basic of basic. No cover, and no height advantage unless standing on top. One, two, or four horses can draw carts, but so can mules, ox, and teams of goats (if the game is so inclined).

Other Considerations

War Horses – Can attack with hooves for 3 damage whether striking or kicking. May be armored and are much less likely to panic or panic badly (e.g. immune to any panic except physical injury). Can also charge and trample without impunity.

Charging – Get hit by a running horse, get knocked prone to the ground. Simple as that.

Trampling – d6 damage to be run over by a horse (average at 4). Worth rolling to see if a horse jumps over something first, but there’s always the risk of harm when being both prone and in a horse’s way.

Saddles / Packs – Any horse properly equipped can carry more gear than a person can. If a character in BITS can carry only 2 items naked, 4 to 6 items clothed, and between 6 to 10 in a pack, a horse can carry a minimum of 10 extra items that stay with the horse when equipped to do so.

Stirrups vs Bareback – An optional consideration. Stirrups help a rider stay mounted and leaves their hands virtually free. Bareback requires one hand in the mane of the horse if the rider doesn’t want to have a disadvantage to their mounting or moving. Not a recommended rule, but a historical acknowledgement of what is available.

Other Devices – Things like blinders could reduce panic chances from certain sources. Whips and lashes could force a horse to go faster. If ignoring the cruelty of some of these devices, this topic is far too granular for what BITS aims to abstract away.

There it is: Horse mounts in BITS. Catering to a fantasy setting in this one, but westerns (like the very applicable Gunslinger in The West) or any setting with an equestrian-bent should use these rules for game inspiration.

Could this be extrapolated out to other kinds of animal riding? Dire wolves, bears, dragons? Of course! Though, attacks, temperaments, panic reactions, and other stats would need a bit of contextual tweaking, but that is the easy part!

What animals do you like to ride into battle? Is this ruleset missing anything (other than feeding [daily, and water, too!] and maintaining [horseshoes!] a mount)? Hit me up with your knowledge here – I am too naïve to know much else 🙃

Toodles and cheers.

BITS – Wealth and What to Buy

Money makes the world go round, right? How about the tools that money acquires and that acquire money?

Like everything else, the BITS roleplaying game system handles that. Here’s how:

The Tools That Brought Us Here

As the stellar game Mörk Borg puts it, “you are what you own.” I couldn’t agree more.

Equipment, the tools we use, is what separates us from the beasts. Yet, there is no need for these tools to be complex in their implementation when at a table among friends in play.

BITS keeps tools simple. Everything has an effect for the intended use or a retarding effect on what is being done. Effects reduce the barrier between action and outcome; retardation reduces the amount of effect.

That’s a lot of verbiage 😑 Some examples:

Consider combat: A weapon has an X amount of effect through violence. Armor reduces that effect by Y. The final effect would be X-Y.

Example: Armor has a retarding effect on violence done to the wearer.

Same goes for more utilitarian tools. Crowbar? Useful for breaking open locked doors. Shovel? Digging holes. Pick? Breaking rock. These things might have a special advantage in the situation, too.

You get the gist.

Yet, sometimes an object is used outside of its intended scope. In those cases, the tool has disadvantage for doing what is was never meant to. A butter knife could theoretically slay a dragon, but gosh-darn is that going to be a hard time!

Doing Things

Virtually all game experience revolves around conflict, and 9/10 times (no source; don’t @ me) that conflict will see a violent resolution.

When it comes to violence, every stick, sword, pistol, and whatever will have a 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, or 10 effect. I shouldn’t have to remind, but for those that need it spelled out: the effect of violence is the edging from construction and order to destruction and death. The states are abstracted, but relatable.

To rehash, the scale goes like this:

EffectSynonyms
1Minor. In hand-to-hand, something like a rock or weapon with a reach less than a forearm (knives, hatchets). A small caliber, such as a pistol.
2Moderate. A sword or battle axe, arrows. An assault rifle.
3Major. A blade requiring two hands for 100% use. Crossbow bolts. A machine gun.
4Mighty. Claymores, swung tree trunks, and huge mauls. A high-caliber weapon, personnel explosives.
6Massive. Siege weapons, cannons, bombs.
10Mega. Hellfire, cruise missiles.

Same for, say, making magic. A wand could have a minor effect of 1 that helps creating the magic, a rune tome 2, and a blessed staff 3. (More on that in the post about magic.)

Is this scale exact? No. It is simple, modular, and easily tweakable, as BITS is meant to be. But if I can help settle a question, leave a comment – I get to every one!

Carrying on:

Putting a Stop to Things

Protection from effect reduces the amount of effect. Protection ranges from nothing 0, light 1, medium 2, to heavy 3, with higher versions looking at 4, 6, and 10 (though 10 is essentially ‘plot armor’ and in use is a sign of bad game design [except if the point is to assault God]).

Example: A 2-effect sword strikes a 1-effect leather jerkin piece of light armor. The final effect is a detriment of 1 towards the jerkin-wearer’s life.

Simple!

A mention about shields: The best way BITS has found to handle a held shield vs. a worn piece of armor is to give advantage to the defender’s roll to dodge or block. Otherwise, just lend +1 to the shield’s use in defense. For further flavor, a shield can be smashed to pieces to prevent 100% of effect from an action, but this can only happen once and only in combat (e.g. no smashing shields to prevent harm from a great fall).

Show Me the Money

Wealth. Money. Moolah. Funds. Scratch. Gravy cheese currency cash coin treasure dough loot value capital.

It all means the same: the influence you have in society and over your own time when not using first-degree violence.

Now, there are a lot of different folks out there. Some folks like to see their wealth counted to the last coin; some folks like just to know they have enough for their needs and leisure.

Is BITS flexible enough to cater to all tastes?

You know that answer 😜 To prove:

#1 Bean Counting

Whether bags of coin or rolls of wadded bills, when piled high, they look great.

For those that like to count their money, they have an abstract-yet-significant amount of value. How significant?

That depends on how precious of a commodity money is.

For the extra-rare money games (1-2 pieces of treasure a session of play), set the value of an item equal to the amount of effect an item has. 2-effect sword? 2 bags of coin. 3-effect hunting rifle? 3 rolls of dollar bills. 1:1 effect-to-fat-stacks.

In modern-wealth terms, the #-effect could mean the # of zeros after the first digit an item costs. 10s, 100s, 1000s, etc.

For the more liberal money games (say, 2-12 treasure earned in play, all characters are likely to have at least 1 in their pockets), sum up to the effect as value. That means you add up all the effects to the current effect.

Example: A 4-effect item is worth 1+2+3+4=10 of a currency. 2-effect is 1+2=3.

#2 Wealth Class

For those looking to do less math and more play, wealth class is for them (and you, too).

Wealth class is the abstract level of influence a person is in society. It could be considered as follows:

ClassE.g.
0Poverty! Completely broke. Might beg for bread. Hard to count the unwashed masses, as they slip through the cracks of society.
1Lower. Peasantry and labor class. Can cover necessities, but barely. Food, poor housing. Hundreds of dollars in the bank, maybe. About the bottom 40-60% in society’s value hierarchy.
2Middle. Skilled and trader class. Can afford some leisure, but has to budget for it. Thousands of dollars available in the bank. 30-45% of the population.
3Upper. Overseer and mercantile class. Can look wealthy. Can be impulsive with leisure. Hundreds-of-thousands to low million in the bank. 20-30%.
4High. Inherited and aristocratic wealth. Rich. Want for nothing. Millions banked. 10-15%.
6Elite. Royalty, old-family, and monopoly wealth. What society dreams of being but could never sustain. Hundreds-of-millions. Top 1-4%.
10More money than God. Few if any good deeds done to get here. Do as they please. Cannot reasonably spend enough to reduce the class. Not generally known to the public, but members here come to know each other.

A class can buy anything of classes below it, no questions asked (within reason).

Buy things of the same class? Might need to roll – on a critical failure (e.g. 1 on a d6), the class reduces by 1 but the thing is yours.

Try to buy things above the class? Can maybe do 1 class above, but will reduce class by 1 or 2 guaranteed. Consult with the Game Moderator.

With bean counting, more beans means bigger numbers means better wealth. What about class?

With class, consider:

  • Gather treasure (or large enough paydays that went straight to savings) equal or more to the current class value, then spend that treasure to roll for a class increase at the end of, say, a month. Using d6, increase the wealth class by 1 if the roll is over the current wealth class – on a 1, decrease by 1 for some unforeseen expense or misjudgment on funds.

Example: Change wealth by gathering treasure/savings/windfalls equal to current wealth. Exchange that treasure to roll d6 (perhaps at the end of a month or so). Increase wealth by 1 if the roll is over current wealth; decrease by 1 if the roll is a 1.

What Is This Worth?

Shop keeps may buy things similar to their other wares at 1 level below the thing’s actual worth, 1 level above if selling.

Want to bargain? A successful Insight test (the ‘I’ in BITS) could get the price leveled to what it is supposed to be.

Example: A 2-effect sword will be sold to a merchant at the same rate as 1-effect, bought at 3-effect. Negotiate to make it a 2-effect cost.

Capitalism at work.

The above though fails to answer the question, “what is this worth?” Like everything else in BITS, it follows the 0, 1-4, 6, 10 pattern. A guide:

Value LevelWhat It Is
0Trash. Rubbish. Rags.
1Mundane. Everyday. Simple. Cabbages, toilet paper bundle, concert tickets.
2Middling. Required extra process. Prepared meal, handy labor, mediocre laptop.
3Uncommon purchase. Some haggling. Jewelry, performance computer, car, US health insurance.
4High quality. Fancy. Sports car, leisure boat, simple property, US medicine.
6Above and beyond. Rare. Complex property, large vessel, small plane.
10Exotic. One-of-a-kind. Especially unique. Companies, aircraft carriers.

A little give and take with the above will make for a great starting place in determining a thing’s value if not readily apparent. Cool?

Cool.

And that’s all I have for gear and wealth in BITS!

A familiar topic, I have tried posts before for making gear and giving a highlight to its use. Yet, the economy talk was little and, well, I am better now than before in understanding what makes BITS fun 🙂

I am sure more can and will be added. Super-effect where the value is multiplied by 10 or 100, repair costs, base materials vs. final product, etc. Adding more is always possible with BITS, though simplicity is always key – in that, less is more 😉

How do you like to handle ‘stuff’ and the stuff used to buy it in your games? I want to know! Comment about it and I’ll owe you one. For now, cheers to your day!

BITS – Here Be Magic

Awhile ago I explored with you spells and magic systems.

Looking back, between modern D&D, the old-school revival (OSR), and a more free-form approach, that post was a bit… scattered 🙃

So I went back to the drawing board. I touched on a few changes in BITS in the two-year review, but I did even better: there now exists the sci-fantasy-trope As Above, So Below prototype.

The AASB two-pager project forced me to distill what magic can and ought to be in a Body-Insight-Thought-Specialty roleplaying game system.

With those efforts combined, it is time to reintroduce the magic in BITS in a general form fit for any BITS game (and your own homebrew too 😉).

A Special Kind of Threat

“Threat” is the common term of what to roll at or above to succeed at some tricky, dangerous, or failure-is-consequential action.

Every creature or being in a game has its own threat – an abstract capacity to enact its own will on others or to prevent others from acting on it. When rolling normally, that threat is what is rolled for.

Magic is different. Spells ignore the threat of the target (a person, place, or thing), instead rolling for the level of threat inherent in the spell itself. The effect is instantaneous on target, ignoring all defenses!

Trivial spell? Trivial roll. Bigger, badder magic? Bigger, badder numbers to roll for 😶

As is with most rolls, magic rolls get to add a BITS to the roll, specifically the Thought quality – the smarter, more forceful-of-will a caster is, the easier the use of their magic!

When using magic, roll for the threat of the magic, not the target. Add Thought to the roll.

DANGER!

Magic is dangerous. Spells are fickle, near as likely to burn the hand that casts than the target.

Early on, BITS settled to handle critical failure when rolling doubles under the threat number. (e.g. a 2 and 2 when the threat is 5+.)

Crit failures – regardless of what is being done – are always bad. When it comes to magic, such failure can be catastrophic 💀

When magic critically fails, the caster becomes the target. Whatever was going to happen happens in its opposite or causes harm, too.

Say a healing spell was meant to help an ally. A crit failure would harm the magician in equal amounts to what was supposed to heal, while the ally gets nothing.

Sometimes allies are not so lucky. Take a mage’s fireball spell, meant to immolate all in a nearby room before their friends rush in. Crit fail in the casting, and the room the mage is in fills with fire, setting ablaze friend and foe alike.

Summoning a creature from the ‘other side’ to fight alongside the party? The summoning happens, but the creature joins the opposition.

Magic is dangerous. Users are advised to proceed with caution!

Critical spell failure targets the caster and must harm or inconvenience them in proportion to the magic used.

What About Armor?

Many game systems require magicians to not wear any armor to be able to use magic. Sometimes this is a soft requirement (e.g. “magic can only be cast wearing lite or no armor”), sometimes this is hard (“mages cannot wear armor, full stop”).

To me, this is silly. BITS aims to be more practical and economic in its approach – by failures targeting the gear and pocketbooks of magicians!

On critical failures, a mage can be utterly wrecked. Only once, this is a painful outcome. Bad dice rolling failures again and again, magic becomes annoying.

So to encourage bigger, wilder magic use, a magician can channel a crit failure into anything that lacks a will that they are wearing or hold in their hands. When channeled, the magic effect doesn’t happen (e.g. a fireball does not explode), but the item that was channeled? Gone – turned to ash, dissolved to vapor, crumbled to dust.

The lesson here? Critical magic failure can be prevented, but at a cost. That cost comes in the form of the hard-won gear and materials a magic user has. Therefore, mage’s are encouraged to use their special powers while softly discouraged from investing too heavily in heavier, more expensive weapons and gadgets.

Magic users may choose to channel crit spell failures into what they wear or hold, the item chosen destroyed in the process to prevent the failure’s effects.

Tools of the Trade

Gear here to help magicians: scrolls, runes, tomes, icons, idols, fetishes, wands, scepters, staves.

These items come in +1, +2, +3, and more varieties like every other kind of item in BITS. Yet, instead of inflicting harm on another (e.g. 2 damage for a tier-2 sword), focusing gear adds to the rolls for magic in addition to Thought already added.

Some magic gear helps focus spells – add this gear’s value to magic rolls in addition to Thought.

Optional: Fields of Magic

This is a great way to segregate the kinds of magic a player might be able to rely on. If magic use is just a bit too powerful, restricting magic to fields of study or inheritance can make all the difference.

While these groupings can take virtually any form, a few examples (which could be further isolated by what foci they are allowed to use, how they improve their magic, and how they might increase their powers):

  • The 6 distilled from D&D magic (D&D has unbalanced spells that I rebalanced during As Above, So Below‘s development – will make a post on it later).
    • Divinity – Spells involve blessing and cursing targets.
    • Energy – Spells involve the heating and cooling targets.
    • Form – Spells involve making something from nothing and change.
    • Life – Spells involve decaying and rejuvenating targets and the environment.
    • Mind – Spells involve knowing what targets know and bestowing ideas into others.
    • Sensorium – Spells involve the senses and illusions.
  • Power (pure-magic) and Pyro (fire, natural forces) (inspired by the Souls games).
  • Pact-making (devotion to angels or demons), Learned (from books or teachers), and Inherited (born with it).
  • Item-only (spells are written or imbued – can only be used with the host item, perhaps only a few times too).

Buttress magic’s power by guard-railing its use via who uses what kinds of magic magic and how.

Making Magic

Magic by any stretch of the imagination is chaotic, and chaos is everything.

That in mind, no list of spells or rituals could be as encompassing as a player’s imagination, or the situations one encounters while playing.

For BITS, refer to this handy table of the minimal threat appropriate for different spells (the Game Moderator ultimately will need to make a decision here, so treat this as a tool and starting place in that verdict). Using the largest threat for what is wanted to be done:

Threat (D&D slots)RangeTargetsEffect
5+ easy (0, 1)Melee (~5m)11, Trivial
7+ moderate (2, 3)Throwing (~10m)2, Minor
9+ hard (4, 5)Shooting (~100m)All in Area3, Major
11+ very hard (6)Siege (~500m)4, Awesome
13+ unlikely (7, 8)Horizon (~1km)All Areas in Range6, Epic
15+ impossible? (9+)EverywhereEveryone10, Godly
+2 to threat if the spell lasts (about 10 real-minutes).
Optional: Disadvantage for a spell effect greater than Thought value.

Wrap Up

Magic in BITS is quite powerful and quite dangerous – usually to the target, but could be to the caster too.

Adding the user’s Thought quality along with any foci support, a magician has the flexibility to fulfill their role in any situation during play.

Magic spells are unbounded in BITS play while worthy of the utmost respect, just as is a player’s imagination.

BITS is such a thorough system – easy to understand, fast to play, capable of being scaled up or down in complexity, modular enough to plug-and-play virtually any theme or IP…

I am just so proud of where this has come 😍

Tell me your thoughts. Favorite magic system out there BITS could assimilate? Things you would like to do not yet covered in BITS?

I am all ears and all thanks – take care, witches and wizards aplenty! Cheers to your play~

September October Goal Review

My gosh – 6 goals and extra? As compared to the usual 4??

It has been tough, yet did what it needed to. September’s goals, in review, forced me out of my comfort zone towards some serious progress.

Let’s see if the same can be repeated in October:

September Goal Review

  1. Update Gunslinger in The West Rules
    1. Won! Rules are updated from the 2-pager. An excellent exercise – I highly recommend taking a full system and push it onto 2 sheets of paper 😉 Got neither of the bonuses complete (a future offer list, and updating the first adventure).
  2. Update As Above, So Below Rules
    1. Failed. Kinda. After years on ice, AASB needed a complete overhaul. A review of all the guides really needed them rewritten from scratch, getting rid of ideas like damage types and such. So this won’t count as a win, and the bonuses are… postponed. Brought about in part by the next outcome:
  3. All About Business
    1. Won! I did the research, put together business plans, and… discovered the viability of all the potential offers I have in mind are not financially sound (at least without a 10-item-ish backlog!). Going to write a post on the findings, but it has caused me to re-evaluate October goals twice now. The more you know, right?
  4. Marathon War 1-Pager
    1. Won! After a few revisions after eye-opening playtests, I have the 1P! Because it took a lot of mechanical evaluation to get something “fun,” I failed to achieve the bonus 2-pager 🙃
  5. 20 Hours of Leisure Study
    1. Won! Got my studying in. Reviewed the Warhammer 40K: Deathwatch TTRPG system, took notes, have some valuable additions to BITS rulesets and general RPG shenanigans.
  6. 20 Hours of Art
    1. Won! I did half the hours, but had reserved this goal to be redacted if certain events came up. They came up, so getting 10 hours in I count as a win 🙂

October Goal Proposal

  1. A Trip and a Wedding
    • What you see is what you get. Going on voyages that’ll take about 10 days out of October, so marking out the space here. (Not going to mention at least 3 important birthdays, too!)
  2. Mörk Borg Module
    • Turns out one of my favorite game systems allows for modules to be added to the system 🤘💀🤘 As a break from innovating on my own BITS system, I figure I can create a module More Borg where instead of wandering around the wastes of a dying world, players can hold out in their own castle 🔥
    • Bonus: Get an artsy splash for this module.
    • Bonus: Convert this module to BITS rules!
  3. 20 Hours Machine Learning
    • Bought a set of courses that include ML in Unity and Unreal 5; time to increase my value of insightfulness by getting acquainted with both the engines and the principles of their use!
    • Bonus: 10 extra hours here to make a game-playing, image-making, or advice-giving machine to help me out in *waves hands at whatever*.
  4. 20 Hours Unity
    • To really get into the nitty-gritty of the engine, using the same set of courses, I will dedicate 20 hours specifically to the use of Unity and its systems behind.
    • Bonus: 10 extra hours here to make a game.
  5. 15 Minutes Daily Engagement
    • While in September I came to understand a business is not right for me at this time, I do understand I need to ‘market’ myself long before a business would land. Thus, October will see me engage for 15 minutes a day across social medias, so about 8-10 hours total spent in the month. Doable!
    • Bonus: Make it a 20-hour total engagement for the month.
  6. Move or Half-Year Review
    • Either I am moving around or will start my end-of-year review up to the first half. Keeping it flexible as situations demand~
  7. Bonus: Marathon War 2P
    • Follow-up from September: Expand the content of Marathon War (and look at making a better name).

83% success rate for September is what I needed. 6 goals along with the bonuses really push me to be my best. While disappointing that ‘business’ is not in the cards (yet; I am looking forward to it!), I can still prepare myself for future success.

Mentioning future success, I am breaking a bit of my own principles by adding in the Unity and ML study – these have a professional influence to them, where I try to not include work-life in my personal goals.

Oh well. The knowledge will be good to have for myself if I ever get back to making video games on my own time, and ML programs are just plain cool 😁

So here’s to a vigorous and growth-oriented October! How are your goals coming along? What remains to be done before the end of the year? Rooting for you – cheers to all your accomplishments!

The Price of Grimdark Books

I broke down the cost of roleplaying game PDFs two weeks ago. Now, let me do the same for the price of grimdark books!

The Abstract

Short stories (8750-10k words) are much more profitable than full-length books (95k-115k) by a factor of 367% when it come to price-per-page.

The Data Collection

Data from the first and top-rated grimdark books from The Black Library and Amazon gives the average pages for short and full stories. Using the rule-of-thumb that there are 250 words per page, we can extrapolate word count. The “Range” below comes from a +/- ~10% of the average:

GroupCount ( Range )Words ( Range )
Short Stories37.5 ( 35-40 )9375 ( 8750-10k )
Full Books420 ( 380-460 )105k ( 95k-115k )
Average Page and Word Count

Short stories where virtually sold for $4. Full books (not anthological or omnibus collections) were approximately $12.

Therefore, a short story is priced at about $.11 per page ($.106) while full books run $.03 per page ($.029), a difference of ~367%.

Without a doubt, without considering how short stories have a lower barrier of entry for the buyer and make a faster/less-risky production for the producer, writing grimdark short stories (and pricing accordingly) is the better business decision.

The Collection Method

Not as fancy as the RPG pricing post, I did most of this collection on the back of an envelope (no, really).

Already referenced above, I gathered from four groups: the first 10 short stories offered by The Black Library, 7 full stories on Amazon, 11 stories recommended from a first-read list (a source I follow and reference for grimdark content), and 2 books I myself favorite.

All stories were rated above 80%, some particular attention given to >90% titles.

Here is my abbreviated data:

GroupPagesAverage
Short Stories61, 38, 27, 28, 52,
35, 33, 37, 35, 29
37.5
Amazon Full Stories416, 256, 208, 768,
640, 416, 415
446
Suggested Stories420, 452, 420, 420, 516, 420,
297, 315, 564, 369, 395
417
Favorite Stories492, 424, 431, 324418
Page Data

The above full averages come to 427, but when compared with a median, ~420 is a confident middle position, giving the +/- ~10% range of 380 to 460 pages.

Quick and easy. Simply put, there is much more bang-for-buck by writing short stories vs. full-length novels (in the grimdark tone, at least!).

I hope this helps you with your writing – it has already helped me determine the price of grimdark books and where I ought best spend my energies 😁 Cheers!