BITS of D&D

You – through game references or celebrities or the show Stranger Things – of course have heard of Dungeons & Dragons, the tabletop roleplaying game synonymous now with, well, “RPG.”

Yet, this system is complex. Really complex. I often refer to D&D as a great example of simulation play – track every detail possible to simulate as precise of a result as possible.

Regardless of how accurate the simulation, doing all that is… A bit much for a casual game played for enjoyment, especially given the time-strapped lives people lead.

Thus, I have developed the BITS system. Directly inspired by D&D, BITS is fast, modular, genre-less, and emergently complex. Being a descendant of the classic, I found it fitting to convert a BITS of D&D for that streamlined play πŸ”₯

The Core Mechanic

A rolled 20-sided die (d20) plus a modifier or special reroll is D&D‘s resolution mechanic for all dangerous, failure-has-consequence situations. Each situation has its own difficulty, which D&D helpfully suggests as every 5 on the d20 that a roll needs to meet or beat to succeed.

BITS is 2d6, or, roll 2 6-sided dice added together at or above a target with modifiers. I will save you the math comparison between 2d6 and d20 – just know that any D&D roll has a compliment in BITS:

DifficultyD&D d20 RollBITS 2d6 Roll
Very Easy55
Easy107
Moderate159
Hard2011
Very Hard2513
Godly, Near Impossible3015
Roll Conversions

A quick, casual game needs only Easy, Medium, and Hard results, but discussing that is a tangent –

Further, D&D expects all players and the Game Moderator / Dungeon Master to roll dice. BITS needs only other players to roll on the regular.

Special rules for rolls center around the concept of “Advantage” and “Disadvantage.” Skipping how a roll gets this special rule applied, D&D says to roll 2d20 and take the highest or lowest result, respectively. BITS can do the same, but to reduce rolls, BITS prefers to take the highest or lowest die of the first roll and duplicate it, e.g. a 2-5 becomes a 5-5 when there is Advantage.

Advantage and disadvantage get calculated after critical successes or failures in both D&D and BITS. In D&D a crit success happens when an unmodified / natural roll of 20 happens, a crit fail on a natural 1 roll.

BITS scales criticals with the difficulty – the more difficult the obstacle, the greater chance there is for critical failure, less for success crits, and vice versa. Crits are any natural same-faced roll – 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6. Crit successes are pairs above the number expected to be over, crit failures rolling below the number.

An example of BITS criticals would be to roll a 3-3 failure when a 7+ is needed, or that same 3-3 being a success when the only requirement is 5+.

D&D fails to handle criticals gracefully or apply solutions for every occasion. Critical successes for a BITS player means the player’s character can act again, immediately, regardless if they were the one taking or preventing action.

When acting in BITS, critical failure means a player character cannot do the same thing again without some work – whether that is needing to switch to a new quiver of arrows, freeing a stuck sword, or getting out of the puddle of acid from the vial they dropped. When preventing or defending against action, critical failures mean the consequences happen in the extreme, e.g. armor is bypassed or effect doubled.

1) Roll at or above the target number.
2) Check for automatic, critical success or failure.
3) Use Advantage or Disadvantage if present.
4) Add modifiers.

The Stats

D&D has Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Wisdom, Intellect, and Charisma as the primary “ability scores,” aka stats, with a raw value and a bonus value (the bonus is added to appropriate rolls).

Why use all 6 when not all are equivalently useful? When fewer will do?

To bring D&D stats to BITS, do the following to convert D&D ability bonuses into BITS’s Body, Insight, and Thought:

  • Body – Average Strength and Constitution bonuses.
  • Insight – Average Dexterity and Charisma bonuses.
  • Thought – Average Wisdom and Intellect bonuses.

No fuss, no muss – what you see is the roll modifier you get in BITS.

Character Creation

With a set of rolls, stats get assigned at character creation. D&D has rules for how many dice to roll, extra modifiers, dice that get ignored, point distributions, and a myriad other ways to write numbers on paper. Many times an entire play session (1-4 hours) needs to be dedicated to making a D&D character!

In practice, BITS is 5 minutes and less for bringing creations to the game πŸ‘€ But perhaps a made D&D character or other content is going to be moved over to BITS – there are a handful of tables of that!

To roll for stats for BITS, do the following to get the same kinds of bonuses D&D produces:

2d6 RollStat Bonus
2-4
3-3
4-2
5-1
6 to 8+0
9+1
10+2
11+3
12+4
Stat Rolling

D&D allows the ability to remove a low roll when it come to stats, so to do the same in BITS is to reroll the lowest d6 and keep the higher result.

Next, D&D allows for a “point-buy” system, where stats are assigned from a pool for each character. While not fully explored in BITS, 10 points seem to balance nicely with D&D expectations, allowing a player to spend points on increasingly expensive stats along with wealth (briefly discussed later in this post):

Point CostStat, Skill Number, or Wealth Class
11
32
63
104
BITS Point Costs

And if going negative on stats, those buy points back to spend elsewhere!

HP

HP (Hit Points) represent how long a character can prevent seriously bad, sometimes permanent outcomes for itself.

When it comes to HP, D&D is a bit complicated – first a species and class profession needs to be picked, each with a hit die that is rolled, adding the Constitution bonus rolled for previously. This HP grows and grows in a manner that can make higher-level characters able to literally jump off a mountain and survive, making later-game balance an oxymoron.

BITS develops HP in a more straight-forward manner: roll 2d6. That’s it. Average of 7 HP for all players. Roll 2d6 every level-up – higher number than before? Increase HP by 1.

Being modular, BITS HP can also be the absolute (negatives become positives) sum of all Body-Insight-Thought bonuses plus the number of Skills acquired, with a minimum of 1 HP. Example: A B+1 I-3 T+0, 2-Skill character has 1+3+0+2=6 HP.

(Inspiration for B+I+T+S taken from Soulbound, a game with its own post coming later.)

The Classes

Class is a huge part of D&D. It defines what a character can and cannot do, what they own and can own, and how they get better at things.

Stick with me when I say BITS throws a lot of that out.

Instead, the idea of class in BITS revolves around the Skills “S” in BITS. Each skill, profession, calling, what-have-you is an area of expertise the character has developed through training and understanding.

An example would be a Thief or Rogue class in D&D – you can be this one thing, or with extra rules, this class and one other with detriment. In BITS, a person is not exclusively a thief – being good at thieving is but part of their identity.

A skill describes what a character is good at. Should they do anything that in good-faith could be understood to be a part of that skill, that character has advantage in the action.

Back to the thief: A BITS thief would arguably have advantage in burglary, pickpocketing, slinking about, and general footpadedness.

D&D classes come with special abilities too, so at the discretion of the Game Moderator and a player, the character can get one too. E.g. a thief can slip out of being hit or caught once a day, no roll required; or, a thief can pawn their lowest-value item at one more wealth-class than its worth once a transaction.

Magic

D&D class defines what kinds of magic – if any – a character has access to. BITS can roll with that.

However, magic in D&D is typically extremely powerful with little or no consequences. BITS adds in a bit of ‘spice’ to balance magics in the system as a whole.

For BITS, rolls for magic need to roll higher than the magic being cast vs. the difficulty of the target. Magic is expected to be instantaneous at point of origin if successful, so there is no dodging against a blast of fire or wave of cold.

The kicker comes when magic critically fails. On such, the magic does the harmful or opposite intention to the caster. Fireballs target and ignite the mage, healing the sick harms the healer, a monster summoned smites not foes but friends.

The Gear and Wealth

The following about effectiveness really applies to weapons, but armor and other items can follow the same guidelines.

Weapons in D&D have hit dice for how much damage they do, a measure of their effectiveness towards an opponent. Some weapons have special rules or abilities too, adding to their prestige.

To get a D&D weapon into BITS, take the hit die average, divide it by 2, and round, + or – 1, e.g.:

Weapon StatMathBITS Value
Sling d4Round 2.5 / 21
Sword d6Round 3.5 / 22
Glaive d10Round 5.5 / 23
Greatsword 2d6Round 7 / 24
Example Weapons Conversion

Each BITS value for a weapon or object is also its wealth tier (with each special ability adding to the tier), i.e. how much wealth is needed to buy the thing. This is further explored in BITS – The Equipment.

Pregen Examples

Above has been making a character. D&D offers various beginning sets of stats and equipment that skip the creation process (pregen characters).

BITS can, in brief, make that happen:

Fighter, B+2 I+0 T+0 HP 7, Battle Axe 3 or Hammer 2 and Shield 1
Mage, B+0 I+1 T+2 HP 3, Sword 2 or Longbow 2
Rogue, B+0 I+2 T+0 HP 3, Sword 2 or Dagger 1
Cleric, B+2 I+0 T+1 HP 6, Mace 2 or Spear 1
Example Pregenerated Characters

The above get some wealth and armor too, but lets keep this post lite.

Everything Outstanding

I am making the choice to skip wealth, ranges, the exactness of how armor behaves, non-player character creation, and other topics because they are either already covered in other blog posts or are modular enough both others and I have provided a robust collection of options to choose from for play.

Dungeons & Dragons is a very complex and a very popular game. There is no arguing that it does a lot of things right. While the game fits a niche for many, BITS fills a niche closer to my own expectations of fun and play, and statistically, yours too!

What did I leave out that should be included? Let me answer your questions or shore-up some of my own answers to make BITS of D&D even more robust.

Cheers to your games! 🎲🎲

Play “As Above, So Below,” Out Now

In June, I blitzed the development of Gunslinger in The West (play the demo, an easy-to-read 2 printed pages!). Now is July’s turn to have its own game made.

A long-time passion project, As Above, So Below explored what it meant to make a game for me. It grew fast and big and needed some cooling-off time – now is the opportunity to brush the dust away, coming in at a cool 1 printed- and 2 printed-page collection for your enjoyment:

Prelude

The worlds are old. Very old. Too old. Created in the rift between mysterious heavens above and deadly hells below, you adventure in the ruins and wilds of all that’s left.

Whether ridding the last bastion of corruption by careless caretakers, purging dragons and worse from the dark places, uniting the Beings of the world against supernatural punishment, or making it back alive to the tavern with your plunder, you have the same chances as any angel or devil to leave your mark.

By word and sword and spell you are judged. So rely on your adventuring fellows and roll your two dice in sacrifice to luck – you will need it.

Features

Be a competent, cooperative, and courageous adventurer with your friends. Fulfill your needs, get in trouble, and have fun along the way.

  • 2d6 minimal math (-4 to +4) rolling at-or-over 🎲🎲
  • Androgynous character creation, progression, and scars πŸ’―
  • Minimal stat tracking in 4 qualities: Body, Insight, Thought, Specialty πŸ”₯
  • Game Moderator (GM) guide πŸ‰
  • Spell and magic creator (sample spells too!) πŸ§™β€β™‚οΈ
  • Problem and place creators 🏰
  • Goods economy, loot, help for hire, and many other tables and guides! βš”

Play Now

(Links below go to Google Drive and the latest game documents.)

Best option: 2 pages, front-and-back. Magic, tables, guides, even a field of battle showing ranges. Too much? Then check out:

1 page, printed both sides. Gives the highlights of the system and some tables. Foldable.

The Future

  1. Update the full, couple-dozen-page As Above, So Below publication with what was discovered in the 1- and 2-page design process.
  2. Hire-out art.
  3. Format for printing in ink-friendly and art-friendly version.
  4. Supplement and expansion plans.

That’s all that comes to mind πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ (“That’s all,” he says, as if a month or more of work is so meager!)

Again, the 1-page, 2-page challenge really honed the vision I had for the game, a work-in-process for two years. While both Gunslinger in The West and As Above, So Below had fuller versions explored before the challenge, they are clearly better for it.

I think any potential game benefits from a ‘bare bones’ to ‘skin-on-bones’ treatment – it clarifies what should be in a ‘meat-on-bones’ publication, hones rules, and streamlines play as a standalone or for testing further additions.

Simple.

And simple is what BITS and its derivatives are meant to be πŸ˜‰

Give these prototypes a whirl – after my playtests, I would adore hearing about your experiences!

Cheers to all the fun times you have coming up~

BITS: A Look Back on Two Years

Two years ago I introduced BITS, a tabletop RPG system that is fast, emergently complex from base concepts, modular, and simple to pick up.

Liter rules than Dungeons & Dragons-like simulators, crunchier than story-foremost Powered By the Apocalypse types, yet not a traditional Old School Revival, the system has been polished by thousands of hours of study and play.

After a lot of poking and prodding, I think it is time we took a look back on two years of development.

Before Getting to the New Stuff

Let’s take a look at what BITS used to be to get a full appreciation of how far the system has come.

Body-Interaction-Thought System was the first draft. The core mechanic comes from two six-sided dice (2d6) plus a modifier to get at or above a tiered step list of threat ratings, while all scores or values aimed to be 0 to 4 🎲🎲

Originally BITS was based off of a simplification of D&D (this is before I learned of the streamlined Old School Revival movement). Body was meant to be the average strength and conditioning of a D&D character, Interaction dexterousness and interpersonal prowess, and Thought as wisdom and intelligence. Any special skills were merely implied by the class a character had, such that rogues would expect to be sneaky, paladins could call in holy favors, and wizards knew magic.

The system tries to tie together any and all subsystems into the 2d6 mechanic, or more specifically, having two dice and a rough guess of the quality of the actors and actions in a situation. Thereby, a subsystem from one BITS game or conversion can be near-seamlessly dropped into another or tweaked with the assurance that 2d6 exist somewhere in play.

Reflection

Going after D&D was an appropriate start. Not knowing about OSR helped create a design language all my own instead of dropping my work to adopt something ‘close enough.’

Yes, D&D was (and still is) a monster of a system. It is the godfather of all RPGs, “D&D” now being synonymous with “tabletop RPG.” To tackle a full conversion of all the subsystems of D&D (which are by no means consistent, complete, or without a lot of internal complexity) was naΓ―ve hubris πŸ˜…

As a personal project, BITS introduced me to innumerable games, systems, principles, methodologies, and techniques for putting together not only games, but books and writing, too.

Using the masterclass of game making that is the internet with a search bar, lots of playtests, sample game writing using the system, and the excellent help of many friends, BITS evolved.

A New Kind of RPG

Let me introduce BITS:

  • Body – Physical swiftness and brawn. Great for getting about to hit things, so the ‘fighter’ and ‘rogue’ stat.
  • Insight – General perception, whether of the environment, another person, or a far-off target, and dealing with it appropriately. The ‘bard’ and ‘archer’ stat.
  • Thought – Mind, intelligence, mental strength. The ‘magic’ stat.
  • Skills – Also can be called “Specialty.” This is what sets a character apart with special rules or traits that enable a greater depth of customization.

Each of the above get added to a roll of 2d6 to get over a threat level, that level describing how difficult it will be to act against and a large chunk of the stats for the threat:

Tier / Health / Harm / Quality / Value / Durability
Roll + BIT

Description
0Too easy. Nothing. Junk. Absolutely helpless. Might be dangerous in groups, but only with a disadvantage. Lower 50% of a population if counted at all.
15+Easy. Commonplace. Padded armor. Domestic animals, the unskilled, conscripts, thugs, minions. Best served in hordes. 20%
27+Moderate. Specialized or with skill. Well prepared. Guards, hired muscle, footmen, boot camp troops. 15%
39+Hard. Veterans. Been there, done that. Leaders, mercenaries, elites, heavily armed. 10%
411+Very hard. Best of the best. Natural killers and masters. Grizzly bears, walking tanks, spec ops, knights. 5%
613+Demi-gods. Kings, lords, grand masters, and titular characters. The people that lead wars or have ended them personally. 1% or less.
1015+Godly. May never appear!

Not all actions have to be about physical battle. Instead, there are three kinds of trial a character may face threats in:

  • Combative – physical violence between creatures.
  • Environmental – surviving dangerous conditions.
  • Social – convincing others to act.

Each of the above can exist within each other. I digress –

Many of the other questions that I wracked my brain on originally are saved by the modular nature of BITS. Truly a la carte, all options can be put or replaced until the desired game feel is achieved:

  • Weapons – Flat damage as the weapon’s threat tier? Or the degree of success? Need kinds of weapons, like piercing and pummeling types?
  • Armor – Ablative? Adds to defensive rolls? Reduces damage only? Cares about the kind of damage applied?
  • Gear – How much? Need to pick it specifically before an adventure or can call it out at the time it is needed (“quantum”/Schrodinger gear)?
  • Health – A flat value? The sum of all BITS? Rolled for? What about mental health or social composure?
  • Experience – Milestones? Personal goals? Player party goals? Gained by gold and treasure?
  • Economy – Wealth is counted piece by piece? By wealth tiers? Is selling and buying at the tier of the gear, or is it a tier less and more, respectively?
  • Turns – Rolled for? How often does it change? Does a BIT apply? Sequenced or simultaneous?
  • Partial Successes – Are double-twos automatic fails no matter what? Double-sixes successes? Especially bad or good outcomes? What about rolling exactly the threat number?
  • Magic – Do failures come randomly, target the caster, or fizzle out? Anyone can use it or is a specific skill / origin needed? Is there a limit on how many times to use?
  • et. al

BITS is a joy to work on. So flexible, I have details and drafts on multiple genres (e.g. sci fi, fantasy, modern day, giant robot, etc.), applications to different popular media (e.g. Star Wars, Star Trek, Avatar the Last Airbender, etc.), and one-page conversions for other game systems (e.g. Mork Borg, D&D, PBtA, Soulbound, Wrath and Glory, etc.).

I am darn well giddy to share with you these things this year!

A Take From the 4Ms

I noticed how in the fictional Warhammer 40,000 universe, everyone was relying on their augmented bulk, their psionic mind, or their control of machines to get what they want.

Thus bore Muscle-Mind-Machine, a draft of the draft of what became BITS!

I could not get 3M to work the way I wanted to as a universal system, so BITS became the next evolution.

But what about the Ms? While working on BITS and reading other game systems, the Ms evolved too into 4M:

  • Muscle – strength, toughness, dexterity.
  • Mind – intellect, insight, mental or magical power.
  • Mettle – force of will, morale, charisma, daresay “soul.”
  • Mastery – trainings, skills, abilities, special considerations.

This latest came inspired by Warhammer’s Soulbound, a recent WH RPG that leverages soul-power to bring out divine and demonic judgement. I take that to be a more generic “soul” so that it becomes flexible for different situations where personality matters.

We can add more Ms too: Mortality (health, HP, ability to keep resisting), Memory (background and connection network), Move (how quickly to maneuver), Means (the gear or a ‘growth’ or ‘augment’ that takes up a gear slot), etc.

But that is neither here nor there πŸ™‚ BITS is my go-to, but it is nice to know 4M (or 8M!) is there in my game-making toolbox.

The Future

There are always questions in science. Art is only put down, never complete. Game design is both an art and science, thus there always is more work to do.

As mentioned, I am tackling one-page conversions and game’s set in familiar-though-adapted settings. Put them here on the blog, gather courage to upload them on storefronts, buy some cover art – you know, business things πŸ™‚

Let me know if you would care to try out BITS yourself! Especially if I haven’t put the one-pager out from the blog backlog 😁 Until then, enjoy your games and cheers to what you make!

Play β€œGunslinger in The West” Now

June 28th 2022: Huzzah! A preview of the full game is available too! See here:

For June’s goal, I am counting Gunslinger in The West as out now! Have a one-pager and a two-pager condensing a larger 15-page document I’m keeping on the backburner for some more formal testing (graphic design would be nice to have too).

Without further ado, Gunslinger in The West:

Prelude

The West is a land of the lawless and everyone else. You gave up all to come here as a Gunslinger on your horse with your gun to protect – or to take – what little is left.

Perhaps you found some fortune on the way, perhaps you made some friends, all fleetin’.

Regardless of how the sun set, you are here now. There is no Law or government man to tell you what, so how will it be? Save the innocent from the rough? Rough ’em yourself? Explore the wild, undiscovered places? Seek your own justice or justify your own acts?

Your skills got you here, but they will only help keep what is yours yours, steel and soul. So roll your two dice, rely on what makes you particular, pray to luck. You will need it.

Features

Be a deadly Gunslinger in The West with your posse of partners. Fulfill why you are there or get into your own kind of trouble.

  • 2d6 minimal math (-2 to +2) rolling at-or-over 🎲🎲
  • Character creation, progression, and scars
  • Minimal stat tracking via “Particular” skills
  • Game Marshal (GM) guide
  • Riding, hands for hire, and service costs sections
  • Problem and place creators
  • Period-appropriate tables of items and androgynous names

Play Now

(Links below go to Google Drive and the latest game document.)

A single page (both sides) giving the highlights of the game.

(Check this one out!) Two-pages that fill out the system with generating tables, guides, Gunslinger creation and progression, and more!

TBD – Full game system written with extra characterization, examples, and Belle’s Town, and introductory showdown. (Art also TBD.)

The Future and Past

The TODO list is pretty clear cut:

  1. Get the full game updated with the changes from one- and two-pager templates!
    1. See the above preview!
  2. Explore art opportunities.

But what got the game here?

In all truth, Gunslinger in The West is a test project to see what a BITS game with only specialties (the S and no BIT of BITS), called “particulars” in this game. To genuine surprise, this take on the system works quite well!

Further, exploring what it is like to play a ‘hero’ character was eye-opening for development. I will be applying this later to a Halo / DOOM inspired RPG – keep eyes out for it! πŸ‘€

Ride on, Gunslinger! Cheers to your time in The West ~

BITS – Gear Maker

If making a roleplaying game, there must be guidelines available to fill the game with gear.

BITS as an RPG system keeps it real with simple, universal rules for equipment. Every paradigm results in the single ‘value’ of equipment that BITS uses for everything from effectiveness to monetary amount to requirements for use in game.

Because BITS also makes for different kinds of games, it also comes with different methods for putting together a design consistent and (fairly) balanced.

Let’s cover what those are:

Kind

What kind of thing is it?

The simplest question with the simplest answer. This category of gear creation is as simple as comparing what is wanted with what is available or similar on charts.

For readability, let me label separate charts for separate things (though every piece of gear could go onto every other list – the tiers remain the same):

TierMedieval / Fantasy Weapon Kind
0Fists, Feet, Darts
1Knives, Cudgels, Hatchets, Whips, Sticks, Rocks, Slings, Mini Crossbows
2Swords, Clubs, Maces, Axes, Spears, Short Bows
3Broadswords, Battle Axes, Flails, Warhammers, Pikes, Lances, Crossbows
4Claymores, Zweihanders, Great Mauls, Halberds, Long Bows
6Especially Magical Weapons, Ballistae
10Siege Machines
Tier 3 melee weapons have disadvantage if used with 1 hand; T4 can’t be used without 2 hands.
Ranged strung weapons from T2 on can’t be used without 2 hands.
T10 is meant more as once-off, immobile set-pieces or divine favors than regular-use gear.
TierMedieval / Fantasy Armor Kind
0Clothing
1Leather, Furs, Round or Square Shield
2Studded Leather, Mail, Kite or Legionnaire Shield
3Partial Plate, Wall Shield
4Full Plate, Wheeled Shield
6Especially Magical Armor or Shields
10Stone Wall, Metal Gate
T1 shields can be attached to the back, the shoulder, or the forearm for carrying.
T2 shields need a hand to hold.
T3 shields and higher require 2 hands or other means of projection.
TierModern / Sci Fi Weapon Kind
0Tasers
1Pistols
2SMGs
3Assault Rifles, Chained Swords
4LMGs, High Powered Rifles, Shotguns, SAWs, Molecular Blades
6Rockets, Grenades, Miniguns, Sawn Shotguns, Energy Swords
10Missiles, Artillery Shells, Vulcan Cannons
Only includes gunpowder and later weapons.
T2 ranged weapons have disadvantage if used with 1 hand.
All ranged weapons T3 on require 2 hands to use.
All Modern / Sci Fi weapons cannot be blocked by worn Medieval / Fantasy armor.
TierModern / Sci Fi Armor Kind
0Clothes
1Kevlar, Riot Suits
2Ceramic Plates, Bulletproof Glass
3Shelled Carapace, Ballistic Shield
4Bomb Suits, Powered Armor, Light Force Field
6Mech Armor, Ship Hull, Tank Hull, Force Field
10Spaceship Hull, Structural Force Field
Some armor may regenerate, stop or push back attack, or cause attackers harm.
No Modern / Sci Fi Armor can block magic.

Make

What is the make-up of this thing?

This method requires more work but can enable a game designer to create unique-yet balanced equipment.

The formula goes like this:

Tier = SUM(all elements of thing)

An example would be a Large, Automatic, Grenade Thrower. Large is +2, Automatic is +1, and Grenade ammo is +1, making this weapon a Tier 4 weapon.

Same can be done with a Normal Pike. Halberds are Large (+2) but this one is Normal (+0), so the weapon is T2. (This contradicts the previous section, but that is game design – fiddle with the value +/- 1 to get something that “feels right.”)

All elements are either +0, +1, or +2 in value. A small list of those elements as might concern combat equipment:

Thing+0+1+2
Melee SizeSmall, Off-HandMedium, 1-HandLarge, 2-Hands
Gun SizeSmall, Off-HandMedium, 2-HandsLarge, 2-Hands
MeleeNormalChainedPowered
RangedBullet, LaserExplosivePlasma
AreaFlameGrenade, RocketBomb, Missile
MagazineUnchangedDrum, ExtendedLink Fed
QualityMundaneBlessed, MasterAncient, Exotic
ShieldNormalPlatedPowered

A T1 Laser Pistol, a T2 Chained Sword, a T3 Powered Maul, a T4 Large, Powered Shield, a T10 (!??) Ancient, Large, Link-Fed, Twin Missile Launcher πŸš€

Mind, some elements are exclusive (i.e. a thing cannot have two different sizes). Otherwise, the math is simple and easy to follow.

So simple, in fact, an RPG that allows customizing a character can give players an allowance, a number of ‘points’ to buy and make gear of their own.

These elements discussed don’t cover everything, nor does every element fit nicely into a +0, +1, +2 system. Be a designer – adapt! Wiggle the numbers or add rules instead.

Some suggestions of elements that add rules instead of numbers:

  • A second weapon (grenade launcher on a rifle, flame thrower built into a shield, a shield or bayonet fitted to a laser gun).
  • Scopes that increase range.
  • ‘Smart’ seeking ammunition.
  • Compact design to make something be a size smaller without losing the bonus (e.g. Moderate +1 size made into a Small +1 carbine).
  • Extreme fire rate that does two attacks at once.
  • Extreme fire power that does extra over an area or by ignoring armor.

Follow?

Only these two categories for gear crafting in BITS. That’s it πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ

I have tried other methods of making weapons, armor, and stuff in general and nothing fits as nicely as considering what Kind or Make of a thing there is. Both have applicability depending on how they ‘feel’ with other mechanics and player expectations for customizability.

Oh, again, of course these groupings can be fudged +/- 1 depending on game needs. Heck, in a “modern” game of mine without knights and magic, melee weapons are either T1 or T2 depending on size, all strung weapons are T3, and missiles fit into T6 instead of T10.

Gotta do what you gotta do πŸ˜‰

Which do you think is the best way to craft equipment? Where have you seen similar or (gasp!) better systems?

Tell me in the comments, send me a dm. Cheers ~

BITS – Downtime Activity

What is there to do when roleplaying game adventurers aren’t slaying dragons and delving dungeons? That in-between time, going from beat to beat?

That downtime activity can lead to great boons for a player’s character, their group, or the fictional world at large. Or, it can let a wounded treasure-seeker lick their wounds to fight another day.

Downtime activity is important. Here is how the TTRPG BITS system implements it:

Core Mechanic

As with everything in BITS, it all comes back to the core mechanic

Roll 2 6-sided dice (2d6) to meet or beat a target number, the challenge representing the effort and sheer luck put into the task 🎲🎲

Downtime does the same with any activity taken, the challenge increase or decreasing inversely with how much time is taken, aid used, and what tools are available.

Time as a Resource

How much time is given to an activity? The answer will drastically affect the probable outcomes.

Given an hour, a downtime activity is likely to fail, needing 11+ to succeed. Only with serious aid and concentration can a positive outcome be better guaranteed.

A day? 9+. There might have been enough time, but the chances of something being missed are not slight.

7+ for a week. >50% of success here. There has been dedicated time to a worthy project. That, and this should be the default downtime in the normal course of a game – a week to prepare for the next adventure.

5+ for a month. Even building a siege engine could be done by one with this time. Should be easy.

A year or more? Patience is rewarded by automatically passing this test, though that assumes some peace and quiet as well.

The higher a target number, the higher too are the chances for breaking or having a dire consequence for the task. When the same value is on both dice but the sum of the dice are less than the target, that critically fails the activity (how is sensitive to the context).

Same for rolling a double pair above the target. A critical success in BITS allows a character to take any of their otherwise allowed actions immediately, giving them a chance at success or failure in the same amount of time.

But what can a character do with their downtime?

Activities

Some ideas for downtime, only one selected for the span of downtime, say, a week:

    • Crafting – Buy resources, improve gear, repair equipment, or make some material possession. A wizard makes their potions, a knight buffs their armor, a Jedi improves their lightsaber, and Sam buys bread for the Fellowship πŸ§™β€β™‚οΈ
      • Critical failure ideas: what was bought was faulty, the attempt breaks or degrades the quality of the original item, a personal injury happened.
    • Networking – Socialize, carouse, or spy, a character learns more about others. Relationships can be made or destroyed here 😎
      • Failure ideas: a friend is insulted, a stranger seeks a debt on you, the enemy changes plans because of the spying.
    • Resting – Simply put, regain health. Physical, mental, constitutional; no matter the source, dedicated rest may set bones, treat illness, and settle humors 😴
      • Failure ideas: the condition gets worse, a new illness is contracted.
    • Training – Study, meditation, or physical exertion to gain some experience or improve ability. As the designer, I suggest this be the activity for characters to level-up abilities or gain skills (since abilities cap-out at a value of 4, I suggest capping the benefits of training at 2 for an ability; the road to being the best is by being out and about and doing things!) πŸ’ͺ
      • Failure ideas: a personal injury happens from training so hard, the skill decreases from improper technique, social standing falls as some flub is public and ridiculed.

Now, I do not include traveling here. Traveling I consider to be a separate action all together. Downtime is meant to be what you do staying in one place, though should that place be on a starship or boat piloted by others in the crew vs. on feet or needing one’s direct influence, I see where downtime can be spent on other things πŸ™‚

Above should cover most everything, but if a player wants their character to do more, that is for the player and the GM to negotiate πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ

But let us not forget followers and those under a character’s command! Those NPCs could undertake downtime activities too with the same respects given to consequences.

Final Notes

Even though probability says that doing the same activity day-after-day (i.e. the shortest time possible over and over), these short instances increase the likelihood of critical failures. Those failures could be worse than not trying at all, so taking time to get it right (with the bonus of possibly being able to take on additional activities!) is well advised.

Buying / Going to market may not need to be a ‘roll for it’ activity, but it should include at least a 50/50 (or 7+) roll to see if 1) the items were bought at a fair price (failure), and 2) the items are not fake/rotten/stolen (critical failure).

Time is weird. BITS likes the number 4, so perhaps difficulties could be based on using 1-of-4 parts in a day, 4 days in a week, 4 weeks in a season, 4 seasons in a year… IDK. Time is a construct. Don’t @ me πŸ˜‚

And on that speculative note, here exists now downtime activities for all games that adopt BITS as the core system. Fantasy or sci-fi, grimdark or heroic, BITS works with it all 😁

What do you do in your downtime? Render, revel, rest, revamp?

Whatever you and your characters choose to do, cheers to it!

BITS – Initiative

Can’t design tabletop roleplaying games without talking about who can do what when πŸ™‚ BITS needs to address the concept of “initiative” as all other game systems do.

What is “initiative?” Every TTRPG (tabletop roleplaying game) has a means to decide whether players or the non-player characters get to act first, and which of those actors goes first among the first, last among the last.

Deciding who goes when can be quite fiddly, but BITS aims to be anything but.

Order of Operations in BITS

Rolling Group Initiative

BITS relies on a community favorite in the TTRPG community: group initiative.

How that works is that one player (a different player than the last one) rolls a single six-sided die (d6). This roll is for all other players at the table –

Except for the game moderator (GM). The GM rolls a d6 for all the non-player characters.

When compared, whoever has the higher roll has their group (player characters, non-player characters) go first in any order they decide. Ties mean everyone gets to act all at once, the resolutions / consequences not taking effect until everyone has had a go.

All this happens every turn until the conflict needing initiative is resolved.

Declaring Actions

But what is to prevent players or the GM from meta-gaming / cheating? Choosing to optimize their character actions depending on the rolls and such?

To fix meta-gaming, both the GM and the other players declare what each member character of their respective sides is planning on doing and against who or what (if applicable).

For example, if two characters want to smack the same third character, great! But if the first character successfully smacks the third into submission, the second character gets to smack so much thin air.

Even should an action go to waste if successful, characters must still roll for it. Who knows – perhaps their action would have been a critical success and they get an immediate action to use! Or they critically fail, something bad happening for making the attempt, regardless of what came before.

Surprise!

Any character(s) that have the drop on others get a free action before those “others.” Once done, the d6s roll like normal.

Nitpicking Action Orders

If groups are too much for some folks, break down the single take-turns phase into sub-phases.

Since initiative is typically for combat resolution, let me assume violence is the objective of these sub-phases. Since this is BITS, let there only be four sub-phases:

    1. Range – actions meant to affect something away from the actor and happens relatively instantly.
    2. Melee – actions meant to be within arm’s reach of another. Requires some kind of movement and/or wind-up to do.
    3. Magic – an action requiring a bit of concentration to execute effectively. Can be interrupted if the previous phases succeed against the actor, but that is optional.
    4. Other – all other actions. Moving, getting something out, opening or closing, reviving a friend, saying what needs saying, etc.

These above are in order of execution. With “us vs. them” turn order, no matter which side goes first, each phase is executed for both sides before moving on.

Example: with first group A and second group B, turns would be 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, etc.

Other Kinds of Initiative

Why group and sub-phase initiative matters is because other kinds of initiative can be… less than optimal.

Not to say some are really cool! See real initiative below for Blades in the Dark.

Dungeons & Dragons

Every character rolls a die and adds one of their six attributes. The order changes every time. So much change so often, there are addons to the game to keep track of up to a dozen or more characters in order πŸ™ƒ

Index Card RPG

Roll a die for group initiative. Players always take their turns to the left of the GM in a round-robin style. The roll determines if the GM goes first or the player to the left goes. Thereby, internal group order is determined by seating at the game’s beginning.

Mork Borg

Roll a die for group initiative. Lower values, non-player characters go first. Higher values, player characters. Order inside the groups is freeform.

Call of Cthulhu

Characters have a dexterity stat. Nothing is rolled, only those with higher dexterity go before lower dex. Predictable, quick, but would be prone to repetition if not for how quickly combat makes characters dead πŸ’€

Powered By the Apocalypse Games (e.g. Blades in the Dark)

No mechanical initiative, but the players with real-world initiative have their characters go first. Think fast for real, act fast narratively. Not participating allows other characters (e.g. the GM) to act indefinitely. True, real, freeform initiative.

And that is initiative in BITS! It is fairly open for interpretation, but can get into the nitty-gritty weeds if a group of players really wants to go there. Systems can simplify or expand as needed – one of the benefits of BITS 😁

In your games, how do you handle initiative? I am looking for your ideas!

May you go first now that you have read this article – cheers!

Mork Borg – Part 4: A Reckoning

Start at the beginning, or jump to what’s been missed:

Part 1: Murder and Worms – Three from death-row scour the rooms and horrors of the buried den of the addictive Rotblack Sludge.

Part 2: Meat and Statues – The trio meet the ruler of the underground complex.

Part 3: Eyes and Ash – Lesdy inadvertently provides the last clue.

Endgame Summary

Over 4 hours of actual play, 3 well-powered characters controlled by 1 player survived by lucky rolls and ingenuity but barely.

There were 15 rooms, 9 Tier 2 enemies (guards and Lesdy; 2 damage, 2 HP, roll 9+ to attack or defend against them), 6 Tier 1 enemies (Lesdy’s aids and the strangling plants), 1 Tier 4 (Fletcher), and 1 uber-Tier Worm that was, sadly, never given the chance to eat a character 😒

Riches and weapons and some Rotblack Sludge were acquired too, but these things may not last long.

BITS Mechanic Changes

I will leave the details to be included in other posts as I continue to develop BITS.

Suffice to say:

    • I combined MB‘s attributes into BITS: Strength and Toughness (Body), Agility (Interaction), and Presence (Thought).
    • Enemies came in the 1-4 difficulty tiers of BITS which also account for their HP and damage.
    • Weapons fit into the BITS categories.
    • HP was limited to 10 for Cat, 6 for Bubble Guy, and 4 for Invisible. (Aiming for about 6.)
    • All random encounters and findings were either rolled for before the game or were pared down to a d6 roll table that fit on half a notecard.
      • Random tables:
        • Bookshelf (in the Library, if searched)
          1. Random Unclean Scroll
          2. Cloud of Dust, +1 IT tests of 30 minutes
          3. Incomprehensible Gibberish Book
          4. Uncontrollable Scream From Characters, -1 T tests until sleep
          5. T1 Knife “Nib”. Leaks ink.
          6. d6 Bag of Coin
        • Junk Search (lots of rubbish in the complex)
          1. Bony Dog Remains, ration for a day
          2. Black Stone Bracelet
          3. d3 Bag of Coin
          4. Urn w/ Fine Powder (roll 9+B or lose d6 HP)
          5. d6: 1-3 Sacred Scroll, 4-6 Small, Nipping Beetle
          6. T3 Crossbow w/ d6 Bolts
        • Corpse Search
          1. Nothing
          2. Bloody Agent Letter (Fletcher knows the characters are coming)
          3. Necklace of Teeth
          4. Hopeless Number of Spiders
          5. Rotblack
          6. d6 Bags of Coin
        • Encounters (only in 3 of the rooms)
          1. 4 T2 Guards
          2. T3 Bone Spider, Surprise, DAdv for 1 hr on successful attacks
          3. 2 T1 Starving Dogs
          4. Agent, starving, tortured. Can tell of the worm.
            (…the below happen only once each if at all…)
          5. T1 Lesdy Spy, gives ‘gift’ that teleports party to Lesdy
          6. Sagsobuth, sells poisons (6 damage, d4 uses), and tube of living wood (rewriting scroll inside); 10 damage split if attacked at all
    • Armor would reduce by 1 point to negate all damage of an attack. 0 for Armor sundered beyond use or as clothing.
    • Critical successes gave an extra action and were more likely on lower-difficulty obstacles.
    • Less of a mechanic, more of an ethic: Don’t include ‘children’ in the game. If someone or something is young, call it that: “youth.” There is virtually no need to ever include children in a game of violence and horror when other means to leave it to player imagination will do.

Impressions and What I Would Change

The game was great! I had so much fun being a first-time full-blown GM. Player C had a great time too, with special compliments to including low-key background music (sad violins) and rockin’ boss-fight beats (Smells Blood on loop).

The biggest piece of improvement feedback came for picking lowest rolls with disadvantage. Player C really did not like that, as even after the first roll all hope could be lost. A real heartbreaker, those!

I understand now that the characters were overpowered as they were able to proceed without caution and given lots of chances for lucky rolls. Further, I took a lot of time drawing the rooms on notecards that would then be a visual indication of what was happening; the map was invaluable, but the time spent certainly had its own value perhaps better spent.

After careful consideration, here is what I would change:

    1. Find a way to lessen or get away from map making without completely relying on the Theater of the Mind (everyone has to imagine where they are and what they see from the GM’s descriptions).
    2. Set player hit points to 2d6, or a generic human to default 6. Too much life allows carelessness and for games to drag on. That, and rebalance some natural weapons and powers (less damage and/or limited use, such as on the magical power Blink).
    3. Leave clues and keys out in a way that all but screams to a player “use me.”
    4. Make Specialties more prevalent. (They give advantage to certain actions and are used to replace ‘class’ in BITS.)
    5. Try something different with advantage and disadvantage. Instead of rolling twice and picking the highest/lowest value, other options: Pure +/- 2 to the roll value; lower/raise the difficulty of the roll; use the highest/lowest die of 2d6 twice; double the effect of any critical rolls; etc.

That’s about it!

Closing Thoughts

Mork Borg is a solid game system. However, I have my doubts about its world and definitely about its first adventure.

I turned what Fletcher was doing into a kingdom-wide problem (Rotblack as a drug) and made ash fall from the sky. How the mission is given to the characters and how Aldor gets handed off also got clarified. The world begins its end at the end of the first mission, not randomly on some day down the line.

As for BITS, I truly feel BITS made the system more straight forward, faster, and no less deadly (ignoring the extra powers I gave the player’s characters). Every conflict of interest is resolved with no more than 2d6, tables are reduced to a d6, random effects and character sheets exist on notecards, and the rest is left to improv.

Bam! First time as an established-game-system GM! First time with Mork Borg! First time giving BITS a full flex as a system and conversion!

I couldn’t be happier for all the fun had and all that was discovered along the way.

Now is the time to take these learnings for application to other BITS games and notes. (And to see if player C will continue their adventures in the current game’s ash-eaten world 😁)

What did you find when you played Mork Borg? Who survived the first dungeon delve? How have you improved your own TT RPG sessions after experiencing them firsthand?

Let me know all that and if you’d like to play in a game using BITS in near-literally any game world you have in mind. I am sure we could whip something up πŸ˜‰ Cheers to your dice rolls! 🎲🎲

Mork Borg – Part 3: Eyes and Ash

Read part 1 for a synopsis of the Mork Borg game, this story’s start, and part 2 for dangerous encounters:

Part 1: Murder and Worms – Three from death-row scour the rooms and horrors of the buried den of the addictive Rotblack Sludge.

Part 2: Meat and Statues – The trio meet the ruler of the underground complex.

Rude Awakening

Something twists and strangles.

The passed-out party awakes to bulbous plants using their roots to dig into skin, vines tangling around necks.

After the initial shock, it should be a cakewalk to snap apart weeds. Yet the first attempt fails. And the second! And…

Health falls. Struggling leads to naught as Invisible, the naturally lowest in health of the group, finally reaches zero hit points. He is on the verge of death, unless something, someone can save him.

Bubble Guy, in the nick-of-time, breaks their bonds. With a free action, Bubble Guy Blinks into the side of Invisible’s murderous creature, knocking it off the helpless companion.

Cat then escapes and together Cat and Bubble Guy pulp to mulch the plants most vile.

Getting Invisible awake again, he has a broken arm and is still on the brink of death. Cat stays with Invisible and purrs (a healing factor for others) while Bubble Guy Blinks rapidly through the complex to find… Anything at this point.

Desperation drives action now.

A woman (not Lesdy) is in Fletcher’s ‘workshop,’ the fires burnt out and Bubble Guy leaves unseen. Through the rooms and halls, bodies are where they were left, doors open where left ajar. However, in the grand dining hall, Lesdy and 2 other women are sitting at the massive table there. Bubble Guy is not so lucky this time and is seen before Blinking away.

Lesdy and the women leave down the dark corridor. Bubble Guy, thinking ahead, activates their Bubble power and follows.

Down the spring door Lesdy’s group climbs. Bubble Guy follows but at such haste, falls down the ladder in the dark and one-handed (the other sustaining the Bubble magic).

Bubble Guy suffers only lite damage from the fall. An aid to Lesdy is not so lucky. Caught between hard rock and the impenetrable Bubble field, momentum carries Guy into the aid, and they squished into stone.

After witnessing their kin’s death, Lesdy and the other woman make greater haste into the greenhouse, daggers drawn, watching their backs.

Lesdy ought to have watched her front.

Cat, hearing the commotion, jumps into a tree before jumping down onto these two returned with weapons out. Without mercy and without words exchanged, Cat slays Lesdy and her ilk.

Breakout!

The trio, now rejoined, searches the corpses for anything useful, as one does. On Lesdy is a pocket full of bleeding eyeballs – large, small, grey, green, blue, brown, utterly black.

Eureka! The characters understand these are eyes for the one-eyed statue they found before.

A short journey later, an eye from the pile gets settled in the stone-king’s socket. With a crack and crumble, the wall behind the characters falls apart, rolling into empty spots in the cobble as by some unseen will.

Within the dreary apartment before hidden is the sought Aldor. The spawn is starved, slightly maddened, desperate for Rotblack, and unwilling to leave.

After what they’ve been through, Cat, Bubble Guy, and Invisible give but few words before hauling the youth out. Muscling Aldor through the ravages of the complex, Aldor is unable to break free before being matched back to the locked surface gate to a welcoming party… of no-one.

No sound echoes through the falling ashes, no form breaks the smooth monotony of mounded char. As above, so below goes the grey waste endlessly.

The characters barely have time to shrug at each other and rattle the bars before a collection of dark coaches rumble through the drifts.

Sleeker steps out to welcome them and welcome back Aldor. The Shadow King’s favorite rants and rages all for naught as hulking, shapeless things of flickering smoke and shadow guide Aldor into a windowless carriage.

The return of any of the party, not to mention all three, was quite unexpected for Sleeker, especially when the first day waned. So much is the surprise, Sleeker can only give a gift in the moment of the trio’s lives. Should they want more, they perhaps could inquire at the Shadow Keep.

As Sleeker boards the last coach, it has little worry all of them may meet again. After all, the prisoners-turned-heroes-of-the-kingdom have managed to cheat death so far…

The End of Days

Left alone in the falling grey, the characters must delay any decision making once more as the second day passes and darkness begins to settle.

Above, the clouds part to a blacker-than-black sky, a void that touches at the very foundations of one’s soul. From the expanse fall legions of stars that sound like a million million screaming trumpets. Yet all this is forgotten as between the visions seen in the nothingness above and fundamental, undeniable feelings of despair, comes meaning, as prophesied in the holy Calendar of Nechrubel:

OF THOSE WHO BUILD MIGHTILY, STONE BY STONE, SO SHALL THEY FALL, STONE BY STONE.

Divinity has ordained the end is nigh! Thus concludes one of the last days at the death of the world πŸ’€

By sword and fire and word and spell, Cat, Bubble Guy (formerly Untouchable), and Invisible managed to make it back onto the surface of their dying world…

… in time to see a herald sign of the end πŸ”₯πŸ€˜πŸ’€πŸ€˜πŸ”₯

Where will the party go next?

That is a story for another time πŸ™‚ What I can do is say to check back next week for Part 4: A Reckoning where I explore what worked (or not) and how that has affected the BITS system of tabletop roleplaying.

Big, big thanks to player C for being exquisite in roleplay, rolling, and patience as we got through a long and deadly adventure ~ Lots of fun in Rotblack Sludge!

See you next week! Cheers to your own dungeon delves πŸ‰

Mork Borg – Part 2: Meat and Statues

Read up on what the Mork Borg game this is, how it works, and who is trying to survive in the dank and dark:

Part 1: Murder and Worms – Three from death-row scour the rooms and horrors of a buried den, origin of the addictive Rotblack Sludge.

Down the Hall…

A surprise awaits Cat, Bubble Guy, and Invisible in what appears to be a pump room: four more guards.

Thinking quick, Invisible, still in the hallway, drops weapons and listens unnoticed. Bubble Guy carries the old man, so is in an awkward position. Though Cat can still fight, the band would be vastly overwhelmed.

Using talk, Bubble Guy asks after Aldor. The guards, unimpressed, take Bubble Guy and Cat prisoner. Through a trap door in the same room, all but Invisible are led into parts reeking and sweltering.

Invisible is left behind as the trap shuts. Horror awaits the other two.

Chains with hooked flesh hang from the ceiling, tables crusted with viscera carry jagged implements, fires burn hot in open furnaces, a yawning pit to where the great worm drops from where a wall ought be, and working among it all: a giant of a man, bald and tattooed and sweating, the master of this place, the boss, Fletcher.

Fletcher and Bubble Guy question each other on what they are doing there. With some charisma, Bubble Guy gains Fletcher’s liking after disclaiming any knowledge of Lesdy, the troublesome witch who has been Fletcher’s bane.

Only a minor interruption of Invisible botching a silent entry through the trap door sends two of the guards to investigate. Bubble Guy claiming it is only they and Cat, a deception believed by the boss.

Fletcher continues his work while monologuing the process of creating Rotblack Sludge and the incompetences of the Shadow King. From chains dangled into the depths of the pit, skulls and ribcages are drawn up. Cracking these vessels on his workbench, Fletcher shows off the crystalized black material that is Rotblack.

The drug is a source of control over others for him with the added benefit that users will eventually return to the place it is made. Fletcher emphasizes his points with grand gestures to the dripping pieces hung from the ceiling.

Through the trap door two guards return with word of a massacre of the other guards in the complex. Fletcher turns dark in tone at this not because he now disbelieves his guests, but when he understands that all the meat on those bodies was, with remorse, wasted.

Waste is something Fletcher cannot abide by. No, not at all.

Not. At. All.

Cue the music.

From a furnace Fletcher pulls a white-hot rod out with but one huge hand. From it rattles a fiery chain and the bright, spiked ball of a massive flail.

Swoosh. Swoosh. Swoosh.

The flail gently swings in the air.

Bubble Guy puts the old man down, trying to explain away things going awry. A guard points out the sword Bubble Guy carried was one of their own.

Swoosh swoosh swoosh.

Unarmed, surrounded, Cat and Bubble Guy edge away towards the pit. Begging and promises go nowhere.

Swooshswooshswoosh.

Fletcher gags! A chain is tight around his neck! Invisible, high on the giant’s back, causes a distraction to both Fletcher and the guards, letting Cat and Bubble Guy pounce.

The beast of a man Fletcher is hardly harmed by the chain around his trunk of a neck, nor the clawing of a cat, nor an unarmed magician. Yet also Fletcher fails to grab Invisible off his back or Cat off his chest. The guards are hardly about to slash at their leader, so stand at length away from the thrashing melee.

Bubble Guy thinks of what is available… The urn! This is thrown into Fletcher’s face as further distraction, perhaps incurring blindness until something better can be found. Effects are…

Incredible.

The powder is variably poisonous. To Fletcher, it happens to be maximally poisonous in just the same amount as Fletcher has hit points!

(I, the GM, unbelieving that through very rare cases the ‘big boss’ has been downed in one shot,) Fletcher takes a saving action to perhaps retain at least a single hit point from the poison.

In that too, Fletcher fails.

Eyes and nose and teeth and tongue and all things melting from his bones, Fletcher dies horribly on the very floor he had done such wrong over. Cat and Bubble Guy barely escape the collapse. A great gurgling death-cry rises from the pit as the sound of sucking muck deafens the chamber as Fletcher sputters his last.

Prisoners

In short order, the frightened guards are slain one by one. However, the last guard surrenders, offering to tell all!

With him, the trio march through an unexplored room of junk and into what must have been a statue room before its backside collapsed into the pit. The only things there are another door, some scuffed cobblestones, and a monument to a one-eyed king.

Finding nothing but a bloody eye-socket in the room’s statue, the trio head through the far door. There they find a screaming man who attempts to crawl away shrieking.

This distraction gives the former guard a chance to flee back through the statue room. After a messy chase of the crawling man and killing the guard as the guard took the chance to flee, the crawling man calms knowing the trio is not sent from Fletcher nor will they eat him. He lets know he is a Shadow King agent who was the last survivor of his particular group. The rest?

Eaten.

The man is starving and can offer little new information. No child of the King was ever encountered, nor clues to any whereabouts. As the party decides what to do (they have no food to feed the man), the agent dies in the bounty of filth.

Without more clues, the party heads back to the garden to council with Lesdy again. However, only her caldron of roots and mushrooms remains in the garden.

Now sampling the food once before offered, the group regains much of their lost health. Without Aldor, they may not return above. But here below, there is water, food in the garden… Could they live there indefinitely?

A decision for the morrow. As the day wanes, two sleep with a guard, Cat, posted.

Not even the strong Cat can stay awake as the room swims and shimmers before Cat’s very eyes. The stew! The. Stew…

With no guard standing, not even nightmares disturb the company’s slumber, though they are not alone…

Dun dun dun!

Stay tuned for Part 3: Eyes and Ash next week! A… deadly conclusion to the rampages in Mork Borg‘s Rotblack Sludge πŸ”₯πŸ€˜πŸ’€πŸ€˜πŸ”₯

Cheers to the grim and the dark ~