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.
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)
- Random Unclean Scroll
- Cloud of Dust, +1 IT tests of 30 minutes
- Incomprehensible Gibberish Book
- Uncontrollable Scream From Characters, -1 T tests until sleep
- T1 Knife “Nib”. Leaks ink.
- d6 Bag of Coin
- Junk Search (lots of rubbish in the complex)
- Bony Dog Remains, ration for a day
- Black Stone Bracelet
- d3 Bag of Coin
- Urn w/ Fine Powder (roll 9+B or lose d6 HP)
- d6: 1-3 Sacred Scroll, 4-6 Small, Nipping Beetle
- T3 Crossbow w/ d6 Bolts
- Corpse Search
- Bloody Agent Letter (Fletcher knows the characters are coming)
- Necklace of Teeth
- Hopeless Number of Spiders
- d6 Bags of Coin
- Encounters (only in 3 of the rooms)
- 4 T2 Guards
- T3 Bone Spider, Surprise, DAdv for 1 hr on successful attacks
- 2 T1 Starving Dogs
- Agent, starving, tortured. Can tell of the worm.
(…the below happen only once each if at all…)
- T1 Lesdy Spy, gives ‘gift’ that teleports party to Lesdy
- Sagsobuth, sells poisons (6 damage, d4 uses), and tube of living wood (rewriting scroll inside); 10 damage split if attacked at all
- Bookshelf (in the Library, if searched)
- Random tables:
- 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:
- 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).
- 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).
- Leave clues and keys out in a way that all but screams to a player “use me.”
- Make Specialties more prevalent. (They give advantage to certain actions and are used to replace ‘class’ in BITS.)
- 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!
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 😉 Cheers to your dice rolls! 🎲🎲