Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Combat in LSotN and Compatibility to D&D (Design Post)

I had to ask this question at one point, so here it goes: How far can you go when designing a new combat system if you want to keep it compatible with D&D (and friends)? There are several important factors at work, not the least being to ask what will be accepted by the audience. And there's certainly a line which, when crossed, will result in something new, only related to D&D in a very abstract way. If this line is crossed, it needs to be done deliberately. What follows are my thoughts and observations regarding the problems a writer of a game might encounter.

What is compatibility?

On a very basic level, it's not so much the understanding of what has been changed in a new set of rules, but the access to comparable data that a new system offers. In other words, to see if something is compatible you don't need to know how combat works, you'll just take a look at the relevant stats and see if they correspond with what you know. So if there are still hit dice, hit points, armor class and a base attack (of sorts) and they all work within the parameters you know from some version of D&D, you could just take an adventure or monster written for the new system, use it with your own system and it would work without too much trouble. You needn't even know the new rules and that's exactly the point.

As long as a designer keeps within the information D&D is supposed to produce, he's relatively free to change how he gets there. To answer the question: compatibility is a shared set of information and values between systems, it's not how a system gets to produce that information and values.

But how is it still D&D if you change the procedures that make it D&D?

Yeah, this is a tricky one. What ideas represent D&D and make it the game it is. There's not much arguing about the specifics, as they are a matter of taste. But that, on the other hand, means that within what D&D could be, there's a lot of choice. Some might keep with the original product line, saying it's D&D because it says so on the cover. And even here you got a wide spectrum of choices, from those who claim that the first edition of the game is the only edition that fits the bill and those that say, the newest edition is truest iteration, since it's the end of a long (and still ongoing) process. 

But you could focus on the system instead of the official product line and you would be well in the territory of clones and variants. Not the game by name, but, as you would read on a regular basis on OSR related blogs (but sure not exclusively), it's D&D in every other way. There is a tolerance how far that might go, but mostly it comes down to choosing a variant of D&D over another. The core system is in all cases still recognizable.

Another extreme in this plethora of choices could be those who play Dungeon World, rules-wise a completely different system with almost no connectors to any version of D&D, and claim that that's how D&D is supposed to be played. And they are, to some degree, right in saying so, as Dungeon World manages to emulate what could be called a D&D experience.

The examples above illustrate that it comes down to three major groups: Official D&D, variants of a D&D system (but not D&D by name) and the tropes/clichés/stereotypes originating in D&D but emulated in another system.

This is D&D, for sure! [source]
All those can be D&D or can make a game feel like D&D. But they also need to compliment each other. If you reduce one aspect, you need to emphasize another to stay within this framework. Official D&D would be allowed to introduce radical changes to the system (as they already did several times), but it would still be D&D by name and well within the framework. Variants may change the name and parts of the system, but it needs to be compatible to some version of original D&D to stay within in that framework. And if you get rid of the system, you need to keep the stereotypes associated with D&D emphasized or you might end up playing Apocalypse World instead of Dungeon World.

Change the system, the name and the stereotype and you got something like Runequest (to give but one example of a game that was clearly inspired by D&D but wanted to be it's own thing).

As long as the designer of a game is aware of those possibilities and how they interact, he will be able to say if his game is still D&D or not. Even more so, he can direct his design choices to make a game part of what could be considered D&D. There is that line I talked about above and if it's crossed, it results in a new game with only some of the DNA of D&D (which would be true for almost every other rpg out there, if I may say so). Being aware of that can only help when trying to tell people what the game you're writing is all about or why it is still D&D.

So, will Lost Songs of the Nibelungs still be D&D?

Short answer? I believe it is. Somewhat. My reasoning at least is. And the result will be compatible with other D&D systems, so there is that. But arguing my case would go far back to ideas formed in the very first edition of D&D (mostly the idea that you should make the game your own*) while working with assumptions introduced in the D&D Rules Cyclopedia, sprinkling it with AD&D and some 3e concepts, getting rid of character classes and radically changing combat procedures in the process (so far). So if I tried to make my case, I'd end up using more words than the definition might justify. But it is there. Will you be able to play it just by knowing D&D? Maybe not.

But you will be able to take what you want and use it in D&D or take parts of D&D variants and use it in LSotN (to some extent, at least). So I guess it stays in the family. If I were to describe it, I'd say it's an "OSR fueled D&D Frankenclone". The rest I'll find out when the chips are finally down.

D&D, allowing house-ruling since 1974!
Anyway, it is D&D combat and it is not ...

Now back to the original question: How far can you go when designing a new combat system if you want to keep it compatible? If you agree with my assumptions about compatibility at the beginning, we'll have the room within the rules we can navigate in and that is the procedures that produce and interact with the terms we learned to use when playing D&D (xp, to hit, hd, ac, all that). You'd expect a certain range for armor class and a way to find out if you've hit the target or not and what damage you made, which relates to hit dice and hit points within a range of levels, and so on. D&D normally uses a twenty sided die (results ranging from 1 to 20) as a key element in combat (it connects to-hit with ac and level/HD to regulate hit points) and is supported by dice variants for initiative and damage.

What I'm trying to achieve now in LSotN, is replacing the d20 with a roll of 3d6, fragmenting the d20 (so to say) and ending up with a system that, while still being in the range of the d20, allows a player to get initiative, defense, attack, damage and a selection of other actions with just one roll per round. The Bare-Knuckle Fighter and the Pub Brawl Expansion** showcase that it is possible and not only works, but also supports tactical thinking, planning and bluffing. But it still ends up producing the same results you need in D&D to interact with the stats presented in D&D.

I'm not saying here this is the only way to go or the philosopher's stone or anything like that, but I hope it shows that there is some room for game design between rolling to hit something and finding out if it happened, without changing the original assumptions that work for D&D. And I hope it helps a bit in understanding my thinking behind those dice mini-games I tend to write about so much the last few days.

In the end it's for you to decide if that's still D&D or if I went too far with this.

*I elaborate on this further in a post I wrote last year, but it would too far away from what I'm writing about here. The post can be found here.

**That link leads to a complete and detailed set of rules, a somewhat less detailed version would be The Bare-Knuckle Fighter without the expansion. It can be downloaded here. The game-sheet itself will have all the necessary rules, the introduction can be seen as a strategy guide for the game.

Monday, March 30, 2015

A Complete Set of Rules for the Bare-Knuckle Fighter and the Pub Brawl Expansion, now with Examples

There is a tendency, so far, that people reading the rules of the Bare-Knuckle Fighter sheet get paralyzed by what seems to be too complex to grok. In all the cases I had a chance to talk with those people, they all stated it's just the initial impression and it fades away fast once you actually throw some dice and see what's what. After that, it's business as usual: you encounter a problem, you check the rules, the game goes on.

See? This just got a little crazier ...

Now that the feedback keeps trickling in (and is mainly positive) I'm really relieved to see that the rules, although they work, have room to improve and the game itself does what it's supposed to do. A revision of the rules and some examples can only help that process along, so here we go. While I' at it, I might as well (to keep it interesting) add some rules for pub brawls and group play!

"Man, his eyes looked in all four directions after that punch!"

So Friday night the group assembled and we got a chance to test the Fighter. I had some rules for group combat ready and had altered the original sheet to make room for the three new die drop actions. It got explained, we discussed it a bit (somebody states he just wrote a game and wants to test it and you'll most likely have some skepticism at the table about what's going down) and then we threw the dice for the first round. This went on from half past eight in the evening until half past two in the night! It was, if I may say so, great fun.

And very educational, I might add. I'll now start with a break down of the relevant rules and terms. After that I'll give a few examples how it played out. This is now a clarified, concise and detailed version of the rules (in other words, it's long, but it should explain any questions left for those interested in playing either version). Please use the sheet with the game on it as reference, if needed. And sorry in advance, this might be longest post I've written yet (4425 words and some spare!). But it's all in one place now and with this post you have the revised sheet to play the game on and all the rules you might need to do so without the need to go somewhere else!

The Bare-Knuckle Fighter (introducing The Pub Brawl)
For now a png with both games (pdfs will follow). With this and the (revised)
rules below you will be able to play both games. If you're familiar with the
Bare-Knuckle Fighter (BKF), you'll notice that this version has just a few
drop die options more and new advancement rules.
The Set-Up:

Every player had a sheet, some six sided dice and a twenty sided die. We followed the procedures on the sheet for Base Attack, Base Defense, Health and Endurance, which produced a wide array of different characters. Each character got a name.

The Initial Roll:

The first roll at the beginning of each round is with three six sided dice (3d6). A rolled 1 will discard the die it was rolled with, a rolled six will produce an additional die (only a rolled six with the initial dice will produce a new die).

As soon as all dice are on the table, everyone adds the values of the dice that turned up with a countable result (basically, everything but the 1s, which should be gone by now anyway). This is the INITIATIVE.

The individual dice (with the results they show) are the POOL a player has at his disposal to fight that round. With those he declares his ACTIONS.  


The lowest initiative has to declare his actions first, then the next lowest and so on. Tie results decide who's faster by rolling a twenty sided die (1d20) each (higher result is faster). For the very first round in the Pub Brawl, we decided that the lowest initiative also was the one initiating the fight. We encouraged insulting someone at the table as a feature.

The Pool:

With the initial roll at the beginning of the round a player has all he needs (or all the gets) to play the round in front of him. The dice are not changed or altered beyond what's been done at the beginning. Those are your options and the options the other players have for the round. Now you have to decide what to do with them.

The Actions (Overview):

Basically you have three main groups of dice actions. There are the MAIN ACTIONS (Defense/Attack/Damage), the DELAY ACTIONS (with which you delay a die for one of the main actions to the next round) and the DROP DIE ACTIONS (if anything else needs to be done, like moving around, drinking a beer, regaining your breath and so on, you'll do it with a drop die action).

Main Actions (Defense/Attack/Damage):

A die used for one of those three actions will either be added to Base Attack/Base Defense* (attack or defense action, respectively) or used as damage die (with the value shown on the die as the damage).

If an attack is declared, damage needs to be declared, too. There can't be more than two defense and two attack actions. The number of dice you can use for attack and defense is limited only by the number of dice available (but remember, if you assign an attack, damage needs to be assigned, too). Damage dice are a bit different in that only one damage die is allowed per attack die used (drop die actions may alter that, see below).

You may attack characters with a higher initiative and you may built up a defense without knowing if an attack is actually coming or by whom, but you can't block more than two attacks and you have to declare how many attacks you're preparing to defend.

The main actions are the only actions where DOUBLES and TRIPLES will have a special effect. Those numbers stack, so to say. If you got a double 3, each of them counts as a 6 and if you have a triple 5, each of them counts as a 15 when used in a main action. The complete double/triple needs to be used in the main actions to work. If you decide to use one of them as a die drop action, it's not a double anymore or a triple gets reduced to be a double. It's the same if you delay one of those dice (but a delayed die counts for doubles and triples in the next round, see below).

One more note on doubles and triples. Over the course of the game you will have, at one point or another, more than three dice at your disposal (with delayed dice and drop die actions, see below), so a quadruple is technically possible. To keep the game balanced, though, there are only doubles and triples allowed and a quadruple would actually mean two doubles. In the rare case that you wind up having five dice showing the same number, you'd have a triple and a double (if you use all of them in the main actions). In both cases you'll most likely have a huge impact with such a result. Those are brutal punches!

Delay Actions:

You may delay up to two dice per round for the next round (not longer, you may delay new dice in the next round, but the already delayed dice get back into the game the next round). As indicated on the sheet, you also decide the main action the die is delayed in. The die will keep it's value and is accountable for doubles and triples in the next round, but NOT for initiative. You may delay an attack die without delaying a damage die, too. But you'll still have to assign a damage die to that attack in the next round (even if it fails). Same goes the other way around, you may delay a damage die without delaying an attack die, too. But then you'll have to assign an attack the next round, since you can't do damage without hitting something.

Drop Die Actions:

Those are the actions you might consider to get a benefit in a fight other than punching someone. They are called "drop die actions" because for getting that benefit you'll have to use a die you then can't use for the main actions.Nonetheless, they are an important tool to give a character just the right edge or to bluff the enemy into using his dice another way. The value of the die dropped counts only for some of the drop die actions, for other it's just the act of using the die to get the effect.

What follows is a detailed description of all the drop die actions available in the Bare-Knuckle Fighter (BKF) and the Pub Brawl (PB):

  • Counter (BKF/PB) - Can be used against every die drop action, as long as it is already declared that round or still active from previous rounds. You may even counter another counter action, as long as it's already declared. Counters are always resolved first (see below for resolving rounds), in an order from the fastest initiative to the lowest.
  • Advantage (BKF/PB) - Gives a character an edge in the fight. Every successful advantage action (that is, not countered in the same round) gives a character a +1 to the Base Attack. The character keeps this advantage until it is countered in a later round. Making another advantage drop die action will give the character another +1 (resulting then in a +2 to Base Attack) and so on, but one counter will get rid of the complete advantage, indifferent how high it is.
  • Maneuver (BKF/PB) - Gives a character a better position in the fight. Every successful maneuver action (that is, not countered in the same round) gives a character a +1 to the Base Defense. The character keeps this maneuver until it is countered in a later round. Making another maneuver drop die action will give the character another +1 (resulting then in a +2 to Base Defense) and so on, but one counter will get rid of the complete advantage, indifferent how high it is.
  • Regain (BKF/PB) - Regain a number of Endurance points (see below for further instructions on Endurance) equal to the value of the die used, unless it is countered in the same round. This action must be countered in the same round. A character can only regain Endurance as long as he has Health left. If he's already in the Buffer Zone, he may use the regain action to first fill up the zone until at least one point Health is regained. Only then he may regain Endurance again (see below for further information on Endurance, Health and the Buffer Zone).
  • Coop (PB) - You can give a die to another character to support him. The die keeps his value and is accountable for doubles and triples the supported might have/get then. If coop is declared before the supported character had his turn, he may use the coop die for all actions except delay actions. If the supported character already had his turn, he may only use it for already declared main actions and for drop die actions, he may not use it to declare a new main action after the fact. It is possible to counter a coop, but it needs to be countered in the same round.
  • Move (PB) - A move action is used to get into a fight and change between fighting groups. It may be used as a "charge", allowing one more damage die for an attack (so with one attack die, a character would be allowed to use two damage dice for that attack, instead of just one). It is possible to counter a move, but it needs to be countered in the same round.
  • Bind (PB) - A character my bind another character with a lower initiative. It means that the bound character (who, having a lower initiative, has already declared his actions) first has to attack and defend against the binding character instead of against his declared targets. This may of course be countered by yet another character, which would, in turn, render the bind ineffective. But it must be countered in the same round.
  • Pick Up (PB) - A character may choose to pick up an item and use it in the fight (a bottle, a glass or a chair). The damage dealt when using such an item goes directly to Health (see Resolving Actions 3) and one point of damage per damage die to endurance (see Resolving Actions 3). The value of the die used for the drop determines the size of the item (1-3: small, glass or bottle; 4-6: big, a chair). Using a big item allows for one more damage die in the attack (so with one attack die, a character would be allowed to use two damage dice for that attack, instead of just one). The item is active until it is used once in a successful attack or until countered. It may be countered as long as it is active and damage needs to be dealt with it to count as used. the value of the die is just important to determine the size of the item, not to determine damage.
  • Drink! (PB) - A character may choose to drink an alcoholic beverage to get back some Health (see below for further information on Health). He may regain a maximum of 10 Health this way (please keep track of the Health gained this way in the square for the drop die action on the sheet). The value of the die is not important. If the drink option is not countered in the same round, it is resolved by rolling 1d6 and adding the result to health. If the result is over either the 10 point maximum or the maximum Health a character has, he will be dizzy for the number of rounds he is over the limit (say a character already gained back 7 Health this way, but decides to take the risk and go for another drink, if he comes up with 5 now, he'll be dizzy for two rounds). For the time he is being dizzy, he will loose 1 die in the initial roll (2d6 instead of 3d6). A character can never gain more Health than his initial maximum indicates.
Resolving Actions:

When the character with the fasted initiative has declared his actions, he also starts resolving them directly after (then the next fastest and so on).

  1. The first thing to do now, is resolving the drop die actions in the order of initiative. Start with what is countered and remove it, then resolve the remaining die drop actions as explained above. Resolve every step in order of initiative, start with the fastest counter action, stop with the slowest counter action, go on with the fastest drop die action down to the lowest. The fastest initiative is not to do it all at once.
  2. The main actions are resolved next. An attack is successful whenever an attack die plus Base Attack* (plus advantage, if active) is higher than the defense of a target (Base Defense* plus defense dice, if used, plus maneuver, if active). Although resolved in order of initiative (fastest to lowest), it all happens at the same time, so even if a successful attack might bring a character down (see below), he'll still be ale to bring his attack home before the lights go out. A double-K.O. is possible. All successful attacks deal DAMAGE now.
  3. The value of a damage die reduces Endurance until it's gone, the number of damage dice used reduces Health as long as he has Endurance (using an item changes that, see the pick up drop die action for further information). The moment the damage value of a die reduces Endurance beyond zero, the remaining damage is dealt directly to Health (only under those condition the number of dice used becomes unimportant). Whenever Health drops into the buffer zone (a zone of 10 points below zero), a character has to check if he gets KNOCKED OUT.
  4. To find out if a character is knocked out, he needs to roll (1d20 + what's remaining of his buffer zone) versus a difficulty of 15. As long as the result of this roll is above 15, he stays in the fight.
  5. As long as a character still has points in his buffer zone, he will be out of the fight for only two rounds. Not being completely unconscious, he may roll 1d6 per round. If he comes up with a 6 he gets one die to roll for initiative, using the result of that generated die in the round (if that second roll comes up with a 1, bad luck, but if it also comes up with a 6, you just earned another die for that round!). After two rounds he is back on his feet, but he needs to spend a move drop die action (see above) to get back into the fight.
  6. If the character gets enough damage to reduce even his buffer down to zero, he is out for 3 rounds if he doesn't make his save (in this case roll 1d20 higher 15). If down, he won't be able to do anything in those three rounds but getting his shit back together. After three rounds he is back on his feet, but he needs to spend a move drop die action (see above) to get back into the fight.
  7. The next round starts when all actions are resolved.

Endurance, Health and the Buffer Zone:

They mirror the condition of a fighter. When using fists (or heads or feet), the value of a damage die will go to Endurance first and only the number of the damage dice used reduces Health. The moment the value of a damage die would reduce Endurance under zero, the remaining damage goes directly to health and the number of dice isn't factored in anymore.

There is a Buffer Zone of 10 points that is depleted as soon as damage reduces Health below zero. This is where the hurt is. Every time a character gets damage in the zone or beyond, he has to roll (1d20 + what's remaining of his buffer zone) versus a difficulty of 15. As long as the result of this roll is above 15, he stays in the fight. If not, he goes down (see Resolving Actions 5 and 6 above for specifics).

A character has some options to regain Health (only PB) or Endurance (BKF/PB). See drop die actions Regain and Drink! above for further information.

*Cross-Reference with sheet for information on Base Attack and Base Defense (it's basically 3d6/drop lowest/add remaining for each).

Optional Rules (BKF)

Boxing Variant - When gloves are used in a fight, only the value of a damage die counts as damage, but the number of the dice used to do damage won't reduce Health. As long as a Boxer has Health left, he may regain 1d3 (roll 1d6: 1-2 are a 1, 3-4 are a 2 and 5-6 are a 3) endurance back between rounds. There is no limit to the number of rounds. The fight is over when one of the combatants drops.

Same-Level-of-Experience Variant - There is a random element when creating a fighter. For Health and Endurance you start with rolling  1d3 (roll 1d6: 1-2 are a 1, 3-4 are a 2 and 5-6 are a 3) to find out how many d6 a character has to roll for his Endurance and his Health (in other words, how experienced and tough the fighter is). You may decide before character generation how many dice are used instead of using the random method and then use those dice to generate Endurance and Health. You might even ignore the dice completely and just decide how much Endurance and Health both Fighters have and go from there. While you are at it, you might decide the same for Base Attack* and Base Defense*. Have fun experimenting!

Optional Rules (PB)

The-Barkeep-called-the-Police Variant - Limit the duration of the brawl by setting a time when it's over. 10 rounds is a good number, but feel free to randomize this or just set another number.

Team-Play Variant -  Just make teams either way you prefer. It'll make sure the Bind and Coop drop die actions will get some use and it's always good to know who the enemy is when you're playing among friends. There is a bit of an advantage, if one group is bigger than the other, but we tried it (3 vs. 2) and the smaller group managed to knock two guys out before they went down. And it still could have gone the other way.

Examples of Play

For the first game we set no time limit and it was everyone against each other. Character creation had been completely random (as proposed on the sheet) and we had some variety of results. The brawl went on for about three hours without getting boring or redundant, but it took most of the first hour to get all players on the same page (which is not unusual when learning a new game). The Drink! and Regain drop die actions hadn't been as strict and limited as they are now, which resulted after some time in characters taking breaks to power up and that started to work way to good. But it was okay, since I needed to see how the game reacts in the long run.

The second game was a bit shorter. We decided to build two teams (3 vs. 2) and set a time limit (10 rounds). It took seven rounds to the Last Man Standing. Having teams and a time limit, with the players now completely understanding the rules, made the fight much more vicious. It was brutal. For this fight we had coop actions handled as delayed dice, but decided afterwords that it would be better to have it as a drop die action would be better, because than it could be countered.


Pick Up actions got pretty popular fast, but also got drinking. Once the rules got out of the way, the players started thinking strategy. Once they had a handle on that, they started talking business. And that was lots of fun. I got a coop drop die from a team member to use it as a move and we decided he was throwing me back into the fight.

A player tried to get a drink and got countered by another player, who also took a drink. It was only natural that one player took another players drink away to drink it himself! And when he rolled a 1 for Health, others started joking that he had spilled most of that other guys beer while he took it from him ...

One player really wasn't lucky with the dice. From the very beginning he wound up having only one or two dice to work with. Which resulted in a beating, of course, and he was down in the buffer zone within the first few rounds. But he didn't go down! No Sir, he took at least 4 heavy hits and made his save every time. It was amazing. One of his drop die actions had been picking up a chair and we kept joking that he used it to keep standing.

In the end he went down for three rounds and that was unfortunate. But he took it like a sportsman. And once he was conscious again, he took a drink, made some breathing exercises and was back in the fight. If you've ever seen a Bud Spencer/Terence Hill movie, that's what the fight felt like.

Luck has it's fair share in a fight, but with the ability to delay dice and the drop die actions you have some options to prepare for the next round instead of going all in. Team play made for some nice cooperation and shifted the game from "how to use my own dice" to "how to use my own dice with the dice the others got", which was really nice to see.

Either way, you could never tell how a fight would end. People down and out came back and brought trouble. A well prepared round with a good initiative and some brilliant thinking could turn a fight just like that. Bad rolls are bad rolls, but playing in a team could compensate it somewhat. The result was a bit like what you'd expect from a real fight. Uncertainty, an idea what was coming at you and maybe how to prevent it, add some explosions of violence in between and a fitting narrative at the table to get the pictures you'd might want to have when playing such a game and you get an idea how it played out.

That all the dice and stats were visible all the time was never a problem, but more like a shared advantage. People talked strategy, bluffed all around the table and initiative did the rest to bring some tension. In one round a guy tried to hit me with a bottle, but was slower than me, so I decided to counter his bottle and give him a good one, too, for good measure. But his team mate had been faster even than I had been. So he decided to counter my counter and gave a boost to his friend's defense. You might already guess how that ended, that bastard had grabbed my hand so I couldn't get to that bottle aimed for my guts and the punch I was throwing was blocked in the last second, too! But I couldn't have known when I decided to make my bet with the dice. I knew when the faster player had decided how to use the options he had.

It was all good fun.

What else?

Yeah, such a long text and I'm still writing (or as a friend of mine put it just the other day: "The text was so long, I couldn't even bring myself to scroll down to the comments section and write tl/dr!"). I will update all the rules the next few days. The Pub Brawl sheet is already in this post (png for now, but I will make a pdf of it, too) and I'll have all this nice and finished by next weekend (the latest). That's it for now and if you read all this, I owe you one. Give the game a chance, if you are interested (and why wouldn't you, reading all this?!).

Swordplay will be next.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Game Design and the Ten Thousand Things

You live and learn, I guess. When I put the pdf of the Bare-Knuckle Fighter online, my greatest fear was that the game wouldn't work the way it was supposed to work. That I somehow missed a giant flaw in the design and people would scratch their heads and go "WTF was he thinking?!". Turns out I was half right. The flaw just isn't in the system, it's in the way I set the rules up.

I'm not saying it can't be done. I've been told it can be understood the way it is, the entry level is just so very, very high (in other words, I wasn't able to get the idea across). And if you need to follow my blog and remember concepts I started writing about months ago and also at least played lots of games or at best wrote some of your own (as those things tend to come easier to you then), I really failed big time to make this accessible.

This really describes the situation here [source]
It is a common mistake, I think, to assume that a concept oneself is seeing quite clear will be as clear understood by everyone else. And it gave many a gamer headaches in the history of gaming. Go to any forum that discusses rules and you'll get an immediate idea what I'm getting at here. Only in this case, I'm the problem. I even have problems seeing where the problem is. I look at the game and think, well, isn't it obvious?! It ain't. Not for everyone, anyway. And that shouldn't be the problem. It should all be about the game with the rules being the conduit, not the gate.

I'm aware of it now and I will do what I can to make this work. I came to grow quite fond of the Bare-Knuckle Fighter and I'd really like to get this across.

If you happened to download the game in the last few days and you are reading this, don't be afraid to try it. And since you are reading this right now, let me give you the following advice to help you along:
  • Don't panic!
  • Despite me being overly complicated about it, I've been told it's a really easy game, once it clicks.
  • A dry run can work wonders. So just take some d6 and give it a shot while making familiar with the rules on the "board".
  • The first thing you should do, then, is rolling 3d6 for each player.
  • Add the values of each throw, they are the initiative.
  • The lowest initiative has to decide first where to put those dice. What the roll showed is what you can work with.
  • The results on those dice are the values added to the actions you chose (unless the rules indicate otherwise, see actions on the "board"). If you put a 3 on attack, it's what you get at the end of the round to your base attack, if you put it on damage, the 3 will be the damage dealt and so on.
  • Once the lowest initiative has put the dice on the board, the highest initiative can react to that by either defending or counter attack or doing something else. Do that.
  • When all dice are distributed that way, see who hit whom and what damage is dealt. See which drop die actions worked. Delayed dice will get active in the next round with the value they show.
  • Roll next initiative, repeat the above.
  • Naturally, there will be questions about the options available. Check the rules (first on the "board", then in the text) if those questions arise and you will find an answer.

If you think the above is easy enough (and I really hope so!), you'll find the game quite easy to play. But I will update the game as best as I can this weekend and a good friend of mine will have a shot at the rules in a guest post as soon as he's ready. There'll also be a supplement with a more concise introduction to the game (also this weekend, if I can manage).

All will be good.

Free Dungeons and Drunkards PDF!

A while back +Charles Akins+Stelios V. Perdios+Sean Bircher and myself put a series of posts together: the Dungeons and Drunkards series! We had drunk DMs and talked about DMing drunk player characters, there were spirit-inspired 5e monsters and some great short fiction about drinking and dark rituals (if you haven't read it yet, I won't go and spoil it ...). It was great fun!

But you all know how it is, there's nothing older than yesterday's post, so Charles went ahead and put together a wonderful (and free) pdf with all the posts in one place for you all to enjoy and peruse!

Please click the cover to get there (the link leads to Charles,
who says nice things about us and will get you to the pdf ...)
It was the first time I had the opportunity to work with some of my fellow bloggers and I enjoyed it a great deal. If the opportunity arises, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Bare-Knuckle Fighter, now as PDF and with an Introduction for your Gaming Pleasure

With this I proudly present the Bare-Knuckle Fighter pdf. For those following the blog, it's what I've talked about here and here, but now it's a 3 pages document, somewhat resembling what one could call a product. And free, at that.

Cover of the Bare-Knuckle Fighter
It is still beta v. 0.4, but it works. I already saw some typos I forgot to correct (three or four, please tell me if you find more) and one box isn't just sitting where it should (okay, it's not even a Millimeter ...). But I felt that it needed to be out there anyway, since the game itself works and at one point a few days distance allow a fresh start, so I'll tackle it again end of next week. And it'll get a new home in the download section above.

Let's talk Expansions

The last few days I tinkered with it, I already got some ideas how to expand on the Bare-Knuckle Fighter. Instead of implementing weapons next, I'd go for some brawling. It's actually quite easy, basically it needs four more drop die options (Pick up Item, Change Opponent and Bind Opponent*, all of which might be countered, of course), an additional Delay rule (Cooperation, instead of delaying a die to the next round, you might cooperate with a friend to create a double, not a triple, though) and some rules for improvised weapons (improvised weapons deal direct Health damage, a glass would deal one damage die, a chair could have two damage dies for one attack, both are items to be used once).

Initiative is rolled the same way, but I need to think about ties. Distribution begins then with the lowest initiative and among the first actions should be a die drop to engage an opponent. This works without a board (you drop a die for movement ...) and should be a hoot with a group of players punching left and right, where opportunity takes them ...

After that it'll be about Duels and finally skirmish rules, expanding on all of that. A martial arts supplement is possible, too. But that'll take some time (at least setting up some documents for it will). I'll keep you posted.

Gallery of unused pictures

The book I got the pictures from is Boxing, and how to train by Sam C. Austen (published 1904**). I found it over at the open library and it's a poor gold mine for the pictures and the advertisements alone. If you feel like it, check it out (that online reader is a real gimmick, too). Here are some pictures from it I didn't use:

Have fun with the Bare-Knuckle Fighter! I'd be glad to answer any questions about the rules and would be very happy to hear from people that actually tested it, of course.

*A fifth option could be drinking some shots to get some temporary Health back. Need to think about that oné ...

** This needs to be in the public domain by now, am I right?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Introduction to Bare-Knuckle Fighting (How to play)

This is an introduction to the mini-game I posted yesterday (as of today as beta v. 0.4, please update the versions you already downloaded). All the rules one might need are already on the sheet, but I think it can get a bit confusing during the first game, so a little summary of the main features might be helpful. In the great scheme of things the Bare-Knuckle Fighter is showcasing on a very basic level how combat is supposed to work in Lost Songs of the Nibelungs, but it works very well as a stand-alone dice game.

Character generation

It's not much, but instead of going with fixed values, I thought it would give the game a bit diversity if the numbers weren't all the same. First roll Base Attack and Base Defense, use 3d6/ignore lowest die for each of them. Note the result on the sheet.

Next up are Endurance and Health. Here you first need to find out how many d6 a character has by rolling a d3 for each (consider this an option, you might as well just roll 1d6 to 3d6 Endurance and Health for both characters to keep the playing field at the same level). The result is the number of dice you got for creating Health and Endurance. Roll for each, add 10 to Endurance and note them on the sheet.

The 10 buffer for health are best kept separate as noted on the sheet. As soon as your character is in the buffer zone, he might go down (save [remaining buffer points] + d20 vs. 15 to stay conscious every time you get damaged while being in the buffer zone).

You are now ready to start the first game.

How to Play a Game of Fisticuffs

Both players roll 3d6. Every 6 generates a new die, every 1 is discarded. Add the result for initiative. Both players see each others result. The lowest initiative has to distribute his dice first. If a tie is rolled, both distribute the dice in the same way (lowest result as defense, highest as attack) and see what happened (it's more like a blind hitting at each other ...).

Consider what the enemy might do with his dice and find a way to work with that. There are several options now. It all highly depends on what the other player has in store for you and how high your base attack and defense are.

Sherlock Holmes, starting a bare-knuckle fight [source]
Considerations 1 (damage):

Successful attacks result in either getting damage, dealing damage or both. Those first hits will mostly deplete a characters Endurance (number rolled with the damage die), but to simulate the harsh reality of punching each other in the face, every damage die used in a successful attack also deals 1 point health damage.*

As soon as Endurance is gone, damage goes directly to health (and yes, you still get the additional plus 1 damage per die) . As soon as a character is in the damage zone he needs to check if a hit will knock him out (save [remaining buffer points] + d20 vs. 15 to stay conscious).

A player has now options to stay on top in this. He could deliver several hits to deplete health 1 point a time to get into the enemies buffer zone, He could focus on the enemies Endurance (may require less hitting, but also more damage with less dice). He might also consider to regain Endurance every once in a while by using a drop die action.

Considerations 2 (actions):

It's crucial to get an understanding of how to distribute your dice and the options available in a given round. Even with some bad rolls you got options to either bluff the other player into distributing his dice some way or another or to build up an advantage for the next round.

Every die you have available in a round is an action. If you attack someone, you need to deal damage, too. If you want to defend a coming attack, that's at least one die for that, too. But you will get into situations where such a straightforward approach won't be successful and you might want to consider the following options.

First of all, dice can be delayed into the next round. You need to decide the action that is delayed (attack, defense or damage) and position the die on the sheet for the other player to see. You may delay up to two dice per round, but it could be for all possible combinations of actions (even for two of the same, like two attacks, for instance). You can defend and attack no more than two times per round, but the number of dice you use to do so is only limited to the dice available in a round (remember that each attack needs at least one damage die assigned).

But dice could also be "dropped", which means you could declare to use the die for another action. You can drop as many dice as you got available in a round. There are four drop die actions to consider:
Advantage - At the end of the round you dropped the die your fighter will be in a better position to hit the enemy (+ 1 to future attacks). You may use another drop die to get into an even better position and get another + 1 every time you do that. You keep this advantage until the enemy decides to counter it (see below).
Maneuver - At the end of the round you dropped the die your fighter will be in a better position to defend himself against the enemy (+1 to base defense). You may use another drop die to get into an even better position and get another + 1 every time you do that. You keep this maneuver going until the enemy decides to counter it (see below).
Regain - You may drop a die to regain Endurance at the end of the round (if the enemy doesn't decide to counter it). The endurance gained is the number shown on the die.
Counter - You may drop a die to counter any one of the other drop die actions. "Regain" needs to be countered in the same round, the others may be countered any time and it needs only one counter to do so (even if they are already at +2 or more).

Considerations 3 (rolls):

There are high and low rolls and you may got doubles and triples. All this has an impact in the game and it might result in a huge advantage for one player. High initiative distributes the dice last, this way he knows what the other player is up to in that round and may act accordingly.

But having a low initiative is not without options and a player that lost initiative may, for instance, try to force the first player to distribute dice in a way beneficial for him (in other words, he builds up a threat, like, say, a drop die action and forces the other player to either allow the threat (future benefit) or oppose it (immediate benefit of the other player dropping one of his dice, too)).

Doubles and triples, now, are dangerous. The added values of a double or a triple count for both/all the dice (yes, those are critical successes, so a triple six not only generates three new dice, it also counts as 18 for each die and will most likely end a fight), but they need to be used for the main actions (defense/attack/damage) to have that effect and a rolled 1 is always discarded (so a triple 1 is always a critical failure). You couldn't use one of them to gain more Endurance ("Regain" die drop action) than the value shown on the die and you may only delay a double. Delayed dice from the previous round don't count for initiative, but do count for doubles and triples. There are only doubles and triples possible. If you somehow achieve 4 dice with the same number, they are interpreted as two doubles (and so forth).

Also Sherlock Holmes, making his point [source]
Most of the time, if you're threatened by a double or a triple, you may cut your losses and consider your options carefully: full defense against at least one attack and a "regain" die drop action to get back some of those precious endurance points, to give but one example. But you could also go into full attack mode and force the enemy to consider some defense action ... The beauty of it is that you always get more than one option to handle a situation.

That should do it

This is all I got so far. The rules on the sheet are updated (one clarification, two typos) and the above is hopefully a great help to make a first game run smoothly. If there are any more questions, I'd be happy to clarify. Other than that, have fun with the Bare-Knuckle Fighter dice game!

[Edit:] Tomorrow I'll post a pdf of both (the sheet and the clarifications above) and upload it it on drop box.

*Optional Rule: Ignore damage to health if both fighters agree to use gloves (but only damage on health through the number of damage dice used, this will still hurt as soon as Endurance is gone!).

Friday, March 20, 2015

Bare Bones Combat Example for LSotN and a free Mini-Game

Okay, I get it. My last post was full of random ideas for a somewhat complex system that exists mainly in my head and with a huge abundance of examples. Let's rectify that.

Bare-knuckle fighting in LSotN (a free Mini-game)

The picture you see below is a full grown Mini-Game with all the rules needed to play it and for y'all to try at home and see what I was talking about the other day. It is a very basic version of the combat system I have in mind, just two unarmed and unarmored combatants hitting each other. But all the basic assumptions from Lost Songs of the Nibelungs are there and I'm somewhat proud that I got to a point where the system is ready to make something like this little game:
Please print and cut in half ...
(updated: now v. 0.4, with a How to Play and a pdf
All you need is this sheet, a pencil, some d6 and a d20. This is still a beta version and I expect some minor glitches, but I tested it and it seems to work so far ...

Please, let me know how this turned out if you tried it. Comment section is open for questions and suggestions, of course. A word of caution, though: I might still be a lunatic and this is a huge and public mistake (I'm quite confident it is not, but one never knows). Just humor me and give it a shot. Then we'll see what's what :)


Next up should be a version of this with two armed and armored combatants. It'll basically mean more die drop actions and more options for how to use those dice. After that it's group combat and some talk how experience could improve a fight in this system (example: the trait "feint" will allow a fighter to re-roll a one after actions are declared.

Until then throw some dice and see where they take you. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wherein I propose a crazy combat-system for LSotN - Part 1

I've avoided to talk about combat in Lost Songs of the Nibelungs so far. My main reason was that I'm not happy with the combat system D&D offers through the editions and this being my personal D&D Frankenclone, I was reluctant to ditch it completely. Now I got a crazy idea how a hybrid of the basic assumptions in D&D with some of the ideas I already established for LSotN might actually do the job. Or I'm just a lunatic. Either way, these are preliminary thoughts and to be read with caution ...

[Edit:] Here is a free mini-game as an example for some of the ideas I discuss below.

3d6 for everything, just like that ...

Here is the basic idea: A character rolls 3d6, every six generates an additional die to roll, every one creates an opportunity for the enemy. The sum is the initiative. For the individual results one may decide which are declared as Defence, Attack and Damage (last to go is the first to decide). Doubles and triples will make the attack stronger (doubles escalate, triples are critical). Attack roll may be "delayed" into the next round. Different weapons allow for different distributions and players may cooperate to achieve better attack results. That's it in a nutshell.

Let's go a bit into detail. Qualities (think: ability scores) are 3d6 in a row and are a pool with separate functions and subject to change during the game, but there's the additional level where the highest two of every separate throw generates something I call (for now) defenses and they are more or less static.

So the additional level of Finesse (think: Dexterity) gives characters their base armor class (with an average of 8.5, let's say 9 and we are in D&D territory again ...) and there is our first solid number for such a system, the base number you have to meet to do some harm. To get there with just one d6 might work, but will take at least 2 rounds and that's without thinking about armor and defense rolls. Way to long, even if you factor in that players might cooperate to get there faster and the dice might go crazy. That's how the Muscle sub-set (again an average of 8.5 on those character sheets) gets promoted to base attack and we have our second static number to make this work.


The easiest way to see how this might work is to imagine a brawl. Two combatants, both without armor and with average base attack and ac (both at 9). Whoever looses initiative has to distribute his dice to defense, attack and damage (I imagine a fixed distribution for ties, something like lowest to defense, highest to attack, etc.). Both might actually hit and do damage, doubles and triples may make for some additional tension and so forth. To distinguish a bit between armed and unarmed combat, I'd go and add that the damage to hp is the number of the damage dice used in the attack and the actual damage results drain endurance (which is related to Muscle). Escalating and critical results may do normal damage. Grit (think: Con) checks might be factored in to see if a character goes K.O. ...

This shows that it's a combat system that begins with unarmed combat as the base assumption rather than making it an afterthought. Everything else builds on it.

Weapons and Armor

Armor will make a character harder to hit, of course. The spectrum goes with what we know from D&D (with some alterations, but this will be subject for another post), a maximum of + 3 for light armor, + 6 for medium and + 9 for heavy armor. Weapons basically allow a different distribution and delay of the dice.

Classic weaponry like a one-handed weapon and a shield allow the distribution above (defense - attack - damage), attack die may be delayed. Two-handed weapons allow two dice on damage, ignoring the defense die and attack dice may be delayed. Long weapons allow two attack dice (ignoring defense, but giving the benefit of speed ...) and damage dice may be delayed or two dice defense with the possibility to delay the attack (ignoring the damage die that round) because long weapons are flexible like that.

Two weapons allow all combinations, but no delay of any dice (I imagine someone fighting with two knifes, for instance, two axes would be possible, too), but it's something only experienced fighters will do, as low level characters won't be able to hit with just one attack die in most cases (something a high level character should be able to do with the right traits) and using two dice for an attack will leave a character defenseless and with just one die for damage. Using it in an unarmed fight would be a benefit, though, and combined attacks (see below) give this style a chance in fights with several combatants on each side ...

Different styles allow for different tactics and as soon as the enemy is harder to hit a combat has a little bit more cautious maneuvering with some explosions of violence if the dice do their thing. Another aspect of this is that the players don't know an enemy's ac at the beginning of a fight. They might guess it by what he's wearing, but they might need to test it, which has the nice effect that the interpretation of hitting and missing becomes a bit more important in a fight.

Combined attacks

Fights with several combatants allow for the combinations of attacks. For this players declare who fights with whom. Those dice, too, might be delayed into the next round. Forming doubles, etc. will make an attack more effective.

The idea here is, for one, to enforce cooperative play at the table a bit more. It also illustrates that it's quite effective to gang up on an enemy (since characters will hit a lot faster), which, in turn, will enforce some tactical thinking, since no one wants to be ganged up upon (I imagine). In an ideal case players will make their roll and check what their options are in a fight instead of just hacking at everything that moves until it doesn't.

Opportunities and the DM's work

The first real difficulty in this system is to find an easy way for the DM to handle several combatants. It's where most system will have to make compromises, actually, to keep it manageable. A fixed AC would be a start. In LSotN this will amount to a base AC plus the average defense roll (9 + 3 = 11) plus the armor a NPC/Monster is wearing. It's also helpful to consider the characters' initiative rolls as a roll versus a difficulty to see if they are faster or not. So NPCs/monsters should have a basic initiative value depending on speed and experience (have to come up with a ratio here, maybe something like (15 + level) - armor value ...).

A fight now is about opportunities I think about reducing attack rolls to opportunities. Every monster/NPC has as much opportunity dice as he has hd. Each round the DM rolls those first. Every result of 4 and more will indicate an attack, the result will count as a delayed attack die (only one die, though). Rolling a 1 will count as a defense die, though, and gives the players an opportunity to attack (effectively reducing an enemies ac by -2). Likewise, if a character rolls a 1 it has to go on defense and will provoke an "attack of opportunity" by enemies nearby ...

The idea here is to reduce the amount of dice a DM has to manage in a given round, again with some peaks of violence in between and lots of maneuvering in between. It's also the most vague part in this and it will need some testing. For fights combatant versus combatant the normal system should do the job as it is.

Imagine the interpretation of the dice (like an oracle, if you will) substituting the board game elements of D&D and you get an idea I am aiming for.

What else?

All this is enough for now to digest. I'm not quite sure if it's too crunchy, but that's a matter of taste. I'm aware that there are some loose threads in those ideas (ranged combat, for instance), but I hope I got the basic ideas across. It's still very close to D&D and a DM not liking it (if there will be any others than me, that is), might as well use some D&D variant without much conversion.

That being said, I believe this system could have some merit, as it emphasizes tactical decisions and cooperation. One roll of 3d6 can be so much more diverse in it's results than a roll of 1d20 could ever be. So there's that. But it needs testing, of course.

The next post about combat (I aim for next weekend) will be about those loose ends mentioned above (plus some ideas what could be achieved at higher levels, how damage works and what other effects weapons might have). It'll also have some ideas about player aids to make this easier to use at the table (something that should be on a character's sheet, I imagine).

Anyway, with this I'm a huge step closer to having a working little system for play testing and thus I'm pretty close by now to produce an actual beta-version of LSotN in the foreseeable future! 

I am very interested in opinions and questions, of course. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Dungeons & Drunkards Part 1: A pub crawl through assorted editions of D&D (and some homebrew)

It took about the time it'd need to brew a decent beer, but here we finally are. +Charles Akins (Dyvers),  +Stelios V. Perdios (The World of Stelios), +Sean Bircher (Wine and Savages) and yours truly joined forces to serve you an inebriating series of posts about Dungeons and Dragons Drunkards. Over the course of the next 5 days we'll have strange rituals, weird monsters and letters from concerned readers. But today we'll start with talking about how to get a buzz in D&D. Please, grab a cold one, lean back and enjoy the show ...

Disclaimer: This post is a collection of rules and ideas about the simulated fictional consumption of alcoholic beverages in D&D through space and time. As much as those ideas and rules might have been angst-statements of those who wrote them, merely footnotes or as sober an interpretation of the rules as a virgin describing the beast with two backs, they'll always be part of A Game and, as such, really not about glorifying alcoholism.

Drunk Pixie by Jon Usiak, HackMaster DMG 4E, p. 170
The history of alcoholic beverages in D&D ...

... is a history of misunderstandings. At least that's my impression after spending nearly two days reading rules about intoxication and it's consequences in D&D. It's almost grotesque to avoid or even demonize culturally sanctioned drug abuse in a game that excels in it's rules about killing and looting.

Of course you have to decide (as a publisher) what content you really need in a product. And that's a fact most certainly true for the first editions of D&D and many of the clones out there. But there always comes a point where a "complete" game warrants some solution or another for what alcohol (among other things) means in the rules.

This could be a chance for good game design because every addition to a set of rules is a chance to make the game a bit better. Especially since our cultural and historical expressions of alcohol are already such rich deposits of ideas to mine from.

Or it could result in some boring solutions where a part of the game is just re-used and/or re-labeled, ending in something a DM could have done all by himself. You know, the stuff publishers do to get full pages with ...

But in a worst case scenario the result is something that wants to express a political position towards a "real-world" topic. I believe political correctness could be argued as a form of censorship. As a consequence it might be said that any rules in a game that try to manipulate not only how we experience a gaming world, but also how we should see our reality, aren't worth the paper they were printed on.

As a preliminary result I'd like to state that the people responsible for D&D made some really questionable choices down that road. So I’ll be the angry drunk in this illustrious round of bloggers. But I’m not out for a fight. There’s no Edition Wars in this Dojo ...

First Editions (pre-AD&D)

First stop of our pub crawl are the first editions of D&D, spanning from the first D&D ever published to the pinnacle of this edition, the D&D Rules Cyclopedia. We’ll just visit the core books, because time is of the essence and there are many other brands to visit.

Procedures: To facilitate a buzz in the first editions of D&D one has to get creative, since there is no such procedure mentioned but a general attitude to encourage people to brew the rules they need themselves.

That being said, I’d like to add that the Rules Cyclopedia at least delivers one good recipe to give a barkeep DM something to work with:
D&D RC, p. 150

Going with this a dead drunk character would count as stunned. You do nothing in this condition and this is how it should be. As soon as the head starts getting clear again, you may move with a third of your movement, attacks and saves are with a -4 and gets a +4 to his AC. He can not cast spells, use skills or magic items and his weapon mastery is down the drain. Sounds drunk enough to me, all in all.

Now, getting drunk should be the reversed process. Something like this:

starts drinking - minus 4 - passed out - minus 4 - may start drinking again

You might want to allow some CON-checks or saves vs. poison with that and you could scale the process a bit more subtle (a light buzz would be -1 to attacks and saves, +1 to AC, etc.), but it’s all there and it works.

Bang for the money: Not much, at first glance. But if you got some first-hand experience with home brew, all first editions make fine basic sets to manufacture your own brand.

Second Editions (AD&D)

Let’s crawl over to AD&D. And yes, again there is more than one second edition. I know, it’s crazy. Like before, we just go with the core books. And what a pleasant surprise, we get full service and the outfit is quite professional. Well, on we go …

Procedures: This is the good stuff. A full grown system, not only to get those synapses clicking, but also with instructions how to get a high out of it:

Lousy picture of the actual page ...
(AD&D DMG, p. 82)

Ah, very good. Why not stay here for a while? Relax, drink another one ... So this will get the job done. It’ll not only get a drunkard wasted, but make him tougher in between. Using this, your Level 1 magic user will fall down some stairs at some point, but he might survive the punishment, too.

Another great effect of this procedure is the social component. It not only facilitates the buzz on the body, but also changes a character’s perception of his surroundings. Drunkards are getting bolder and more open to suggestions. So if your group needs some cheap and willing henchmen, have at it, make them drunk, tell them tall tales, see how they fall in line …

Bang for the money: It takes a bit getting used to, but if you like the taste, AD&D is a very good brand to stay with. Brewers changed somewhere in between and many don’t agree with some of the flavors they brought to the market, but the basic procedures are solid, giving satisfying results throughout.

Third Editions (post-AD&D)

Arriving at Third Editions and Friends and I’m already a bit tipsy. Again, several brands of the same thing. There is a tendency where every edition fractures into several incarnations and one might get the impression that insights from earlier editions will help making a better, maybe even a more complete game. One might be wrong ...

Procedures: Going through the menu DMG I get all sorts of marketing and colors and square-dancing around (sic!), but no (like, none whatsoever) rules to get a decent brew anywhere. None. Not even poisoning. What were they thinking?

Desperate for a fix I go and look a bit deeper … no, wait! Maybe it’s like with the Rules Cyclopedia and we get something we could just as easy use. Okay, back to the menu DMG, a definition of stunned will be found on page 85 … And there’s two sentences: no AC bonus, no actions, +2 for the enemy to hit you. It’s a bit disappointing, really. No. It’s outright questionable, to be honest. Either you can do nothing, or you can dodge attacks, right? Anyway, no help here.

If you take the time to look beyond what passes as "core books" these days, the first official published book with rules about intoxication would be the Arms and Equipment Guide. Here it is treated as a poison, damaging WIS and DEX until your character is a wreck.

No other effects.

Bang for the money: None. The first time they treat the process, it’s labeled a poison, the second time would be as a drug in the (otherwise quite useless, but restricted by parental advisory anyways) Book of Vile Darkness. The impression I’m getting is some sort of bigot political correctness being at work here … Yeah, never mind.

Somebody recommended Pathfinder on my way out and, to be fair, if you’re the host and this is the brand you’re offering, I’ll participate. Most of all because Pathfinder seems a bit more refined. Anyway, need to go.

Viert Foth … fourth eDition’s (d&D oNly bY nam e)

It’s late and I’m too drunk from the older brands. Nothing good could come from this. I’ll leave you to explore this particular edition by yourself and be on my way to hunt down a kebap or something else to eat …

Fifth Edition (NewD&D)

I’ll just take a peek through the windows for this one. There are certainly no rules for intoxication in the free pdfs. Not much else to see … Ah, wait, there's Sean. Let's ask him ... His comment:
"There are no specific rules, but I would extrapolate drunkenness from the Exhaustion condition. It maps pretty perfectly."
You make of that what you want. But it is a young brand and we’ll see soon enough if it’s any good. I think I’ll leave it at that and get some home brew to finish for the night …

D&D Notable Home Brew and Recipes

To bring this somewhat erratic pub crawl to a more positive conclusion, I’d like to say that no matter what edition you’re playing, you’ll always be able to brew your own stuff with it. I’ll finish now with two famous brews distilled under the OSR-label. You’re all invited to linger around, but after that I’m done for the night. Here are the samples:

Liquid Courage: A home brew gone viral on the great Grognardia blog (once considered a master among OSR brewers, now somewhat fallen from grace), but (according to Jeff Rients) attributed to Sham of Sham’s Grog & Blog fame. It’s a fast and easy little brew, that’ll allow a drunkard adventurer +1d6 HP for the next encounter after imbibing a flask of strong liqueur.

Carousing: A brew made popular by the great Jeff Rients (at least I think he was patient zero ...), resulting in several variations across the blogosphere (like here, here and here, to begin with). The idea is that adventurers with sufficient funds might party hard to get xp for the gold they spend on it. But if they do, there’ll be a chance to get involved in all kinds of drunken shenanigans, from tavern brawls to waking up married to a lizard and no recollections whatsoever of how it came to pass (silly tattoos are in there, too). It’s great fun.

Closing words

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little pub crawl through the editions. Make yourself comfortable in the comments down below and share some of your home brew with us, if you like. We’re all connoisseurs here and know to appreciate good craftsmanship.

More glorious posts in our Dungeons and Drunkards-series:

Read now Part 2: The Dance of the Tarantella a short story by Charles!

And a bonus post by Sean: Boozing it up in 5e!

Here you'll find the fourth post in our series; When the DM gets drunk, by Stelios!

If you are in the mood for some great 5e monsters fitting our series,
check out Part 5Part 6 and Part 7 by Sean!

Stelios concludes this series with a letter by a concerned gamer in Part 8.

The End