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Red Scar Development Blog 05

Returning to the Journal

Welcome back to the Red Scar Development Blog! Due to ill health, it’s been a while since we’ve had this up and running. Rest assured, however, that we will now be back with regular features. To get us back into the groove, we’re taking a dive into Payback and what it represents for TriCore. Over to our statistician, Benn Greybeaton

Payback

Regardless of how competent a hero is, they experience risk every time they go into battle.  The lucky blow that passes under their guard, the surprising burst of strength that pushes them to the ground, or the arrow that punctures the eye slit of their helm can all lay a warrior low no matter how prepared they are. Rather than a static swing, miss, swing, hit affair, a round of combat in a roleplaying game should be imagined as a shifting of guard, trading of blows, and almost continuous motion. In a similar manner, Trauma represents the continuous physical strain that a body will experience during an intense combat. As much as it represents solid cuts and blows, Trauma also provides an indication of the toll a combat is taking on a person physically (Stress, on the other hand, represents the mental drain that also takes place). Heroes are undoubtedly able to punish their opponents—in fact, the odds are often stacked in their favour—but there will always be some element of an enemy being able to sneak in a lucky blow, and Payback is how the TriCore system models this.

Flat Chance

On a flat test, there is a 20% chance per die of payback occurring.  This is independent of success on the task being rolled for; a hero might succeed at slicing a chunk from the troll only to get angrily swatted away in return. In this case, a flat test means a standard roll in which no Keywords or traits are being employed. Most of the time, the heroes will also be able to draw on their skill and prowess to reduce the risks of Payback. Employing a Keyword on a test, for instance, allows a hero to ignore an instance of Payback, although this is at the offset of introducing another die that can then also potentially roll Payback.

On an average roll of 3d10 there’s a 51.2% chance a player will not roll payback, a 38.4% chance of 1 payback, a 9.6% chance of 2 payback, and a 0.8% chance of 3. The percentages for a standard test without Keywords are below, note that Payback doubling isn’t included.

Chance of Payback on standard roll of 3d10

On the surface, it initially seems that introducing additional dice to a test happens at the increased risk of Payback. As mighty heroes (or villains), however, the player characters will be able to mitigate the chances of Payback by drawing on their strengths and training. As already previously mentioned, simply introducing a Keyword will allow a character to ignore one instance of Payback. Archetypes also introduce traits that draw on a character’s training in a profession as a means to change the odds, either by adjusting a die to avoid Payback, or accepting Payback but pushing for additional successes.

Changing the Odds

To put the previous paragraph into context, imagine a character had rolled 4 dice with a Keyword on a test, which resulted in a 1, 4, 6, and 9. This result currently provides 2 successes and 2 Payback (remembering the 6 result provides 1 Payback but also counts as a success). The character can ignore 1 Payback due to the fact that a Keyword was employed, which leaves them with 1 Payback and 2 successes. However, the character also has a trait that allows them to apply a +1 modifier to any die. In this instance, the character could opt to change the 6 result to a 7, which would negate all Payback and still provide 2 successes. Alternatively, they could change the 9 to a 10, which means they accept the Payback but produce Daring and cause and Exploding 10! These sorts of dynamics really allow the system to reflect the fact that characters can push themselves harder, though doing so also sometimes comes at a cost.

Of course, putting a Keyword into play means a character is also putting the related characteristics at risk. If Mishaps are being employed, the character might drop their tool, deactivate a trap but snap their picks in the process, or strain their mighty thews whilst flexing them. With the use of Keywords, this choice is up to the player. They can hold back their character’s best picks and use standard one or opt to not swing at the little goblin with all their might.

Powerful Payback

Creatures taking part in combat rely on Powers to cause players inconvenience. The stronger the creature, the greater the disruption or pain.  Many creatures will only have a 1 Payback spend they can use. Sneaky goblins tend to have Cunning Blade (1) and nothing else. It deals a little damage but that’s about it.  However, more powerful creatures have more abilities. A Centaur Archer might have Relocate (1), allowing it to move for free with a point of Payback, and Cunning Archery (1), allowing it to take a quick shot that is unhindered by any movement it might be taking. Suddenly, 2 points of Payback allows a foe to attack a hero with a hit and run manoeuvre or escape them and fire a parting shot. Players should also watch out for creatures with particularly high Payback spends. If a character puts their all into facing a fearsome and gargantuan beast, they should fully expect it to return the courtesy.  Take a dragon’s Immolate (3) ability as an example (p. 13 of the free Quickstart). Standing in front of the dragon and putting a character’s all into fighting it toe-to-toe also puts them in serious jeopardy.  A touch more caution and waiting for the right moment might mean fewer solid blows, but greatly decreases the character’s risk of being burnt to a cinder. The choice and risk are in the players’ hands.

Payback is worse for some than it is for others.
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Kings of War Kickstarter Levelling Up

Kings of War RPG

Kings of War the Roleplaying Game is live on Kickstarter! Pledge now to help us fund an RPG set within the epic fantasy world behind the extremely popular Kings of War miniatures game.

The Kickstarter will fund the production of a printed edition of Kings of War the Roleplaying Game. This full-colour hardcover rulebook of approximately 320 pages will not only provide new content for Pannithor, but will also feature the TriCore ruleset; a lightweight ruleset designed to empower both GMs and players alike with the ability to use the system to keep the game focused on both the characters and narrative.

The core book takes a look at the factions from a new perspective and offers several ways to create characters from amongst your favourite. It also offers a comprehensive timeline and full crossover comparability for Dungeon Saga, Vanguard and Kings of War. Backers who pledge for a print copy will now also receive an exclusive cover only available during the Kickstarter campaign.

But that’s not all! Thanks to our friends over at Mantic, we’re adding a digital copy of the Kings of War: Vanguard rulebook to each Gift of the Elohi pledge. PLUS the Dungeon Overlord pledge will now provide a 15% discount code for the Mantic webstore once the project funds for extra savings all round!

Thank you all so much for your feedback on the quickstart, which has allowed us to tighten the rules and add more high-quality art to the book. Please do spread the word about this project to your readers and followers. The campaign is live now, and can be reached here:

http://kck.st/2MGFEwK
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Red Scar Development Blog 04

Kings of War RPG Visual Logo

Drums of War

The world of Pannithor is one that has ever been trodden under the heels of armies marching to war. Its tapestry is rich with epic tales of brave generals marshaling their troops to face down nefarious warklords. In Red Scar Development Blog 04, drawn directly from the most recent Update for the Kings of War RPG Kickstarter, we take a look at the crossover potential with other games set in the Kings of War universe.

Crossing Over

As there have been a few questions about this topic, we’re using Red Scar Development Blog 04 to take a closer look at the crossover potential for the roleplaying into the other Kings of War related systems that Mantic produce. Having spent time on the Kings of War: Vanguard rules committee, the potential to hop between systems with the same characters was always something I wanted to explore. Crossover rules for Dungeon Saga, Vanguard and Kings of War will feature in the Corebook. As with the miniatures-related questions, I can confirm that you won’t need to use the crossover rules to enjoy the main roleplaying game. The Kings of War RPG will always remain just that at its core: a pen-and-paper tabletop roleplaying for epic storytelling.

Ranging Out

We appreciate that many folks would like to use the expansive ranges of miniatures and dungeon terrain they might have, however, and have those skirmishes, battles, and fast-paced dungeon crawls mean something beyond the game’s end. I know I certainly do! The framework for the crossover rules can already be seen in many of the features and abilities of the system itself. NPC power levels, for instance, follow the conventions of Vanguard – which themselves are also related to Kings of War – and plenty of Keywords and traits are take some of their inspiration from their sister mechanics. With core conversion rules contained in the rulebook (which can be taken or left as GMs see fit), that enables us to provide crossover scenarios and their potential outcomes within the epic campaigns that we have planned beyond the Corebook funding.

With an epic title like Kings of War, we wanted to focus on the players driving equally epic narratives from the moment we sat down to plan the RPG’s scope. Each campaign will aim take the players on a journey that will set them up as powers to be reckoned with in their region. If that’s where they choose to go, of course. We’re all about options for play, rather than telling folks how the game should be played. Within that journey and throughout that growth, there will be ample opportunity to scour a dungeon for a unique and powerful item, fall foul of roving warbands, and lead massed armies into battle (this last option will have a narrative component in the rulebook too).

Pressed for Time

In our often time-poor lives that face various scheduling issues, think of it this way. The group can only meet for an hour instead of three or four for their regular slot. No problem! Let’s crack open Dungeon Saga with our characters and track down that ancient tome we need. Some of the group can’t make it, but there’s a roving band of Abyssals threatening town that need dealing with. All good, let’s lead a task force out using Vanguard. A huge force of orcs and goblins has come boiling out of the mountains. Let’s muster our troops and have some fun tackling it in Kings of War. As already mentioned, each campaign will highlight points were these options can be explored, including GM guidance for good and bad outcomes. This includes potential dungeon layouts and scenario-specific rules, etc.

Dungeon delving is dangerous work.

We’re working with the system experts to make sure the character crossover rules are robust, then we’ll be opening them up to the wider community for input. It’s important that we get this feature right, and for that we need to get as much feedback as possible. I hope that helps explain the scope of what we’re intending! But it’s also important to keep remembering that this is an RPG first. We’re excited to be including them and they will definitely enhance the game for people who want to experience the entire Kings of War range, but the game and campaigns run perfectly well without them.

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Kings of War RPG Kickstarter Now Live!

The Kings of War RPG Kickstarter is now live!

Pannithor has a turbulent history wracked by war and conflict. From the arrival of the Celestians, to the seemingly endless war between the Shining Ones and their twisted reflections, this is a world that has rarely known peace.

For the first time ever, Kings of War the Roleplaying Game allows you to explore Pannithor like never before. The setting for Kings of War explodes into life like never befroe thanks to the TriCore mechanics.

Follow the link above or the small ‘K’ in the top left corner of the  video below to join in:

Mantic’s Ronnie Renton also hopped on camera to introduce the kickstarter and talk about just how excited the crew are that Pannithor is finally getting it’s own roleplaying game.