Wednesday, 17 December 2014

2014 Retrospective

First off, Happy Holidays readers! I hope you've all enjoyed the festivities of the season, and look forward to a New Year!

This'll be the only post for December, and the last post of 2014. I didn't get too many chances to blog this year in comparison to the previous two; hopefully that'll change next year.

What with my VHL medical concerns and somewhat uncooperative work schedule, this past year I didn't have many opportunities to game as much as the previous years, giving me little to blog about and thinning my choices for this years' Retrospective. Hopefully next year I'll have more interesting things to post about, but without further ado, here is (on time for once):

Jerreth Esq's Choice Selections of 2014



Note: I apologize if the G+ name dropping is annoying to their respective owners, I was unsure if it pinged the account directly; I just wanted to give credit where credit's due and link to the relevant G+ account. Please contact me if this is an issue and I'll remove it.


RPG Pick of the Year 

During the #RPGaDay event back in August, I touched upon my then Favourite RPG of All time; a difficult question because I enjoy so many RPGs for so many different reasons. I did end up narrowing it down to two choices, which will remain my picks for this year despite being on my previous retrospective: Numenera & Star Wars: Edge of the Empire/Age of Rebellion.



For gamers who've yet to check out either of these lines, I recommend them both for similar and different reasons; both systems have fairly unique mechanics:

Numenera, by the illustrious +Monte Cook, has my vote for best system that uses a d20; excellent character construction and options, and phenomenal setting, to list a few reasons. A variety of books, products, and PDFs thoroughly round out the line without it getting bloated (So far). If the setting of Numenera is not your cup of tea, consider checking out The Strange; which uses the same Cypher System but allows the setting to be of any thing of your imagination. We also get to look forward to a release of the Cypher System itself in the near future.

I just heart this game so much, but I barely had the chance to play it this year; hopefully next year will afford more opportunity.


Edge of the Empire Age of Rebellion; both contain somewhat run-of-the-mill talent trees, skills, stats, and the same basic mechanics, but this is all takes back-seat framework to the narrative dice system itself which is downright brilliant in both design and execution; you could toss the talents and all that aside and easily run a dynamic game with the dice alone. Plus the setting(s) will appeal to any fanboys.

The downside is I can possibly foreseeing this line following what WotC did with D&D or FFG's Warhammer 40K line by releasing too many additional products and making the line bloated (and costly for die-hard fans like me), but splitting the themes into separate sub-lines for fringers and outlaws (with the Obligation mechanic) for Edge of the Empire, rebels and warfare (with the Duty mechanic) for Age of Rebellion, and Jedi and the force (with the Morality mechanic) in the upcoming Force & Destiny, allows gamers to focus solely upon the line(s) that interests them and may limit this bloat.


Runner-Up

Dread

Brainchild of +Epidiah Ravachol, this game is approaching its 10th year anniversary and I think now it's finally starting to get the recognition it deserves (it's also slated to be featured on +Wil Wheaton's TableTop, so we can expect a huge upsurge in popularity). Last month I ran a few sessions of Dread playtesting a scenario from Call of Cthulhu I'm looking to run next year at GottaCon (I'll post the specific scenario and the custom questionnaires I generated following the convention).

I just love running Dread. You can make awful things happen to the characters but not really feel bad about it because the players have total control over the narrative via the tower. The host just tells a story, and aside from re-stacking a collapsed tower, all the power is in the players' hands whither or not their character survives, suffers, and/or dies.

Simply Brilliant.

Have you still not tried Dread? What're you doing reading this? Go play or get Dread!

I've made a beta mod/hack of Dread that one can read about [here].


Honourable Mention

Torchbearer

Aside from a few months recovery, the vast majority of the year I've been working evening shifts, which made it very difficult to schedule time to game. With the little free time to game I had, I lived and breathed Torchbearer for a good part of the year. I quite enjoyed the pseudo-old school approach that this loveletter to classic D&D by +Thor Olavsrud. I further invested in TB, purchasing another copy of the rule book and a couple Player's Decks. My group and I played a few months before I was distracted by something else (more on that later).

Being a game with a good amount of crunch also means one may tire of the strict rule minutiae and lack of freedom. We had a good bunch of sessions in Torchbearer, but I think my players may have had their fill; I know I have for the time being.

I'd recommend TB to GMs/Players that aren't put off by the interesting mechanics and strict timekeeping/inventory rules, that appreciate older-style fantasy RPGs, and/or fans of the Mouse Guard RPG.




Adventure/Supplement of the Year

Numenera - The Ninth World Bestiary

+Monte Cook+Bruce R Cordell, and the rest of the folks over at Monte Cook Games released one of the best bestiaries I've seen for any roleplaying game. The creature entries are unique, the stats are simple and easy to incorporate within Numenera, any other Cypher System games like The Strange, or even different RPGs. I recall myself and other Numenera fans going gaga over the two-page spread of size-comparison silhouettes when this first came out.

I only had the chance to use this a bit during an online game near the beginning of the year, but I look forward to the next time I can utilize the wonderful weirdness therein.


Runners-Up

Star Wars: Edge of the Empire - The Jewel of Yavin


This hardcover is so far my pick out of the available pre-written adventures for FFG's Star Wars RPG lines. Though the location is limited to Bespin's Cloud City, the adventure gives the PCs plenty of things to do between the three main acts that connect to the major heists.

Though not as galaxy-spanning as say Enter The Unknown, I think The Jewel of Yavin works a bit better as written given the somewhat limited locale.



Age of Rebellion - Onslaught at Arda I


Currently, we have little to directly compare in the AoR line against Onslaught At Arda I; it's a well-written adventure path that spans three different planets with an overarching investigation plot that makes for some very good RP potential, given that most military games can end up highly mission centric.




Honourable Mention

The One Ring - The Heart of the Wild

Whereas Tales From Wilderland is a series of adventures that can be linked together, The Heart of the Wild is a gazetteer that focuses on the regions of the Vales of Anduin and the forest of Mirkwood, and all the notables characters, locations, and lore contained within. The remaining third of the book contains a bestiary of Tolkien-esque monsters.

THotW is actually the companion volume to campaign book, The Darkening of Mirkwood (which I have yet to obtain), and is said to be required for use of TDoMAs to be expected with any The One Ring product, the art is both evocative and phenomenal.



Physical Purchase(s) of the Year

Dungeon World & Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Rules and Magic



These are two games that I've picked up at a FLGS and ordered from Finland respectively this year that I've only had the chance to play once, and I hope to do more so the following year:

The phenomenal Dungeon World, by +Sage LaTorra and +Adam Koebel; is tentatively on my Games-On-Demand roster for GottaCon, possibly aided by the Dungeon World/Labyrinth Lord modules by +Johnstone Metzger and the fellow Canucks over the water at Red Box Vancouver.  


There's a least two 
Lamentations of the Flame Princess games at the upcoming convention, both of which I'm currently signed up for. I finally ordered this book back in August; partially because I'd been meaning to for sometime and I have the two Free RPG Day adventures released for it, but also because I backed the eye-catchingly gruesome and awesome old-school bestiary Lusus Naturae, by +Rafael Chandler, art by the talented +Gennifer Bone. It's system compatible with LotFP, and is bound to arrive sometime in the new year.



Runners-Up

Classic D&D Modules

For the collector in me, coming upon a box filled with old D&D modules in good condition for a decent price was an excellent find. I've also found a few other modules elsewhere, and there's still a several boxes of retro gaming material at the local collectible toy shop that I need to rummage through.

I've glanced through most, and aside from The Quest for the Silver Sword adventure and Thunder Rift setting that I used as a basis for my Torchbearer game, I've yet to run any of these other modules, though I look forward to the possibility of doing so.



Honourable Mentions

LotFP Adventures

Speaking of LotFP-compatible products, I've technically paid for printed copies of the following adventures, but they have yet to arrive as of writing this. Nonetheless, I'll wager they should be included on my list based upon the excellent things I've heard about the revised Death Frost Doom adventure, No Salvation For Witches (also by Chandler), and perhaps most of all, A Red & Pleasant Land, by +Zak Smith. 






Electronic Purchase of the Year 

Vornheim

PDFs are certainly useful to us gamers, but I've always been more of a dead-tree kinda guy. PDFs are excellent for cross-referencing and planning a session, but I find it difficult to sit down and run a game using a PDF, let alone reading fully through it. I find it faster flipping through pages of a book than searching even a well-bookmarked PDF for the info I'm looking for. I enjoy the tactility, something that PDFs lack, and this entry only goes to prove this point:

Vornheim: The Complete City Kit by +Zak Smith, is one of the few PDFs I purchased this year during its 48 hour pay-what-you-want-sale, primarily because it was recommended to me. Only until recently I've had the time to read through this lauded piece of work. There's plenty of reviews online that one can read to get the general gist of Vornheim, so I won't go into it. All I can say is I really like it. I like its unique, weird take on fantasy, its quirky layout, and I like the tools and concepts within. Beyond OSR games, I think Vornheim would fit perfectly in Numenera; they're both weird enough to mesh together.

Currently Vornheim is out of print, but rumour has it that it might be available again come the new year. I totally want get a physical copy of this, especially because the book itself can be used as a game aid generating a variety of things. Now that's just cool. This has also made me doubly anxious for my copy of A Red & Pleasant Land...



Runners-Up 

TIE Fighter 

I believe I've mentioned how I don't play video games much any more, but a recent article I read sorta hit the nail on the head, at least on how members of the video gamer culture may tend to suffer from social isolation whereas tabletop gaming tends brings people physically together, preventing that. That article can be read [here].

Anyway, I just wanted to emphasise how I usually don't play video games, and when I do, it's usually replaying retro games from my childhood: such as Star Wars: TIE Fighter Special Edition on gog.com. This has to be one of my favourite games as a kid, and many times throughout the years I've gotten the urge to play it, so I'd install the game from the discs I still have, configure it in DOSBox, and play away until it'd inevitably crash.

It's excellent that an optimized version for modern systems has been put up on gog.com, along with X-Wing and Knights of the Old Republic.


The Last Door

On the note of retro games and their pixel-y goodness, I want to plug a modern game that combines a pixel art with two other favourite things of mine: adventure games and Lovecraftian horror. The Last Door is a series of short episodic low-rez horror adventure games, that has been so successful thus far it's on a second season.

Up to the current chapter, the game is entirely free to play (and thus also deserves mention under my Freebies of the Year below). If you chip in and donate you gain access to the most recent chapter, and if you donate above the current average you also get the stellar soundtrack for that episode by Carlos Viola. I, being a junkie for good gaming music, beat the average donation in order to gain access to those excellent albums for horror/investigation games.

If you're a fan of adventure games, pixel art, atmospheric soundtracks, and/or Lovecraftian horror, I recommend you check out The Last Door.


Honourable Mentions 

Black Goat Games' products

Local gamer, personal friend, and head cultist +Steven Saunders behind Black Goat Games has released a handful of interesting little nuggets of system-neutral, grimdark goodness throughout this year, together costing about as much as a decent cup of coffee. A few weeks ago BBG just released their latest micro-PDF instalment in the Ye Nerterological Abecedarium series: A is for Arjetkainen!

This entry, along with a few others, can be snatched up on BBG' RPGNow page; and currently the other entries are on sale as Pay-What-You-Want items! Scoop 'em up and sprinkle them liberally into your dark fantasy RPGs.

Torchbearer Sagas - The Wanderers

If you're into Torchbearer and would like to explore options beyond the classes listed in the corebook, I'd highly suggest The Wanderers by Jared Sorensen. Six well-designed and unique classes for $6. Unfortunately it seems most of the referral pages links no longer work. You're best luck is contacting +Jared Sorensen directly and requesting it.





RPG'ish Item of the Year

Calimacil Weapons

That thing that distracted me from my Torchbearer game? This is part of it. If you've been following me for the past several months you'll know that I'd been filling my RPG void with something as equally awesome: LARP. Specifically, Medieval Chaos, a HARP (heavy action role play) that's not your average boffer larp. Rather than attempt to explain the awesomeness of MC, I'll direct you to this skookum promo video:



If that piqued your curiosity, check out the videos better explaining it all a bit more [here] and [here].

Anyway, whilst I was first weapons training back in July at Vanguard and then when I fully dove into MC with my character Kampi in September (my initial impressions of which can be read [here]), I've acquired three foam weapons: Dentist, a studded club; Percefer, a warhammer; and Skaegi, a Danish-style axe. made by Canadian manufacturer Calimacil. These weapons look awesome and feel great. Well worth the hefty price. I foresee increasing my 'armoury' in the future.


Runner-Up 

Fate Tokens

Oooo, shiny! This was one of the few kickstarters I backed this year that arrived before the year was out, and all the way from Australia no less! (I'm still waiting on a couple I backed from the year before; I'm looking at you Call of Cthulhu 7th edition and Horror on the Orient Express!)

Either way the final product from folks down-under at Campaign Coins looks stellar; I have yet to make use of them, but I'm sure they'll do their job well and look good doing it.



Honourable Mention 

Hamlet's Hit Points

I finally finished reading through the copy of +Robin Laws' book that I ordered in around half a year ago (my To Read stack is ceiling high, absorbed at my own pace, and I tend to switch books mid-read). A few notes:
  • One can easily see how this was the theory behind Hillfolk.
  • The book does a decent recounting of how primary drives of hope and fear function in narratives, regardless of type, using the three examples provided.
  • Con: Many of the narrative symbols don't match up with the related texts, thus making analysis confusing at times. Could've used a bit more editing in this regard.
  • How does this apply to RPGs? The book gives some example how specific narratives could be applied to a similar event/session, and the final chapter deals with application specifically. 



Freebie of the Year

Tabletop Audio

The best free resource I've come across this whole year, regardless of the game/system you play, has to be Tabletop Audio.

A while back I touched upon Tabletop Audio during one of my Music To Roleplay To segments and at the time the site had only 35 tracks; now it's nearly doubled that amount. Dark and Stormy makes for excellent ambience during Dread games. You can thank me for suggesting that one. ;)

Additionally they've implemented savable playlists and a way to get around connectivity issue I originally saw as a drawback: savable audio files!

And what's best of all, it's all FREE.

That said, I strongly encourage you to become a patreon (like me) of these excellent folk who're providing you with top quality gaming audio for nothing at the cost of hosting and bandwidth. Support this excellent resource.


Runner-Up 

D&D 5e Basic Rules

I have yet to delve into the whole 5e thing (I know, travesty and blasphemy), but I've heard many things about it, (most good, some 'controversial'). The fact the WotC released the Basic Rules for free on PDF before the corebooks started hitting the shelves meant they're actively taking steps toward healing wounds and drawing interests from a variety of diverse (some would say fractured or isolationist) groups of gamers.

I've quickly glanced over the PDFs and am quite happy with the changes to the line. I'm sure that when I get around to picking up the books, I'll enjoy them, but right now I already have enough fantasy systems I don't get to play enough.


Honourable Mentions 

The Doom-Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children

The second winner in a row of Free RPG Day (in my humble opinion) was the +James Raggi's LotFP's adventure: The Doom-Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children! Not as huge as the previous years' entry, TDCotCHC is still has the best content and production values out of all the entries.

Unapologetically remorseless as ever, I hope I get the fortune someday of finding a playgroup interested/willing to take on this brutal dungeon crawl. The PDF of this adventure is available of [here] for pay-what-you-want.






Bonus: Favourite Present

It's generally rude place one's gift above others and normally I'd refrain from doing so, but the amazing leather helmet you see in the photos below was custom made for me by my incredibly talented better-half. She secretly laboured several days on it, and on Christmas Day we put the finishing touches upon it.


Words cannot express how ecstatic I am on this wonderful gift! I finally have some protective headgear for MC, plus she also got me a little blowing horn. I can't wait till I use them next year upon the field of battle!



Gaming Resolutions 

My obvious choice for 2015 would be to play more RPGs in general, but here are a few selections in particular among those I haven't tried:


  • Any OSR game (1e, Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, Labyrinth Lord, Sword & Wizardry, etc.) I've had an itch to play a simple OSR-style RPG, and it doesn't really matter which one because they're all basically similar at their core. I'm looking for that old school feel.

  • D&D 5e (or 13th Age) - Both are fairly recent games I haven't had the chance to try out; I'd be happy sampling either/both, but I'm not looking to add them to my bookshelf just yet.

  • Fate of the Norns by +Andrew Valkauskas - I've been dying to try FotN ever since I heard about it; the game is set in the fantastic worlds of Norse mythology, and uses runestones as its resolution mechanic. We tried to get the designer to fly from back East for GottaCon 2015, but it wasn't in the cards for this year. After I inquired, the company offered to send me material to run and support this game, but right now I have so many commitments already to the convention I'm unsure if I could give the game proper support it deserves. Hopefully I'll have the chance one way or another to try this game out.

  • Star Wars d6 - Despite being such a huge fan of both Star Wars and RPGs, you'd have think I would've played this one, but no. It wasn't until recently I came across a used-copy of the Second Edition Revised corebook that I ever had the chance to purchase this game. Though I'm sure the current SWRPG line has me cemented when it comes to roleplaying in a galaxy far, far away, I'm curious to experience the WEG version that still has diehard fans.

  • The Shab Al-Hiri Roach by +Jason Morningstar - My buddy +Larry Spiel lent me his copy and once I finished reading through it I was determined to play it at least once. It sounds like a delightful romp.


Cheers to all! May your 2015 be filled with fun and gaming! ;{١

Monday, 24 November 2014

ARC Caster

Here's a little custom homebrew weapon for SWRPGs that I made a couple years or so ago, based off of the weapon the Phase Zero Dark Troopers wield in Star Wars: Battlefront 2. I originally avoided posting this since I hadn't had the chance to playtest it, but since I still don't know when that'll be I've decided to do it anyway. I've updated what I originally wrote for WotC's Saga Edition to FFG's Edge of the Empire and Age of Rebellion.





ARC Caster/DN Bolt Caster

Energy Weapon
SKILL: Ranged (Heavy) | DAMAGE: 7 | CRIT: 5 | RANGE: Short | ENCUM: 5 | HP: 1 | PRICE: (R) 1,500 | RARITY: 7 | SPECIAL: Blast 6, Disorient 3, Inaccurate 1, Limited Ammo 5, Prepare 1, Stun 5 (Droids/Cyborg only)

Modified E-11e 
Built by BlasTech, SoroSuub Corporation, and Merr-Sonn Munitions, Inc. ARC Casters are heavily modified E-11 blaster rifles that were utilized by Phase Zero Dark Troopers employed by the Imperial Army. 

These weapons were so named for their ability to "arc" an electrical bolt from one target to another. Using a charge function, it would prepare a blast of electricity that when launched at a target fully charged, could affect up to four adjacent targets. This type of weapon was similar to the plasma disruptors (DN Bolt casters) originally used by dismounted clone pilots as a personal weapon. 

The powerful shock released is severely damaging to the wiring and systems of droids; additionally, since they aren't ion-based, ARC Casters are just as harmful to organics, though to a slightly lesser degree. 

An ARC Caster requires a power pack to operate; after 5 uses, the power pack must be replaced. Activating the Blast quality uses up half (round up) of the remaining Limited Ammo.

On a Despair ▼ result, the bolt arcs back to its wielder, dealing damage equal to the weapon's Blast rating.



DN Bolt Caster

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Galactic Gazetteer: Aduba-3

Here's a Galactic Gazetteer I made on a planet one of my SWRPG groups visited years back. We still have fond memories of this dust-laden, backwater world of Aduba-3.

Some (BBY) adventure hooks I came up with:

  • a good old fashioned bar fight in Locru's Saloon (they don't take too kindly to cyborgs or 'borg lovers) 
  • Modirin Mining Concern (a Tenloss Syndicate front; they might have some jobs for those with less scruples)
  • a Sullustan mechanic (who can only speak Sullustese) and his shop (he's a master at jury-rigging and modding speeders and swoops); 
  • a visit to the House of a Higher Power run by a young Force-sensitive Verpine priest of the Sacred Way known as 'Pera'
  • exploring abandoned chromium mines with the also younger, more precocious 'Old One' and discovering a lost Sith laboratory complete with Sith-spawn and a gigantic, slumbering Behemoth from the World Below! (So that's how he knew about the beast...) My group wisely decided it'd be best to try and collapse the mine upon it to bury it (for now); they set a series of charges and then climbed with all haste out of the mine, just escaping in the knick of time as the whole structure collapsed.

There's plenty of other material that can be mined (forgive the pun) for adventures on Aduba-3. I tried to make the info usable in any version of the SWRPG; WEG's d6, WotC's Saga Editon, or FFG's system used in EotE. Enjoy!



Aduba-3

Astrogation Data: Aduba system, Bheriz sector, Outer Rim Territories
Orbital Metrics: 343 days per year / 22 standard hours per day
Satellites: 1 moon
Government: anarchy
Population: estimated 3 million, mostly transient (Humans 69% , Rodian 3%, Jawa 2%, Ithorian 2%, Boltrunian 1%, Wroonian 1%, other 22%)
Languages: Basic
Climate: arid to temperate
Terrain: deserts, plains, steepe
Major Cities: Tun Aduba (captial), Onacra
Areas of Interest: abandoned chromium mines, Locru's Central Saloon, House for a Higher Power, Spacer's Hill
Major Exports: "chromium", contraband, foodstuffs
Major Imports: agricultural goods, contraband, technology
Trade Routes: Triellus Trade Route
Special Conditions: none
Background: Wookiepedia

WEG: Knowledge - Planetary Systems or Scholar | WotC: Knowledge (Galactic Lore) | FFG: [Hard: Outer Rim or Daunting: Lore]
Difficulty | DC | Success/Advantage/Triumph*

Difficult | 15 |  - Aduba-3 is a backwater world in the Rimward territories with very little to offer to spacers besides seclusion.


Very Difficult | 20 | ☼@ - The Galactic Republic discovered Aduba-3 circa 1,000 BBY, though the world was not colonized until 500 BBY as an agriworld, establishing farming villages for the harvest of maze-stalk and mizzlegritch moss.

Heroic | 25 | ☼@@ - During the Clone Wars, Aduba had been annexed by the Hutt Empire, though it would be claimed by the Galactic Empire after the war was soon forgotten. It became a powerful shadowport after its dealings with the Hutts, attracting all kinds of scum from across the galaxy looking to avoid those who pursued them.

Heroic (Scholar Only) | 30 | [Lore only] ╬ - Lying on the fringes of Sith Space during the New Sith Wars, the world was initially visited in 1,010 BBY by a Sith Lord of the Brotherhood of Darkness who used it as one of his testing grounds for Sith alchemy.



Knowledge - Cultures | Knowledge (Social Sciences) | [Hard: Education]
DC | Success/Advantage Result

Difficult | 15 | ☼@ - The founding colonists were followers of the Sacred Way, although currently only a small percent of the farmers follow any of the religion's tenants. The two largest settlements are the seedy spaceport Tun-Aduba; the unofficial capital; and the small farming community of Onacra.




Knowledge - Business | Knowledge (Bureaucracy) | [Hard: Underworld]
DC | Success/Advantage Result

Very Difficult | 20 | ☼@@ Greedy speculators from the Modirin Mining Concern came to the planet and caused a chromium rush by way of mine-seeding. When traders realized there was no fortune to be had on Aduba-3, it lost any appeal it might have had and began to disappear from star charts.

*Successes are represented with [], Advantages with [@], and Triumph with []

Friday, 31 October 2014

Dread - Tower Hack & Homebrew

Happy All Hallow's Eve Everyone! 


I thought now would be an appropriate time to finally publish this draft for a homebrew/hack I've been working on and off for over a year for Dread. Hopefully I'm going to be running a few of these concept for the first time tonight. Enjoy!



Ever since I got the storytelling game Dread, read it, and later played it, I've been considering a way to hack it. Many months ago I acquired a jenga tower that suited my needs, both visually and practically.


I thought I was being so clever with this idea back when I conceived of it up a couple years ago, so you can imagine how disappointed when I saw a popular RPG webcomic had produced a strip containing a Dread variant with similar effect. Great minds think alike. :) I might've been beaten to the punch in this regard, but I'm still going to share my thoughts and ideas:



The Hack:


First, I marked each pieces with a symbol in with pencil.
Imprint each piece with a symbol of some sort. It could be a number, letter, character, sigil, glyph, or any combination of them. The average tower has 54 blocks, making up to 54 possible symbols. This each symbol corresponds with a result on a chart.

Making all of the results negative can make the players even less inclined to do pulls, so averaging the results between 27 positive and 27 negative (even or odd numbers); or having 18 positive, neutral, and negative (1-18, 19-36, 37-54) results can create a better risk-vs-reward dynamic.

If the GM doesn't want to or doesn't have enough material to fill all 54 options, just double or triple them up to 27 or 18 results respectively, and ignore any result that has been pulled before, or use the result above or below it. This option works best for increasing the chance that a more important results, such as clues, might be pulled.

Another way to divide the tower results is between more than one concept. Example: Even numbers are Regained Memories, and Odd numbers are Creepy Effects.

Also, even though 54, 27, and 18 aren't particularly nice round numbers, they can still be fudged for use with tables from other games by stretching or shrinking 54 to 55 or 50; 27 to 30 or 25; or 18 to 20 or 15 respectively. Just ignore results that are out of that range, or substitute your own or others' ideas.

Then I traced over the markings with a wood burning tool.
You can either imprint the symbol on both ends of each piece so the players can see the symbol options before they make an attempt; on the sides so most can be seen, but some will be hidden; or on the tops and bottoms, so the results will be mostly hidden.

Numbers 6 and 9 can easily be mistaken for the other one upside down. Optionally this can be intentionally vague and left up to interpretation; or the Host can choose between either of the results.

Numbers not your thing? The English alphabet has 26 letters, one shy of 27, half the number of pieces. The remaining pieces could be filled out with letters from other real (Greek, HebrewCyrillic, Runic, Egyptian hieroglyphics, etc.), undeciphered (Rongorongo, Vinča, etc.), blissymbolicsalchemical symbols, behenian fixed stars, or fictional alphabets or glyphs. This could lend an mysterious/occultic flair to the tower.

Also 54 is the exact number of cards in a deck of playing cards with the two jokers included, so you could potentially use this tower hack in many RPGs that use a deck, like Savage Worlds or Castle Falkenstein.

The Host can use the examples below to mix up their game a bit, but I do stress that they should not be used with every draw as doing so could spoil the tension of the game. Many results are red herrings that could distract players, but they could also be easily tied into the fiction with a little thought. Still, use them like spices when cooking: just a right amount to give flavour without being overpowering.

Chart Result Concepts:

  • Sanity Loss/Recovery
  • Uncover a Clue/Secret
  • Recall a Lost Memory
  • Creepy/Weird Effect
  • Time Progression, Countdown, or Event Cue
  • Physical/Mental detriment if negative, or removal of a detriment if positive

The assortment of symbols I made for my set. Some are vague, some are obvious in intent.
Here's a makeshift table I created that corresponds to my set. I might get around to filling in the blank results. Feel free to ignore results and send in Suggestions!

Pulled # Pulled Symbol Weird Twist
1 'I' / Vertical Bar Nothing Seems to Happen...
2 Chevrons Voices character(s) hear issue from the wrong individual(s); or from the wrong direction.
3 Delta / Isosceles Triangle
4 Diamond within a Square Images (paintings, photosgraphs, statues, videos, etc.) appear distorted or unnatural.
5 Lambda / 'V'
6 Asterism Slowly the location gradually fills with a sort of fog or haze that limits sight, muffles noises, and may also be choking.
7 Ankh Special: Whichever player drew the Ankh has their character immune one time from being removed from play if they knock down the tower. Do not return the Ankh peace to the tower after drawing it; the tower is rebuilt minus the Ankh piece, which is removed from the game.
8 Star of Lakshmi Without reason the character(s) lapse into unconsciousness; upon awakening vaguely recall prophetic, precognitive, or delusional dreams.
9 Eight-pointed Asterisk Insects, vermin, or strange lights are unnaturally attracted to one of the characters.
10 'X' Special: The Host can declare any a single pull attempt by the owner of the 'X' an automatic failure. This declaration can happen only once to each player.
11 Spiral Intense vertigo suddenly grips the character(s), who may vomit as a result.
12 Eye The character(s) experience disturbing visual hallucinations.
13 Skull Special: Whichever player drew the Skull has their character removed from play instead the character belonging to whichever player next knocks down the tower.
14 Trefoil Something hazardous is to be found in this area.
15 Infinity The sound of a distant voice screaming echoes through the air; it sounds exactly like one of the characters.
16 Alchemical Phlogiston
17 Saturn/Lead
18 Spider The character(s) develop an irrational phobia of something (e.g. dark, being alone, spiders, water, etc.)
19 Rongorongo
20 Stylized 'VV' Briefly everything appears artificial or two-dimensional to a character before reverting to normal.
21 Wheel Cross Character(s) get an uncanny feeling that they're being constantly watched, even when alone.
22 Strange Sigil
23 Bullseye
24 Jupiter All text becomes flipped, mirrored, or unintelligible gibberish.
25 Hourglass Any timekeeping pieces and/or electronic devices cease working and freeze indefinitely.
26 Yellow Sign Colour appears to bleed out from the character(s) vision, sounds become distorted, and time itself seems to slow down for a long moment.
27 '?' The character(s) suffer temporary amnesia, unable to recall a critical memory.
28 Crux / '+' Special: The owner of '+' can declare any a single pull attempt by made by any character automatic success (negativing the need for the pull). This declaration can happen only once to each player.
29 Thunderbolt The pressure, climate, or atmosphere rapidly changes, creating weather/climate phenomena
30 'Eye of Fire' The next time a character sees their reflection, it is out of sync, that of another person, or someone/something momentarily appears behind them.
31 Waves
32 Arrow The character discovers an object or item (perhaps bloody) on their person that they have no knowledge of.
33 Crescent No sources of illumination function well or at all in an area.
34 Elder Sign The character(s) receives sudden aches and pains as a near subsonic/ultrasonic vibrations rhythmically grow then fade.
35 Sulphur A disturbing scent emanates the area; the source of which cannot be located.
36 Wheel
37 Room/Container A hidden item, object, or room is discovered, scrawled with a character's name.
38 Dragon's Eye Special: Whichever player drew the Dragon's Eye secretly selects another player's character and privately informs the host of their decision; if the selecting player's character is removed from play, the selected character is removed from play instead of their own, likewise if the selected character is removed from play, the selecting player's character is removed from the play instead. If the tower was knocked down intentionally by either side, both characters are removed from play.
39 Hash / '#' The character(s) begins to notice a surreal repetition in a seemingly random pattern in images, sounds, and/or events.
40 Hand Foot/hand prints or marks appear on surfaces, composed of water, blood, filth, ice, etc.
41 Mask The character(s) feel that someone close to them has been possessed/replaced with a nearly perfect double with malicious intent.
42 Key Every container and/or exit has been inexplicably opened/closed and/or locked/unlocked in an area the character(s) enter/exit.
43 Obelus Suddenly the characters are separated from each other when a darkness falls, doors seal shut, or a structure collapses.
44 Crossed Swords Feelings of deep animosity and/or resentment develop between characters, with or without justified reason.
45 Comet An odd light appears in the distance that moves of its own accord, perhaps directed upon the character(s) ; possibly disappearing/reappearing.
47 Pentacle/Pentagram The character(s) encounter a brief but disturbing out-of-body experience; or are seemly possessed by a maleficent force.
46 Omega A character finds blood on his or her clothes, with no obvious source.
48 Semicircle A once accepted truth turns out to be the opposite.
49 Atom Batteries and powered devices rapidly lose charge and low-tech devices stall/jam/break.
50 Fire The character(s) breaks out a cold sweat despite the cool temperature; or they see their breath in the air despite it not being cold enough to do so.
51 Teste Morte The character discovers an well-known/loved item that belonged to themselves or another character; the character hasn't seen the item since they were young.
52 Chaos Unnerving sounds echo through the air; all noise ceases; or communication devices generate static and/or unearthly voices/sounds.
53 Labrys Axe An item or weapon, appropriate or otherwise, is found in a bizarre location.
54 Oroboros / Ensō The character(s) experience déjà vu; or a witness a recent scene happening in reverse.



Setting Homebrew:


Concept: All of the characters in the story have amnesia, and can only remember a certain number of things from their past, but can uncover more details as the game progresses, both literally and figuratively piecing them together.

The game starts out as normal with the players filling out the questionnaires given to them by the Host. After reviewing the answers as satisfactory, the Host, using a pair of scissors, will cut each questionnaire width-wise into strips containing each question and its answer, hereafter to be referred to as 'memories'. He will do this with all of the questions except for a remainder, (one of which might be the Character's name).

Either randomly or systematically, the Host corresponds each of the 'memories' to a labelled piece of the tower. In game, whenever a player makes a pull, they are given the strip that corresponds to the result they pulled, thus recalling a bit about their background. This recalled memory might not even be one they answered on the questionnaire they filled out!

So to determine the remaining number of 'memories' that should be returned to the players at the beginning of the game, the Host has to do a bit of simple math. First he should take the total number of all the questions and multiply them the number of players. He should then subtract that number by a number that 54 is wholly divisible by: E.g. 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 18, 27, or 54.

That difference is then divided by the number of players, and the result is the number of 'memories' each player begins the game with. To make sure the players have an even amount of starting 'memories', the total number of questions should be wholly divisible by the number of players.

The Host then divides 54 by the selected number, the quotient is the number of the tower pieces that are tied to each 'lost memory'.

Here's an example:
Let's say the game has 3 PC's. The Host decides to give them each a questionnaire of 12 questions for a total of 36 questions. She selects 27 has her number to subtract from 36: The result is 9, which is then divided by the number of players, which results in 3 'memories' returned to each player.

54 is then divided by 27, which is 2, so she decides every 2 pieces from the tower are tied to a 'lost memory'. To make this easier, she writes the corresponding number on the reverse of each 'lost memory' and keeps them nearby face down. As the players pull pieces that match coinciding 'lost memories', the Host hands it to them and they read it only after the pull is completed, successful or not.

Happy Haunting!