Friday, April 17, 2020

The Grimoire inspiration!

So when I started working on the Petit Albert translations, I had a number of goals and hopes in mind - some was historical research, some was the hope to create a resource that would be usable for gaming material.

It seems that my efforts have paid fruition, and some others have started using it as a source/inspiration for their own game!  I am *very* honored to see this happen - it is quite gratifying to have my work be of use to others!

First we have the reddit user The Secret Dino created a list of magical items clearly inspired by my work:  (see the thread: - I may update this entry if they have more material)

Second the very talented and frequent collaborator Words for Yellow posted this music-inspired list of magical rituals, which clearly have roots in the Petit Albert's formulas.  That bell-based spell?  Ooof that is something!

Both have created fascinating work, and I also note in a lot more concise form than the somewhat long-winded and rambling Petit Albert text... and that's a good thing!  It makes it far more useable in a game :)    This is a great example of the DIY/collaborative nature of the OSR, and it's a pleasure being a small part of it.

Lastly, you may note that Words for Yellow wrote that post for the Secret Jackalope 2020, organized by the OSR Discord server.  I too am writing one, and mea culpa, I am already late.  But I do have something coming up!  Something UVG related too.... stay tuned.

edit:  I don't think I had any effect on this, but this is wild and should be read anyway!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Troika! - UVG - Rules conversion notes and new Backgrounds

So I decided to run the very intriguing UltraViolet Grassland setting by Luka Rejec, using the very zany Troika! ruleset.

At first I thought this would be easily accomplished.  The flavor of Troika! and the UVG setting really do merge well.  The inventory system is *remarkably* similar.  And there is a *very* useful rule conversion document at the Technical Grimoire.  Easy Peasy right?

Well... not 100%.   First there are some lacks in the conversion document - things that were not addressed.  Second, I feel that some changes to the Troika! rules should be made both for UVG but also "in general".   I intend for this post to be a "living document" - I'm going to add to it as I go along.


 I've made some comments about the Troika! rules in the past, and now that we've played several games, I feel confident in making the following changes:

1:  Troika! characters can be rather incompetent, and this is *especially* true if you have a base skill of 4 (the range is 4-6).  I had implemented a rule with a skill range of 5-6, but it still left the characters with a skill of 6 quite better than the characters with a skill of 5. 

To help this, I've split the basic Skill into 2:  Physical Skill and Mental Skill.  When creating a character, the player assigns one with a value of 5 and the other with a value of 6.  There is no need to assign advanced skills to mental of physical, rather which one to use will depend on the situation.

Example:  Colonel Sanders has a physical skill of 6 and a mental skill of 5.  He also has an advanced skill of sword of 2.  In a fight, a physical challenge, he would have a total sword skill of 8.  However, if he was trying to see if a new sword was a good purchase; it would be a mental check, meaning his total sword skill would be 7.

2:  Luck is very important in Troika! To "even out" luck scores a little bit, starting characters roll luck as 6 +2d3, vs 6 + 1d6.

3:  To generate new characters in an existing game, so that they aren't too far behind the others, the following procedure is followed:
:  Get a new character randomly (either using the existing Troika! characters or using the 1d40 table in UVG - the GM will then have to make one).  
b: The player can improve the advanced skills by 3 points, spreading as they wish but without increasing any advanced skills above 3
c:  The player can add one new advanced skills at a rank of 1


1: One of the big challenge is food and healing.  Troika! characters heal fast, eating food (provisions - which they can carry up to 14 unit in a strange "parallel" inventory) heals 1d6 and sleeping heals 2d6 stamina.  But in the UVG there are frequent misadventures (you step on a nail, you lose 1d3 life type of deal).  If these were easily fixed, they would become almost meaningless.  Also, supply management on a caravan becomes a lot easier if people can carry 14 meals for "free" on top of their equipment.

So clearly the inventory and the healing system have to be tweaked.

After speaking with David Schirduan about this issue (thanks David!) we came up with the following fix:

Traveling in a caravan is *not* restful stuff.  You need a week off in a safe place (or being taken care of by someone else during a halt) to gain sleeping-based healing.  One could also posit that the UVG's conditions are not entirely friendly to human life - people heal slower than in other places?  The same rules apply to luck "healing".   edit: I note that there is a "rest after a week of travel if nothing happened" and I would allow that too, but it's not reliable.

As far as eating food and inventory, first of all the parallel provision inventory is gone.  1 sack = 1 weeks of supply (mostly food). 1 day of food = 1 ration = 1 stone.  Eating your normal amount of food keeps you healthy but doesn't heal you.  Eating more heals 1d6 per ration - and you can't eat more than 3 rations a day (there are limits on how much  you can gorge  yourself).  This limits healing to 2d6 stamina per day *and* makes healing via food a difficult choice - you need those supplies to reach your destination!

I was a bit hesitant about this - this *really* limits healing in the UVG!   However, there are still ways to restore luck (pocket gods) and the UVG has the VC Healing Lotion for 40 cash as a further source of healing.   So I think it's livable.  This hasn't been play-tested, so I will update as we find out how well this works.

2:  There are a number of 1d20 "skill check results" table to see what you get after a relevant skill check (market research, carousing etc).  While these tables are well done, they aren't "standardized" - meaning on one table you have a result on 1-2, another result on 3-6, while another table has a result on a 1, on 2-3, on 4-7.... this makes converting from 1d20 to 2d6 *really hard*.  If there was one reason above all others to not use Troika! for UVG, this would be it.  David was stumped by this challenge, and so am I - it seems I'm going to have to convert each bloody table at a time.

Edit:  I tried converting these one at a time and it's ridiculous.  What I've done is created a table that convert the results.   Now, it won't fit all times - and when it doesn't, just roll!  Or pick.  Whatever.   I figured that the worst someone could fail by is rolling an 11 with a skill of 5, and the best is rolling an 11 with a skill of 12.

Are the numbers right?  I don't know.  I'm a bit concerned about charisma check being luck checks (luck tends to be higher than advance skills) but the best way to find out is to playtest it - and now we will, because I can move on from trying to make dozens of bespoke tables!  Will tweak as needed, but for now:

2d6 1d20
Fumble Fumble
-6 1
-5 2-3
-4 4
-3 5
-2 6
-1 7-8
0 9
1 10-11
2 12
3 13
4 14
5 15-16
6 17-18
7 19
8 20
9 21+
Critical Success Critical Success

So double 6 is a fumble, double 1 a critical success.  0 would be rolling equal to your skill/advance skill rating.  -1 is missing the roll by 1, +1 is making the roll by 1 etc etc.

EDIT PART DEUX:  I redid the table, go see it here!


There are 40 proposed backgrounds in the UVG, and I'm not going to convert them all!  But here are 2 that are being used in our game:

Dwarven Wine vampire priest

Why are you in the UVG: Nightly dreams of a lost world
what do you have: Grey cube that weighs five times more than lead

Background:  You are a priest of a sinister cabal of Wine Vampires.  The Wine Vampires suck alcohol from the blood of the inhebriated, and control a very significant network of vinyards.  Vampire Wines are renowed; rich and ruby red, revitalizing for they grow from source-rich soils infused with the flesh of creation.  They increase in value further west you go (ie deeper in the UVG). 
Nominaly, you are claiming to your superiors you are working to expand the markets west.  In reality, you have been troubled by nightly dreams of a lost world, which you feel compeled to find.

Advanced skills
- Tempting Goblet 2
- Skeletal counsel 1
- Iron hand 2
- Leech 1
Advanced Skills
- Vintner 2
- Crossbow fighing 1
- Metalworking 1
- Marketing 1

Possession:  Grey cube that weighs five times more than lead (encumbrance: 1 stone)
Crossbow, 20 bolts
Fur robe (light armor)
iron short sword
Brass Chalice
1 casket (1 "sack") of vampire wine (trade good)
3 bottles of vampire wine
pouch of grape seeds. 

New Spell:
Tempting Goblet (2):  Splash wine on a foe, and the loss of such a fine vintage will demoralize them.  The foe received a -1 skill penalty to all skill checks (including attacks) *and* a -2 penalty to luck/skill checks to resists effects until the wine dries

Undercover rainbow inquisitor

Why are you in the UVG: Portents of a deadly machine demon
what do you have: Platinum necrogoggles that reveal undead

Advanced skills
Disguise 2
Linguist 2
Pistol  2
History 1
Tracking 1
Sneak 1
Awareness 1
Old Tech 1

pistol: Inquisitor Squirtgun
Platinum necrogoggles that reveal undead
Ballistic Linen Suit (light armor), only 1 slot equipment (vs 2)
30 squirt round
5 tiny vials of acid
5 tiny vials of holy water

Inquisitor Squirtgun 2 2 2 4 6 8 12  (when empty)
The squirtgun is a pistol that holds 5 shots and fire liquid-filled rounds.  It is not a particularly powerful weapon by itself, however when the round is filled with a suitable payload it can be more dangerous.  Use of a noxious substance such as acid adds a flat 2 to the damage, other subtances may be more harmful or inefective.

edit:  I've been asked if this has been play tested - this is being play tested now.  I have a game ever 2 weeks and we had our first UVG session already.  So if this doesn't work, this will be edited, there will be a new post etc :)

Lastly, I would be remis not to note the great UVG resource that Coins and Scrolls is.

(Required disclaimer: this post an independent production by me and is not affiliated with the Melsonian Arts Council.)