Actual Play: 2D10 at Camp

Last week, I worked at a youth camp with an amazing group of middle school kids who were excited to play Dungeons & Dragons. One of them had received the Stranger Things box set and was eager to play. It was fun to help them learn basic rules, encourage them to try out stuff, and join in the excitement. About halfway through, I told them I’d run my own game – a quick round of 2D10.

Notes from the Session

Character creation was fast and easy. The players mastered the process quickly and went a little wild with their heroes. When playing a free form game, it is always a challenge to develop boundaries on special abilities (feats) as well as occupations. One player wanted to play a Necromancer, so we had to fine tune it. What can a Necromancer do and not do? Some of them wanted to be able to summon a giant eagle as their hero’s power. While I was resistant, I went for it. Would summoning a giant eagle work in the sewers? Does it take time for the eagle to arrive? This highlighted both the speed and flexibility of 2D10 but also some challenges. Can a less experienced GM know how to sort out boundaries?

With heroes in hand, I drafted a quick but messy adventure that challenged the players with moral choices over and over. The Golden King in his Golden City was besieged, so the King’s captain summoned the heroes from across time and space to aid or rescue their liege. Obviously, it was a one shot, so I didn’t have time for a deep origin story. The catch was that the heroes had 30 minutes before the castle’s defenses would be obliterated by winged demons. The heroes had to figure out how to enter the city to reach the castle, whether to save time by rescuing an abandoned child and her mother, barter with old colleagues and mysterious strangers, and then make an ultimate choice once they met the King and learned what was actually going on.

I’m being vague because I may write it up as a short 2D10 download.

While the adventure didn’t completely work since we ran out of time, the players did gain extra time throughout by promising to do things for their colleagues or for rescuing certain people. This allowed them to stretch their options for making choices. Battle wasn’t the only route to get to the interior castle and confront the King, but the lack of time also hampered the ability a bit to make the final moral choice really hit home. One of the players noted that the story didn’t completely fit. I’ll definitely tweak this when I write it up for others to have fun with.

Mechanical Stuff

I was really pleased by the dice rolling. Success was possible, but the players also rolled low enough to add some natural tension. It made things challenging. I am going to think about a passive type option, like 5E’s passive perception, since I don’t really like heroes rolling to find secret doors and stuff too often. Tedious rolling is lame!

We utilized the optional Magic Points rule, since most of their characters wanted to cast spells. We didn’t use it religiously. I’d really prefer for players to spend the magic points to add to rolls for success, making those resources finite. For this game, I asked them to subtract one for each spell they cast. It was simple, but magic points have potential for other uses.

However, if I plan to modify 2D10, I will change the Occupations modifier. The players forgot about the +5 modifier. Was it confusing? I can improve that with a simple character sheet or make it easier like doubling your attribute if you use the Occupation for a relevant action. Stay tuned.

My Conclusion?

All in all, though, it was fun to game with some youngsters! 2D10 was a blast to play!

We are on itch.io

I’m pretty happy with DriveThruRPG’s setup. At one point, they charged for free products, but I’m sure they realize that driving traffic to the site for free stuff increases the chance of people buying stuff. That’s good.

But I’ve noticed itch.io recently, and so I will be setting up another site there.

Right now, the basic 2D10 RPG is the only item available, but I’ll be adding more in the coming days.

2D10 RPG is now Creative Commons licensed

Another nice post of good news –

The 2D10 RPG, in all of its one page rules of glory, is now officially Creative Commons licensed. You can use it to create your own works of creativity and imagination, as long as you give some attribution. I am glad there are fans and writers who see it as something valuable to use to power your own games and creations.

(And special thanks to Shawn E. for encouraging me to make this change.)

I am linking a very simple formatted of the basic rules with the license embedded (via Dropbox), but I will find a more formal way to upload this on the 2D10 page soon.

If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments or send me a quick email.

2D10 Gets Some Fixes in This New Year

Thanks to some helpful eyes from a fellow fan, I was able to correct a couple of errors in the 2D10 RPG Rules and Extra Rules documents available on DriveThruRPG. It’s a New Year, so why not begin with this kind of bang? I am thankful for all the feedback I’ve received on these super simple rulesets, and I do have some more plans in the coming year, including a small printable compendium which will have some extra stuff in it.

In other industry news, Mystic Ages Publishing fully supports all efforts to make this a hobby that is safe, where abuse has no place. While I haven’t attended any conventions in years and am not really part of the industry (at best having a few PYWYW games), I support those efforts and will commit to only attending and supporting events that have clear procedures about working to build safe environments for vulnerable people. It’s important to me, and it should be important to all of us.

Stay tuned!

The Basic Hack Gets an Update

I’ve collected feedback, and I do want to say thanks to the 1000+ people who have downloaded or bought the game. Thank you for your generosity, your love of gaming, and your support of the Basic Hack.

The July update is now available at RPGNow.

It’s a small update, but it corrects some typos, missing periods, and slight layout issues. I definitely have a few more things to work on along those lines, so look for a future update which makes the layout a little cleaner (or more interesting).

The rule fix is that wizards and clerics now can only cast a number of spells each day equal to their maximum hit points. In addition, I cleaned up and simplified the Rest section which added confusion to the spell casting rules. Now, a rest can either provide full HP back, half HP, or no HP, depending on the difficulty and unpredictability of a party’s evening.

I also added a sentence or two.

Long term, I am still working on the teachable character sheet, but I am also thinking about completely changing the defense roll aspect when it is the monster’s turn to attack. In this route, your Defense roll would not go against Dexterity, making it the most important stat of the game, but a new stat that is a combination of armor + hit points + any other bonuses. This would make things both more difficult for heroes and interesting for everyone else. A Warrior would still have a clear edge, but spells and special abilities could really help other classes too. We’ll see how it shakes out.

How about a teachable character sheet?

One of the ideas I am kicking around for Basic Hack 2nd Edition is a “teachable/user-friendy” character sheet. AKA – it’s game night, and you have some young’uns or new gamers to get into the game. You hand them a character sheet which both has rules to create your character but tells you how to play right from the start. Roll under this. This stat is what you use for these actions. Here are your hit points or armor or whatever.

I’ve got some draft ideas going, but it is tricky to do it without being incomprehensible.

Stay tuned.

— Nathan

Updated 2D10 RPG Available

In honor of Teach Your Kids to Game week, I’ve updated the one page 2D10 RPG with a bit of editing, some slight adjustments, and font changes (hopefully to improve readability). You can get it for free from RPGNow. I still have been pondering a change to Occupations to turn the whole system into a dice pool – you roll an extra D10 if you use Occupations, Feats, and/or Special Items in play but keep the highest two rolls. Consider that a way to mess with the system if you find it is too easy for some heroes to wipe out goblins or space lords or whatever.

I will update some of the other PDFs and introduce a mini-setting in the upcoming week.

— Nathan

Alternate Cover for Basic Hack

Zachary M sent a nice note of support for the Basic Hack with a modified, printer-friendly cover in case you decide to print out the PDF. I agree that this is definitely useful, since all that red may not be super cool on the ink/toner.

Grab it here:
https://strangehappeningsofathirdsin.blogspot.com/2017/12/i-do-art-occasionally.html

I’ve got a couple of fixes to the Basic Hack document that I am going to work. And I’ll be blunt – I have always been unhappy with the Bandit Wizard adventure I plugged in at the back. It was written a long time ago, so I modified it a bit for the Basic Hack but it really doesn’t fit the tone of the rest of the rules. I do have a print version in the works too, initially at LuLu. Stay tuned!

— Nathan

New Look

Oh, hey there.

After hosting Mystic Ages for a couple of years with Ghost, thinking their super markdown friendly hosting platform would be a breath of fresh air, I’m back to good ol’ WordPress. I didn’t transfer the site entirely, so there may be some bits and pieces lost. But don’t worry – new and old material will get shared soon. I’ll be doing some site maintenance this weekend and then should have some announcements to share.

Stay tuned.

Enjoy your holiday experience.

— Nathan

Basic Hack Is Out

I’ve sort of been living under a hole or something, because the Black Hack and White Hack (and other variants) have basically been unknown to me. These are sort of old school versions of D&D, harkening back to some of the original fantasy games. Nostalgia is a powerful force, but some of the simplicity and wonkiness of those classic games are fun.

These new versions often add changes to keep the simplicity and streamline the game. I dig it. It means you have tons of resources that you can easily modify to work from all the variations of D&D, but you can also get playing quick and easy.

Black Hack is the chief among these.

It’s my kind of D&D-clone, using a familiar core and then going nuts in a bid for simplicity and speed. I love it. In fact, last night, I started a fantasy campaign with my kids using an even more stripped down version which I call the Basic Hack.

Here’s how it works:

  • Use your six core attributes and roll under to succeed. (I like the Black Hack’s attribute generation technique to keep things balanced.)
  • Pick a class. Fighters are good at fighting. Clerics can heal and turn undead. Wizards are good at casting spells. Rogues are good at sneaking and stealing.
  • Pick a race. Elves can see in the dark. Dwarves can find secret doors. Humans get a +1 to an attribute of choice. (You can easily switch this up or add more complexity.)
  • Hit points are standard. I gave the fighter 10 and the wizard 4. (Might want to give them more in the future.)
  • For class or race features, I give them advantage on the roll per 5th Edition. Fighters always get to roll two D20s when attacking for instance.
  • I’d give wizards and clerics two starting spells they can cast once per day. In a bid for simplicity, don’t worry about levels. Our wizard got sleep and magic arrow (aka magic missile). I’d give a cleric heal wounds and remove curse. The key is to pick spells that will have an impact in the story right away to make all the characters feel useful.
  • Weapon damage can be standard. I like armor as written in the Black Hack to keep things simple. (Plus, teaching your kids math is a bonus.)
  • No experience points, no levels. As the characters advance, give them magical items, extra hit points, new spells, or a new ability. Or let them raise another attribute.

I’ll be writing this up in a couple of pages to post on RPGNow this weekend sometime.

— Nathan