Making Magic Items Inspired by Apocalypse World

D&D Ideas
https://githyankidiaspora.wordpress.com/dd-ideas/

When I read Apocalypse World I can see that (like me) Meguey and Vincent spent their college years playing Ars Magica. I can feel seasonal arcane lab work in the ole Savvyhead. Inspired by their Tinkering move in their Burned Over ruleset and a question on an RPG slack I frequent, here’s a move for making magic items in D&D:

So you want to make a magic item?
When you want to improve upon an item, enchant a mundane item or repair an item, tell your friends at the table what you want it to do. Is there something else that does it already? Let’s keep an eye on that for inspiration.
Is making this going to change the world forever? Let’s keep on eye on that and discuss it as a group because that’s cool but let’s make sure we’re not changing the world in a way that won’t make it fun to play or making a character useless.
Someone will take up the role as the DM for this process. They’ll say, “sure, no problem but…” and suggest 1 to 4 of the following.
• It is going to take time.
• First you are going to have to X
• You are going to need X to make this happen.
• It is going to cost a dragon’s hoard of gold.
• It is going to mean exposing yourself to dangerous arcane forces that could change the character forever.
• The best you’ll be able to do will be less than optimal, it’ll have limited charges or slow or weak or unreliable.
• You are going to need a wizard’s sanctum with X.
• It is going to take many attempts to get it just right.
• You are going to have to do an arcange ritual with X to get it done.
X should be attainable through a dangerous adventure or series of adventures.

I’ve been inspired by the Bakers many times. More recently, when I made a checklist to make a space station inspired by the Lawmaker playbook.

Forgive me as I imitate AW’s examples of play, my favorite examples from any RPG:

Silver Sword/Astral Queen Subject Divider

Bugwump the Frog-kin Wizard wants to add charges to Kuru’s Wand of Lightning. Poor Kuru, the Hobbit Thief, has been moping ever since the wand lost its oomph. “Clearly you need to go to a mountaintop and get this thing hit by lightning,” I say.

“Oooh, it should be a special mountain, holy to the Storm Giants,” Kuru’s player says.

Bugwump’s player says, “You aren’t making this easy.”

“It’ll be fun! What is the worst that could happen?”

“Lightning from a Storm Giant’s holy mountaintop. Sounds awesome. There is one you’ve heard about not too far away, the Sky’s Anvil…”

Silver Sword/Astral Queen Subject Divider

Jusko’s player wants to keep his ancestral blade but it isn’t magical.

“Maybe you could unlock its secret powers by vanquishing an ancestor who is making a nuisance of themselves as an undead menace…” Helewynn’s player says.

“That is amazing. Do you want to run that adventure?” I ask.

“Nah, I have some ideas about it that’ll email you, though,” Helewynn’s player says.

I nod, keeping an eye out for opportunities for new DM’s to take the reigns.

“My friends, could you help me vanquish my wraith great-uncle who is causing problems for the countryside?” Jusko asks his comrades.

Silver Sword/Astral Queen Subject Divider

After another lightning wand goes dead in the middle of Strahd’s family tombs, Kuru throws the dead stick to the ground. “Bugwump! This is nonsense!”

Bugwump says, “I’m not just adding more charges to the wand this time.”

“That Storm Giant jarl nearly killed me!” Kuru says.

“I’m making a lightning pistol,” Bugwump says.

Kuru’s player becomes the living embodiment of the heart-eyes emoji.

“We have been rocking a western vibe. Are we okay with pistols that spit lightning in-game?” I say.

A long discussion about fantasy fiction and westerns and blending genres ensues. We agree that it is okay but don’t want pistols to become ubiquitous. I’ve got ideas on how to make certain that doesn’t happen.

“First, you are going to have to get a smith to make a pistol that can hold lightning,” I say.

“My sister is a smith. I could write her a letter,” Trundle’s player says.

“She might want a favor or a huge pile of gold to make a weapon like this – even for family, ” I say.

“Once it is completed you’ll have to get it hit by six different arcane lightning bolts from six different sources,” I say.

“I can throw a lightning bolt,” Bugwump says.

The group starts brainstorming where to get the other five lightning bolts – the local blue dragon who hit that merchant caravan last year, that monk who has a lightning fist, the Storm Giant who seemed ready to rebel against her father’s rule during a previous adventure…

Silver Sword/Astral Queen Subject Divider

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Moons of Leviathan: Space Drugs

Inspired by the Visions of Death move in Apocalypse World: Burned Over in the Volatile playbook and in Apocalypse World 2nd Edition in the Battlebabe Playbook.

Moves are gained through using technology.

When you take Trance before battle, roll your approporiate training:
On a 10+, name one person who will die and one who will live.
On a 7-9, name one person who will die or one who will live.
On a miss you see a vision of the monster you become as a result of this battle and the fell havoc your hand brings to the universe, take -1 for this battle and hold 3 moving forward after the battle is done.
[ ] +1 to a roll that brings this vision to reality.
[ ] +1 to to a roll that brings this vision to reality.
[ ] Roll this move again as if you were entering battle. Either retire this character as the destiny is made real or prove you have free will by changing the course of destiny.

“I live in an apocalyptic dream. My steps fit into it so precisely that I fear most of all I will grow bored reliving the thing so exactly.”
― Frank Herbert, Dune Messiah

True Sword, a networked blade with an AI embedded in its core.

Link to t-shirt

Knife Fights in Space t-shirt, all profits go to the Trevor Project

Training and Moves in Moons of Leviathan

Riding a wave of inspiration from Morgan, we’re playing Traveller(ish). We’re using the skills as a way to resolve conflicts using Apocalypse World moves. So far it is working

What about skill improvement?

In Book 2: Starships of the Traveller Little Black Box, it talks a bit about getting education and training. Easy enough to Apocalypse it up a bit. Here’s a different way to say something similar, drawing inspiration from ( or ruthlessly pillaging, depending on your POV) Apocalypse World and Burned Over:

“Muad’Dib learned rapidly because his first training was in how to learn. And the first lesson of all was the basic trust that he could learn. It’s shocking to find how many people do not believe they can learn, and how many more believe learning to be difficult.”
Frank Herbert, Dune
When your character wants to train, either gaining a new expertise or improving an established skill, talk to the Referee about the people who offer such training.
Then the Referee will tell you 1 to 4 of the following:
[ ] It is going to take X weeks/months/years of consistent training
[ ] First, you will have to hire a tutor through [an in-game faction]
[ ] You will need X to help you with it.
[ ] It is going to cost dearly.
[ ] There is ancient tech that is said to condition the brain in this manner.
[ ] You’re already the best in the sub-sector; you’ll have to venture deep into the void or take on a massive under-taking in order to improve.
[ ] It is illegal to train the brain in such a manner; you will be risking imprisonment, excommunication or worse.
[ ] Those who safeguard these training methods are rigid in their orthodoxy and will guard them dearly but there are always rebels and heretics at the fringe of the worlds…
Once your training is complete you can add the skill to your sheet or increase the skill you already have. The Referee will tell you what you will need to do to keep this skill sharp so that this expertise does not become covered in rust and decay.

But, Judd, you ask, what about stats?

I like that we’re saying that the limits of the human body aren’t interesting to us. What you use to change the world is your training and in order to gain training you have to go out and interact with the world.

What about non-basic moves?

Non-basic moves are all tech. Maybe the True Sword, a networked blade with an embedded AI, gives you a move like the Gunlugger’s Not to be Fucked With, where you fight as a gang. Certain drugs give you access to psychic powers.

A True Sword and a cool way to show the end of the blog post

Can you get a mask with this on it?

Yes, you can. LINK

Moons of Leviathan, Session 1, Remembering Morgan

That game was special and strange. Thank you, Sean and the Actual Play team. Thank you to everyone in chat.

Thank you, Morgan, for the cool character and cool everything. Thank you for continuing to inspire us.

Ithaca Station’s True Sword

That is exactly what we did, Morgan. There was a duel out on the ship’s hull, in the void of space under the baleful glare of the Leviathan’s eye.

I think you would’ve loved it. What you made and you inspired us to make was too cool for one session. We’re going back.

Planescape: Tables for the Outlands

I’ve been thinking about Planescape recently and wrote up some tables for our Thursday night game. As Stras says, “Encounter Tables are setting design,” and if you look at Band of Blades you can see that in action. I don’t think of the tables as Random Encounter Tables but as Inspirational Encounter Tables.

Inspiration > Information. If choosing from the table helps me create a cool thing or if the players’ actions mean something on or off the table should definitely be around, I’ll use that. As Apocalypse World says, “Sometimes disclaim decision-making.” Sometimes, though, it is obvious from the way the players’ actions have pinballed off of your prep, that a dragon-is-a-coming. When that happens, I’ll let the dragon in.

There is a blog post about having 2d6 Encounter Tables and always having a Dragon as the 2 or 12 and I always lose that link. If you have it, please post it in the comments.

Found it! Thank you, Wanderbill!

The following d66 tables are inspired by Trophy Gold, where we use these to create characters.

Sometimes I need a delve, an imbalance to address. When that happens I roll 2d6, not adding them up and looking at the tables below, rolling or picking until I have an idea for an adventure.

And sometimes I’m goign to use these tables so that I have the planar bits at my fingertips. I remember that Story Hour on ENworld where there were elves whose plane had cracked and fallen into fell realms, changing the fey beings there forever. I want to be able to take an Elf Citadel and decide that there was a cataclysm and it…got jammed between *rolls dice* a plane of Magma and one of the Nine Hells, creating these volcanic elves who worship the Devil-God.

Our first game was about Keymont. I rolled and looked and daydreamed until I had this little cliff-side town on the edge of the Astral Sea, a failed whaling town that used to be the Nantucket of the Astral before all of the whales disappeared. Now they make keys but the machinery that syphons stuffs out of the sea to make keys out of is frozen and winter should be long gone by now.

Sometimes it’ll be like that, a town in trouble, a community in need. Other times it’ll be a dying god hit by a Fire Bolt fashioned in the Heavens who fell onto the Outlands and became a fell dungeon. Roll. Pick. Pick and roll until I have something. Who knows, I might even read through the Manual of the Planes from time to time or just have Githyanki forming a beachhead for a future invasion because I adore Githyanki. We’ll see.

I’m a fan of shrines and like having my favorite deities in a few tables. For some reason d66 makes it easy to list stuff. I can usually think of a dozen or so and then figure out that last 6 when I see a pattern in the first two-thirds.

That isn’t the map I started with, though. At first I started with this one:

What I really wanted was a link from each Portal Town to the plane it led to and the poetic three sentence descriptions from the 3rd Edition Manual of the Planes by Jeff Grubb, Bruce R. Cordell and David Noonan. At some point I’ll make 2 more for the infernal realms and the middling limbo-ish realms but for now, that is fine. I’ve got the idea.

Want to make your own? Here are some PDF’s. I’d love to hear about what you do with them and how they work for you at the table.

P.S. Thank you to my friends and the communities on the D&D subreddit and the OSR RPG FB Group who gave helpful feedback on the 2d6+6 table.

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This design and more in the Table-top Role-Playing Games Collection.

Revisiting Planescape

I’m running a Planescape game tonight using the Bingo XP Variant and Five Torches Deep and here’s what I sent to the players and a Portal move inspired by AW: Burned Over.

I have no idea if tonight’s game is going to work. It has been a minute since I’ve played a d20 D&Dish game. We’ll see! Thank you for giving this a shot with me.

Planescape was this cool setting where the game implied in the boxed set was this city at the center of all worlds and the players take part in these oddly philosophical factions as they venture out into the Outlands and adventure. The adventures in the Outlands were supposed to ripple out into the rest of the planes of reality.

Made by me with Affinity Design, inspired by the map from the 3E Manual of the Planes Outlands map by Todd Gamble

It seemed to me that NO ONE PLAYED IT THIS WAY. Everyone was excited by this city and ended up being a bodyguard for a dwarf crime lord with fire for hair or doing security for an ogre opera house. I dig that but I’ve done my faction-minded fantasy crime saga stuff already. So, I’m trying to play it this way. – into the Outlands.

When folks go out into the Outlands in our game everyone knows. Word gets out. It is DANGEROUS out there. You could get dragged to hell – literally dragged to hell. In our game there is no money nor fame to be made in Sigil. Real fortune is made in the Outlands (and of course we’ll visit Hells or Heavens or Elemental Planes of Fire as needed). The cool thing about Sigil, the City of Doors, is that you can get anywhere from here. If you are interested in a world you learn about on your adventures, opening a gate is something anyone can do if they are willing to expend the will and time to do so.

When you get back from your adventure the philosophical factions will gather in a plaza near where you live and debate your actions with you. No judgment, just a spirited debate on how this made the planes better or worse. It is a big event. Everyone gets dressed up.

But first an adventure…

Thank you for playing.

Image by Peter H from Pixabay

When you want to find a portal to another world, sit down with your friends and figure out everything you all know about this place and how you learned it. Consider your sources. If anyone you know might know more, invite them to this palaver.

Names, anything made in that place. Lay it all out on the table. Where in the planes are you guessing this place might be? Make a map of the planes as you understand it and put your guess on the map.

NOTE: I’m not saying sit down and make up a place. I’m saying you must’ve heard of this place in-game. Sit down and discuss that before heading through the portal to otherwhere.

What do you have that could be a key to this place?

The DM will saying, “Sure, you could try to get there but…”

  • your guess as to where this place is in the planes is a little off, you’ll end up somewhere dangerous but nearby
  • you need more lore about this place, you’ve heard X knows about this or has info on it
  • you need an item/spell/artifact made from this place, in the Outlands, there is a place that you can get more
  • you need more items made from this place, it is going to cost you a devil’s ransom in gold
  • someone else in Sigil or beyond wants to go there too and you’ll need to pool your resources to open the portal

Inspired by Tinkering in AW Burned Over by Meguey and Vincent Baker et al.

I’ve got an adventure outline, taking what I’ve learned from a year of Trophy Gold incursions, written by me, written by others, adapted from modules and turn it towards Outlands adventures.

Incursions for Trophy Gold? Here ya go.

What the eff is Trophy Gold? We’ve got a podcast all about that.

Putting SWN Sectors to Use

Stars Without Number written around a black hole.

Razornet Away Team

Not as in, an Away Team but as in, a team that has been away for a while. There are plenty of reasons to have been out of the loop for a while. Here are a a few:

  • Armed Forces Service
  • Incarceration
  • Medical Cryogenic Hypernation
  • Shipwreck survivor
  • Pilgrimmage
  • Refugee

Whatever the reasons you were away, you’re back and either knew the other players from a past crew or job and now were put togther as a Freelance Team in Razornet’s app for enterprising freelancers on the edge of legality.

We’ll talk about what kind of game we want to see. Do you want to have all known each other from you previous enterprise? Maybe you all know each other from time in some Void Marine unit or all survived a shipwreck caused by a malicious alien intelligence…


Terran Mandate Envoy Team

You have just entered the system with a checklist in hand and a vague authority that might or might not be recognized by the governments in this sector. Can you bring the sector back to the bosom of Olde Earth’s government?

Do you want to?

Your commanding officer is jumping to another sector but will be back with the full weight of (TMB) Terran Mandate Battlecruiser Serengeti’s weapons and marines in a year (you hope).

We’ll discuss how your characters all feel about the Terran Mandate government and make an Engagement roll to see how well equipped you are to start. I’m thinking I’d make a roll or two behind the screen to know when the Serengeti will actually arrive and what state it will be in once it does.


Far Traders

Your team just jumped into this system in a rare ship equipped with an Event Horizon-Gate Engine, designed to harness the energy of black holes and turn that energy into jump-gate coordinates that will send you to another black hole near a different sector.

Naming starships is fun.

We’ll make an Engagement roll to see how the ship is doing and how valuable your goods are in the hold and move from there. You’ll stay in this sector for as long as it is profitable to do so before moving on with whatever you can carry. I love the idea of jumping to different sectors, each sector as its own chapter or book or season…


Scrappy

You are representatives in a scrappy government that wants to stay self-governed. Maybe it is a moon or a orbital station or a science station whose original mission has outlasted the government that put it there. Either way, you are a team looking to represent and stay independent in the face of powerful forces all around you.

We’ll look at the map, talk over the Sector’s situation and put your home in a spot that makes sense.


To the Table

I’m thinking about how I might use these SWN Sectors (I’ve got a few more in my drafts section that aren’t quite ready yet) and how I’d pitch those games. The Burned Over playbooks are looking really good to me and so many of SWN’s worlds are in various stages of apocalyptic decline/ascension. Air and water are still a big deal. I don’t think we’d have to change much to make that work.

I’m reading through my Traveller LBB and I’ve got some vague ideas about using that chargen to get background and then Burned Over Playbooks to show what kind of physical shell the character is downloaded into but that all might be too much work.

I’d rather just throw playbooks on the sector map, maybe make up a love letterish (article about Love Letters from a decade ago by John Harper…sure) engagement roll (like in Blades in the Dark) to see what kind of situation the players are starting in and get to playing.


Original picture from 12019 on pixabay


If you’d like to see more designs like this please check out the Science Fiction Collection…

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Where’s Judd?

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These are the places you can regularly hear and/or see me talking about gaming or doing the thing and streaming some play. Links are both in the pictures and in the text beneath.

Here’s the link where I store my links.

I’ll update this as more comes up.


The logo for my podcast, Daydreaming about Dragons

In which I have a conversation with you about techniques that are shaking out at the tables where I sit and inspirational media.

Daydreaming about Dragons Podcast


In which Jason and I discuss the Trophy RPG and in doing so end up talking about game culture and techniques that link up to all kinds of tabletop RPG’s.

The Sixth Ring, a Trophy Podcast


I’m often gaming on the Actual Play twitchstream channel.

World of Dungeons, Twitch.com/ACTUALPLAY

MARDUK FOREVER Title Card

My first time getting back to Marr’d since I playtested the Dictionary of Mu almost 2 decades ago.


I’ve been honored to play so much on the Actual Play channel, a place where I’ve made wonderful friends and played wondrous games.


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Cyberpunk Thoughts with Daniel


Having just recorded an episode of Daydreaming about Dragons about finding common ground in your genre expectations, this video spoke to me. We probably should have had this conversation before we started playing but I was eager to get a move-on and try this asynchronous thing. We got a little lucky in our cyberpunk thoughts aligning but there’s also a bunch of years of friendship and play in the mix.

As we began play I listened to the Neuromancer Audiobook, read Neon Leviathan, and rewatched Blade Runner. I’m listening to the Burning Chrome audiobook.

The first NPC we met was an AI who Daniel named, Stat. I’m thrilled that he decided that Lip considers AI people and wants to save Stat from corporate indentured servitude. Lip has a bit of an exhausted nurse’s cold streak; I really didn’t know what he’d do.


The game continues as Lip meets with a freelance broker for the Stat Job in a local Mongolian food joint. The Cyberpunk Nurse youtube playlist is here.

The rules we are using are from the Apocalypse World: Burned Over Hackbook.


More Campaign Book Covers

Sean has our Bina Janos Burning Wheel Campaign from a youtube playlist to a podcast. He’s breaking it down into bite-sized chunks and offering commentary as he goes. If AP is your thing please check it out.

The ribbons coming off the wheel might be my crowning artistic achievement. You’ve gotta start somewhere.


Lip, the Cyberpunk Nurse, is at TTI HQ, talking to a mid-level exec and getting a feeling that not all is well. Playlist here.


Ell, the Mars Operator, is caravaning through a dried out riverbed and hoverbikes are attacking; shit is getting Fury Roadish. Playlist here.


Cyberpunk Nurse and Mars Hustle were made with templates from Canva.com and then turned into old books with Affinity.

The Ballad of Bina Janos was made with the following pixabay items and then turned into an old book with Affinity:

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay