Adding initiative table

A new version of the Calc spreadsheet to handle the combats.

I added on the right side the initiative order; also, the current attacker is highlighter both on the initiative order table (right side) and on the couplings table (middle).

I also restructured a lot the table on the left. My idea was to make it a little more "storytelling" and a little less "data entry". The labels will change according to what is the next expected action (by me or by the players) and thus I should avoid to be confused during the combat resolution.

I plan to create a new sheet to resolve social and academic actions, so that they can have the required depth as well.


Game session of Sunday

Yesterday was Sunday, and as usual, we had our (short) session playing Decipher's Lord of the Rings RPG.

In this game, I am the Narrator (or Dungeon Master if you prefer); my wife plays Carawen, an Elven female warrior from Mirkwood, and my daughter plays Luna, a (very young) wizard, pupil of Radagast, from the land of Rohan.

They are in year 2700 from Third Era. At the moment, they are traveling in the Iron Hills directed to Cape East, the most eastern of the Dwarven settlements in the Iron Hills. They are following the tracks of another Dwarf, Nar son of Dar, who was hunting a Dragon years before.

In the last short session, while they were camping on the road they met Morwen, a mysterious woman who was traveling alone coming from Cape East. During the night, they were attacked by a group of six orcs, but they were able to overcome them, also thanks to the prowess of Morwen with her sword. While they were warned about the possibility of attacks of Orcs on this road, they have not discovered yet if there was something more behind this.

Aside from the story (very little happened), I had the possibility to play-test the new version of my spreadsheet.

What went well:
  • spreadsheet is very good at keeping track of effects, like Staggered, Wounded, Broken Leg, etc.
  • since I can track them, I will actually use them

What went wrong
  • I didn't have the stats for a creature in the spreadsheet, hence I had to add them on-the-fly (lack of preparation);
  • having a single creature to make a test is fine, having 6 of them is cumbersome (need automation here);
  • some skills like Elusion (?) where I need to roll 3d6 and drop the lowest one are hard (create a generic dice roller to use);
  • while the system keeps track of who is doing who, I have to ensure that this is actually what is happening (interface is sometimes confusing);
  • Staggered tests are very common, better to have a dedicated button for it (add staggered button);
  • also, sometimes I am not sure of what is happening: maybe I need to add a little more log;

Actions (still to be cleared)
  • ensure that you have the proper stats loaded;- devise testing for a group, both for players and for other creatures;
  • create a generic dice roller (how many dice, how many to drops, etc);
  • have the system explain what it is doing;
  • add a button to check for Staggering;


A toolbar for the combat spreadsheet

Another version, with a few more changes, namely:

  • the buttons have been moved away from the spreadsheet to a toolbar
  • the grid has been removed and re-added only where necessary
  • a new sheet has been included which I will use to look-up the attributes, reactions and skills
  • a problem with critical hits has been fixed: only melee critical were shown

Calendars, weather sense and honesty

I am currently running a couple of RPG campaigns in Tolkien's Middle Earth; the first one is set seventy years before the fall of Erebor, and the second one four years after the Quest for Erebor.
So, I decided the day of the year (in game time) when the two campaigns were going to start, and we started from there. My players were very diligent in keeping track of the time, and we had a nice journal with all their notes about the events.
After a while, I decided to use some random weather generator. The first one was https://donjon.bin.sh/d20/weather/ ; this is a very simple weather generator, which is very good if you have to generate a week or two of data, but it becomes somehow cumbersome if you want to generate a longer calendar.
The second one was https://www.reddit.com/r/DnDBehindTheScreen/comments/6ckopi/rpg_weather_generator_daily_weather_based_in/ ; this is a very detailed generator, which will generate one year of weather. I modified it so that the names and descriptions were in Italian, and I switched to it.

For me, as a DM, this had the effect of removing the burden to think what was going to be the weather that day. I had it, I had different types of weather, and this made the game more enjoyable for my players and me.

But this had also an interesting effect on my players: all of sudden, the Weathersense skill, which up to that point was useless for them, became important, because they wanted to know if they were going to face a storm when they were going to adventure outdoor.

My learning on this is: be honest with your players.

For example, if as a DM I am not going to use any kind of calendar and weather, the Weathersense skill will be a waste for a player 99% of times. So, I should  let the players know that this skill will be (more or less) useless for them. This is not a problem: as we are not really adventurers in the Middle Earth, there will always be abstractions and simplifications; but the players should know about them.

On the other hand, when I decide that the weather is a factor, as I said before, the game is enriched, and the game is more fun for everyone (including me), and allows you to play adventures which are more than the usual hack and slash.

Take the case that your adventures are underground (like in Moria, or in another abandoned Dwarven mine); they need water; how they can find it? How long can they resist without it? In such and similar conditions the adventurers will have to rely on their Survival skills. They will need fire: the perfect opportunity for a Dwarven character, or for a Mage with the suitable spell. Even the Light enchantment of a a Mage is important in the darkness.

Or, take the case that the adventures meet a bunch of strangers; can they understand where the strangers come from by their accent? I am pretty sure that a native English speaker can understand that I am from southern Europe (maybe even from Italy); can my adventurers understand if the strangers are from Bree? Or maybe from Esgaroth? Or maybe they are Southern people from Gondor; or maybe they are from Umbar, and in this case what are they doing here?

The same applies to the adventurers as well: a man from Esgaroth walking in the Prancing Pony in Bree will raise questions, some of them could just be innocent questions, like the ones which could make Barliman Butterbur; or a Ranger of the North (like Strider) could take an interest in them; or, even worse, a spy of the White Hand could send a message to the South.

So, the lesson for me is: check the available skills, and understand the encounters where they will be useful; and use this to enrich my world.

Roll the dice.

Have fun.


Combat spreadsheet in progress

As you can see from the new image, the spreadsheet is progressing. You don't need anymore to have two sheets open side by side (even though it was fun to do) and you can run all your combat from a single sheet.

Here are the additions:

  • there are a bunch of new buttons: "Stordisci" (the enemy is staggered), "Sanguina" (the enemy is wounded and it is losing one HP/round), "Atterra" (the enemy is Prone) "Fai alzare" (the enemy stands up), "Mostra critica" (shows the description of the critical); "Infilza" (Lodged arrow) is currently not working;
  • the "Danni" (Damage) button will parse the damage type (e.g. 2d6+3) and calculate the appropriate amount of damages;
  • the spreadsheet shows temporary conditions (Staggered, Prone) or permanent (Dead) conditions for attacker and defender;
  • on the right side, there is a new range (called Couplings) where you can record, for the attackers, their targets; this is useful when a combat lasts for more than a round, and you have more than one or two enemies;
  • on the bottom side, I have added a general purpose section to make tests; it will look-up the attributes and possibly the skill from the "Reference" sheet and then it will roll 2d6 (using the RANDBETWEEN function); in a combat, useful to resolve charges, Intimidate/Inspire/Willpower tests, and many others. 

The layout is currently horrible :) and I still have to beta-test this in a real game session.Maybe I will create a toolbar instead of using buttons on the spreadsheet.


Running a battle from OpenOffice Calc.

This is a screen capture of some of the sheets I am using to run the battles in my campaign for the (now defunct) Lord of the Rings RPG. The left part contains the stats for the PC and NPC in the battle, the right part contains the controls to resolve the combat itself.

As this is still a WIP, when I will have something more complete I will actually upload the (OpenOffice) sheet.


The Red Company faces the Black Orcs

Me and my twin are working on a sort of a simulator, for old style RPGs like AD&D 1st edition. The idea is to create parties, and have them adventure into dungeons and stuff.

This is one output of (a part of) a party, called the Red Company, facing a bunch of Orcs, the Black Orc Party.

If you are nerd enough, you will enjoy this.

The Black Orc Legion is surprised!
Surprise segment #1
Uragano hits Orc_0 with bastard sword  [Uragano rolls a 8] but misses!
Vortice  swings at  Orc_0 with battle axe  [Vortice rolls a 17] and hits causing 5 damage! Orc_0 is unconscious.
Saetta  fires an arrow at  Orc_1 with long bow  [Saetta rolls a 11] but misses!
Saetta  fires an arrow at  Orc_1 with long bow  [Saetta rolls a 18] and hits causing 5 damage! Orc_1 is unconscious.
Elleboro  fires an arrow at  Orc_2 with short bow  [Elleboro rolls a 7] but misses!
Elleboro  fires an arrow at  Orc_2 with short bow  [Elleboro rolls a 19] and hits causing 1 damage! Orc_2 is barely wounded.
Notte casts a magic missle to Orc_2 [Notte rolls a 3] and hits causing 3 damage! Orc_2 is seriously wounded.

Round #1
The Red Company acts first.
Uragano hits Orc_2 with bastard sword  [Uragano rolls a 16] and hits causing 11 damage! Orc_2 is unconscious.
Vortice  swings at  Orc_3 with battle axe  [Vortice rolls a 19] and hits causing 7 damage! Orc_3 is unconscious.
Saetta  fires an arrow at  Orc_4 with long bow  [Saetta rolls a 3] but misses!
Saetta  fires an arrow at  Orc_4 with long bow  [Saetta rolls a 12] and hits causing 1 damage! Orc_4 is barely wounded.
Elleboro  fires an arrow at  Orc_4 with short bow  [Elleboro rolls a 11] but misses!
Elleboro  fires an arrow at  Orc_4 with short bow  [Elleboro rolls a 1] but misses!
Notte casts a magic missle to Orc_4 [Notte rolls a 3] and hits causing 3 damage! Orc_4 is unconscious.
Orc_5 hits Uragano with long sword  [Orc_5 rolls a 8] but misses!

Round #2
The Red Company acts first.
Uragano hits Orc_5 with bastard sword  [Uragano rolls a 9] but misses!
Vortice  swings at  Orc_5 with battle axe  [Vortice rolls a 19] and hits causing 2 damage! Orc_5 is unconscious.

The Red Company won!
Uragano is healthy.
Vortice is healthy.
Saetta is healthy.
Elleboro is healthy.
Notte is healthy.