Take That, Real Life

This week has been fairly productive, in spite of the issues and interruptions caused by real life this week.

Most importantly for D-Jumpers, I have finally finished the first draft of Chapter 2: Learning to Survive. Not only have I finished the mechanics for surviving on the island, but the mechanics for finding and crafting basic equipment have been completed. In addition, the rules for experience and character advancement have been included, along with the first draft of the Survivor class.

Real life is seriously kicking my arse, though, and outside pressures are seriously cutting into my writing time. The most important of these issues happens to be the fact that my treatment for Crohn’s Disease seems to be effective, and thus my health is beginning to stabilise.

Unfortunately for D-Jumpers, I only have the time and energy to work on this because my health has prevented me from holding down any kind of regular employment. I have spent the past 14 years existing on state benefits, which has allowed me both the freedom and the financial stability to focus on D-Jumpers and my chosen vocation as a games designer.

All this may soon change, however, as my health improves. I will be required to undertake work related activities in order to get back into the job market. While this is a positive thing, it will mean that a significant amount of my free time that I allocate to D-Jumpers may be significantly reduced in the foreseeable future.

What this means for D-Jumpers, it is hard to say, but I may be required to abandon all my previous plans and projected deadlines, as I refocus my life. Hopefully, I won’t be forced to abandon D-Jumpers completely.

That said, Chapter 2 clocked in at just under 15,000 words. I dread to think how many words Chapter 3 will clock in at. What I do know is that I am liking how D-Jumpers Adventures #1: Lone Survivors is shaping up, and I can’t wait to see how the future Adventures in the series will pan out. There are some interesting ideas coming up, and I hope that you will all be able to have exciting trans-dimensional multi-genre adventures as the campaign takes you The Long Way Home

Stay AWESOME!

Gathering their Wits – Encounter

Below is the first encounter in D-Jumpers Adventures #1: Lone Survivors. It sets the scene for the characters, and allows the PCs to do some light roleplaying as they learn about each other.

This is a roleplaying encounter, that is an ideal solution to incorporating character generation into the story, as noted below under the section “Who Am I?”

This approach can be easily adapted to any sort of character generation process. Alternatively, it can be used as an easy way to provide a chance for the characters to introduce themselves, and for the GM to set the premise for the adventure.

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Gathering Their Wits

In this encounter, the PCs must regroup and take stock of their situation, and get to know each other, so that they can learn to cooperate and survive.

The PCs will awaken with little memory of themselves and their situation. They must try to work out what happened, where they are, what they can do, and what they need to do. In many ways, this is similar to the questions often considered during character creation, and as such it is very much like including character creation as part of the adventure itself.

Where Am I?

The PCs will awaken stranded on a beach of what appears to be some sort of tropical island. The beach itself stretches for some way, with the sea lapping gently upon the sand. From the beach, they can see that the interior or the island appears to be made from dense jungle, and that somewhere beyond that jungle, rocky hills and mountains tower above them. There appears to be some coral out to sea, and they can see some waves breaking on some kind of wreckage.

The PCs have no idea where they are at this time, and there doesn’t seem to be any kind of indications for them to go on. If the PCs wait until nightfall, they will find that they do not recognise any of the constellations in the sky.

What Happened to Me?

At some point, the PCs will ask what happened. They won’t be able to remember much. They have a few fragmented memories of being on board a light propeller plane in a stormy sky with some other passengers. There was a lot of turbulence, and then a blinding flash, and some shouting and screaming, before everything went black.

The PCs may figure out that the plane was struck by lighting. This apparently caused the plain to crash in the sea, and they were washed ashore. However, unknown to the PCs, the lightning strike actually caused the plane to travel to another dimension, where they crashed in an earth like setting. This dimension conforms to pulp rules, where fortune favours the bold. However, there is no real way to realise this fact.

Who Am I?

The PCs should start wondering who they are, and who the others are. At this point, the players should all be given a pencil and a blank piece of paper, so that they can work through the character creation process together, and roleplay or discuss their decisions. Encourage creativity and freedom, although there might be a limited set of options. If the players are stuck, allow them to create idealised versions of themselves to get them started.

What Can I Do?

Having defined the characters traits, encourage the players to think about what they can do. The appeal of a roleplaying game is the relative freedom to try and do anything that they can imagine, in order to overcome the challenges and obstacles that they face.

Although the characters have a lot of freedom, be sure to remind them if anything that they suggest is absurd or impossible. By this, it means that the actions and ideas should be realistic to a certain degree of pulp realism. Thus, certain stunts might be possible, but the supernatural shouldn’t be possible. Likewise, the PCs might be able to put together a crude raft or boat using natural resources, but shouldn’t be able to summon objects out of thin air.

What Do I Need to Do?

There is a massive difference between what the PCs can do, and what they need to do. In the later case, the PCs will need to find a way off the island if they are not to be stuck there forever. In addition, they will also need to look towards basic survival – water, food, shelter, and warmth. They should also consider weapons, armour, tools, and equipment that they might need for their current and future adventures.

The Core Mechanic – Sneak Peek

This fortnight’s Sneak Peek looks at the fundamental mechanic required to play the D-Jumpers Roleplaying Game.

Let me know what you think of this in the comments below…

The Core Mechanic

The D-Jumpers Roleplaying Game is based on a modified version of the d20 system, and uses similar rules, including a similar core mechanic to resolve the success or failure of actions attempted by the PCs. In order to succeed at any task, the player must roll two ten-sided dice (2d10) and add the scores together. If the result is equal to or greater than the stated Difficulty Class (DC) of the task being attempted, the character succeeds.

The player may add any relevant modifiers to the roll. These modifiers can come from a range of sources, including the circumstances of the situation the task is being attempted in, and the abilities of the character, which will make the roll easier or harder for them to succeed.

Difficulty Classes

The Difficulty Class (DC) of the check determines how easy it is to accomplish any given task. The DC for an average task, with a roughly 50% chance of success or failure for a character without modifiers is DC 10. A standard task, common for adventurers, but slightly tougher for most people is DC 15. Hard, Very Hard, and Nearly Impossible checks have a DC of 20, 25, and 30 respectively. Easy and Routine checks have a DC of 5 and 0.

There are no upper or lower limits to the Difficulty Class of any given action. For DCs above 20, success is impossible without a critical success or positive modifiers, while for DCs of 0 or below, failure is impossible without a critical failure or negative modifiers.

Degrees of Success and Failure

Sometimes, it is important to not only know whether you have succeeded or failed at a given action, but also how well you succeeded or how badly you failed. In these cases, for every whole 5 points that you beat the DC, you gain an additional degree of success. For ever whole 5 points you fail the DC by, you gain an additional degree of failure. The effects of degrees of success and failure vary, but generally they make the outcome better or worse than a standard success or failure.

For example, on a check requiring DC of 10, a result of 13 is one degree of success, while a result of 18 is two degrees of success, and a result of 28 is four degrees of success. Likewise, a result of 8 is one degree of failure, and a result of 3 is two degrees of failure.

Critical Success and Failure

Sometimes, a character is lucky enough to result in a significant outcome. This is a critical, and occurs whenever the 2d10 roll results in a double. However, luck can go either way, and the exact impact of the critical depends upon whether or not the check is a success or a failure. If the check succeeds, then the outcome is a critical success. Otherwise, it is a critical failure.

Although there may be specific outcomes for critical successes and failures, the most common result is that two additional degrees of success or failure are added to the outcome.

For example, if you roll a double 7 with no other modifiers (for a total of 14) against a DC of 10, then the result is a critical success, with one degree of success. This may be equivalent to a result with three degrees of success, if there are no other effects for a critical success. However, on any other score of 14, the result is just one degree of success.

Automatic Success and Failure

A natural roll of 20 (double 10) is always a critical success, and a natural roll of 2 (double 1) is always a critical failure. Thus, there will always be a chance of success or failure for any check. These results are still criticals, and provide the equivalent of two additional degrees of success or failure. If such automatic results are the only chance that the character can succeed or fail at a given check, then the result is a critical success or failure with two degrees of success or failure.

For example, an action with a DC of 0 is so easy that without negative modifiers, the only way to fail the check is to roll a natural 2 (double 1). Should this rare occurrence happen (a mere 1% chance), the character will score a critical failure, equivalent to result with two degrees of failure, even though the roll is still higher than DC 0.

Real Life – 1 D-Jumpers – 0

I am afraid that there was no news update last week, due to the fact that several real-life issues conspired to prevent me from doing any work on D-Jumpers. I won’t go into the details of these issues, except to say that it also included an extended bout of illness that has left me questioning my plans for D-Jumpers.

It is quite clear that I will not be making the tentative deadline of finishing the written content for D-Jumpers #1: Lone Survivors by the end of January. It was always going to be a tight schedule, but now it is virtually impossible to meat this milestone on time, and it has led me to question my capability to meet future deadlines.

I am still intending to work on D-Jumpers, but I am just having to rethink my planned schedule. As such, I intend to push back the deadlines by 3 months, so that I can maintain my schedule and get the first draft done by the end of April. If this is still too much, I will push it back by a further 3 months, to the end of July. Hopefully, this will all me to get the required infrastructure in place to allow me to continue the tight schedule that I have planned. I am hoping that my real life issues will have resolved themselves at this point.

If it turns out that the schedule itself is too ambitious, I may have to rethink my product release schedule. It is possible that I could slow down my release schedule, allowing me to spend more time between products. Rather than aiming for 6 adventures, 4 source books, and 2 rulebooks a year, I may instead have to settle for 3 adventures, 2 source books, and 1 rulebook a year. I am loathe to do this, however, because it means that I only get to design a new campaign every 2 years, rather than every year, dramatically slowing down the development progress of D-Jumpers.

Let me know what you think in your comments below, and as always…

Stay AWESOME!

Survival Basics – Sneak Preview

Since the theme for the first adventure in D-Jumpers has the party stranded on a tropical island, what better topic for this fortnight’s Sneak Preview than the rules for Survival Basics – Water and Food.

Let me know what you think about these rules in the comments below!

Survival Basics

Once the characters are aware that they will be staying on the island for a few days, they should start thinking about their survival on the island. They will have to consider four basic survival needs: water, food, shelter, and fire.

Water

Characters will need a regular source of water, otherwise they risk dehydration, which will result in weakness, and maybe even death.

Dehydration

Characters must drink at least 1 litre (1.75 pints) of water each day (24 hours) to avoid dehydration.

Any character who fails to consume enough water in a day becomes dehydrated. A dehydrated character must make a DC 5 check. They can stay conscious for a further half a day (12 hours), plus half a day (12 hours) per degree of success. After this time, they lapse into unconsciousness and will die in 1d6+6 hours time.

Any character who drinks at least 1 litre (1.75 pints) of water while dehydrated is no longer dehydrated, but is at risk of becoming dehydrated in the future as normal. Unconscious characters must be assisted to drink this amount of water to recover.

While dehydrated, a character receives a -5 penalty to all checks, including the check made for dehydration.

Sources of Water

Water can be found in a number of different ways on the island, including within food, natural sources, precipitation, and seawater (if truly desperate).

Food

Certain foods contain enough water that they are able to prevent dehydration when they are consumed. These are most commonly fruits and vegetables, although other foods may also provide this benefit.

Natural Sources

Besides water in food, other sources of water vary by the climate and terrain. Most non desert areas contain a source of water of some kind – either in the case of surface water, such as pools, streams, and rivers, or as ground water which can be gathered should a borehole or well be dug. Moving water is typically safe to drink unless there are special circumstances for contamination. However, most standing water, particularly in swampy areas, is contaminated, and must be boiled before it can be drunk safely (see Fire – below).

Precipitation

Precipitation may also be collected and drunk, and is typically safe to drink if it is collected in a specially constructed device for this purpose (DC 15 check to construct). Precipitation may also be collected from the ground if needed, although the character may need to boil any water collected in this way if it has spent more than 1d4+1 hours on the ground.

Seawater

In times of desperation, sea water may be consumed, although the excessive salt content of sea water means that the character will suffer a -5 penalty to all checks until they drink some fresh water. Boiling seawater doesn’t help, unless it is part of a special desalination device (DC 18 to construct).

Storing Water

Water generally needs to be consumed within one day (24 hours) after being gathered, otherwise it will start to stagnate. Stagnant is still drinkable, but will be toxic.

Excess water can be prepared for storage if necessary by making a successful DC 10 check. Every degree of success means that the water will remain fresh and drinkable for one additional day (24 hours) before it becomes toxic. A critical failure on this check means that the water will appear to have been stored properly, but has become toxic during the attempt to prepare the water for storage.

Contaminated Water

Contaminated water requires that the character makes a DC 18 check or become infected with a water-borne virus. While infected, they suffer a -5 penalty to all checks. Every 24 hours, the character must make a DC 18 check to pass the virus from their system. They get a +5 bonus to this check if they drink fresh water during this time, and a -5 penalty to this check if they have drunk contaminated water during this time. On a success, they have passed the infection from their system.

Food

Characters will have to find a regular source of food on the island. Although characters can last longer without food than they can without water, a lack of food will still result in weakness and possibly death.

Starvation

Characters must eat at least 1 pound (0.5 kilograms) of food each day (24 hours) to avoid starvation.

Any character who fails to consume enough food in a day becomes starving. A starving character must make a DC 5 check. They can stay conscious for a further week (7 days), plus half a week (3.5 days) per degree of success. After this time, they lapse into unconsciousness and will die in 1d6+3 days time.

Any character who eats at least 1 pound (0.5 kilograms) of food while starving is no longer starving, but is at risk of becoming starving in the future as normal. Unconscious characters must be assisted to eat this amount of food to recover.

While starving, a character receives a -5 penalty to all checks, including the check made for starvation.

Food Sources

Food can be found in a number of ways, including foraging, fishing, animal trapping, and hunting.

Foraging

Foraging includes searching the area for edible sources of food, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, berries, and fungi. Insects and other food sources may also be found and harvested by foraging. In most areas of vegetation, a successful DC 12 check will 1 days worth of food per degree of success. However, not all food is safe to eat, and a critical failure means that the character has discovered something that is toxic when consumed.

Fishing

Fishing can be achieved in a number of ways, although the most common are hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and fish trapping.

Hand Gathering

Hand gathering means catching fish by grabbing them directly with your hands. For every hour of fishing in this way, the character must make a DC 18 check. The character will manage to successfully catch a single fish per degree of success.

Spearing

Spearing means jabbing at fish with a sharpened spear or other pole. For every hour of fishing in this way, the character must make a DC 15 check. The character will manage to successfully catch a single fish per degree of success. However, if the result is a critical failure, the character will have accidentally struck themselves with the spear while fishing, and take 1d4 damage.

Netting

Netting involves casting a net into the sea, entangling fish, and then reeling it in with the stock of fish. This can be a more efficient form of fishing, but takes slightly longer. For every four hours of netting, the character must make a DC 15 check. For every degree of success, the character manages to catch 1d6+1 fish in their nets. However, if the result is a critical failure, the character will have managed to snag the net on something, causing it to tear, requiring it to be repaired before it can be used again. Repairing the net requires a DC 12 check that takes 6 hours of work).

Angling

Angling means catching fish by using a fishing hook and a fishing line. For every two hours of fishing in this way, the character must make a DC 12 check. The character will manage to successfully catch a single fish per degree of success. The character doesn’t have to be holding the fishing rod while angling, and can manage more than one single line at a time. This allows the character to do other tasks, although they must remain in the area of the rods during this time. This method of fishing raises the DC to 15, and gives the character a -1 penalty to all action checks per line set up in this manner. The character is required to make a check per line, and a critical failure means that the hook, rod, and line ends up being dragged into the water.

Fish Trapping

Trapping involves creating a submerged trap for fish to swim into. This long term method of fishing requires a successful DC 18 check to correctly set up the trap. A critical failure means that the trap appears to be set up correctly, but will actually sink into the water after 1d3+1 hours have passed. Once the trap is set up, a character need only succeed on a DC 12 check once every day (24 hours) to see if the trap has caught 1d3+1 fish. A critical failure means that the trap sinks as above, and needs to be set up once again.

Animal Trapping

Animal trapping, like fish trapping, involves creating a hidden trap or snare to catch animals. This requires a successful DC 15 check to correctly set up the trap. A critical failure means that the trap appears to be set up correctly, but will actually go off accidentally after 1d3+1 hours have passed. Once the trap is set up, a character need only succeed on a DC 12 check once every day (24 hours) to see if the trap has caught an animal. A critical failure means that the trap goes off as above, and needs to be set up once again. The trap will also need to be set up again once it has caught an animal.

Hunting

Hunting involves the character seeking out an animal, and attacking it directly to kill it. For inexperienced characters, hunting can be quite dangerous, and should be considered a combat encounter. To find such an animal, the characters need to make a DC 15 check once every three hours of hunting. If they succeed, then roll 1d6 to determine the type of animal found – 1-3: Small Animal, 4-5: Medium Game, 6: Hostile Animal.

Small Animal

Small animals are fast and swift, and will attempt to run away from the characters if encountered. As such, the only way to kill them is to attack them from afar with a ranged weapon. Most small animals can be hit on a successful DC 16 check, and will die if they take any damage.

Medium Game

Medium game are docile animals that eat plants and small insects. They tend to run away from characters if encountered, and as such they must be attacked with a ranged weapon. Being larger, they can be hit on a successful check of DC 14. However, they are tougher, and normally take two hits to kill (8 hit points). There is also a 1 in 6 chance that they will charge the character when wounded, causing 1d3 damage on a successful hit, in an attempt to escape.

Hostile Animal

Hostile animals are large, dangerous creatures they prey on other small animals and medium game. When encountered, they will charge the characters, causing 1d4+1 damage on a successful hit. They are quite tough, normally taking three hits to kill (16 hit points).

Note that these are just general examples of some of the animals to be found. There are more specific, deadlier, animals on the island, but the characters should not encounter these while hunting, unless they are also exploring the island (see next chapter).

Preparing Food

Fish and meat needs to be prepared before it can be consumed. This normally requires a process of skinning, de-boning, and jointing fish and meat. This can be done on a successful DC 12 check, although a critical failure means that the character has prepared the food wrong, and it will be toxic when eaten. Fish generally provides enough food for one meal. Small animals provide enough meat for 1d3 meals. Small game provides enough meat for 1d4+1 meals. Hostile animals provide enough meat for 1d6+2 meals.

Food may also be cooked if a heat source is available. Fish and meat is still edible while raw, but must be cooked before it can be eaten safely (see Fire – below).

Storing Food

Food generally needs to be consumed within one day (24 hours) after being gathered, otherwise it will start to decompose. Decomposing food is still edible, but will be toxic.

Excess food can be prepared for storage if necessary by making a successful DC 15 check. Every degree of success means that the food will remain fresh and edible for one additional day (24 hours) before it becomes toxic. A critical failure on this check means that the food will appear to have been stored properly, but has become toxic during the attempt to prepare the food for storage.

Toxic Food

Toxic food requires that the character makes a DC 18 check or become infected with a food-borne toxin. While infected, they suffer a -5 penalty to all checks. Every 24 hours, the character must make a DC 18 check to pass the virus from their system. They get a +5 bonus to this check if they drink fresh water during this time, and a -5 penalty to this check if they have eaten toxic food during this time. On a success, they have passed the infection from their system.