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No Thank You, Evil!: The Trouble with Quibbles Adventure


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The ENnie Award-Winning Game of Make-believe for Creative Kids and Their Families

If you have kids and like to roleplay then you need to get No Thank you, Evil! from Monte Cook Games LLC. If you haven’t heard of Monte Cook but you’ve been gaming for awhile you’ve probably played a game influenced by them at some point. I really enjoy the worlds and game system employed by Numenara a game in the far future and the Strange which reminds me of the comics Injection, Fables, and the Unwritten and both are really solid game worlds worth checking out.

No Thank you, Evil! is a creativity game that is designed from the beginning to be played by kids of various ages and development so you can have five-year-old and a twelve-year-old play the same game at the same time and both have fun.

I have some monsters and a lightly sketched adventure for the game below that I think could be a lot of fun once you’ve gone past the included adventures in the book or could work as a good introduction connecting the players to a lot of different places in Storia.

I currently only have the main set but I will most certainly be picking up the other products for my six-year-old as needed.

The Trouble with Quibbles:

  1. A Call for Help
  2. Figure out the problem
  3. Solve the problem
  4. Celebrate!

 

Overview:

In this adventure, a Quibble family moves into Young McDonald’s Horn of Plenty Farm and causes chaos by eating all the food. The OK knight was hired first to solve the problem because the Good Knight was busy fighting the Bad Knight. The OK Knight decided to fight the Quibbles with his favorite battleax “Splitting Hares” and instead of killing the Quibbles it with each swing and a hit made two Quibbles where there was only one! Now the Quibbles are everywhere eating all the food in this area of Storia.

Players must go to the farm and investigate the situation and find a solution that saves the day!

 

1. A Call for Help! (Read Aloud letter)

A scroll embossed with a big “MC” marked into red candlewax arrives addressed to one of the heroes delivered by a sleepy and disheveled night owl who has obviously not had enough sleep which drops the scroll at your feet and barely manages to not spill the coffee cup and mountain dew can in its beak and claws while doing so. It flies away “Into the Closet” muttering under its breath.

Depending on players maybe just one visit to the most fantasy based PC who will then gather the rest of the troupe or if they don’t know each other then each one will be visited by the night owl and each player will arrive at the farm separately but at the same time.

“To whom it may concern, 

Noble sir, we have an emergency. I am in dire need of assistance from a professional hero. I have recently been put in charge of the Horn of Plenty Farm and something has gone terribly wrong. Some sort of furry baseball sized critters have infested it and are eating all the food! Without the Horn of Plenty providing food for the Hex Kitchen and the Giants of Beanstalk Castle then we will have a disaster! Please come immediately by following the night owl and save the day!

Sincerely,

Sir Young McDonald.”

After reading a map labeled “Into the closet” falls out onto the floor labeled with an X between The Beanstalk and Hex Kitchen.

? Ask the players what they take with them and if they do anything to prepare or go straight to the closet or if they notify their friends to take them with them on the adventure.

? You can ask the first player what the night owl looks like to get the players used to being co-creators of the world. You can ask them to draw it for you.

? Don’t let the players get to distracted by the setup but give them enough time to reasonably get started by reminding the player of the urgency of the letter.

 

Young McDonald’s Farm:

 

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Credit: https://www.walldevil.com/cornucopia-wallpaper-770781/

2. Figure out the problem

The players arrive at the farm passing a normal looking horn of plenty before coming to the farm which has dozens or hundreds of furry Quibbles bouncing around while Young McDonald is swinging a broom around trying to sweep them away from his barn entrance.

“Oh, thank goodness you’re here!” gushes the man. “Come with me to the farmhouse and I’ll tell you everything.”

? At this point the players can ask questions of Young McDonald and find out how he just started as the head of the farm and that one day a few furry baseball sized critters moved into one of the horns of plenty and started eating up everything. Then he hired the OK Knight to get rid of them and now they are everywhere and the OK knight has disappeared with his payment!

? If the players ask who ran the farm earlier YMC will say it was a very nice lady named Amalthea who is visiting her friend Lily Cobra at the Cannibal Gardens in the “Under the bed” part of Storia.

? If the players ask for a reward YMC says each will get 2 coins, 1 fun, and a special treat from the horn of plenty. YMC may also say that if they can they can keep any coins they get from the OK Knight for making the problem worse.

?If they ask if anything had changed since then YMC will say there used to be a lot of goats on the farm but they all left for some reason.

?If the players go around and ask other characters on the farm they will find out that Ol’ Scarecrow the foreman in charge of the garden hates mushrooms so he scared a bunch of ravens to pick the trumpet mushrooms and dispose of them for a few pieces of shiny magic quartzes he found by the Beanstalk creek.

? Ask the players what they want to do.

? If they try and talk to the Quibbles they may notice that there are four different Quibbles and all the Quibbles are copies of these four.

Mrs. Disputer Quiddity likes to argue about anything and everything. She is gray and the biggest of the Quibbles and is the only one likely to start a physical fight if annoyed. She would be really dangerous if she would fight together with the other versions of her.

Level: 3 Health: 6 Damage: Bite 1 Skill: Say a mean thing that makes the hero cry if they fail a Smart Goal 3 roll and they lose their next action. Quirk: Kill her with kindness. She takes 3 points of damage for every sincere compliment.

Mr. Cavil Quiddity grumbles about how things used to be better and how he liked his home outside of Boom! Laboratories in the “Out the Window” realm of Storia but it was never good enough for his wife. He is green and can be jealous of the other versions of himself if they seem happier.

Level: 2 Health: 4 Damage: Bite 1 Skill: Will start telling a boring story about work which does 3 damage if you fail a Fast 3 Goal to run away. Quirk: Tell Mr. Cavil about how much better the other Mr. Cavil’s are at something which causes 2 points of damage per statement.

Baby Quirk Quiddity likes to roll in dirt and mud and then fling it everywhere. Because of the mud you can never tell what color is supposed to be but depending on the mud he is usually black or brown.

Level: 2 Health: 2 Damage: Bite 1 Skill: Splatter mud everywhere ruining your nice outfit for 1 damage to everything in ten feet. Quirk: Takes 2 damage if you clean somehow the mud out of its fur like with a water hose.

Kid Whimsey Quiddity is probably the only Quibble likely to be friendly to the heroes. She likes to hear about adventures and might talk to the heroes if they talk about their escapades.

Level: 2 Health: 3 Damage: Bite 1 Skill: Starts playing or doing something and if you fail a Smart Goal of 3 you replace your next action with playing her game. Quirk: Will stop fighting if the players offer to tell her stories or play with her for real.

3. Solve the problem

There are a few possible solutions depending on how the players tackle the adventure.

They can conk out all the Quibbles and take them somewhere else. In this case, the Quibbles will come back or another family or two of Quibbles will come for the first time now that it is open to them.

They can hire guardians who will keep any Quibbles from coming back. They can get the Ravens to pester the Quibbles until they give up but as soon as they stop the Quibbles will come back and part deux of the adventure begins again from an annoyed YMC.

If the players find out that the Quibbles hate goats and get the Ravens to tell them about where the mushrooms are then the players can replant the trumpet mushrooms that were dumped in a pile on the side of the road to Hex Kitchen and the goats will come back which will keep the Quibbles away. The mushrooms can also be a treat for one of the heroes’ companions.

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The players can go find Amalthea then they can have adventures going to the Land under the Bed and run into the ghoul school, dead center, the dark dark or other landmarks on the way to the Cannibal Gardens.

Amalthea is very much a mothering figure and is friendly and understanding to the heroes. She can return back to the farm but only if the heroes help with some troublesome plant in the gardens! Amalthea can provide 2 hints to the heroes when they arrive on how to solve the problem. After the heroes have tried to complete the adventure she can give one more hint.

Amalthea could also bring a cannibal plant that likes to eat Quibbles if they wander too close to it if they succeed and impress Lily Cobra and if she knows about the reason for their visit.

The heroes can find the Ok Knight who is terribly sorry about the whole situation but doesn’t want to give up the 8 coins he was paid but will do so if threatened (Goal: Tough 5) or (Goal: Smart: 6) or if persuaded (Goal: Smart 5). If the heroes decide to fight the OK Knight he should be a good challenge for the whole party and his ax ‘Splitting hares’ should be very dangerous to non-quibbles. When the ax hits Quibbles it splits them into two versions of the Quibble that are basically identical. Most other things it splits them into two non-functioning halves.

The heroes can go to Boom! Laboratories and visit with the nearby homes of the other Quibble families and find out what Quibbles like and dislike. They may also go and talk to Dr. T. Bone. Rex who is in charge of all the experiments. The Quibbles were a creation of the “What Does This Taste Like? Laboratory” and a great disappointment to the Doctor. He was hoping for something yummy but the Quibbles only taste yummy for the first couple and start making his tummy ache if he eats too many in a sitting. So, he let them leave the lab and settle the nearby Quibble village in exchange for helping him with various explosive tests. If the players can convince him to help them he can write a letter or offer the Quibbles to come back. He will become very interested in hearing about the OK Knight’s ax and starts muttering about live tests for the explosive tests and the ethics of cloning and the rights of the cloned.

The heroes can convince most of the Quibbles to leave and provide a small section for them to live in without being bothered.

The heroes can try and reverse the clonings and make all the Quibbles become just one by visiting the Hex Kitchen and she can make a batch of Quibble Management cookies if she gets the right ingredients! There are some bandit gingerbread men loose in the forest that will have to be dealt with to find the right subtractives and additives to balance the hex magic equation which will merge the extra Quibbles to the originals after they eat the cookies.

If the solution the players come up with is temporary than the Quibbles will come back!

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Credit: http://www.goipadwallpapers.com/wallpaper/69.html

4. Celebrate!

Different solutions can get different rewards but success should net coins, treats, new friends, and maybe new stuff like a laser gun from Boom! or a pet plant from Cannibal Gardens or cookie jar that never empties from the Hex Kitchen.

 

 

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D&D 5e House Rules: Combat Overhaul using the OODA Loop


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Featured image of OODA Loop By Patrick Edwin Moran – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3904554

<Edit> I just found a really unique to me house rule called Variant Shared Turn Combat on Reddit on the Unearthed Arcana subreddit and I’m amazed at the production value and quality ideas.</Edit>

The above diagram is a depiction of the OODA Loop which is a tool for understanding how people make decisions. Many of the ideas I will be presenting use this framework and come from my homebrew game I’ve been designing and redesigning for years that works very well when transferred to D&D 5e.

With the OODA Loop you have four steps: Observe, Orient, Decide and Act.

The general structure of combat in the PHB 5e on page 189 is as follows:

  1. Determine Surprise
  2. Establish Positions
  3. Roll Initiative
  4. Take turns
  5. Begin the next round.

There are many ways the DM can handle showing combat whether with miniatures, physical or virtual maps or overlays, or purely via imagination and description.

I prefer if possible to use the fog of war during the initial setup and not let players know things they can’t perceive if possible. Having a second map or description available just to the DM can make it easier to show the movement of NPC’s in the fog of war for the DM that the PC’s do not know about. It can be fun to flank the PC’s and get the PC’s to think about flanking especially with mounts or vehicles in play.

I also would like to say that D&D is not supposed to be simulationist and works just fine as is. I offer my system to people who like a little more complexity and options in their battles and to add a bit of tactical confusion and surprise. There are some changes that can make things very different in your game as it shifts priority away from Dexterity towards Wisdom but I think that is actually more balanced.

I have not playtested this at all with D&D so if you’re interested in trying it out and letting me know what you think that would be awesome. Please just leave a comment about your experience. If I forgot something obvious please let me know as well. It is easy to make mistakes on this kind of thing.

 

My System:

  1. Determine Surprise (Keep in mind the fog of war for step 2)
  2. Observe (Explain what each PC perceives and Establish Positions)
  3. Orient (Roll Initiative)
  4. Decide (Based on Initiative and what the PC/NPC perceives then declare actions)
  5. Act (Take Turns.)
  6. Next Round

1. Determine Surprise:

Nothing changed in this step.

2. Observe:

It is important at this point to go over what each PC perceives prior to Initiative so that they can form an idea of what is going on based on their personal perspective not that of a Player who can see much more. So, if an ooze is slinking behind the wizard and the wizard doesn’t know they obviously won’t be casting a spell at it. This encourages a bit of roleplaying so the very perceptive Rogue who sees the ooze approaching his ally can take a free action to yell “Behind you Mage!” after stabbing the Orc in front of her which might confuse the Orc while alerting the wizard so they may change their mind and cast burning hands in front of them rather in front.

The DM also needs to keep in mind what the NPC’s perceive and how they react. Experienced soldiers used to working in tandem with each other are going to be much more difficult to deal with than expert duelists used to working one on one or a mob of amateurs.

3. Orient:

Here things start to depart from the PHB 5e rules.

A big change here is that in my system Initiative is how well you observe your environment and process information rather than in the PHB which focuses on how fast you can move your body. After all, why would Dexterity have anything to do with how fast and well you can observe a combat, make a decision, and say “Shazaam!”? It makes a lot more sense to use Wisdom here to represent a combination of perception, common sense decision making, intuition, and actions and reactions especially those actions that don’t have any real physical component.

D20 + (Wisdom Modifier) + Proficiency Modifier/Die

For diceless Initiative just use the PC/NPC’s Proficiency Modifier and have an automatic 20 for the roll. For more variable Initiative use the optional rule for Proficiency Dice in the DMG on Page 263 which replaces, for example, the +2 Proficiency Modifier with a +1D4.

One could even use both in a game depending on the situation. Use the variable Initiative when surprise, “boss” battles, or unusual combat is happening and for the more normal lineup of good guys here and bad guys here just use the diceless version instead.

The reasoning behind using Wisdom here instead of Dexterity I provided above and my reasoning for using the proficiency bonus is that handling and reacting to combat is a matter of experience.

For example, take a reasonably healthy and elderly Special Forces combat veteran and mentally they will be able to process a combat situation faster and in a more capable fashion than a novice character with world-class Dexterity. Leveraging that experience to process the OODA Loop is a big part of improving decision making and thus performance in combat be it social, mental, or physical and you can substitute talent only so far when competing against old age and treachery.

Once you have everyone’s Initiative totals you can either post them for all to see or you can keep them to yourself.

The highest Initiative total provides the number of Combat Phases in this Combat Turn.

For example:

Rogue: 30, Ooze: 23, Wizard 22, Orc 22.

Thus, there are 30 Phases in this turn.

If two characters are acting the turn or movement during the same phase both actions take place at the same time. Thus, you can have both characters stab each other in the heart and this happened quite commonly in history or characters charging each other would meet at some point in between the two warriors rather than one warrior charging across the battlefield while the other sits there.

Any action that would take place at 0 Phase or when the combat phase is in the negatives all happen at the same time. Thus, a character who used their entire move before swinging a sword would have their action take place on the 0 phase along with any other characters.

4. Decide:

At this point starting with this highest phase the DM has the characters decide what they are going to do in a descending fashion phase by phase allowing the characters to have started their round and have their action/s take place during or after their phase depending on the type of action.

Each action, maneuver, spell, or movement takes place during or after the round/phase the character scored in the Orient step of Combat.

Remember you still have only the actions you can do just like in the PHB even if you still have leftover Initiative after you attack or cast a spell. If you don’t use it up with actions or movement you lose it. So, if you attack during phase 15 and don’t want to move you don’t get more attacks to do later unless you have the extra attacks feature.

I am going to introduce a term called tempo which has various definitions depending on the martial tradition or master but in this case, tempo means how long it takes to complete an action. Each action has a tempo cost which tells you how much later the action actually takes place in since your Initiative score is simply how fast you were able to process the combat situation not the time it takes to perform an action.

Some martial masters have used the idea of hand, body, foot, and feet to describe combat, reaction, and initiative. This means that the tempo of moving your hand is fast, moving your body is a bit slower, moving one foot is slower than that, and moving both feet is the slowest. In other words, swinging a sword at an opponent in measure is faster than moving your torso/body back to dodge or forward on an attack. Moving a foot forward or back takes even longer and moving both feet is the slowest. In other words, it is faster to thrust a blade with just an arm movement vs an arm movement plus moving the body forward with the arm vs the arm, the body, and a foot forward such as when lunging vs the arm, body, and both feet in a shuffling strike.

To put this in perspective it takes longer for a warrior to walk 30 feet and swing a two-handed warsword than it does for the rogue to move 5 feet and backstab with a sgian dubh knife even if the warrior rolled a higher Initiative score which is how things stand now.

A character can under this system postpone their action or be indecisive. For example, a pikeman could see cavaliers and their horses charging towards him and plant her pike and ready themselves for the charge postponing their attack until the cavalier comes in range. Should the cavalier stop rather than coming into range the pikeman could charge forward instead or drop the pike and draw the loaded crossbow at their side and fire thus allowing more flexibility than the current system at the cost of more complexity for the DM and players to handle.

Actions and their Tempo:

Attacks:

For a second attack, the action takes place after the first one and any movement has subtracted from the initial Initiative. Starting Initiative of 10 and a heavy strike for on phase 7 and a second heavy strike for -3 for an attack on phase 4.

If the character is not Familiar, Proficient, or Expert with the weapon then add +2 to the Initiative Cost.

Heavy and Light Weapons have that trait listed with all others without that trait being regarded as Medium below.

Heavy Weapon Attack (Melee or Ranged): 3 Initiative Cost.

Medium Weapon Attack (Melee or Ranged): 2 Initiative Cost.

Light Weapon Attack (Melee or Ranged: 1 Initiative Cost. (Most Unarmed Strikes)

Loading a Weapon: 5 Initiative Cost.

Magic:

Cantrip: 1 Initiative Cost.

Spells: (1 + Spell level) Initiative Cost.

Innate Spellcasting, Legendary Actions, and Special Abilities: 1 to 5. (DM should quickly decide based on the complexity and potency of the ability or power or the complexity of the situation.)

While the spellcaster is making magic they are vulnerable just as if they are Concentrating on a spell…because they are concentrating on the spell they are casting. This means not only does it take awhile to drop a major spell and thus adds difficulty to the tactical landscape it also means it is even more important to protect the big guns because if they take damage and lose concentration it can be the difference between an easy encounter and a deadly one.

For example, the Cleric has an Initiative of 15 and is casting a 6th level spell so their spell begins on Phase 15 and ends on Phase 8. If they get hit with a barrage of arrows and Magic Missiles they could lose Concentration and have their spell fizzle out. The spellcaster doesn’t lose the spell slot if they lose Concentration because they weren’t able to marshall the magic before getting distracted.

This can give a quick character a chance to use Arcana to recognize the spell the big baddie is casting and yell for the Archer to shoot the Wizard before they drop a Meteor Swarm on them. It also makes Counterspelling a bit more fun which counts as a Reaction below so it only has a 0 IC.

Skills, grappling, and non-combat actions like help, search, ): DM may add or subtract depending on the complexity of the skill use. This represents the simple automatic speed that develops from increased competency at a task. Picking a lock when you’re an expert and under pressure in combat is much faster than if you’re not an expert.

Unfamiliar: 4 Initiative Cost

Familiar: 3 Initiative Cost. (Jack of All Trades, Remarkable Athlete, or my house rule linked above.)

Proficient: 2 Initiative Cost.

Expert: 1 Initiative Cost.

Movement:

Walking (base movement): 3 Initiative Cost per 5 feet

Dash: 2 Initiative Cost per 5 feet.

Sprint: 1 Initiative Cost per 5 feet. (Dash without gear, weapons, or any substantial encumbrance such as dropping everything and running for your life from the greek fire armory that a mage dropped a delayed blast fireball inside.)

Breaking up your move:

Walk 15 feet for a 15 Initiative Cost then cast a spell and use the remaining X (15) feet to get back undercover on the 0 Phase.

Use Object: 1 to 5 Initiative Cost based on the complexity of the object. Opening a stuck door may take longer than pressing a button.

Mounting: 10 – Dexterity Modifier

Dropping Prone: 1 Initiative Cost.

Standing up from “Prone”: 10 – Dexterity Modifier

Disengage: 1 Initiative Cost.

Dodge: 0 Initiative Cost.

Free actions: 1 Initiative Cost.

Quick Look Around: 1 Initiative Cost. Let’s the character get a quick scan of the environment for obvious things that don’t require a roll. Since things change dynamically during the round this can be important.

Reactions like Opportunity Attacks: Usually have a 0 Initiative Cost and take place at effectively the same time as the action that caused the reaction such as a Shield spell blocking an arrow.

Bonus Actions: Can take place before, after, or at the same time. For example, a Shield Master could do a shove before they do their attack or after. A Two-Weapon fighter could thrust forward with both daggers in simultaneously on the same phase or one after the other.

5. Act

Using the earlier example: Rogue: 30, Ooze: 23, Wizard 22, Orc 22. Thus, there are 30 Combat Phases.

Starting with the highest Initiative Score have the highest scorer decide what they want to do. So, the Rogue at Phase 30 would say I am probably moving 5 feet forward to stab the Orc after a quick look around. On Phase 29 the DM would tell the Rogue that an Ooze is slouching towards the Wizard but about 30 feet away. The Rogue has to decide whether to tell the Wizard and alert the orc or move forward and backstab the orc. She decides he should be fine and walks toward the orc and sneak attacks. So, the DM would go through Phase 28, 27, 26 (sneak attack with sgian dubh a light weapon -1 IC) and on Phase 25 rolls for damage and kills the orc. Now on phase 24, she yells at the wizard “Behind you!”.

On phase 23 the Ooze starts sliming up to the Wizard but is 30 feet away. It will have closed five feet by phase 20. The Wizard on phase 22 panics and flings a firebolt cantrip at the Ooze without thinking and hits without killing the ooze. The cantrip had a cost of 1 IC so on phase 21 the Wizard turns and walks toward the Rogue keeping an eye on the ooze. Both the Wizard and Rogue move back to keep their distance from the creepy looking Ooze which decides to Dash on its remaining move to close the distance.

The DM would map out the movement as the phases would drop one by one. Any remaining movement would be used during Phase 0 for all three creatures.

Next Round:

The next round would start with either a new roll if the DM thinks the situation is very different like new creatures enter the combat arena or dynamically in a different “scene” or if the situation is relatively static just reuse the same totals from the previous rounds.

Hope this gives you some ideas on how to spice up your combat! Keep in mind that this system does penalize movement and powerful spellcasting the most. It does encourage more active protection of your spellcasters when they are casting spells and makes it a bit harder to unleash the big guns when not protected by the tanks/front line.

 

D&D House Rules:

Combat Overhaul

Shields

Character Creation Backgrounds

Crafting, Magic Items, and Economics

Familiarity vs Proficiency

Character Focus

Tactics of Mistake

Counterattacking

 

 

 

My new RPG


I am tentatively calling the rpg system Singular Roleplaying System and the first main campaign Rogues and Masterminds.

The campaign and parts of the core system are inspired by movies, rpg’s, books, and tv shows like John Wick, Sneakers, the Equalizer, Leverage, Global Frequency, Planetary, V for Vendetta, the treatises of Fiore de’i Liberi, Hustle, Shadowrun RPG, Cyberpunk by the likes of Stephenson and Gibson, World of Darkness RPG, Amber DRPG,  Grosse Point Blank, and Grifters to name a few.

Originally it was going to be Movers and Shakers a super/psi/spy world that I’ve been working on along with a connected campaign called Posthuman but I decided to scale back to making just a solid non-supernatural/SF game that can later on be built into something more complex along the lines of Donnerjack by Roger Zelazny and the works of Dan Simmons.

As a consequence I was looking to make a system that scales well from making a believable competent human to an extraordinary gentleman and later to beyond human. Too often games make mechanics in which a legendary person can be fairly commonly beaten by someone vastly less talented and skilled. Or the other issue that I see in games is that there are basically just one or two versions of a successful archetype for a PC to start with or end up with thus robbing characters of the chance to develop and become something completely unique both from a mechanics standpoint and from a story standpoint while also being successful. Few people want to play a helpless character or feel railroaded into choosing based on optimization min/maxxing. That is a tall order to make but I think I’ve come up with some interesting takes on things.

I am trying for that middle ground in complexity of mechanics to provide a scaffolding for making and growing the PCs and the campaign.

I am still in the alpha stage of development and will need art and design elements, playtesting, and a few decisions on how serious I want to be in developing this game but I think I have something cool and unique.

I will be posting shortly my plain and basic character sheet and another post about basic mechanics. I will definitely be looking at or for art, playtesters, advice on the game and campaign world, and on the business aspects. I’ve looked at places like drivethru which lets you do print on demand and pdf for far cheaper and easier than in the 90s. Still hard to make any money but maybe possible to have a nice hobby and maybe make enough for coffee and a bagel.