Monthly Archives: March 2012

Modern Assembly: Mundane Items

Your Modern Assembly heroes likely have access to some modern equipment, even if they’re not in in a fully modern setting. The table below includes the most common modern items likely to be carried as personal equipment. Remember, if the hero has these things in their home, but they’re not likely to carry them to encounters that’s an Asset and should not be purchased from Cash.

Some common modern items have been intentionally left off the list. In the interest of only adding what is needed to the existing core material, items that are very similar to existing items should be treated the same. For example a briefcase can be treated as a backpack, a set of handcuffs can be treated as manacles and a flashlight is roughly equivalent to a hooded lantern (just swap batteries in place of oil).

Any item needing batteries or a filter to operate have one use included in its purchase price.

Item Price Weight Description
Audio Recorder 10 1 lb. Picks up sound within ten feet. Can record up to 8 hours. Batteries last 24 hours.
Batteries, Common 2 gp .5 lb. Batteries for small portable devices.
Batteries, Specialized 75 gp .5 lb. Batteries for larger devices like laptops or Cellular Interceptor.
Binoculars, Standard 15 gp 2 lb. You negate the penalty to Perception checks made to spot something over 10 squares away.
Binoculars, Advanced 520 gp 3 lb. As standard binoculars but also displays the distance of an object digitally and act as night vision goggles.
Bolt Cutter 4 gp 5 lb. Provides a +5 item bonus Strength checks made to break chains or locks.
Camera, Digital 50 gp .5 lb. Standard common amateur camera. Battery or outlet charged for 30 minutes every 8 hours.
Camera, Professional 360 gp 2 lb. Multiple Lenses for high quality photos. Can double as telescope. Battery or outlet charged for 30 minutes every 8 hours.
Cellular Interceptor 840 gp 1 lb. Can intercept cell phone calls within 5 miles with a successful Science check. Battery lasts for 10 hours, and is charged in 1 hour.
Demolitions Kit 25 gp 5 lb. Provides a +2 item bonus to Thievery Checks made to set or disarm explosives.
Duct Tape (120 ft) 5 gp 1 lb. Duct tape can support up to 200 pounds indefinitely, or up to 300 pounds for 1d6 rounds. Easily teared and applied. Character bound by Duct Tape must succeed on a DC 22 Strength or Acrobatics check to escape.
Electricians Kit 30 gp 12 lb. Provides a +2 item bonus to Mechanics Checks made to repair a computer or small electronic device.
Gas Mask 360 gp 5 lb. Protects the eyes and lungs from toxic gas. Can be used up to 12 hours before a filter is replaced.
Gas Mask Filter 40 gp 1 lb. Canister used to filter air in a gas mask.
Laptop 680 gp 3 lb. Portable Computer. Needs local wireless or Ethernet for Internet access. Battery lasts 4 hours and is outlet charged in 1 hour.
Lighter 1 gp - Instant fire, up to 3,000 times.
Mechanics Tools 50 gp 20 lb. Provides a +2 item bonus to Mechanics Checks made to repair a car or large mechanical device.
Metal Detector 150 gp 2 lb. Device that grants a +10 item bonus to Perception checks used to locate metal creatures or items.
Night Vision Goggles 360 gp 3 lb. Grants darkvision 20, but imposes a -4 to Perception checks due to poor clarity.
Phone, Basic Cell 15 gp - Common digital phone, that works in any area with cellular service. Needs to be outlet charged for 1 hour every 2 days.
Phone, Smart 360 gp .5 lb. Phone with digital camera, GPS, and Internet. Can be used to connect Internet to laptop without local wireless. Needs to be outlet charged for 1 hour every 6 hours.
Science Kit 40 gp 6 lb. Provides a +2 item bonus to Science Checks made to analyse objects.
Telephone Tap 50 gp .5 lb. Taps either into the line (usually in an adjacent room or outside the building) or is placed into the receiver and broadcast to a Walkie-Talkie frequency. Requires a Mechanics check to place.
Video Camera 100 gp 1 lb Can record up to 5 hours of video and audio. Batteries last up to 12 hours.
Walkie-Talkie 360 gp 1 lb. Allows direct communication on thousands of unique frequencies, up to a range of 15 miles. Needs to be outlet charged for 1 hour every 6 hours.

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Weekly Assembly: Maps, Guns, Gold, and Fun

Howdy, campers! Welcome to this 14th edition of Weekly Assembly. It seems hard to believe we’ve been gathering links for over 3 months now, but here we are. Enjoy this week’s offerings!

At Home

Articles posted here on The Gamer Assembly.

  • Only 25 Gaming Days Until PAX East! If you’ll be in Boston on Easter weekend April 6-8, you owe it to yourself to attend the best gaming con. Three-day passes have sold out, but you can still pick up day passes. We’ll be there running the “Fix Your RPG Problems with the RPG Doctor and Gamer Assembly” panel on Friday, April 6 at 7 pm in the Merman Theatre. Will we see you there?
  • March’s Blog Theme at The Gamer Assembly is “Gaming in the Modern Age”. Have an RPG article idea set in Information Age earth? Contact us for guest blogger opportunities!
  • The Call To Assembly, Volume 1, our collection of the first 2 months of Gamer Assembly posts is now available as a free PDF at RPG Now and as a not-free printed magazine at Lulu!
  • Modern Complications Table by Brian Liberge gives 50 ideas for random happenings in your modern game. Use it in good health, even while fending off your food coma as your cell phone blares “It’s Raining Men” and you’re caught in the middle of a flashmob.

Away

Content from people involved with The Gamer Assembly posted elsewhere across the Internet.

Notes From Abroad

Other interesting articles and cool links.

Wizards of the Coast went public with their announcement about the next edition of D&D on Monday 09 January 2012. We’re collecting D&D Next links in our wiki. If we’ve missed any good ones that you’ve read, feel free to let us know in the comments or join us in the chat.

  • D&D, 5e, and eBook Formats at Writer@Large pitches digitizing D&D to not only have every rulebook and supplement available electronically, but to enhance the gameplay experience at the table.
  • For those of you interested in skill system design, Skills: A Conclusion With 10 Rules summarizes the findings of the Skills Series at Hack & Slash with links to the rest of the articles. I’m not sure I agree with all the rules, but there’s some great food for thought in there.
  • More Spellcasting Malarkey takes a look at the spells known/spells per day in Monte Cook’s Arcana Unearthed with an eye toward adapting it into a BECMI-like game.
  • Run a lethal game? Character Binder at Gutter Cult details a way to keep players playing in Labyrinth Lord by rolling up a stable of potential PCs and keeping them in a binder waiting to be called up and played.
  • Obsidian Portal is having a contest as announced on their Haste Podcast, Episode 36. Post your most over-the-top, Baron Munchaussen-esque story about how you got into gaming in 200 words or less, and you’re in the running for a month of Ascendant membership and a T-shirt.
  • Art Inspiration in Wizards of the Coast’s Joining The Party column provides links to all sorts of art resources that you can use for inspiration. Double-check your rights agreements before using them for anything more than inspiration, since nobody wants to run into legal problems.
  • Drow at Dungeons and Drawings gives us an interpretation of a drow priestess. I’d love to see that as a poster. Keep an eye on this site, as there’s new monster art posted every Sunday.

MetaRoundup

A roundup of roundups featuring links of interest to the tabletop RPG community.
Please let us know about other weekly roundups in the comments!

  • Game Knight Reviews comes out with Friday Knight News articles on Fridays. Check out this week’s news to see zombie hand bookmarks, a collection of random tables so your d12 doesn’t feel neglected, the Angry DM weighing in about lethality in D&D Next, and links to GM helper smartphone apps at Campaign Mastery. Check out the Tools section for all sorts of fun things to use.

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Modern Complications Table


Sometimes life just throws you lemons. . . really nasty lemons. Whether your game has a Complication mechanic or your GM needs to spice things up a bit, here’s a list of complications you can drop into nearly any scene. Try them in your next game of Modern Assembly, School Daze, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying or any game with modern elements.

  1. Your mother calls your cell phone
  2. Your cell phone battery dies
  3. Your credit cards demagnetize
  4. You realize you forgot your keys
  5. The power goes out
  6. The Internet is down
  7. Your/a nearby car backfires
  8. Your love interest changes their Relationship Status
  9. A parade comes through
  10. A drunk person enters
  11. There’s construction down your next path
  12. Your shoelace is untied
  13. There’s a fire in the building
  14. Building evacuated due to a bomb threat
  15. Police enter and mistake you for someone else
  16. Your car is stolen
  17. Step in gum/feces/puddle of mysterious provenance
  18. You forgot your phone/laptop charger
  19. You discover blood on your clothes
  20. You left the car lights on, battery is low or dead
  21. Significant other won’t return calls/texts/etc.
  22. Someone important to you unfriended you
  23. Endless email barrage, so you phone won’t stop going off
  24. You have a sneezing fit
  25. You have a flat tire
  26. Money is missing from your wallet
  27. You’re hungry
  28. Traffic is backed up because of a sporting event
  29. Your house/car has been broken into
  30. Your computer/phone reboots for no clear reason
  31. You find mouse droppings in salt shaker
  32. You find out the school teacher really is the witch you thought she was
  33. Something is leaking (car, toilet, ceiling, tanker truck in front of you, etc.)
  34. No cell service
  35. Your favorite band breaks up
  36. Someone forgot to put their cell on vibrate and now everyone hears “It’s Raining Men” at top volume.
  37. Automatic doors refuse to recognize you
  38. A cockroach scuttles across the floor.
  39. An emergency vehicle goes by, sirens blaring
  40. Kindergarten field trip goes walking by
  41. Awkward run in with ex
  42. Appetizer feeds one more person than your party.
  43. A panhandler asks you for spare change.
  44. Animal escapes from the zoo
  45. A bus unloads a group of foreign tourists
  46. You completely blank on the name of the person you’re talking to
  47. You scratch your head, and when you take your hand away, some hair comes with it
  48. Wind blows smoke from nearby factory in
  49. You feel a food coma coming on
  50. Flashmob begins…

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A Warlock With a Gun: Re-skinning Basic D&D 4E Classes for Modern Games

As part of “Modern Assembly,” we’re tackling the idea of applying Dungeons & Dragons 4E to modern times. We’re providing you with plenty of material.

'Take a shot' by soldiersmediacenter on Flickr

'Take a shot' by soldiersmediacenter on Flickr

But can it be done more directly? Can you just re-flavor D&D 4E with a modern twist?

Let’s try.

This article will analyze at each character class that’s in the iconic first D&D 4E Player’s Handbook, and see how it can be re-flavored as a modern profession.

The Overall Approach

How do we re-skin bows and magic blasts for the real world? Basically, we replace them with modern weapons. A bow is a hand gun, and a magical blast is a shotgun.

How do we handle healing? We approach Hit Points as abstract representations of exhaustion, counting down towards a disabling blow at 0 HP. Temporary Hit Points represent the character getting amped up, dodging a blow or steeling himself against an enemy’s attacks.

How about typed damage? Much of it can be kept exactly as-is; flamethrowers and Molotov cocktails will deal fire damage and stun guns will deal lightning damage. Some damage types are less frequent–you probably won’t see much cold damage–but you can always add Gamma World damage types like laser, radiation, and sonic damage. Unfortunately, the modern world just doesn’t have much typed damage.

There. Now let’s look at each class.

Cleric

We’re starting off with the toughest concept in the modern world: a divine battle leader who heals his allies with symbols and prayers.

The cleric’s attacks tends towards ranged powers and burst effects. So, we’ll give the cleric a ranged weapon, and focus on the battle leader element. So:

The Commander is an inspiring leader, whose troops always seem a little luckier and stronger than others. A Commander’s troops always come out a little header of others, instinctively dodging attacks and finding just the right cover.

So, what would Lance of Faith look like for a Commander?

Guiding Shot Commander Attack 1
You pop off an amazing shot, at your foe, clearly marking your target for your ally’s attack.
At-Will · Implement
Standard Action   Ranged 5
Target One creature
Attack Wisdom vs. Reflex
Hit 1d8 + Wisdom modifier damage
Effect One ally you can see gains a +2 power bonus to his or her next attack roll against the target.

Fighter

The fighter provides us with an interesting challenge: melee attacks. How do we justify hand-to-hand combat in the modern world of ranged weaponry?

The fighter must specialize, and be particularly adroit at hand-to-hand combat.

Most Brutes sport fists the size of hams and physiques to shame Arnold Schwarzenegger. They know how to use guns, but are just better at hand-to-hand altercations. Brutes prefer garrotes, silent knives, and the simple pleasure of slamming a head into a wall.

As such, Brutes typically carry several “melee” weapons, from garrotes to knives, and always have them ready.

Let’s re-skin Tide of Iron:

Brute Slam Brute Attack 1
After swinging a huge fist at your target, you slam into your foe with the force of a freight train.
At-Will · Martial, Weapon
Standard Action   Melee weapon
Target One creature
Attack Strength vs. AC
Hit 1[W] + Strength modifier damage
Effect You push the target 1 square if it is your size, smaller than you, or one size category larger. You can shift into the space that the target occupied.

Paladin

Paladins focus their attacks on individual enemies, but favor melee powers. We’ll switch it around a bit. So, we’ll use a name already used for an existing D&D class, but it’s the best that fits.

'Feeling lucky...punk?' by udvranto_pothik on Flickr

'Feeling lucky...punk?' by udvranto_pothik on Flickr

The Assassin focuses all of his or her attention on a single quarry. The assassin must confirm the kill–it’s a matter of pride–and so prefers close-quarter combat with a single enemy. The Assassin’s powers provide ways to make these attacks more effective.

An Assassin is not necessarily evil; she may be a member of an elite fighting force, destroying corrupt governments one politician at a time.

Knowing Your Enemy Assassin Attack 1
As you bring your weapont to bear, you smile. All those enemies have merely increased the pool of your knowledge.
At-Will · Martial, Weapon
Standard Action   Melee weapon
Target One creature
Attack Strength + 1 per enemy adjacent to you vs. AC
Hit 1[W] + Strength modifier damage

Ranger

The Ranger can stay completely untouched. Just switch out the bows for guns and you’re fine.

Double Tap Ranger Attack 1
You squeeze off two rounds in rapid succession at your enemy.
At-Will · Martial, Weapon
Requirement You must be wielding two melee weapons or a ranged weapon.
Standard Action   Melee or Ranged weapon
Target One or two creatures
Attack Strength vs. AC (melee) or Dexterity vs. AC (ranged); two attacks
Hit 1[W] damage per attack

Rogue

The rogue, too can remain untouched. We barely even need to re-skin it, and I’ll leave the example for the reader.

Warlock

Okay. We’ve hand-waved away the paladin’s magic. Can’t do that with the warlock.

How do we deal with magic? By completely ignoring it.

A warlock is a guy with a gun–but a guy who’s very good at using it.

The Motherf#$&er fights with passion. He doesn’t just calmly stand there and shoot; he screams and unloads his clip at his foe, determined to take him down.

Burning Wound Warlock Attack 1
Your bullets lodge deep and painfully.
At-Will · Fire, Implement
Standard Action   Ranged 10
Target One creature
Attack Constitution vs. Reflex
Hit 1d6 + Constitution modifier fire damage.
Special If you take damage before the end of your next turn, the target takes an extra 1d6 + Constitution modifier fire damage.

Warlord

We must explain the Warlord’s preference for melee combat. Our Warlord is a tactician, and directs the battle from the front lines. He’s also an effective fighter, but he needs to be in the thick of things to be able to direct his allies. So, he wades into battle and fires a revolver at point-blank range.

Other than that, the warlord is unchanged.

Wizard

For wizards, we take a similar approach to the one we took with warlocks. The one twist, of course, is the wizard’s preference for bursts and blasts.

The Rageaholic wields rapid-fire and scatter-shot guns like shotguns, machine guns, and the occasional rocket-propelled grenade. So, let’s look at a re-skinned Magic Missile:

Unerring Shot Wizard Attack 1
Your attack always aims true.
At-Will · Implement
Standard Action   Ranged 20
Target One creature
Hit 2d4 + Intelligence modifier damage.
Special This power counts as a ranged basic attack.

I hope this gives you a starting point for running modern adventures in D&D 4E. How would you approach it?

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Weekly Assembly: Wealth and Imbalance

Has the weather gone crazy everywhere or just in the eastern United States? This week we had snow and hail and wind and temperatures in the 50s Fahrenheit, sometimes all in the same day. For now just hold onto your hat and enjoy this week’s links.

At Home

Articles posted here on The Gamer Assembly.

  • Only 32 Gaming Days Until PAX East! If you’ll be in Boston on Easter weekend April 6-8, you owe it to yourself to attend the best gaming con. Three-day passes have sold out, but you can still pick up day passes. We’ll be there running the “Fix Your RPG Problems with the RPG Doctor and Gamer Assembly” panel on Friday, April 6 at 7 pm in the Merman Theatre. Will we see you there?
  • March’s Blog Theme at The Gamer Assembly is “Gaming in the Modern Age”. Have an RPG article idea set in Information Age earth? Contact us for guest blogger opportunities!
  • Campaign Season is upon us. Sign Up for our military-themed RPG Blog Festival hosted here at The Gamer Assembly. It runs from 19-26 March 2012.
  • The Call To Assembly, Volume 1, our collection of the first 2 months of Gamer Assembly posts is now available as a free PDF at RPG Now and as a not-free printed magazine at Lulu!

Away

Content from people involved with The Gamer Assembly posted elsewhere across the Internet.

Notes From Abroad

Other interesting articles and cool links.

Wizards of the Coast went public with their announcement about the next edition of D&D on Monday 09 January 2012. We’re collecting D&D Next links in our wiki. If we’ve missed any good ones that you’ve read, feel free to let us know in the comments or join us in the chat.

  • Sex, Lies, and Game Development by Elizabeth Sampat tells the story of sexist pit stops on the way to her dream job, and her discovery that “breaking into the industry” is a myth. Just make sure your “To Do” list is in the right order: do the work first, then worry about joining the industry.
  • Planning for a Kickstarter gives the inside scoop on the School Daze kickstarter with some tips for making your Kickstarter project run smoothly.
  • The Storytelling King by Chris Perkins explores seven tips for your game based on passages from Stephen King’s book about writing fiction entitled On Writing. It’s an excellent book and well worth reading. I’ve got a loaner copy if you need one.
  • Inspired by the Chris Perkins article, Character Drive D&D links to several articles on Sly Flourish covering different ways to develop your characters in D&D, both protagonists and antagonists.
  • Also from the archives, Fantastic Martial Arts – Design Journal 1 gets us thinking about martial styles and schools for your campaign, starting with an overview of Elven martial philosophy. How would a graceful Elven fighting style differ from a more stalwart Dwarven style?
  • If you’re looking for a modern horror adventure site, a post-cold-war abandoned secret base, or a post-apocalyptic underground setting, get inspired by pictures of this abandoned iron mine.

MetaRoundup

A roundup of roundups featuring links of interest to the tabletop RPG community.
Please let us know about other weekly roundups in the comments!

Leave a Comment

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Wealth: Cash and Assets in Modern Assembly

Wealth by alexjtam

Modern Assembly supports many different worlds. In a game where modern characters don’t have access to a typical modern society, such as a post apocalyptic game or one where modern heroes are transported to a fantasy world, most of a character’s treasure goes into purchasing and upgrading their equipment. In these games you can treat wealth the same as you would in a typical fantasy game.

However if the game has a modern setting it becomes important to make a distinction between the wealth used in combat and the wealth used in story telling. You do not want a character to drag down regular encounter because they spent their treasure on a new apartment instead of an upgraded weapon. Modern Assembly separates these two types of treasure into Cash and Assets.

Cash Anything that you might find on a typical treasure table falls under cash. This includes starting equipment, combat gear and consumable items. It also includes any actual cash or liquid assets that could be used to purchase personal gear. We measure cash in gold pieces to keep things comparable to the base system. You should feel free to change this to a modern currency, just keep in mind that this is merely a representative system. Prices are balanced to keep mechanical balance, not to match realistic current day prices.

We also recommend using inherent bonuses, instead of bonus enhancements found on weapon, armor and neck items. That way a player using modern equipment will scale with fantasy characters without upgrading to brand new equipment every few levels. They can still get their equipment enchanted if your setting has magic, but it should be with alternate effects, instead of the typical +1 bonus.

Assets Anything that your character can acquire given a little time, that does not come into play in the average combat, is an asset. These can be physical objects, such as a car or a home, or more abstract rewards, like a seat on a board of directors, or being able to bribe your way into an affluent club. Think of these as story rewards more than typical treasure.

If an asset logically comes into play during an encounter then the DM may give out a bonus for having that asset. These are parts of your story and players should be rewarded for using the world creatively. If these assets come into play in more than one encounter a session, they should be reworked as part of the characters equipment, purchased from their cash, and not be considered an asset.

The recommended bonus for these effect is +2. In some circumstances assets are logically more useful, due to their quality, and can receive a bonus based on their distance from common. So for example if an common character uses their jeep as cover, they get a +2 bonus to their defenses, and so would a wealthy character using their corvette as cover. However, if an common character is trying to get a bonus to their knowledge roll by using the local library, and a wealthy character has a private library devoted to the subject at hand, the DM may grant the wealthy character a +4 bonus to the roll (+2 for common, +1 each for the two asset levels above common). This bonus is subject to the DM’s discretion.

There are four asset grades available to level 1 characters. All characters start as common but can gain a different asset grade through feats, backgrounds, or as rewards given out by the DM when the story permits.

Common: This is roughly where most of an average society fits. You likely have a full time job to provide you with income. You have shelter, whether its a small apartment, a room in your parents house or a modest home with a mortgage. You have a means of transportation in your immediate area, but its nothing flashy.

Comfortable: Your job requires a certain amount of skill, experience of education that puts you above average. You earn more money but probably work just as much as someone with common assets. You likely have a spacious apartment or your own home. You almost certainly own a car that’s equal to new in quality, and might include more luxurious options such as a powerful engine, or leather seats. It’s easier for you to find money for plane tickets, hotel rooms and other luxuries than it is for an common person. Players can select this asset grade at level 1 by taking the Comfortable Lifestyle background

Wealthy: Handling money is second nature to you. Your assets are big enough that they practically handle themselves. Whether your living off interest, your parents, or the profits from your company, you only go into work if you want to. You own multiple luxury cars, and may own, or can easily get the use of other modes transportation, such as a boat or small plane. Money comes with privilege, and it’s easier for you to get an audience with other key individuals. It also has its drawbacks. More people are aware of you and may seek you out or target you. It’s much harder for you blend into a crowd. Players can select this asset grade at level 1 by taking the Comfortable Lifestyle background, and the Wealthy feat.

Poor: You live below the poverty line. If you have an apartment it’s likely in a poor neighborhood. If you have your own car it may also be your home. You may be working multiple low income jobs, or out of work and on the street. It’s much easier for you to go unnoticed or go completely off the grid. You’re used to living off of very little and are able to survive in harsh situations. You understand the importance of trade and know where you can sell things quickly and quietly. Players can select this asset grade at level 1 by taking the Poor Lifestyle background.

Fountain of Wealth by yoodz

Asset Grade as Story Once play has moved past the starting level, character’s asset grade may change as part of the story. Characters of higher levels may gain access to even higher levels of wealth in this way. These levels are limited by tier so that only characters of Paragon and higher can become Rich, and those of Epic and higher may be Unreasonably Rich. It’s possible for a character to achieve such wealth before these levels, but they do not have the experience needed to take the advantages of such wealth. Characters should not select asset based mechanics when leveling up.

Rich: You’re beyond wealthy, your rolling in it. You may be a pop superstar or the owner of one or two fortune 500 companies. You have your own plane, a mansion and more material goods than you can keep track of. You are constantly recognized in public and can buy your way into nearly any place or event.

Unreasonably Rich: You’ve achieved an asset grade that seems almost impossible. You fly from locations in a huge jet, that doubles as your luxury home. Maybe you own a whole city, and employ all it’s residents as your employees. Everyone knows who you are and they likely have very strong opinions about everything you do. You sway nations and command your own private army.

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Filed under D&D 4E, Modern Assembly