Free Kriegsspiel: Bloodstone Redux



A while ago, I posted my “Bloodstone” rules. Today, I’m presenting the Bloodstone Redux rules. What are these? They are what’s left of the Bloodstone rules when we’re playing them. Bloodstone Redux is, in a way, the best practices of Bloodstone. Let’s start. Comments are in orange.

Character Creation, how we actually, really play it
  1. Title (name, career/class/race – either come up with that stuff by yourself, or use your favorite  game rules)
  2. Three-detail Description
  3. Five-detail Bio (personal details, alignment, god(s), etc.)
  4. Good Stuff: all the things that are advantageous to you (skills, stats, talents, special equipment)
  5. Bad Stuff: all the things that are disadvantageous to you
  6. Hit Points (also called “hits”; three strikes and you’re out, give or take a few if you’re exceptionally fragile or tough)(Monsters may be able to take anywhere between 1 and A LOT of hits; I’d recommend notable monsters to be about as durable as player characters – don’t worry about this point too much, there are still entire groups running their games without hit points, simply by using rough estimates or the Rule of Fun: “Is it fun for everyone at the table?”)
Procedures of Play
  1. Trying Something Risky (Skilled) : referee tells you what number (or more) to roll on 2d6, usually 7+
  2. Trying Something Risky (Unskilled) : referee tells you what number (or more) to roll on 2d6, usually 9+
  3. Saving Throwreferee tells you what number (or more) to roll on 2d6
  4. Luck Roll: d6, high = good, low = bad
  5. Using dice specified by the referee, Roll either equal to, lower or higher than a number the referee tells you, 
  6. OR try to roll as high or as low as possible (referee tells you).
 
Fights
Opponents roll 2d6 against each other. Add +1 to +3 for Good Things, and subtract 1 to 3 for Bad Things. For instance, an “agile” tax collector with “saber-fencing” skill would add +2 to the roll, while a “ridiculously weak” rat-catcher would subtract 2 points.

Simple mnemonic: you add or subtract as many points as the skill or attribute has words to describe it – so, “longsword” adds 1 point, “very quick” adds 2 points, “terrible constitution” subtracts 2 points, “fucking weak clown” subtracts 3, and so on.


The side with the higher sum hits. Ties mean both sides hit each other simultaneously. A combatant with zero Hit Points left dies.


Weapon damage is 1 for small, 2 or more for big weapons. If you roll doubles, damage doubles, as well.

Fights work exactly like other Procedures of Play, described above,
OR: roll dice against each other, higher result hits.

And this leaves us with exactly the way we’ve been freeforming/free kriegsspieling for years: Play worlds, not rules. Read all about our take on the earliest forms of roleplaying in the following posts:

Play worlds, not rules, part 1: Juggling ideas for stone-age rpg sessions
Play worlds, not rules, part 2: Experience levels
Play worlds, not rules, part 3: Playing around with dice
Play worlds, not rules, part 4: Short example of true Blackmoor gaming
Play worlds, not rules, part 5: How we roll
 

Play worlds, not rules, part 3: playing around with dice

In part 1, I took a look into how people played roleplaying games before any “official rules set” was published. In part 2, I shared how we handle experience at our table.

In today’s part 3, I’m writing about the dice rulings I use at the table.

2d6 — the Blood of Pangea method

I much prefer target numbers (“roll on or over”) when I’m using 2d6. +Olde House Rules games are perfect in this regard:


There is no damage roll separated from the to-hit roll. The better you hit, the more damage you do.

d100 — d20 — 3d6

Here we’re stepping into the territory of Phil Barker’s Perfected rules. When using 3d6, d20 or d%, I prefer rolling against each other, with the higher number winning, and with short “negotiations” when the numbers are close. Another approach I like a lot is our house system (Wyaul Hyoiwto): I give the players a number to roll on or over, and if they do, it’s a good result.

Another system I’ve used quite often is the one Phil Barker also used (probably before he came up with the Perfected rules, but sometimes in addition to them): low=bad, middling=nothing changes or moves forward, high=good.

Very good dice results may trigger special abilities and/or behavior of monsters.

Ouch, I’m hit!

(or AAAAAAAAAAARGH!, as the case may be)
Sometimes, I’m using hit points or “hits” in the D&D sense, reducing their total amount by a certain number of damage points. Most of the times, I can’t be bothered, and use the characters’ hit points as a gauge for how much damage they can take, without any math. Rule of thumb: 3 hits and you’re down, plus/minus a couple more/less if you’re really tough/fragile.

Sometimes, I ask the players to roll dice when their characters are hit; good results mean they take the blow without serious consequences.

What I’m after

These rules are not for players interested in gaming procedures. They’re way too simple to be interesting. What they do, though, is: They get out of the way and allow my players to explore and experience the world, almost in real time. This is my goal: to present a living world that responds to the heroes’ actions, with minimal interference from rules. After using the guidelines described above for almost 30 years, I can say: They work.

One more thing

Sometimes, going from an existing rpg system to pre-rules is too demanding for the players. You can easily avoid that by using a game system you know to create characters, and then use the numbers/facts created as gauge for your pre-school rpg. This works very well. (And that’s how Phil Barker did it first, after OD&D had hit the shelves and some players were familiar with it).

Pitching my own free game here

minimald6 is a game I wrote with the principles I mentioned above in mind. Take a look: https://darkwormcolt.wordpress.com/minimald6/

 

Play worlds, not rules, part 1: Juggling ideas for stone-age rpg sessions
Play worlds, not rules, part 2: Experience levels
Play worlds, not rules, part 3: Playing around with dice
Play worlds, not rules, part 4: Short example of true Blackmoor gaming
Play worlds, not rules, part 5: How we roll

Play worlds, not rules, part 2: Experience Levels

Yesterday, I wrote about the stone age of roleplaying games. Today, I’d like to share with you how I’m handling experience in my games.

A few days ago, I asked my fellow Google+ gamers: How do you level up in your game? And: why? A whopping 76 percent answered “XP”, while the rest said they used a milestone rule of some sort. I think this is interesting and telling at the same time. For the majority of players, Experience Points seem to be inextricably intertwined with roleplaying. But in the early days, XP didn’t exist.

How did Dave Arneson referee Blackmoor (at least, at one point in time)?

  • Here’s XP. If you survive an adventure, you gain a level. BAM. The world is strange, random and dangerous so power was there for those who dared, but so was death.” (1)
  • “Roleplaying was just that. You were judged based how well you played your role of elf, dwarf, cleric, mage, fighter or thief. It was like, we all know about Hamlet so show us your Hamlet interpretation. The goal was to work within the cliche.” (2)
  • “Dave gives out “roleplaying points” in game that you can trade in for re-rolls.” (3)

And Chirine ba Kal says:

  • (Question: Experience points… From your descriptions of game play you often talked your way out of situations. How was experience points determined then? The printed rule (Empire of the Petal Throne) specify looting and killing. Even so much as “the killing blow”. Was experience based on “value of service rendered” more often then just killing and looting?”): Answer: “I don’t know. We never really counted experience points in my time with Phil. We just got on with the job and got it done, and we’d get promotions and stuff like that. Sorry. We just didn’t play that way.” (4)
  • “We never paid much attention to ‘experience points’, as we played with some very tough and very clever GMs who rated us on simple survival more then anything else.” (5)

How I’m handling experience levels:

I was never good at giving out xp. Or maybe more correct, I never bothered. It always seemed not worth the effort, and so I pretty soon switched to giving out experience levels when it felt right to all of us. Then, in the early 90s, along came Theatrix, a fantastic diceless rpg that still makes my spine tingle. Theatrix favored a solution called “dramatical appropriateness”. When it was dramatically appropriate, characters gained a new experience level. This is how we’re handling experience to this day.

**addition: Other stone-age things I’m inlcuding:

  1. Dave’s “Roleplaying Points”. Play well, get points, use them for rerolls. Dirty, dirty, dirty narrative rpg trick, shame on you!
  2. The more clichéd my group plays their characters, the better. I don’t want Deep Drama™ and Real Acting™ in the precious few hours away from my family and job. I want cheap thrills, constant action, involved-but-not-super-complex plots, and cheesy but lovable characters. Because I love Bollywood and Hong Kong/Korean flicks a lot more than arthouse cinema.
Play worlds, not rules, part 1: Juggling ideas for stone-age rpg sessions
Play worlds, not rules, part 2: Experience levels
Play worlds, not rules, part 3: Playing around with dice
Play worlds, not rules, part 4: Short example of true Blackmoor gaming
Play worlds, not rules, part 5: How we roll

Footnotes:
(1) https://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?286043-Dave-Arneson-Blackmoor-and-Me!&p=6302273#post6302273
(2) https://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?286043-Dave-Arneson-Blackmoor-and-Me!&p=6302273#post6302273
(3) https://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?286043-Dave-Arneson-Blackmoor-and-Me!&p=6302273#post6302273
(4) https://www.therpgsite.com/showthread.php?32577-Questioning-chirine-ba-kal&s=e9c3eaf1b818171cb94bc91f18b0b482&p=850838&viewfull=1#post850838
(5) http://chirinesworkbench.blogspot.com/2018/02/ahhh-whats-thaco-some-notes-for.html