Sunday, March 23, 2014

Steampunkery (A Pocketmod Mini-RPG)

Over on Google Plus, +Matthew Bannock is having an Steampunk RPG deigns contest.

"The main objective is to create a table top role playing game with a distinctively steampunk feel. 
The bonus objectives include using a deck of cards, and having an optional Pocket Mod format."

These are the kinds of challenges I like, and limitations often lead to creativity. I've been brainstorming this idea for a couple of weeks, and I now I'm going to squeak in on the next to last day with my card-based pocketmod steampunk RPG, Steampunkery.

Download the Pocketmod PDF of STEAMPUNKERY Here!

The complete text is directly below. If I get enough interest, I might expand on it later. 

Enjoy! "Rock out with your cogs out!"

By Joshua LH Burnett

About the game
You play a sexy-dangerous badass in Faux-Britannia, a world of high-romance, adventure, and crazy steam-powered supertech.

What you need

This booklet, a deck of cards without jokers (for the players), some tokens (for the GM), paper and pencils.

Your Character
Describe your character in just a couple of words. Your high concept is what you “do” in the world. It's your job, your character class, your archetype.
Examples: Steam Knight, Dandy Scientist, Debutante Adventurer, Dirigible Pirate

There are four Suits that describe the techniques, skills, and approaches you use to overcome challenges. You will have a Strong Suit, which you are very good with, and a Weak Suit, that you're not very good with at all. Each Suit corresponds to a suit in the card deck. 

Steam (Diamonds)
Use Steam when you solve a problem using science and technology, especially crazy steam-powered retro-romantic technology.
Examples: Shooting a steam rifle, flying an ornithopter, reprogramming a difference engine

Punk (Spades)
Use Punk when you solve a problem using direct, aggressive, physical action. 
Examples: Leaping a chasm, punching a guy, wrestling a bear

Grace (Hearts)
Use Grace when you solve a problem subtlety, charm, guile, and charisma. 
Examples: Seducing a guard, sneaking into a building, impressing the Queen

Wit (Clubs)
Use Wit when you solve a problem using brains, occupational training, and education. 
Examples: Identifying a poison, breaking a code, performing surgery

Choose one of these Suits as your Strong Suit and mark it with a star. You will be extra-competent with your Strong Suit. Chose another as your Weak Suit and put a line through it. You will never be able to take actions related to your Weak Suit. 

Come up with a name and write it down. Make it fancy, heroic, and/or distinctive!
Examples: Lady Felicia Merriweather-Smythe, Doctor Thaddeus Q. Pneumatic, Brigadier Henry Lloyd Abernathy III

That's it!
Seriously, that's it.

Playing the Game
Roleplaying is a conversation between the GM and the players. The GM describes what is going on and asks the players how they respond. The GM describes what happens as a result of the players' actions, and the conversation continues. Dungeon World, Apocalypse World, and Monsterhearts, describe this in detail. Check out those games.

At the start of every adventure, the players will draw a hand of 5 cards from the deck. This hand size might grow or shrink as your character suffers failures and achieve successes. If the players go through all the cards in the deck, reshuffle the discards. The GM never uses cards. 

Occasionally a character (PC or NPC) will do something that another character doesn't want to happen. When that happens we have a  Challenge. 

Depending on how difficult the challenge is, the GM will draw 1-8 Challenge Tokens

The GM describes the scene and what is happening and asks the players “What do you do?”

One or more players describe what actions their characters are taking, and what Suit they are using. 

The player plays cards from his hand, trying to get a total of 11.

If they character's Concept would help them with this action, they can discard and redraw as many cards from their hand as they'd like, all at once, before playing their cards. 

Aces count as 1.
Face cards count as 11.

If your action falls under your Strong Suit, you can play cards from any suit (even your Weak one), as long as you play at least one card from your Strong Suit. 

If your action falls under a Suit that is neither Strong or Weak, you can only play cards from that specific suit. 

You cannot undertake actions that fall under your Weak Suit. You'll have to find another way to overcome the Challenge. 

If you make 11 with...
1 card: You succeed with exceptional style. The GM looses 2 Challenge Tokens. If you used your Strong Suit with this action, your hand size increases by 1.

2 cards: You succeed and get closer to your goal. The GM looses 1 challenge token. 

3 or more cards: You succeed at cost. The GM loses a Challenge Token, and you reduce your hand size by 1.

If you cannot make 11 at all: You suffer failure. The GM doesn't lose any Challenge Tokens, and you reduce your hand size by 1. Discard your entire hand.

Draw cards from the deck to refill your hand after each play. 

If the GM looses all their Challenge Tokens, then the PCs have overcome the challenge. 

If a PC's hand size is reduced to 0, they are out of the game―dead, comatose, captured, or too depressed to continue.

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