Getting Things Done – Chapter 4 – (Part 1) – HYOOTRD RPG Players’ Guide


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Host Your Own Old Time Radio Drama Role Playing Game

Host Your Own Old Time Radio Drama Role Playing Game

Chapter 4 – Getting things done

The story so far (An obstacle overcome)

Episode 2

“Something’s wrong here” muttered Dr Herbivore.

“You think?” noted Jake Stead, sarcastically.

The little group were staring up at the lurid five pointed star painted on the main door of Franco Gionelli’s dock-side warehouse.  The slight coppery smell made it clear that the sign had been recently painted in blood.

Malefice felt her stomach sink as she stared at the hideous emblem.  “I think we’d better hold on a moment.  If magic is involved we’ll need to be especially careful.”

“Do you have any mojo we can use to check if it’s safe to head on in?” asked Jake.

“Sure”, Malefice replied.  “Jo-jo should do the trick.”

“Jo-jo?” asked Herbivore, raising a quizical eyebrow in Malefice’s direction.

“Yeah, Jo-jo!  He’s a little nature spirit I’ve got bound to my dagger.  He’ll run errands for me and do little things like that.  He can go in and take a look around to see if there’s anything particularly nasty and supernatural waiting for us.”

Quickly, and with minimal fuss, Malefice drew the dagger and called up the spirit.  After taking a moment to explain what she wanted she released the spirit into the warehouse.  It came back only a few moments later.

“All clear” she shrugged.  “It looks like the painting is just here for effect.”

“Some effect!” muttered Herbivore.

“Well, I’ll take care of the lock and we’ll be inside” said Jake, getting to one knee and pulling out some lock picks.

It only took a moment and the door creaked open revealing a dark, cavernous space beyond.

“What’s that in the center of the room?” asked Malefice.

“It’s a drum, sealed tight” answered Dr Herbivore.  “I’m willing to bet that’s our pathogen”.

“Our what now?” called Jake.

“Pathogen.  You know?  The infection that Gionelli is supposed to be smuggling into the city” answered Dr Herbivore.

“Are you certain?” asked Malefice.

“Not yet” came the reply as the little man strode forward into the dark warehouse interior.  “But once I attach my chemical scanner I should have a fairly good idea”.

It was the work of but a moment to hook the scanner up to the large barrel.

“It’s definitely biological” said the little doctor, looking up from his gauges.  “And given how carefully the barrel’s been sealed I’d say it’s highly toxic.”

“Then we’ve found our target” said Jake.  “But I’m surprised it’s not actually guarded more carefully.”

At that moment the floor in three separate places around the warehouse began to buckle and burst upwards.  Three hideous, partially decomposed corpses began pulling themselves out of the concrete.

“I thought you said the area was clear of supernatural nasties” wailed Herbivore, accusingly.

“I thought it was” answered Malefice.  “I didn’t think to ask Jo-jo to check under the floor”.

“At least this tells us what happened to Falzetti and his two lieutenants after they tried to double cross Franco Gionelli” Jake noted, pulling out his gun and getting ready for a fight.

(to be continued…)

A note on adjudication (or the Care and feeding of your GM)

Because of the unavoidable complexity and improvisational nature of role playing games there will be times when you are unhappy with the way the GM calls a skill check or adjudicates the outcome of an attempted action.  All rules are simply guidelines aimed at facilitating play and there are as many ways of adjudicating the outcome of a complex action as there are complex actions to attempt.  Your GM will try to apply the “rules” in as reasonable and consistent manner as possible given his or her knowledge of the players, non-player characters and situations being faced.

For example, imagine a situation in which two heroes are trying to infiltrate an upper class social affair.  Madeleine Wister is in fact a member of high society (being the heiress to an oil fortune) but her companion is a notorious gentleman thief named Dan Danby.  The two of them decide to try and pass Dan off as Madeleine’s distant cousin Bartleby.

The GM has an almost infinite number of choices available to him or her for resolving the success of this attempted deception.  The GM can ask Madeleine (who tends to intimidate her peers and behave very imperiously) to make an intimidation check to see if anyone would dare question her word.  Dan might be asked to make a successful bluff check to pull off the impersonation.  The hostess of the party might make a perception check to see if she notices anything amiss. Etc.  These rolls might be used singly or in combination and the GM might interpret the consequences of a failure as anything from raising a suspicious murmur in the room, to engendering an outrageous rumour regarding Dan’s identity, to having the hostess ask the event’s security to keep a careful watch on the couple, to complete exposure, ejection from the venue, and scandalous damage to Madeleine’s reputation.

Because of this potential variety and complexity, the GMs word regarding the means and outcome of event resolution should be treated as law.  It’s true that a better method might have produced a better result, but nothing sucks the fun out of a game faster than a half hour argument about the rules raised by a disgruntled player.  If you become the victim of what you believe is a bad ruling, let it go.  In all likelihood you’ll receive the benefit of another equally bad ruling at another time.  Don’t be the player that brings the game to a screeching halt and leaves everyone with a bad taste in their mouths by crying foul.  See the circumstance as adding a new wrinkle to the plot and keep on going.

But what happens when a GM is being consistently unfair or appears to be scapegoating a particular player?  In life clashes of personality, while unfortunate, do happen.  If you can respectfully confront the behaviour, then do so.  If it looks like the GM is unwilling or unable to modify consistently unfair behaviour then it is probably time to find another gaming group.  Life is too short to persist in gaming if you are no longer having fun.

General skill use

Character actions are made during the game by applying skill tests. A skill test is considered successful if a player rolls a 12 or higher on 2 ten sided dice (2d10) – after adjusting for modifiers.
The player’s roll is modified by adding the number of dots available in the skill most relevant to the action attempted.

Players should feel free to experiment with their skills (subject to game keeper approval).
The skills have been defined very loosely so that they can be applied in novel and new ways according to the circumstances faced by the players.

Skill Types

There are five kinds of skill available to players in this game.

Generally it is up to the GM to decide for him or herself which of the categories the attempted skill falls into and apply modifiers accordingly.

1) Trained skills are those skills the player has spent points obtaining (anything which has a dot added to it).

Example (Using a dagger – trained)

Malefice has a dagger skill with two dots in it.  She attempts to throw the dagger at a rope holding up a chandelier in order to bring it down on her enemies.  She rolls 11 2d10 and adds her dagger skill of 2 giving a result of 13 – a success.  The chandelier comes down  on her enemies doing 3 points of damage to each and (added bonus) the GM decides it entangles them for a round.

2) A Default skill is one that can be employed without necessarily requiring the spending of points (for example Hide, and Search).  Most default skills are listed on your character sheet and have a minimum of one point available to them already (marked by an x).

Example (Hiding in the shadows – default)

Dr Herbivore prefers to get out of the way rather than fight.  Hearing some guards coming along the corridor he chooses to hide.  He has not spent any points on this skill but can use it because it is a default skill (one that anyone can use).  It only gives him a one point bonus to his dice roll.  He rolls a 3 on 2d10 and adds one to the result.  The guards are clearly going to see him.

3) A Natural skill is a special kind of skill attempt that uses one of the base statistics (Strength or Willpower) in place of a related skill that the character does not have (and the skill must be related to the statistic to be allowed) adding two points if derived from the strongest attribute, 1 point for the lowest attribute, or 1 point if the two attributes are equal.

Example (Breaking into a room – natural)

Jake Stead is trying to break into the Principal’s office. He makes a skill test using his pick lock skill. Rolling 2 ten sided dice he gets a 7.
By adding his pick lock skill of 3 (2 dots plus the default of 1) he gets 10. He needed a 12 or better to succeed and therefore failed.
Frustrated, Jake then tries to force the door with his shoulder. He doesn’t have a specific strength skill so the GM determines that the door is rather flimsy (-1 to attempts to break)and allows Jake to use his base strength skill at half it’s value (rounded up). Jake rolls a 17 and adds 3 (his strength)/2 (rounded up) – a total of 2, and subtracts 1 (the penalty modifier).  This is a result of 17 +2 -1 = 18. The door gives way easily (if noisily).

4) A Difficult skill is a skill one does not have but might be able to employ (at the GM’s discretion) depending on the character’s specialty and archetype (basic electronics, simple cryptography etc) and requires a -2 to any attempted use.

Example (Fixing a lamp – difficult)

Jake is trying to fix his desk lamp. He does not have a skill in electronics but the problem is only a loose wire so the game master allows him to make a Difficult test (minus 2 to the player’s roll). The player rolls 2 ten sided dice and gets a 14. After subtracting 2 (the penalty modifier) from the roll the score is 12. Jake is successful but only just.

5) An Untrained skill is one that you could reasonably employ in ignorance but would never be good at without appropriate training. An untrained ability differs from a difficult skill (where you take a minus 2 penalty) in that it is a more or less natural ability you use on the spur of the moment.  There are only a few of these abilities and they are marked on your character sheet (Brawl, Jump, Melee Weapon, Ranged Weapon, Ride). An example might be where you’ve not been trained in the use of melee weapons but you take up an axe-handle to attempt to beat up a foe or where you’ve never ridden a horse but you need to try and stay on one while it gallops away.  Untrained skills are employed where you do not have specific expertise but still have a chance of successfully attempting the task.  An untrained person could fire a gun and kill an opponent, but probably could not defuse a time bomb or shut down a nuclear reactor.  Untrained skills allow you one dot and no more.  To be used at a higher level they must have points allocated to them.  If you allocate points to them they are no longer untrained.  The difference between someone untrained and someone trained in horse riding, for example, is that the untrained rider has a chance to hang on when the horse bolts, while the trained rider has a chance to bring the animal back under control and direct its energy.

Example (Using a gun – untrained)

Malefice has no gun skill but sees a gun lying on the desk during her fight with the Prison Wardens.  She grabs it and fires at the nearest target.  She employs her untrained ranged weapon skill (which can never be higher than one point unless she seeks out training) and rolls 9 on 2d10.  She adds one to the result getting a 10, insufficient to succeed.  Her bullet goes astray.

Example (Leaping a pit – untrained)

Jake is no acrobat, but the dead body of Marcel the thief is cradling the stolen treasure just on the other side of the pit which has opened up in front of him.  Jake decides to jump the pit.  He did not elect to spend points on a jump skill and so uses the untrained skill to leap across the chasm.  Jake rolls a 10 on 2d10 and adds 1 point for the untrained skill.  It is insufficient for him to get across.  The GM decides a consequence check is in order.  Jake rolls the dreaded six.  The GM decides he tumbles to the bottom of the pit taking 4 wounds worth of falling damage on the way.

When no relevant skill exists the attempt is usually impossible.

Example (Fixing a computer – impossible)

Jake finds a computer that is broken and wishes to fix it. The game keeper feels this is well outside Jake’s expertise and chooses not to allow the test.

Signature Moves, Subskills and manoeuvres

These are special skills that are purchased by the permanent spending of a hero point.  They must be related to a specific master skill but, otherwise, are used like any other skill.

Skill ranks

There are 10 levels of skills (roughly equating to each dot of skill applied to it).

AverageSkills employed to effect an outcome within the capacity of an average human being. For example an average strong man might break down a locked wooden door or carry two people to safety from a burning building.
AdvancedSkills employed to effect an outcome slightly above the average. For example an advanced strong man might lift a heavy fallen tree branch out of the way or drag an iron girder to one side.
SuperiorSkills employed at the height of human capacity. For example a superior strong man may bend an iron bar or break a chain with effort but still be a normal human being.
Heroic (level 1-3)

 –

Skills employed just beyond what a normal human being could achieve. For example a heroic strong man may lift a small car above his head.
Super-human (level 1-3)

 –

Skills employed well in advance of human capacity. For example a superhuman strong man may lift a truck over his head or drag a train from its tracks.
TitanicSkills that are absurdly beyond the ability of normal humans. For example a titanic strong man can lift a small building, uproot a tree, or juggle and throw large boulders across wide distances.

 

You may find it helpful to consult the following table when trying to determine what kind of challenges can be tackled by your level of skill.

1 dot:all standard physical or mental challenges (outrunning pursuit, solving a logic puzzle)
2 dots:all difficult physical or mental challenges (winning a championship sprint, beating a chess champion)
3 dots:some very difficult physical or mental challenges (placing in an Olympic sprint, achieving grand master rank in chess)
4 dots:all very difficult physical or mental challenges (winning an Olympic sprint, beating the world champion at chess)
5 dots:some extreme physical or mental challenges (winning an Olympic sprint by half the length of the field, beating the world champion at chess in the minimum possible moves while blindfolded).
8 dots: all extreme physical or mental challenges (outrunning (on foot) a car full of tommy-gun-wielding gangsters while snatching bullets out of the air with your bare hands, beating 5 grand masters at chess while blindfolded and at the same time deciphering an alien language)


Signature Moves, Subskills and manoeuvres

These are special skills that are purchased by the permanent spending of a hero point.  They must be related to a specific master skill but, otherwise, are used like any other skill.

 

Skill ranks

There are 10 levels of skills (roughly equating to each dot of skill applied to it).

AverageSkills employed to effect an outcome within the capacity of an average human being. For example an average strong man might break down a locked wooden door or carry two people to safety from a burning building.
AdvancedSkills employed to effect an outcome slightly above the average. For example an advanced strong man might lift a heavy fallen tree branch out of the way or drag an iron girder to one side.
SuperiorSkills employed at the height of human capacity. For example a superior strong man may bend an iron bar or break a chain with effort but still be a normal human being.
Heroic (level 1-3)

 –

Skills employed just beyond what a normal human being could achieve. For example a heroic strong man may lift a small car above his head.
Super-human (level 1-3)

 –

Skills employed well in advance of human capacity. For example a superhuman strong man may lift a truck over his head or drag a train from its tracks.
TitanicSkills that are absurdly beyond the ability of normal humans. For example a titanic strong man can lift a small building, uproot a tree, or juggle and throw large boulders across wide distances.

 

You may find it helpful to consult the following table when trying to determine what kind of challenges can be tackled by your level of skill.

1 dot:all standard physical or mental challenges (outrunning pursuit, solving a logic puzzle)
2 dots:all difficult physical or mental challenges (winning a championship sprint, beating a chess champion)
3 dots:some very difficult physical or mental challenges (placing in an Olympic sprint, achieving grand master rank in chess)
4 dots:all very difficult physical or mental challenges (winning an Olympic sprint, beating the world champion at chess)
5 dots:some extreme physical or mental challenges (winning an Olympic sprint by half the length of the field, beating the world champion at chess in the minimum possible moves while blindfolded).
8 dots: all extreme physical or mental challenges (outrunning (on foot) a car full of tommy-gun-wielding gangsters while snatching bullets out of the air with your bare hands, beating 5 grand masters at chess while blindfolded and at the same time deciphering an alien language)

 

NEXT TIME: Chapter 4 (Part 2) – Getting things done – consequence tests, perception, using special skills, and skill advancement.

This chapter of the Host Your Own Old Time Radio Drama RPG and all associated content (except where acknowledged) is © copyright weirdworldstudios.com and Philip Craig Robotham 1997 and may not be reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author.

 


HYOOTRD Roleplaying Game – Players’ Guide