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Author Topic: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!  (Read 65219 times)

Posts: 168

« Reply #75 on: May 14, 2003, 02:47:54 PM »

Using/Gaining/Changing/Losing Traits
Describe what happens in the gameworld. The Guide then determines which Traits the action is governed by. For example:

    * a simple use of a Trait: "I swing my sword at the guard's neck!" (using the Swordsman Trait)
    * gaining a new Trait: "I remember my youth as a pick-pokcet on the streets of Cairo." (gain the Pick-Pocket Trait.)
    * introducing a new character: "This is my friend, Arthur." (gain the Trait "Arthur, Friend.")
    * changing a Trait: "Instead of killing me, the poison alters my mind, giving me uncontrollable visions."(Exchange the Trait "Poisoned" for the Trait "Uncontrollable Visions.")
    * losing a Trait: "After a month's bedrest, I find that my wound has completely healed." (losing the Trait"Wounded.)

The Guide then uses the Action Resolution mechanics to determine how successful the action was.

Wild Points

Wild Points determine how cinematic a game is. The more Wild Points that can be spent, the more cinematic the game.

Volcanoes and Glaciers realism is set at Cinematic, with a maximum of 2 Wild Points spent at one time and 5 Wild Points to begin with.

Using Wild Points
Wild Points can be spent to do a number of things, all of which requires a colorful description of how the Wild
Points are used.

Give a new Trait. The Trait has a rating equal to the number of Wild Points spent.

Reduce an existing Trait. The Trait is reduced by a number equal to  the number of Wild Points spent.

Modify an action.  The action is then modified by an amount equal to the number of Wild Points spent.

Change a Trait: This costs 1 Wild Point. The Trait is then changed to another Trait of equal rating.

Recovering Wild Points

Recovering Wild Points will differ from game to game; however, the default is that a number of Wild Points equal to the starting amount is recovered after each Scene if those Wild Points were not spent to reduce,
change or give a Trait -- ie, only those Wild Points spent modifiying an action recover.

Posts: 168

« Reply #76 on: May 14, 2003, 02:49:08 PM »

Setting Mechanics

Mechanics in "Volcanoes and Glaciers" is the same as in any Signature game, except for singing Bloodsongs.

Bloodsongs allow a character to move between Spheres and adjust the rules which govern those Sphere in the general area of the character. This basically means that the character can "bend" physical laws and induce good or bad luck with a Bloodsong.

Singing a Bloodsong involves two Traits, Blood and Song. First, the Player spends Blood points. The exact amount depends on how powerful the bloodsong. Examples are listed below.

Easy: 1
Challenging: 2
Difficult: 3

Bloodsong of Bifrost: Open a gate between Spheres: 3

Bloodsong of the Sagas: Add +1 Success to all local friendly characters in battle: 2

Bloodsong of  Odin's Wisdom: Adjust the local values of Volcano and Glacier: 1 per point up or down

Bloodsong of Thor: Add +1 Success to a single character's checks in battle: 1

Bloodsong of Home :Make the local values of Volcano and Glacier same as the Bloodsinger's home Sphere: 1

"Local" means enough to accomodate a sailing ship, roughly a 100-foot sphere.

Then, the Player makes a Action Resolution check against his Song Trait. If the number of Successes is at least equal to the Blood points spent, the Action succeeds. If not, the Player must spend extra Blood points equal to the difference between the Blood points spent and the number of Successes.

If  a character ever reaches 0 Blood points, he will die by the end of the Scene.

Blood points are recovered at the rate of 1 per day, 2 per day if the character mainly rests during the day.

Increasing Maximum Blood points

The only way to increase one's maximum Blood points is to nail oneself upside down to a large tree and wait there without food or water for nine days. This drains one's Blood points to zero by the ninth day. At the end of the ordeal, the player makes an Action Resolution check against his Blood Trait. If it -fails-, the character's Blood Trait increases by one, to a maximum of 5.

Posts: 168

« Reply #77 on: May 14, 2003, 02:50:14 PM »

The Guide

Making Adventures
    The First Rule
    Challenges and Relative Difficulty
    Carry-over Traits: NPCs, Locations, and Items

The Guide controls the NPCs, as well as the setting and any other obstacles the PCs might encounter.

The First Rule:  When in doubt of whether or not to allow something, allow it.

Challenge and Difficulty: A Challenge is a challenge to the PCs, either from an NPC,  the environment, or anything else that may oppose the PCs. Each part of a Challenge (a trap, an obstacle, etc.) has an associated
Difficulty. Each character Tests his relevant Trait versus that part's Difficulty. NPCs are simply given Signature Traits with their ranks being the Difficulty.

Major Villain: Highest PC Traits
Villain Team Member: PC Trait
Major Obstacle: PC Trait
Minor Obstacle: PC Trait -1
Minion: PC Trait -2

Carry-over Traits: NPCs, Locations, and Items

Carry-over Traits are Traits that give continuity to a campaign (a series of adventures.) These include NPCs (e.g., the Dark Lord), important locations (e.g., the Dark Lord's tower), and important items (e.g., the sword fated to kill the Dark Lord.)

Carry-over Traits are just like a character's Traits, except that they are controlled by the Guide.
Emily Care

Posts: 1126

« Reply #78 on: May 14, 2003, 04:23:53 PM »

Sign in Stranger
formerly: Song of the blood moon.

Overview of the Game
Play begins after the "disease" afflicting humanity has been cured.   The cause was a biological entity that has formed a mutualistic relationship with the space-faring species in this sector of the galaxy.  There had been a quarantine on earth, which was broken by the Sxosians while visiting their dolphin trading partners.  Humans had been observed to be difficult to communicate with, so official first contact had been delayed until the species developed further.  In contrition for their error, the Sxosians developed a treatment which allows exposure to the entity to result in a joining rather than destruction of the human cells.  Humans who undergo this treatment may join the interstellar community.

The party

Your characters are humans who have taken the new blood, they have the entity in their body.  The quarantine on earth continues--now with the awareness of the human community--all those who leave may never return.  They begin on earth's moon, Luna, where they decide together what assignment they will take in a distant land.  The spacefaring species are sympathetic to humanity's plight and offer jobs and land to settle in their worlds.  Humans have many obstacles to overcome, not the least of which is their innocence of other sentient species and horror of the unknown.  

Character creation:
Each player creates a character.  Do so by answering a string of questions:

What was your life like on Earth?
What brought you here?
What are you like?

Skills and traits will be chosen that relate to the answers given.  The group of players should answer the questions one at a time, and share their responses with the group before moving on to the next.  Players are encouraged to find connections between their characters and bounce ideas off of one another.

World Creation and Player Spheres of Influence
Once the characters have been begun, each player begins the process of populating the galaxy by creating one sentien alien species, and one planet, occupied by this species.  Creation is brief.  For each species, a pair of attributes is chosen; one of which is alluring to humans, the other which is found to be repulsive.  After the pair of attributes, write a short physical description of the species.

Species: Sxosians
Attributes: Song/Smell
Description: Light-blue many limbed liquid breathers.

The language and voice of Sxosians is experiences as musical, as a kind of song by most humans, while the personal smell of Sxosians as is unsettling or repugnant.  

For the planet, choose a name, the type of habitat and a size.

Planet: Sxosia
Habitat: Aqueous
Size: Big

Create the Assignments
Each player should write a short, cryptic statement below the Planet information.  Half the statement should make sense, half be nonsense.

Planet: Sxosia...
Assignment: Raise green lilliu

Now the players should take this information and look it over together in character.  Discuss the perceived advantages and disadvantages of each world, species and assigment.  Come to a group decision about the best place for the group to begin their new lives.  

When a world has been chosen, cities are created and whether other species also live there is decided. The larger the world, the more likely it is to have multiple species present.  

Modes and Spheres
Each species has unique ways of doing things and having their needs met.  The processes have been grouped into several overarching divisions in this game called Modes.  The Modes are:

Communication * Sustenance * Shelter * Reproduction * Social Organization * Transportation * Trade * Culture

Once the planet has been chosen, each player chooses one or two Modes to fall within their Sphere of Influence.    The number will depend on the number of players, and the preference of the group.  A new Sphere sheet, the Communal Sphere, may be begun at this time.  Any Modes not chosen should be placed on this sheet. All the players may contribute to these modes. It is recommended that Culture be communal.  Indicate next to each mode, which species it refers to, and much space should be left open below each Mode.

Getting Ready to Leave: skills, traits, and song points
Before leaving Luna, to settle this unknown (to the humans) world that has been chosen, the characters may choose to receive training in skills they believe will be useful to them in their new lives.  These skills join the skills developed on Earth.  2-3 Personal Traits should be written below the answer to the question "What are you like?", now that the player has had a chance to get to know the character.  These will be added to in time.

On the character sheet, below the answer to the question: "What brought you here?", information about the various species the character comes into contact with will be written.  This is where the pair of attributes comes into play.

song O O O O O O smell
summer with whales      ________________
__________________   ________________
__________________   ________________

6 circles are drawn between the two attributes.  Below are spaces for six memories of the human to be written. A separate such entry will be made for each species.  The memories signify connections made to the character's own life that give them understanding for and connection with each alien species. A circle is filled in for each connection made, and increases the character's "song" attribute score by 1, and decrease their "smell" score by 1.  Greater connection helps the character understand the aliens better and unravel the mysteries of the strange world about them.  Characters with 0 "song" and maximum "smell", panic automatically in the presence of that alien species.  And humans with low song scores react with distrust to those who have high level scores.  

What Comes Next
The game revolves around the characters establishing themselves in their new home, exploring the strange environment, and learning about their host species.  The players create elements of the Modes and Species in their Spheres, by posing enigmas of behaviour and process for the other players. These enigmas are solved by the players through the actions and interpretations of their characters.  As the characters develop, more material comes available for the characters to bridge the gap between the unfathomable activity surrounding them, and their own lives.

Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games
Kester Pelagius

Posts: 508

« Reply #79 on: May 14, 2003, 08:17:36 PM »

Greetings All,

I've tried to make this as complete as possible, while remaining minimalist with the rules.  Hopefully this has worked well enough to give a general idea of the direction intended for the game to take.  If not take note that there is/will be much more detail available in the PDF ranging from extended background information, graphics, maps, and hidden messages.  No, really!  Just try reading some place names sdrawkcab.  :)

But for now here's the Iron Game Chef quick play version sans the fluffy goodness, which is just a distraction from the brilliant black and white words that tell you what is really going on.  Well, in the game world at any rate.

Kind Regards,

Chris "Kester Pelagius" Morgan


Synopsis:  Players in Song of the Blood Spheres will belong to one of three alliance groups:  the Draconic Coalition, Necromancer's Guild, or Monster's Free Union.  These factions represent the ruling tripartite native groups living in the world of They (pronounced: th AE) and have nothing to do with the actual characters.  Characters will be archetypal heroes summoned to the present age through the mists of time; the alliances are a means to add intrigue to the game when playing with larger groups.

While each faction may have disparate end-goals they all find themselves in the same position, they need Heroes.  Of course there haven't been any heroes in Ubel They for hundreds of generations, which means that each group has to concentrate their resources to summon a hero from the mists of space and time.

Goals: Explore the world, find at least one of the two Blood Spheres, learn how to active them, defeat Myxomatosis, and gain control of the Meliq Sphere magical artifact.

Note that these are introductory goals.  Banishing Myxomatosis isn't covered here, nor is the natures of the remaining 7 spheres of Riule, though any of these can be considered part of a larger meta plot if desired.  However, as presented, this is a simple game intended for veteran gamers.  It is presumed the players will have their own basic gaming materials and know what those materials are.


Ubel They: Song of the Blood Spheres

Background: In the age of Godhr, when the gods yet walked the earth, the Wolf Clans of Ombrage were united under the banner of the High Chiefs of Nimrud.  For thousands of years they served as protectors and guardians of the clan lands through their High Chiefs.  These High Chiefs were appointed by each clan to serve a year and a day.  By all accounts they were just, their councilors wise, and their Battle Wizards renowned across the three continents.  Yet they feared the invaders from across the sea, the tamers of the wind whose crimson sails too often were sighted near their shores.  Such was the age of Vindr.

Then the Sphere of Meliq, one of the ten Blood Spheres of Riule, magical orbs long thought lost, was rediscovered.  Found hidden in ruins deep within the forest Ancien the sphere was brought to Nimrud, where news of its discovery quickly spread throughout the land.  All clans hailed this event as an omen signaling the start of a new era of prosperity and peace.  For with the Sphere of Meliq the clan Chiefs, and their wise councilors, hoped to return the land to its ancient glory and see the light of the Riule gods once more returned to the world.  So began the Wolf Age.

     Alas, for all its promise, the Wolf Age was short lived.  And never would the race of men be the same again, for with its closing the rule of the clan chiefs ended and their ancestral lands, left in chaos, were over run with monstrous beasts.  Creatures of nightmare roamed the countryside, vampire bandits preyed upon unwary travelers, and, worst of all, the Sphere of Meliq had been captured by the race of cold-blooded saurian that would become reviled throughout the three continents as the Slave-lords.  So began the Draconian ascendancy.

     And so it has remained until recently when, with an earth shaking noise, particularly nasty wound gash opened in the sky above Mt. Mordrag, a long dormant volcano, and dripped forth Myxomatosis.  A big, ugly, bad arse evil beastie that would make cthonian ealdor gods quake in their dank dark lairs.  Worse, Myxomatosis has stolen the sphere of Meliq and fanned the flames of the long dormant volcano.  Yes, Myxomatosis has come to They, and nothing has been the same since!  Enter the heroes.

The Heroes

All Heroes have three Traits, in addition to their Hero Factor; these Traits are: Courage, Will, and Strength.  Each player has exactly 9 attribute points to distribute between these Traits.  There is only one rule: no Trait may ever go above 6.  Whoever rolls the Knight Templar is Game Master for the duration of the game session.  Also, prior to play, each player should choose an affiliation with one of the three given groups.  (More on this later.)

Courage: A measure of bravery, valor, and daring; very important for determining success of Heroic Actions.

Will:  Every Hero has one, and thank goodness for it!  If not for Will most Heroes would all too easily succumb to the wiles of Witches and fall prey to every bargain basement Succubus.

Strength:  This trait measures brawn, vigor, and the potency of a Hero's physical attributes.

Movement (Moves):  Movement is die based, is different for each character depending upon a number of variables, and yet is always based upon three standard character descriptors.   These are: Slow-moving (D4), Walking (D6), Riding (D8).  Moves are in hex or squares.

Hero Points:  Every character will have a number of Hero Points, generated by random die roll, which the players may use to determine skill and ability rank during character creation.  Any left over HP become recorded on the character sheet as Hero Factor.

Hero Factor:  Hero Factor represents the number of dice that a player may roll "above and beyond" their current LOAD level.  Be warned, using HF is costly for HF is very hard to accumulate during play.  In fact it's almost impossible to accumulate any HF.

Character Creation

Prior to actual play everyone will need to determine his or her Heroic character.  To do this take 2D6 and roll on the chart below.  For those who read the rules, and you know who you are, warm the dice up.  Hope you get what you rolled for!

  2. Knight
  3. Paladin
  4. Warrior Crusader
  5. Blade Dancer
  6. Sword Mistress
  7. Warrior
  8. Norseman Berserker
  9. Knight Templar (Knight of Justice)
10. Sword Dancer
11. Amazon
12. Barbarian

Cast of Characters


Hero Points: D6+3

Description: At a glance the Amazon appears to be nothing more exotic than a female Barbarian warrior, however a closer examination reveals them to be far more supple of limb and agile of body.

Amazons are skilled in Archery, Staff Fighting, and Blades.


Hero Points: 3D4+1

Description: The Barbarian character is an archetypal muscle bound fighter.  They are Warriors by trade, making Barbarians a true force of nature, one that relies upon brawn and determination to get the job done.

Barbarians have the following abilities: Drinking Grog, Hitting and Smashing, Intimidation, and Sword Fighting.

Blade Dancer

Hero Points: D4+2

Description: A specialist in feats of daring do using blades, specifically knives and daggers.  The downside is that Blade Dancers may not wear armor.  In fact the less the Blade Dancer wears the better since freedom of movement is key to their craft.

Blade Dancers are skilled in Acrobatic Twirling, Blades, and Combat Dancing.


Hero Points: D8

Description: Warriors of Noble Birth, the Knight comes with a Charger and has the ability to attract a squire.

The Knight is skilled in Swordsmanship, Riding, Moving in Armor, Tournament Combat, and Honor.

Knight Templar (Knight of Justice)

Hero Points: 3D6

Description:   Just like the Knight and Paladin, only with the added bonus that whoever rolls this character gets to be Game Master.  If you are reading this because you have rolled the Knight Templar be aware that this is a unique character.  There may only be one Knight Templar in any game.  On the off chance you would rather not be Game Master find out who would, if more than one player steps forward choose a method to randomly choose who gets the Knight Templar.  This can be a simple coin toss, nearest guess of a number you are thinking about, or whatever.

The Knight Templar is skilled in Swordsmanship, Riding, Moving in Armor, Tournament Combat, Honor, and have the special function of Arbitration.

Norseman Berserker

Hero Points: 2D4+2

Description: Intrepid explorers, mighty warriors, and sometimes hot tempered when pressed; Norseman are fabled human warriors with many interesting skills.

Norseman Berserkers have the following skills and abilities: Blades, Battle Rage, and ??.


Hero Points: D8+2

Description: Noble Holy Warriors, Paladin's are knightly champions who have vowed to rid the world of evil and slay all monsters they encounter.  See their shiny armor and tremble ye creatures of villainy!

Paladins are skilled in Swordsmanship, Riding, Moving in Armor, Tournament Combat, Honor, Quelling Evil, and Monster Slaying.

Sword Dancer

Hero Points: D4+2

Description: Agile and dexterous, lithe and flexible, these are but a few words used to describe what it take to be a Sword Dancer.  Deadly, a simple word, but one which all who have met Sword Dancers in combat agree they are.

Sword Dancers are skilled in Acrobatic Twirling, Sword Fighting, and Combat Dancing.

Sword Mistress

Hero Points: D6+2

Description: The Sword Mistress was a much feared warrior whose exploits were feared and respected throughout the lands of men.  It was said that maidens were enrolled in schools from an early age in the hope that they might one day achieve level of skill to earn them a place within the ranks of the Sisterhood of Steel, and thus earn the noble rank of Sword Mistress.  Alas few of the maidens who trained in sword fighting ever were accepted into the elite Sisterhood of Steel, yet despite their orders fall in the great war their orders memory lives on well into these darker days of the Age of Ubel They.

The Sword Mistress is skilled in Moving in Armor, Sword Fighting, Swordsmanship, and  Tournament Combat.


Hero Points: D8

Description: The typical fighter, Warriors are skilled in basic melee combat and can wield a sword with skill, though magic and the healing arts are beyond their ability.

The Warrior is skilled in Blades, Sword Fighting, Hand-to-Hand Combat, and  Moving in Armor.

Warrior Crusader

Hero Points: D8+2

Description: Like the Warrior, only with a Righteous Cause to fight for.

The Warrior is skilled in Blades, Sword Fighting, Hand-to-Hand Combat, Moving in Armor, and Defending Righteous Cause.

Sample Character

Gorf, the Barbarian

Courage: 3
Will: 2
Strength: 4
Moves: D6
Hero Points: 6

Gorf has 4 skills (Drinking Grog, Hitting and Smashing, Intimidation, and Sword Fighting) and 6 Hero Points.  During character creation these can be invested into any of these skills at a ratio of 1:1 or saved for later use.  All Skills default to 0, thus it may be a good idea to invest at least 1 point per skill.  More if you are able.  Thus the final result might look something like this:

Gorf, the Barbarian

Courage: 3
Will: 2
Strength: 4
Moves: D6
Hero Factor: 0

Skills: Drinking Grog 2, Hitting and Smashing 1, Intimidation 1, Sword Fighting 2

Note that all the Hero Points were used, thus reducing this stat to 0.  Be sure to mark it as such on your character sheet as Hero Factor not Hero Points.


Most Skills are self-explanatory.  To illustrate a few sample descriptions follow.  The skills are simple and straightforward.  Use common sense and all will be clear.  Failing that try a dictionary.  Failing that, send me a ticket to the Riviera and all will be revealed.  No, really, they have nude beaches!  (Joking.)

Blades: Skill with small blades such as knives, daggers, and short swords.

Drinking Grog: How well a character is at drinking, mostly alcoholic beverages.

Hitting and Smashing: Just what it says.

Sword Fighting:  The basic ability to use a sword in combat, simple lethality.

Swordsmanship: The ability to use a sword in combat and to display skill, elegance of form.

Conflict resolution

All actions rolls in Song of the Blood Spheres are represented by LOAD.  LOAD (Load of Active Difficulty) is a set number representing how many dice a character has to roll in any given situation based upon their Trait or Skill against a TN representing Difficulty Factor (DF).  All rolls against DF must be OVER the TN, not the TN or better, but actually over the actual TN value.
     Not to worry if your character has a 0 in a stat, all LOAD rolls are made by adding this base numerical value to 1D6.  However you are going to want those extra dice.  Trust me.  The only exception is Hero Factor, which can be thought of as representing "bonus" dice that can be applied to resolution rolls during play.  However Hero Factor is a finite resource so use it sparingly and only when needed.

For instance:  Grof wants to Intimidate a foe.  The DF is set at 9 for the task.  Grof has 1D in his skill die pool thus his player would roll 2D6 (1D + D6) and try to roll a 10 or better.  Grof's players rolls a 5, failure.  However if Grof had a Intimidation score of 0 his player would still get to roll a D6, though the action is a automatic failure, but the Game Master can assess level of failure based upon the actual roll, if necessary.

Difficulty Factor is as follows: 1-3: Relatively Easy (no brainers); 4-8: not easy; 9-15: mildly difficult; 16-20: Complicated; 21-26: Darned Intricate; 27-33 Very Complicated; Baffling: 34-35; 36+: Well Nigh Impossible.

Setting up for Play

Basic set up is easy.  You don't even need the PDFs I mentioned.  What you will need are veteran players.  In fact these rules assume that the players are all veteran gamers who can quickly spackle any holes they may find in the wall of rules.  In fact it is expected that the players, and Game Master, will fill in the background details as needed.

To begin grab a sheet of notebook paper.  (Hex or graph paper will also do, if you happen to have any.)  Choose a player at random.  This player will now draw a irregular shape to represent one of the landmasses.  Pass the paper (and pencil) counterclockwise to the next player at the table and repeat this process until three landmasses have been established.

Next, the player to whom the sheet is handed off will now mark off a spot, at random, to represent Mt. Mordrag on one of the landmasses.  This landmass is now the continent of Dracossh, the seat of power of the Draconian Coalition, and Mt. Mordrag is where that vile demonic beastie with the hard to pronounce name who also happens to possess the sphere Meliq will be found.

Last, the next player will choose one of the remaining continents and either name it Necromunda (seat of power of the Necromancer's Guild) or Ombrage (seat of power of the Monster's Free Union) and then hand the paper, with the now outlined world of They, to the player who possesses the Knight Templar.  If not one possesses the Knight Templar as yet refer back to the section on character creation.

Remember those alliances?  Good.  Each player should note which continent corresponds to their chosen group, this is where their characters start play.  Each character group can act in concert or individually, though it is left up to the players to decide how these affiliations should be applied to in-game play.  The only exception is the Knight Templar, which may begin play on any continent of the GM's choosing.

The Game Turn

The game turn is really rather simple.  Every player may do whatever their characters actions allow, though their actions are limited to the skills they possess and their number of action dice.  For instance, in the above example, Grof had to roll all his action dice to attempt to Intimidate the foe.  He failed.  Thus, unless the situation allows for further possible action, play should continue to the next player or the GM.

For instance, having failed to Intimidate the foe, the player may decide to have Grof haul off and Barbarian smack the foe (1D) or engage in a sword fight (2D) if the situation allows for these actions.  Of course once the actions have been attempted, meaning all the action dice available in the die pool for the given skill, then the Grof character can not do anything until a new Game Turn is declared.


That's it.  Happy gaming.

And best wishes to everyone, you're all Iron Game Chef Champs!

P.S. Just for the record- and hello across time to those of you reading this after doing a search of the forum, great place isn’t it?- the above is Copyright © 2003 by C. Demetrius Morgan.  Yep, been a while.  But look at all the great stuff here.  Wow!

"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis." -Dante Alighieri
Matt Machell

Posts: 477

« Reply #80 on: May 15, 2003, 08:59:58 AM »

The concord states that the conflict between the Coalition and the Demarchy cannot spread. To allow it to do so would risk the stability of the entire galaxy, and the blood of a million worlds.

It is thus limited to the warworlds, a strip of systems, comprising of the husks of a thousand spheres, the results of a lightyears-wide scorched earth policy.

Your mind just signed up for a ten year term.

Kester Pelagius

Posts: 508

« Reply #81 on: May 15, 2003, 09:39:44 AM »


The Norseman Berserker should read as follows:

Quote from: Kester Pelagius

Norseman Berserker

Hero Points: 2D4+2

Description: Intrepid explorers, mighty warriors, and sometimes hot tempered when pressed; Norseman are fabled human warriors with many interesting skills.  However they are reknowned far and wide for their battle frenzy.

Norseman Berserkers have the following skills and abilities: Blades, Battle Rage, and Sword Fighting.

Note: Battle Rage = Battle Frenzy

Sorry about that.  (Can't edit the post.)

BTW: The individual maps are now up as PDFs optimized for onscreen viewing.  Click the link in the sig if interested.

Kind Regards,

Kester Pelagius

"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis." -Dante Alighieri
Emily Care

Posts: 1126

« Reply #82 on: May 15, 2003, 11:36:28 AM »

Whirrr! Chop-chop!  Ding!

As the clock ticks, the chefs continue to bring out their courses.  A garnish of Virgin sacrifices goes on one Volcano Pig Roast, a Ground-hog is stuffed with olives and fig leaves and seared with lava, songs of Magic are lavished on Heroic cuts of Norse Myth, we have spicy dishes of Sci-Fi wonder, unexpected sorbets of Mind-control and popular song and more. Some remain in the oven, held back for perfection and precisely timed release.  

It is a smorgasborg of delights...stiff competition for the Contender from Western Mass....  But only one chef may reign supreme!

Sign in Stranger  formerly: Song of the blood moon.

Mechanics in depth: Character establishment

Character Sheet
Divide a piece of notebook paper in half, making two vertical columns.  At the top of the left-hand column, write the character's name. Below this, write the First Question: "What was your life like on Earth?" Leave space for this to be answered in 2-3 sentences, and then three additional lines for associated skills and their scores.  

Below this, still in the left column, write: "Lunar Training", and leave blank 6-7 lines below it for skills and scores.

Below this write the Second Question: "What are you like?" lines following it blank to the bottom of the page.  

At the top of the right hand column write the Third Question: "What brought you here? or "What brought you into Space?".  Leave a couple lines blank beneath it, then write the name of the first alien species this character has encountered below this, followed by the attractive/repulsive attribute pair with six circles between the two attributes.  Draw six lines on the three lines below the pair open for memories to be added, as illustrated in the prior post on this game.  Leave the rest of this column open for the same information to be written about other species encountered.

Earth experience  The character has (presumably) had a body of experience in her life on earth.  Choose three activities that the character has spent significant time doing and write them below the answer to the First Question (what was your life like on Earth?).  Assign 6 points total to these skills.  Skills may be chosen during the process of sharing answers to the First Question with the group.  It may make sense for people to avoid choosing overlapping skills.

Typing           3
Karate-do      2
Lawn care      1  

Lunar training is acquired after the group has selected it's assignment on an alien planet.  Each character should choose three skills that they wish to receive training in before they leave for their new home. These skills all start at level 3.  All characters are assumed to be taught a base understanding of the language of the dominant species on the planet.  Higher fluency may be chosen as a Lunar training skill.  The group may wish to coordinate training types in character to give the colonizing party the best pool of resources and to use the strengths of party members to fullest extent.    

Personal Traits are short descriptions of the character's personality that are written on the lines below the answer to the Second Question (what are you like?).  The character's player chooses three of these at the end of the first session.  

Attribute Pairs
The character may begin play with at least one circle filled in for the Sxosian attribute pair: song and smell. The first circle to the right of "song" should be filled in, and all succeeding proceed to the right.  Each filled in circle represents another "song" (or analogous attribute) point, and a reduction in the character's "smell" points.

--Emily Care

Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games

Posts: 869

« Reply #83 on: May 15, 2003, 02:06:03 PM »

Well, I'll be too busy to do it tomorrow, so here it is!


Blood Songs of the Volcanic Sphere

A Role-Playing Game

Iron Game Chef: Simulationist (High Concept)

Copyright (c) 2003 by Ethan Greer



Deep beneath what we Terrans know as the ground, in an incomprehensibly vast, sunless cavern, floating in a virtually endless sea of lava, is a massive sphere of rock.  Just a small disc of the sphere rises above the surface of the roiling magma, forming a circular island.  This is the Volcanic Sphere, an oasis of life in an ocean of fiery nastiness.

The Volcanic Sphere rotates and turns ever so slowly on the sea, seemingly at random.  As a result, the lay of the land changes with the generations.  The tribes of the Volcanic Sphere live out their simple lives in the tropical rain-forested hills.  They adhere to a monotheistic faith, worshiping a divine being they call the Lord of Lava, who allows their world to float in his midst.

Due to the rotation of the Sphere, some village or another will be forced to move once every 10 years or so.  Such a move is considered a holy pilgramage.  A tribe on the move is inviolate - few will mess with them for fear of interfering with the Lord of Lava's grand plan.  A moving tribe will typically move to settle towards the center of the continent.  Thus, it may be many many years before the village must move again.  The further out towards the lava sea a village is, the lower the tribe's status.  Being required to move is considered a great favor from the Lord of Lava, indicating his divine favor upon the village.

The climate of the sphere is hot, mostly tropical, but gets a little bit more temperate towards the center.  Volcanic activity gets more and more common the closer you get to the Rim - think Hawaii, only moreso.


The Blood Song

So what's with this Blood Song business?  Well, you'll need some background.  The tribes of the Volcanic Sphere view the human body as sort of a negative mirror of the world.  As the Volcanic Sphere floats in a sea of lava and is encompassed by it, so each body encompasses its own sea.  The lava feeds the Volcanic Sphere and consumes it, while blood feeds the body and is contained by it.  Hence, one's blood is one's own store of lava, and blood is what links humanity to the Lord of Lava.

Of all humanity, those most in tune with the Lord of Lava, and the lava within, are the blood singers.  These are individuals with command over their own blood.  These are your characters.

In order to invoke the magic of the blood, a blood singer must sing.  It is the singing that calls the blood and commands the mystical energy that permeates the living Volcanic Sphere.  When a blood song is invoked, wounds appear on the caster's body, and blood trickles forth to fuel the magic.


Darkness and Light

There is no regular day/night cycle on the Volcanic Sphere.  The Sphere floats in the Great Lava Sea, and there is nothing in the sky above but clouds and blackness.  The lighting on the Volcanic Sphere is pretty close to normal sunlight, but there's a reddish tint to it that becomes more noticeable the darker it is.

During the game, the GM keeps track of the current light status.  When starting at a random point in time, the GM may choose what the lighting is, or you can flip a coin, or the players might say, "we start at the next Darkness."  After that, every four hours of in-game time (roughly; you don't have to be spot-on), roll a six-sided die and add the number of previous periods of the same level of light.  If the total is 7 or more, the lighting reverses - Darkness goes to Light, or Light goes to Darkness.

Since that probably made no sense, here's an example:  Say the game starts during Light.  Four hours in, the GM rolls a die and adds 1 for the previous period of Light.  The total is 4 - it's still Light.  (If the total had been 7, it would have changed to Darkness.)  Another four hours of game time go by, and the GM rolls a die again, this time adding 2 for the previous two periods of Light.  The GM rolls a 6, making it a total of 8, so now it's Darkness.  After another four hours, the GM would roll again, adding 1 for the single prior period of Darkness.  And so on.


How To Make A Character: Stats


Blood: 1-3 - this is the quality of your blood.  The higher the number, the more potent your blood is as a magical fuel.

Song: 1-3 - This is the power of your voice.  The higher the number, the greater potential for your singing to command the mystical forces of blood magic.

Sphere: 1-6 - this is the physical condition of your body.  It governs strength, agility, speed, dexterity, basically anything physical.  The lower your Sphere, the closer you are to the condition of being a pile of guts and bones in a skin bag.

Spirit: 1-6 - This is spiritual condition of your being.  It governs intelligence, willpower, creativity, basically anything mental or "spiritual" (whatever that means).  The lower your Spirit, the closer you are to the condition of being a mindless, soulless vegetable.

Light affinity:  Choose Darkness or Light.  You have a one die bonus during your chosen condition to all casting.

Create a character by distributing 12 points among the four stats, keeping within the limits specified for each stat.  Then choose a Light Affinity.



Talents are skills and abilities that a character has.  Talents are boolean; you either have a Talent or you don't.

Talent list:

Politics (knowledge of Tribe statuses, mostly)

Other Talents are possible, but any Talent is subject to GM approval.

Choose six Talents for your character.


Task resolution: Roll a number of dice equal to Sphere or Spirit, whichever governs the task.  Add one die for a relevant Talent.  Count up the dice that come up even.  This is the number of successes.

If you're acting in direct opposition to another entity in the game, the GM (or the player, if it's another character) rolls an appropriate number of dice for the opposition, as determined by Sphere/Spirit and any related Talent.

For tasks against static setting elements (like jumping over a chasm), the GM rolls a number of dice according to how difficult they consider the task to be.  Use the chart below as guideline:

Easy: 1
A little difficult: 2
Downright hard: 4
Extremely difficult: 8

Whichever side gets the most successes "wins" the task.  The GM will determine what "winning" means on a case-by-case basis and describe the outcome of the task to the players.

On a tie, the GM adjudicates appropriately.  If the situation at hand renders a tie nonsensical, both sides roll one die at a time and continue to do so until a winner is determined.



To cast a spell, the caster must be able to sing.  A gag is an effective way to disempower a blood singer.  For the singing, there are no recognizable words, it's just a sort of melodic chanting.  The melodies are haunting, and make any listeners' hair stand on end.  Not in a cartoony way - it just gives you goosebumps, raises your hackles, etc.

When the caster starts to sing, cuts will appear on their bodies at random as if from an invisible slashing blade, and blood will trickle from the wounds.  Combined with the singing, it's really an awe-inspiring thing to witness.  When the blood cost has been exacted, the cuts close again and disappear.  Blood mages tend to wear little or no clothing.  Figure loincloths, if that.  Fortunately, there isn't any nudity taboo to speak of.

The cuts are painful, but it's a pain that a blood singer bears.  Some singers hate the pain, and cast only when they deem it necessary.  Others like the pain, and tend to be a bit freaky.  Your average blood singer is somewhere in the middle.

So, what do spells do?  What does casting accomplish?  Lots of different things.  Basically, you've got fairly free rein to decide effects.

The base number of dice rolled to cast a spell is equal to Blood + Song.

A character has a Blood Pool equal to (5 * Sphere) + Spirit + (2 * Blood).  Spend Blood Points to add a die to the your casting roll.  If you spend all your blood points, you bleed to death.  Blood points recover at a rate of 1 per 20 minutes of in-game time.  Use red glass counters to represent blood points if you want to be cool.  If you don't care so much about being cool, use any other tracking method you choose.

If the spell fails, the caster takes a point of damage from either Sphere or Spirit, caster's choice.  If the spell succeeds, the desired effect happens and the blood points are spent.

Here's how it goes in play:
1) The player describes the desired spell effects.
2) The GM determines how many dice of difficulty the spell will be.  This step should be open to discussion among the group.
3) The player determines how many dice they are going to roll to cast the spell, using blood points to add dice.
4) Roll.
5) GM describes the outcome.

Here's a chart the GM uses to determine dice costs:

Number of dice for a spell: 3
Spell deals/heals Sphere damage: +1 die per point.
Spell deals/heals Spirit damage: +2 dice per point.
Per living target, or number of cubic yards in area of effect: +1
Spell can affect targets at range and in view: +1
Spell can affect targets at range but not in view: +2 dice, +1 die per mile away (if greater than 1).
Spell can cause others to do something against their will: +1
Spell can cause others to do something against their will that would harm themselves or loved ones: +2
Spell can cause others to do something against their will that would kill themselves or loved ones: +4
Spell has impressive visuals (illusion): +1
Spell has impressive audio: +1
Spell effect has a duration: +1 per ten seconds

The player determines the visual and audible effects of the spell, if any.

If using the Time Management system while casting a spell, it takes 1 action as a base, and each blood point spent on the spell takes an additional action.  If a spell is being cast under circumstances that are not time-sensitive, the casting takes some amount of time, maybe thirty seconds or something, but it doesn't really matter.  The caster must sing during the entire casting time, and can take no other actions.


Weapons of the Volcanic Sphere:  The technology level is roughly stone age.  Hence, spears, bone knives, and that sort of thing are the weapons you're going to see.  There are three grades of weapon:

1 - small, mildly effective weapons:  kicks and punches, thrown rocks, small knife, etc.  Adds 1 die to an attack roll.

2 - larger, more effective weapons:  Club, spear, large bone knife, etc.  Adds 2 dice to an attack roll.

3 - Really big nasty weapons: Big club, big extra-pointy spear, etc.  Adds 3 dice to an attack roll.

People don't wear armor.  It's too hot, and the culture isn't particularly geared towards fighting.  Instead, people tend to hide behind trees or use some factor of the surroundings to make themselves harder to hit, and this is incorporated in the combat rules.


Time Management

When the in-game events are of a time sensitive nature (combat being the easiest example), use this time management process:

A round lasts ten seconds.  Each character gets a minumum of one action during a round.

At the beginning of each round, each player rolls the greater of Spirit or Sphere.  The number of successes is the number of additional actions the character can take during the round.  Go around the room starting with the player on the GM's left and announce and resolve actions one at a time until all actions for the round have been used.

You can hold an action if you want, and interrupt any later action to do something "right then."  You may only have one held action at a time.  If you still have a held action after the last regular action of the round, you get one more chance to use it before the next round begins.  If you don't use it at that time, you lose it.



Combat happens.  Here's how to do it:

Use the time management system above.

When attacking a character physically, roll on Sphere, adding dice for an appropriate Talent and for your weapon.  If the defender is aware of the incoming attack and decides to do something about it, the attack is rolled against whatever the defender can muster.  Defending in this way costs one action; if you have no actions left in the round, you can't actively defend.  (This doesn't have to be a held action; you can spend an action to defend any time you're attacked.)  If there is no active defense, the GM chooses how many dice of difficulty using the guidelines in Task Resolution.

If the attack is successful, subtract the number of the defender's successes from the number of the attacker's successes, and the result is the number of damage points inflicted on the defender.  Damage points temporarilly reduce the injured entity's Sphere by a corresponding amount.  If you take a number of damage points equal to Sphere, your Sphere is reduced to 0 which means you fall unconscious and will die if someone doesn't heal you within oh, say ten minutes.

It should be fairly apparent at this point that combat in this game is deadly.  If that bothers you, multiply the Sphere by some number, say 3, and reduce Sphere by 1 for each 3 (in this case) damage points you take.


Spirit Damage:  Spells can damage the Spirit.  So can bad scares, emotional stress, and things like that.  If the GM thinks something would cause Spirit damage, the character rolls Spirit vs. whatever number of dice the GM sees fit.  Failure means the character takes a point of Spirit damage.  Spirit damage points work the same as Sphere damage points, except the damage points are tracked separately.  Sphere damage points have no effect on Spirit, and vice versa.

When your Spirit drops to 0 or below, you become comatose, physically alive but brain dead.  You will physically die (from starvation if nothing else) if someone doesn't prevent it.



Magic can heal both types of damage quickly, as in seconds.

Without magic, only the passage of time can heal Spirit damage.  Spirit damage heals at a rate of 1 Spirit level per two weeks of game time.

Without magic, Sphere damage must be tended by a medicine wo/man, and have time in order to heal.

Making a roll to provide medical attention to Sphere damage is a Spirit roll.  Only one roll is needed to start the healing process.  Treated Sphere damage heals at a rate of one Sphere level per week of game time.


Societal Roles

Blood singers are not a part of normal tribal society.  Their place on the Volcanic Sphere is to wander the wilds, traveling from village to village, and to follow the will of the Lord of Lava as the singer interprets it.  The ability to blood sing usually manifests itself at puberty, at which point the new singer is sent away with the next blood singer that happens to come through the village.  Usually, one (or one group of) blood singers will wander through a village per month.  A blood singer is obliged by societal tradition to take on the new singer as an apprentice.  If a singer refuses, that tends to get the village against them, which can be bad.

People will tend to keep their young children away from blood singers, since to a youngster it can be pretty freaky to witness a spellcasting.  Otherwise, however, singers are treated with respect fitting one close to the Lord of Lava.  That doesn't mean the average person would be happy to put one up for the night; it's a wary sort of respect.

Blood singers often do services for villages, so there's an adventure potential right there.  "Please, singer(s), help us kill/find/solve/capture the monster/lost child/mystery/criminal," etc.



There isn't really a "big bad" from a spiritual standpoint in the world.  There's no hell, no evil deity, or suchlike.  However, animal totem spirits have different personalities and spiritual standings.  And the Mother is an important figure - fertility goddess, gave birth to the sphere, that sort of thing.

Afterlife basically goes along these lines:  Your spirit mingles with the Lord of Lava and passes beyond the Sphere into the Great Lava Sea.  The spirits of new children come from the Great Lava Sea as well.

Some oaths you might hear:
To the sea with <whatever> = to hell with <whatever>
Go to the Rim = go to hell
Lava take you = fuck off and die
Good Lord = good Lord

A circle with a horizontal line across it is a common holy symbol.


Flora and Fauna

If it's in the jungles of Earth, it's probably somewhere on the VS.  Create plants and animals as you need them.

Close to the Rim, things get weird and hellish.  The lava vents are thicker and fiercer, the air is harsher and may stink of sulpher, and strange beasts and monsters stalk the land.  Ten miles from the rim is uninhabitable by humans, and within fifty miles or so is when a village will start to pick up and move.


Everyday life in the village

Go watch a National Geographic special.  Village life is not a focus of the game, so whatever knowledge the GM has on jungle tribal societies should be fine.  Although chances are, the villagers grow a lot of turnips.


Finishing the Song:

Basically, this game isn't done.  Oh, sure, it's playable and all that (I think), but it lacks the flipping great wads of Color that is common to High-Concept Sim games.  If I had more than a week, I'd make the following additions and augmentations:

- Rewrite the game in a more evocative writing style.
- Include a rundown of various prominent tribes, more detail about the tribal structure and culture, and more detail about village life.
- Include more information about the landscape, flora, and fauna of the Volcanic Sphere; this would include sample maps, a bestiary, and a guide to plant life.
- Provide an introductory adventure scenario and some adventure seeds.
- Add some illustrations.

Further, the game in its current state has not been playtested.  As a result, the list of sample Talents is a bit sparse, and the chart for determining spell costs is almost certainly in need of revision.


Commentary on this particular contest:

So, I had it in mind to do two games, and I even went so far as to clear it with Mike that it was okay.  I don't have two games though, as I had planned.  See, it came into my head that the inclusion of the keywords in the parameters of the contest pretty much makes it a guarantee that most if not all of the games will be High-Concept Sim.  So I decided to see if I could do a Purist For System game using three of the four terms.  I failed.  Mainly because Purist For System games are a bitch to write, and dull to boot.  I doubt we'll see a Purist For System game entered in this contest, unless someone sees this commentary as a call to action.

So, to sum up, the Iron Game Chef: Sim competition pretty much ruled out Purist For System design by my interpretation.  Mind you, I don't know if that's bad.  If it's a limitation of the contest format, it personally didn't bother me, even though I failed to rise to my own challenge of trying to do a Purist For System game using the required words.  I just thought I'd bring it up as (heh) food for thought.

That's that.

The other thing I wanted to do was mention that when I saw the other IGC contest going, I thought to myself at the time, "Ha!  Like I'd ever be able to write a game in a week!"  Six months later, I did it, and did a passing fair job of it if I do say so myself.  To me, that speaks volumes about how the Forge has affected my game design.  So I'd just like to take a moment to say thanks.

And that's that.

May the best chef win!

Posts: 95

« Reply #84 on: May 15, 2003, 06:43:26 PM »


Ideally for 6+ players, up to as many as can play.

This is a light hearted, humourous, dark, comical game.

Politiks simulates the ficticious journey to King of the World.  Following the numerous attacks to all forms of organized government by the Nihilist group V.O.L.C.A.N.O., the world fell into a massive economic slump.

As the world strives to recover, all eyes have turned to the New United Nations for leadership.  In turn, the NUN has turned to the players of Politiks.  Each player will compete with one another to come into politikal power and control the entire planet.

Character Creation

Each politikian decided what Sphere of Influence they derrive all their clout from.  Anything from "Mafia" or "the Church" to "Porn Star' or "Enviromentalist Group."  Their sphere represents their platform and their over all reaction to other people's opinion.

Politikians have three other attributes: Blood, Presence, and VOLCANO.

BLOOD starts at 0 and increases with every person that they have "silenced" or "disappeared."  Anyone can be "silenced", except other players.  (This includes the players family, pets, or neighbors as potential "warnings.")

PRESENCE starts at 0 and represents how well known the player is through out the politikal race.  Presence points can only be awarded to players by the GM, usually after a strong point in a debate, or hard-core campaigning.

VOLCANO starts at 0 and represents how closely tied the player is to the still-existant terrorist group.  VOLCANO points are acquired various ways:

A player can burn one point of PRESENCE to force a point of VOLCANO on someone else.  This represents "mud slinging."
A player can voluntarily take a point of VOLCANO to receive no BLOOD tokens.  This represents "hiring" outside "workers" to "silence" people.
The GM can force a point of VOLCANO on a player if they make evil remarks which get leaked to the media.

The Debate

Each player starts out in a debate.

Debates incluse all players and this is where they will discuss certain topics presented by the GM.  Any topic is fair game.  Some might include:

The death penalty
Space Exploration
Re-animation of dinosaurs in a massive theme park
Who is better?  Kirk or Picard?
What do you think about medicinal marajuana

Good answers and sicussion will benefit in PRESENCE points as the people come to support you.

A player can burn a PRESENCE token to "force" a topic.  The player then writes a question and a player down on a peice of paper and hands it to the GM.  The GM then reads the question to the player and expects a clear and concise answer.

The idea here is to- of course- make everyone else look bad while making yourself look good.

The Campaign

Players then campaign, telling the GM where they go and what they do.  This is where they will acrue some more PRESENCE tokens.

During this time, the players can acquire a VOLCANO token as they dig up dirt on another player.  The GM then creates an embarassing or evil deed another player has done in the past and writes it down.  (The player who takes the VOLCANO point can decide which player the dirt is on.)

This dirt is kept secret until the next debate.

Continued Play

Play alternates between Debates and Campaigns.

As time passes, people will lose and gain PRESENCE, VOLCANO AND BLOOD points.

BLOOD points can be acquired by silencing people who would otherwise provide more "dirt" on someone.


Before each debate, thr GM rolls a d20 versus each players VOLCANO points.  If the roll is less than their VOLCANO rating, they are discovered as a member of the Nihist group and removed from the debates.

This is fun, because you can still acquire PRESENCE and BLOOD points.  You can use your presence to buy "dirt" and supply it to other players.  Otherwise, you can take BLOOD points and kill off whoever you want.

End Game

Towards the end of the game, ideally, only two people will be left in the debates as they banter back and forth with dirt supplied to them by the Nihilist peoples.

Meanwhile, darn near everyone ever mentioned will be killed off by the Nihilists, who can acrue BLOOD points with no drawbacks.

Whoever makes it to the end of the game without being exposed as a Nihilist (which everyone is one anyways) will win the game.

National Anthem

The winner writes one verse for each of the other players, who are then forced to sing the New National Anthem.  (This is the song part, you know.)

This is very funny, because, while most people can't sing, the Anthem will undoubtedly cover how the winner schooled everyone else in the debates.
C. Edwards

Posts: 558

savage / sublime

« Reply #85 on: May 15, 2003, 07:46:39 PM »

BLOOD starts at 0 and increases with every person that they have "silenced" or "disappeared." Anyone can be "silenced", except other players. (This includes the players family, pets, or neighbors as potential "warnings.")

Damn. You know a game is serious when it involves killing the other players' pets.  ;)

Seriously though, very sweet concept and I think it would be great fun to play.

Pele says you deserve a Beer. :)

Jared A. Sorensen

Posts: 1463


« Reply #86 on: May 15, 2003, 08:02:38 PM »

Tooth & Claw
Adventure Roleplaying in the Age of Dinosaurs

By Jared A. Sorensen

Welcome to the Mesozoic Era!  Welcome to the Age of Dinosaurs!
Dinosaurs were creatures that lived in the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods of Earth’s history. Although many mysteries remain, scientists have uncovered many clues to explain what the dinosaurs were like and how they lived.

About 250 million years ago (a period called the Triassic), all the continents were joined together into a super-continent called Pangea. The Triassic heralded the arrival of some strange new lifeforms – the first dinosaurs. Over time, Pangea slowly broke apart into halves to form the continents of Gondwana and Laurasia.  During the latter half of the Mesozoic Era (the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods), those two continents broke up and drifted apart, forming the basis of the continents that exist today.

Dinosaur evolution was a long and varied process.  From the primitive saurians of the early Triassic to the mighty kings of the Cretaceous, dinosaurs changed to adapt to their environment, to climate, to new predators and to new prey.  As such, not all dinosaurs existed at the same time.  Some dinosaurs you may be familiar with weren’t even around during the later periods.  And when the continents broke apart and the land bridges were severed, some dinosaurs evolved into separate species, never meeting one another face-to-face again.

In this game, we’re going to re-write history a little bit in order to accommodate the existence of all the dinosaurs you know and love.  Pangea has yet to break apart, primitive flowering plants have evolved and all the dinosaurs of the Mesozoic exist at more or less the same time.  Granted, this is a major deviation from scientific fact, but you’ll see that it’s one of only a few changes that have been made in this game.  Part of what’s so cool about dinosaurs is that they really existed…and part of what makes Tooth & Claw so special is that these adventures really could have happened!  

So with this in mind, step back into the misty past and enter the Age of Dinosaurs!

About the Game
In Tooth & Claw, you’ll play the part of an ancient species, millions of years long gone. This poses a challenge because dinosaurs are so mysterious and despite a wealth of knowledge uncovered over the last few decades, we only have a limited amount of information about dinosaurs. You’ll notice that some of the details in this game are based on scientific fact, while others are based on theory or speculation. In many cases, some of this stuff is entirely made up!

Also, this game doesn’t attempt to delve into all aspects of dinosaur physiology, behavior and (!) society. The best place to fill in the considerable gaps is in your local library or via the World Wide Web. Additional information can be found in the excellent “Walking with Dinosaurs” series that has aired on the Discover Channel (DVDs are also available and are highly recommended). Of course, when in doubt, feel free to make things up. I did!

The Setting – Mesozoic Earth
Tooth & Claw takes place in a world very different than our own. The climate is wet and hot in the vast jungles and dry and desolate on the savannah. Spiky cycads and tough vegetation dot the landscape. There are no grasses anywhere – they have yet to evolve – but ferns and conifer trees are abundant. Large insects buzz through the air while immense crocodilians and strange gilled creatures swim through brackish lakes and streams. The earth is in constant flux and fierce storms sweep across the land. Volcanoes spew ash and smoke, raining flaming ruin upon the valley below, and strange lights streak across the evening sky. One of these, a dense sphere of meteoric iron, has recently crashed into a mountainside. The still-smoking crater is a hundred feet wide and the earth around it is fused smooth from the force of the impact. A great ocean covers the planet and surrounds the enormous landmass where the dinosaurs roam. Within its mysterious depths lurk strange and terrifying beasts, forever a mystery to their terrestrial cousins.

It is in this savage land where your adventures unfold. Survival of the fittest, won in battles of tooth and claw.

GNS Issues and (Continental) Drift
Ostensibly a Simulationist exercise, it’s more than likely that your Tooth & Claw games will “drift” toward the two extremes of gameplay: Narrativism and Gamism. A Narrativist game of Tooth & Claw is sure to touch upon issues of family and co-existence, possibly reaching a state I’ve dubbed “Shakespeare with Dinosaurs.” In essence, your dinosaur characters face very human conflicts and dealing with those conflicts in a dramatic way becomes the focus of the game. Check the “Mesozoic Theatre” section for a handful of potential dino-stories.

Gamist play focuses on the various ways that dinosaurs can interact and the different kinds of challenges that could arise. Depredation, sexual rivalry, protection (of the herd, of offspring), daily survival, life and death come down to a roll of the dice and clever ways to approach the system. This is certainly encouraged as much as thematic exploration.

In the end, Tooth & Claw is simply about pretending that you’re a dinosaur. What does that entail? Well, hopefully the game will give you some ideas but in the end, it’s up to you.

The Big Questions
“Can Tooth & Claw characters speak?”
Yes and no. Dinosaurs can communicate, but it’s up to the group how this communication is approached. “Disneyfication” is one way…that is, the dinosaurs speak with human voices (your voices) and the characters are played much the same as in other RPGs. Another way is to limit vocalizations to roars, growls, trumpets and other dinosaur-friendly sounds. Actual communication is done player to player, usually by speaking in the third person. “Crookclaw lowers his head and growls a warning to the new arrival. It would be wise to step away from the clutch of eggs before he charges you.” is perfectly acceptable. You can even mix the two methods, using narration and dialogue interchangeably. Talk about it before the game and discuss the pro’s and con’s of each of the three methods.

"Are there humans? Mammals?"
Tooth & Claw takes place millions of years ago, long before humans existed. Mammals do exist, however, but they’re small, shrew-like creatures or inquisitive protosimians (such as lemurs). No mammoths, no saber-toothed cats. Small reptiles are abundant and insects of every imaginable size, shape and color are everywhere. Sharks, rays and fish swim in the seas. Birds have just started to make their appearance.

"Can I play a Plesiosaur? Or a Pteranadon?"
Although marine and winged reptiles are Archosaurs (ruling reptiles), they’re not dinosaurs. Neither are the mammal-like reptiles (such as Dimetrodon). If you have your heart set on playing a non-dinosaur Archosaur, discuss it with your group.

"Can we roleplay the 'End of the Dinosaurs'?"
If you want to, but I’m not sure how fun it would be. Tooth & Claw doesn’t really go into the how’s, whys or when’s of dinosaur extinction but feel free to run a “post-apocalyptic” game if you wish to do so.

Game Mechanics
The best way to dive into the material is to discuss the game mechanics and the various options that you (as a player or as the GM) will have during the game.

Tooth & Claw is a die-pool system that uses six-sided dice. When rolling the dice, you’re looking for successes. In this case, that means a roll of 1 on any one die. Additional successes may be gained by rolling a sequence of numbers starting with the target number of 1. For example, if I roll four dice and score the following results:

1, 2, 3, 4

Then this qualifies as four successes. Additional 1’s or numbers out of sequence don’t count. Neither do multiple sequences. For example, this roll counts as two successes:

1, 1, 2, 4

1, 2 are counted because they form a sequence. The extra 1 doesn’t matter and the 4 isn’t included in the sequence because the number 4 doesn’t follow the number 2 when counting from one to six.

Most unopposed challenges only require one success. These are die rolls that resolve simple questions that arise during the game. “Can I do cross this river?” “Is this food good to eat?” A single success is enough. Opposed challenges are more common and involve some kind of competition or adversarial relationship. One dinosaur is hiding from a predator while the predator is searching for its prey. One dinosaur is courting a female while another is trying to out-do his display. In challenges such as these, each “side” makes its own die roll and the challenger with the most successes wins the contest.

For example, in the hidden dinosaur vs. searching dinosaur example, the following results are rolled:

Hiding dinosaur: 1, 1, 2, 3
Seeking dinosaur: 1, 4, 4

The hiding dinosaur gets two successes. The seeking dinosaur only gets 1. Therefore, the hiding dinosaur wins the challenge and remains hidden.

When successes are rolled, they can sometimes be carried over as bonus dice to follow-up rolls. For example, a hidden predator that rolls well may apply the successes as bonus dice to an attack roll.

Some dinosaurs have a special ability that allows them to increase their target number range, which increases the chances of rolling a single success. If a dinosaur has +1 to their target number, it means that rolls of 1’s or 2’s are treated as successes (a roll containing a 1 and a 2 is treated as a two-success sequence). If such a character rolled 2, 3, 4, 4, for example, this would net that character three successes (2, 3 and 4 are in sequence).

Dinosaur abilities are called Behaviors and are rated as a number of dice that are rolled when that Behavior is used. For example, if my dinosaur has a Fight Behavior of 3, that means I get to roll three dice whenever my dinosaur fights. Dinosaur Behaviors are grouped according to their ruling Attribute. The three Attributes are Stamina, Speed, and Skill. During character creation, you’ll determine your Stamina, Speed and Skill and from there you spend points to establish your various Behavior scores.

Die rolls may be augmented by expending Survival Dice and Skill Dice. In either case, one die is added to the roll for each Survival Die or Skill Die that is spent. Survival Dice and Skill Dice can only be spent on specific behaviors – you can’t mix-and-match them. There are actually two kinds of Survival Dice: Survival (Stamina) and Survival (Speed). Survival Dice (Stamina) may only augment Stamina-based Behaviors while Survival Dice (Speed) may only augment Speed-based Behaviors. Skill-based Behaviors are augmented by spending Skill Dice. If a Behavior has a score of 0, it means that Survival Dice or Skill Dice must be spent in order to use that Behavior.

The following is a list of all nine Behaviors (broken down by Attribute) and their various uses:

Stamina Behaviors
Stamina Behaviors deal with physical strength and endurance. The larger the dinosaur is, the higher its Stamina will be.

Fight: Fight is used to inflict injury on another creature, be it through predatory attacks, defensive strikes or ritualized combat. When wounds are inflicted, they remove Survival Dice and (eventually) Stamina points. A dinosaur dies when it loses all of its Stamina.

Survive: Survive is used to fend off injury, be it from attacks, diseases, accidents or natural hazards. In practice, Survive is used to cancel the successes from an opposed roll.

Display: Display is used to attract mates, intimidate aggressors or scare off weaker creatures. Though not as readily useful as Fight or Survive, a powerful Display can help to add bonus dice to an opposed roll.

A side-note about courtship and mating: The fossil record hasn’t left us with many clues about dinosaur mating habits but we can infer some details by studying modern reptiles and birds. The mating habits of dinosaurs vary according to sub-order, species and diet. Big female carnivores usually raise their offspring without assistance from a male while smaller carnivores hunt in mated pairs. Herbivores have the strongest familial bonds, with aunts, uncles and grandparents assisting in child-rearing duties. Displays of strength are common among the bigger herbivores. Meat-eaters prefer to offer “gifts” to the objects of their affections. Females have their pick of the suitors and opt for the one with the greatest “earning potential.”

Speed Behaviors
Speed Behaviors deal with quickness and agility. The larger the dinosaur is, the lower its Speed will be.

Chase: Chase is used whenever one dinosaur is in pursuit of another. Sometimes, this is just a friendly race but most often it’s used to run down a potential source of food.

Escape: Escape opposes the Chase Behavior and is also used to outrun danger. When faced with a superior opponent, Escape is sometimes the only sensible option.

Move: Move is used to traverse difficult terrain. This includes leaping, climbing, swimming and balancing. Move can be used to thwart an attacker, to survive a fall or to scamper up a tree in search of food.

Skill Behaviors
Skill Behaviors deal with intelligence and perceptive abilities. Skill Behaviors are determined by your dinosaur’s age.

Hide: Hide is used to escape detection and is always opposed by the Seek Behavior. The Hide Behavior can be used in many ways: moving silently, hiding in dense foliage, staying downwind of a predator or using camouflage or the cover of darkness to conceal oneself.

Seek: Seek is used to detect a hidden creature. It’s also used as a catch-all for the various senses that dinosaurs use in day-to-day life. Dinosaurs are diurnal, meaning that they operate best during daylight. Their visual acuity varies from poor (large theropods and herbivores) to very good (the medium to large-sized raptors). Mammals, on the other hand, are mostly nocturnal (active at night) and cannot see color. Unlike dinosaurs, their night-vision is superb.

Dinosaurs possess fairly good hearing, enabling them to pick up the sounds of wounded prey, stalking predators, mating calls and territorial challenges. Hearing also plays an important part in communication and dinosaur vocalizations can be quite complex, especially among the more intelligent raptors and socially-minded herbivores.

By far, the most important sense for a dinosaur is its sense of smell. For some dinosaurs, it’s the only sense worth noting. Scavenging carnivores can smell rotting meat for miles and miles…if you can imagine a nose with legs and teeth, you’re not too far off.

Because the sense of smell is so important, it bears further investigation and explanation. To a dinosaur, there are three smells that it lives and dies by: blood, carrion (rotting meat) and dung. The first two scents are of obvious importance: carnivores are drawn to the smell of food, and in a pinch, a rotting carcass could spell salvation for a hungry theropod. But it’s equally important to herbivores and omnivores. Herbivores know to steer clear of that smell because it means “meat-eaters are around.” Omnivores can sniff out carrion and maybe get some scraps without too much hassle – a good deal for them, to be sure. The smell of blood could also mean that an injured creature is nearby. Possible prey, yes…but an injured dinosaur is just as often a dangerous enemy.

Dinosaurs are territorial creatures and they mark their territory in a number of ways. Clawing or knocking down trees shows off their size and strength. Scent-glands are also a good way of spreading information, especially when seeking a mate. And last, but certainly not least, deposits of dino droppings get the message out loud and clear. Dinosaur dung contains lots of olfactory information and it lasts longer than other methods. Think of it as the dinosaur Internet: a pile of steaming dung is like a message on a bulletin board, “Hey. I’m a big male with a family and this is my home. Stay out!”

Learn: Learn is a curious Behavior that defines a dinosaur’s intelligence, memory and ability to process information. When something is encountered for the first time, use of the Learn Behavior can be used to gain valuable information. Is that plant safe to eat? Is there a mud-hole nearby? Who is the leader of that herd? Learn is used to answer these questions and many more.

As a side-note, Learn is used to pass on knowledge to other dinosaurs (especially offspring). Plant-eating dinosaurs in Tooth & Claw use complex songs to communicate vast distances and warn of potential threats, much like modern whales. Meat-eaters pass on information by physical gesture, showing rather than telling.


Who Goes First?
When combat is initiated, the combatant with the higher Speed may act first (in the event of a tie, Speed Survival Dice may be spent to increase this number). The dinosaur that wins Initiative may choose any number of combat options (Fight, Survive, Move, Chase, Escape or Display).

Once the fight has begun, you may choose to either Attack (roll your Fight Behavior) or Defend (roll your Survive Behavior). If both combatants roll their Fight, then each dinosaur may suffer injury. If one combatant rolls Survive, then that person simply needs to roll at least as many successes as their opponent. If both dinosaurs are rolling Survive, they stop fighting and no roll is even needed.

In a Fight vs. Fight situation, each success equals a wound inflicted upon an opponent (damage does not roll over into bonus dice). In a Fight vs. Survive situation, each success greater than the defender’s total successes equals one wound the defender suffers. Each wound reduces the victim’s Survival Dice (Stamina or Speed) by 1. When all Survival Dice have been lost, then start subtracting Stamina.

After the roll has been made, the dinosaur that won Initiative may choose to continue or to retreat. If it decides to retreat, the defender can simply allow this to happen or start a new round of combat. Again, the highest Speed wins Initiative.

If Stamina is ever decreased lower than a Behavior, that Behavior becomes equal to the reduced Stamina score. This means that if the Stamina of a dinosaur with a Fight Behavior of 3 drops to two or less, their Fight Behavior is decreased as well. When the dinosaur has no more Stamina and no more Survival Dice, it dies (it can no longer Fight or Survive).

In lieu of reducing one’s Stamina as a result of injury, a Scar may be taken. If this is done, permanently reduce a Behavior by the number of wounds received. Behaviors may not be reduced below 0 points. Scars appear as lost eyes, broken limbs or other such afflictions. Scars do not ever heal.

Feeding and Healing
Dinosaurs heal from injury at a rate of 1 Stamina point per day. Survival dice are gained at a faster rate. When the dinosaur eats, roll a feeding die. If the die results in a success, the dinosaur regains one Survival Die. More dice can be rolled if the situation permits and the dinosaur may gain additional Survival Dice if they possess a Survival Advantage (see the list of Advantages in Character Creation for more details).

Use the following guide to determine how many feeding dice to roll:

Carnivores: Carnivores find food by tracking and killing prey or by scavenging remains. Roll an extra die for every size category smaller than the prey. If the prey is carrion, roll one die to determine the “freshness” of the carcass and roll this many dice less. If more than one Carnivore is feeding on a carcass, split these dice up between then (you can also make Display rolls to “steal” feeding dice from others).

Omnivores: Omnivores scavenge the remnants of carcasses for food the same way as Carnivores. They can also forage for eggs, grubs and other odd bits of food. To do this, make a Seek roll (unopposed) and roll any successes over as extra dice for the foraging attempt.

Herbivores: Herbivores graze on vegetation. If food is plentiful, roll an extra die for every hour spent grazing. If food is scarce, allow the character to make a Learn roll opposed by its Stamina. Success means that the dinosaur knows where to find enough plants to eat and it gains a Survival die for each success (successes may be rolled over for other herbivorous characters).

Skill Dice are regained if the dinosaur performs certain tasks (according to Diet). All uninjured dinosaurs regain all of their Skill Dice after waking from a good night’s sleep. An injured dinosaur regains one Skill die after waking from a night’s rest.

Other Behaviors in Action

Dinosaurs can also use their fierce demeanors to scare off an attacker. Both dinosaurs roll their Display Behavior. The loser must either withdraw or give a die bonus to the defender equal to the defender’s excess successes. If the dinosaur is facing multiple attackers, it can split any successes up between them or it can concentrate its successes on just one (an extremely impressive dinosaur might be able to drive off several attackers!). Outside of combat, the Display Behavior can be used to attract or repel a prospective mate (males are more likely to use Display than females). Make an unopposed Display roll (or opposed if in direct competition with another dinosaur). Success doesn’t mean you instantly attract a mate…it only opens the door. If in competition with another dinosaur, you can roll over those successes into a Fight roll (if you wish to cut to the chase and physically drive away the rival).

In a Chase vs. Escape situation, the aggressor rolls Chase and the defender rolls Escape. If the aggressor wins, it catches up to the escaping dinosaur and may begin combat as if it won initiative. If the defender wins, it escapes pursuit unless the aggressor presses on. If the chase continues, the defender may add its successes to its next Escape roll. Pursuit ends when either party gives up (either the aggressor stops pursuing or the defender stops running away).

The defender can also try to use its Move Behavior to get away from an attacker if the terrain permits such a maneuver (such as running across a log, climbing a rocky slope or diving into deep water). The retreating dinosaur must roll more successes than the attacker. If it does so, it escapes into the wilderness. If not, the attacker catches the escaping dinosaur and combat commences.

Ambushes are done by making an opposed Hide vs. Seek roll. If the hidden dinosaur catches its quarry unaware, it may use any extra successes as a one round bonus for purposes of establishing Initiative or beginning Pursuit (if not within striking distance). If the defender wins the challenge, it may initiate combat as if it won initiative (from there it can fight or flee).

The Learn behavior can be used to attempt complex maneuvers or other uses of quick-thinking (such as tail-sweeping an opponent or knocking down a tree to impede the progress of pursuer). Successes from a Learn attempt are rolled over as bonus dice. Examples of a Learn vs. Learn opposed challenge are rare but can come up. Simply treat them as normal opposed challenges where the winner adds extra successes as bonus dice. Learn cannot be used to increase the number of wounds inflicted on an opponent. Reduce any wounds by the number of bonus dice rolled by the aggressor.

Character Creation
When creating a dinosaur there are many variables to think about. The Sub-order is probably the most important as this defines (or limits) what your choices may be. Using the following guide, you can model an existing dinosaur (such as Utahraptor or Triceratops) or create your own unique dinosaur.

Dinosaur Traits
Sub-order: the type of dinosaur that you are
Size: your size in relation to other dinosaurs (determines Stamina and Speed)
Age: determines Skill
Stance: how you walk around (also has an impact on some Behaviors)
Diet: what you eat
Suggested Advantages: qualities common to dinosaurs of a certain sub-order

Players of Tooth & Claw are encouraged to create their own descriptive names for the various species and orders of dinosaurs (such as Shield-Bearers, Long Necks or Three Horns). Individual dinosaur “names” are usually descriptive (One-eye, Blood-Talon, Crookclaw) though a particularly savage creature might only identify itself with a blood-curdling roar.

Sub-Orders of Dinosauria
Scientifically speaking, members of Dinosauria were split into several orders, sub-orders, intermediate groupings and families.  Although we have taken some liberties with dinosaur classification in this game, we’ve tried to stay fairly close to scientific fact.

There are five Sub-Orders of dinosaurs and all dinosaurs from a Sub-Order share  similar characteristics (Size, Stance, Diet and certain Advantages).  For example, all saurians from the “Beast Foot” Sub-Order (called Theropods) walk upright on two legs – most of them eat meat.  On the other hand, virtually all Shield Bearers (Thyreophorans) are heavily armored plant eaters that walk on all fours, close to the ground.

Beast Feet – the Theropods
Size: Tiny to Huge
Stance: Biped
Diet: Carnivorous or Omnivorous
Suggested Advantages: Deadly, Powerful, Ferocious, Agile, Faster, Cunning, Wiry

Theropods are bipedal dinosaurs and almost all of them are carnivores (meat-eaters).  They walk upright on their powerful legs, which allow quick and agile movement when hunting and stalking prey (usually large herbivores).   Most are armed with razor-sharp teeth and lethal claws.  The smaller Theropods hunt in packs while the larger ones prefer to keep to themselves or stay in mated pairs. Some of the smaller Theropods also possess feathered wings and can use them to glide or fly.

Lizard Feet – the Sauropods
Size: Medium to Immense
Stance: Semi-Quadruped or Quadruped
Diet: Herbivorous
Suggested Advantages: Alert, Powerful, Experienced, Wise, Intimidating

The polar opposites of the Theropods, Sauropods are plodding and massive quadruped herbivores.  With their long necks they graze on leafy twigs high up the air and their impressive stature and sinewy tails provide a means of defense against predators.  Although most sauropods are gigantic, some are almost petite and actually rear up on their hind legs in order to defend themselves or reach the upper branches of trees.

Shield Bearers – the Thyreophorans
Size: Large or Huge
Stance: Quadruped
Diet: Herbivorous
Suggested Advantages: Armored, Deadly, Determined, Quiet, Experienced

Thyreophorans are low-slung, heavily armored dinosaurs who feed on low-laying vegetation.  Their armor and tails (usually spiked or mace-like) make them experts at fending off predator attacks, thus earning them their nickname.  Thyreophorans are split into two groups: Stegasaurids (who have bony plates along their vertebrae) and Ankylosaurids (who are covered in bumpy, bony, spiky armor).

Margined Heads – the Marginocephalids
Size: Small to Huge
Stance: Biped or Quadruped
Diet: Herbivorous or Omnivorous
Suggested Advantages: Decorated, Deadly, Ferocious, Powerful, Intimidating

Marginocephalids are named for the frills and shelves that project from the back of their skulls.  Armed with sharp beaks for cutting through tough, fibrous vegetation, these dinosaurs are split into two main groups: the bipedal Pachycephalosaurians and the quadrupedal Ceratopsians.

Bird Feet – the Ornithopods
Size: Small to Huge
Stance: Biped or Semi-Quadruped
Diet: Herbivorous
Suggested Advantages: Experienced, Faster, Camouflaged, Quick, Alert, Decorated
Ornithopods are powerful bipedal herbivores equipped with cheek teeth adapted for grinding. Peaceful creatures, the larger Ornithopods had some very odd physical features – inflatable sacks above their nostrils, hollow crests or back-sails. Ornithopod size ranges from the small to the tall. The smaller ones rely on their speed to avoid danger while the larger ones keep together in large herds for safety.

Before we move onto attributes, we should take a moment to talk about your dinosaur’s Diet.  Your character’s Diet describes what it eats and where it sits on the food chain: predator, prey or opportunist?  Each of the three Diets determines what kind of dinosaur you are, what you eat and what special abilities you may have.  

Choose wisely!

Carnivore: Carnivores eat other animals. Some of them are pack hunters who stalk their prey live, like the wolves of today. Others are solitary hunters or scavengers that eat carrion (dead animals).  Carnivores may not run with Herbivores…the two just can’t get along.  Only Theropod characters can be Carnivores.  

Young Carnivores (and older) receive Deadly as a bonus Advantage. They replenish their Stamina and Speed Survival dice by eating meat (fresh or carrion) and they replenish their Skill Dice by hunting or resting. Young Carnivores may also regain Skill Dice through play.

Omnivore: Omnivores are Theropods that eat fish, insects and (mmm!) eggs. They are usually much smaller than Carnivores and don’t have the ripping teeth and claws of their larger friends.  Instead, the have bird-like beaks that can crack open eggs or crunch insects and tiny creatures.  Because they’re small and sneaky and mostly harmless, Omnivores can get along fine with both Carnivores and Herbivores (except for that whole “egg-thief” business). Omnivores are often quite Wiry, making them much more suited to climbing than other dinosaurs.

Omnivores replenish their Stamina and Speed Survival dice by eating eggs, carrion or small animals (such as fish, lizards or insects). They replenish their Skill Dice by exploring or resting. Young Omnivores may also regain Skill Dice through play.

Herbivore: Herbivores eat plants.  Not the most exciting (or nutritious) diet, but there’s plenty of vegetation out there…and it doesn’t bite back!  Sauropods and Ornithopods enjoy browsing the tasty branches of trees, cycads and conifers.  Thyreophorans and Marginocephalids graze on the fibrous ground vegetation and ferns. Needless to say, being on the menu doesn’t endear them to the Carnivores.  Omnivores are tolerated, as long as they stay out of the way (splat!).

Herbivores replenish their Stamina and Speed Survival dice by browsing the lowland for ferns and cycads or by grazing amongst the conifers for leaves and bark. They replenish their Skill Dice by devoting time to their families or resting. Young herbivores may also regain Skill Dice through play.

A dinosaurs Size determines its Stamina (strength, endurance and health) and its Speed (how fast on its feet the dinosaur is). The general rule is this: the bigger the creature, the higher its Stamina and the lower its Speed.

Next to each size are two numbers. The first shows how many dice you have to spend on Behaviors. The second number is your starting number of Survival Dice.

Dinosaur’s Size --- Stamina Points --- Survival Dice (Stamina)
Tiny ------------------------------- 1 ----------------------------- 7
Small------------------------------- 2 ----------------------------- 6
Medium -----------------------------3 ----------------------------- 5
Large    -----------------------------4 ----------------------------- 4
Huge      ----------------------------5 ----------------------------- 3
Gigantic  --------------------------- 6 ----------------------------- 2
Immense   -------------------------- 7 ----------------------------- 1

Dinosaur’s Size ------- Speed Points ------- Survival Dice (Speed)
Tiny ------------------------------- 7 ----------------------------- 1
Small------------------------------- 6 ----------------------------- 2
Medium -----------------------------5 ----------------------------- 3
Large    -----------------------------4 ----------------------------- 4
Huge      ----------------------------3 ----------------------------- 5
Gigantic  --------------------------- 2 ----------------------------- 6
Immense   --------------------------1 ----------------------------- 7

A dinosaur’s Age determines its Skill (its ability to process information, remember events and plan actions). The general rule is this: the older the creature, the higher its Skill.

Next to each Age group is a set of two numbers. The first number shows how many dice you have to spend on Skill Behaviors. The second number is your starting number of Skill Dice.

Dinosaur’s Age -------- Skill Points ------------------ Skill Dice
Baby -----------------------------1 ----------------------------- 7
Young ----------------------------2 ----------------------------- 6
Adolescent -----------------------3 ----------------------------- 5
Adult  -----------------------------4 ----------------------------- 4
Mature ----------------------------5 ----------------------------- 3
Old --------------------------------6 ----------------------------- 2
Ancient ---------------------------7 ----------------------------- 1

Purchasing Behaviors
Depending on your Size and Age, you will have between 1 and 7 points to spend on each group of Behaviors. You may place as many points into a single Behavior as you’d like, but remember: if your dinosaur has a Behavior score of 0, it can only perform that Behavior by spending Survival Dice or Skill Dice.
Age and Growth
Although it’s assumed that your dinosaur is an Adult dinosaur, you may choose to play a much older or younger dinosaur. Playing a youngster is challenging, but at least you’ll be quick enough and smart enough to stay out of trouble (maybe!). Older dinosaurs are gifted with great knowledge, but their physical attributes suffer. The size progression from young to old depends on how big your dinosaur will be at Adulthood:

Baby  > Young > Adolescent > Adult
Tiny ---- Tiny ---- Tiny ------- Tiny            
Tiny ---- Tiny ---- Small ----- Medium
Tiny ---- Small --- Medium -- Large
Small -- Medium - Large ---- Huge
Small -- Large --- Huge------ Gigantic
Small -- Large --- Huge ----- Immense
Older Dinosaurs
There are three other Age groups but they come after Adulthood so their dinosaur’s size doesn’t increase to a noticeable degree. Mature dinosaurs are “middle-aged” but still in their prime. Their health is quite good and they can still bear young and hunt for their own food. Old dinosaurs are beginning to show their age – they suffer a penalty to some of their Survival Dice pools. Ancient dinosaurs are venerable and wise, but they’re simply not as tough or as fast as they used to be. Seldom do dinosaurs live to be Ancient in the savage world of Tooth & Claw.

Once a dinosaur becomes Old or Ancient, it suffers a penalty to both its Stamina and Speed. Old dinosaurs are treated as being one size smaller when determining Stamina. Ancient dinosaurs are treated as being two sizes smaller when determining Stamina. Likewise, Old dinosaurs are treated as being one size larger when determining Speed and Ancient dinosaurs are treated as being two sizes larger. This means that Tiny dinosaurs can’t live to reach Old age and only Medium-sized or larger dinosaurs can ever become Ancient.

This raises the question: how old can a dinosaur get?  Well, that’s up to you…usually the bigger the dinosaur, the longer they can live (females and Herbivores tend to live longer than males and Carnivores). Given enough food and a safe place to grow, some dinosaurs can get really ancient and live up to 150 years! But remember that despite their long lives, all dinosaurs die. It’s nature’s way and should always be kept in mind.

Your dinosaur’s Stance determines whether it runs on two legs or walks on all fours. Stance also confers a bonus to some actions.

Biped: Your dinosaur walks on two legs and can manipulate objects (to some extent) with its hands. Bipeds are usually faster than other dinosaurs and they are more adept at climbing and leaping. Bipeds gain +1 to any one of their Speed Behaviors.

Quadruped: Your dinosaur spends its days walking on all fours. These dinosaurs are usually low to the ground or so massive that they need the support that a quadrapedal stance can provide.  To make up for this, many have long necks capable of peering over treetops or sweeping across low, wide areas. Quadrupeds are lousy jumpers and can’t really hold anything (unless they use their mouths). Quadrupeds gain +1 to their Seek Behavior or +1 to any roll involving balance. Quadrupeds suffer a -1 to their Move Behavior when climbing or leaping.

Gigantic and Immense Dinosaurs must be Quadrupeds.

Semi-Quadruped: Your dinosaur spends most of its time on all fours but can walk or run for short periods of time on two legs. Semi-Quadrupeds have shorter front legs than hind legs and their front legs are equipped with fairly dexterous “hands.” Semi-Quadrupeds gain +1 to any Speed Behavior when on two legs (make an unopposed Stamina roll to remain standing on two legs). When on all fours, they’re treated as having the Stance of a Quadruped.

All Adolescent dinosaurs receive one starting Advantage of any type. Each additional increase in age gives the dinosaur an additional Advantage. Carnivorous dinosaurs of Young, Adolescent, Adult or Mature age gain an extra Advantage. It is possible to take one Advantage multiple times. This has the effect of adding additional dice to your Survival Dice or Skill Dice, adding dice to your Behavior rolls or increasing the target range of success when rolling Behavior dice.

Age ----------- Starting Number of Advantages

Baby ---------- 0
Young --------- 0*
Adolescent ---- 1*
Adult ---------- 2*
Mature -------- 3*
Old ------------ 4
Ancient ------- 5

*Carnivores gain an extra advantage at this age

Survival Advantages
Survival Advantages grant you a bonus die in the appropriate Survival Pool when you regain Survival or Skill dice in that area.

Powerful: regain +1 Survival Die (Stamina)
Faster: regain +1 Survival Die (Speed)
Experienced: regain +1 Skill Die

Behavioral Advantages
Behavior Advantages augment the number of dice you roll when using that Behavior. For example, if your dinosaur is Wise, you can roll an extra die when using the Learn Behavior.

Quiet: roll +1 Hide die
Wise: roll +1 Learn die
Alert: roll +1 Seek die        
Wiry: roll +1 Move die                          
Quick: roll +1 Escape die                        
Agile: roll +1 Chase die      
Ferocious: roll +1 Fight die        
Decorated: roll +1 Display die              
Determined: roll +1 Survive die

Evolutionary Advantages
Evolutionary Advantages will increase the range of successful Target Numbers. In this case, any number within the target range will count as a success (a character with +1 target number will succeed on a roll of 1 or 2).

Camouflaged: add 1 to Hide target numbers
Cunning: add 1 to Chase target numbers
Feathered**: add 1 to Escape target numbers (per GM’s approval)
Deadly: add 1 to Fight target numbers
Intimidating: add 1 to Display target numbers (when challenging a rival)
Big-Brained: add 1 to Learn target numbers
Armored: add 1 to Survive target numbers
Dexterous: add 1 to Move target numbers
Inquisitive: add 1 to Seek target numbers
Colorful: add 1 to Display target numbers (when impressing a mate)        
Crested*: add 1 to Learn (when communicating via Song)    
Crested**: add 1 to Display (when impressing a mate)
Aquatic*: add 1 to Move target numbers when in water

*Herbivores or Omnivores only
**Carnivores or Omnivores only

Extraordinary Advantages
Extraordinary Advantages allow dinosaurs to be larger, faster or more intelligent than normal (this translates to an extra Behavior die and one less Survival die). Note that only one Developmental Advantage may be taken and only when the dinosaur has reached a minimum age of Adult.

Monstrous: treat Stamina as if one Size larger
Fleet-footed: treat Speed as if one Size smaller
Ingenious: treat Skill as if one Age category higher

Immense dinosaurs cannot choose the Monstrous Advantage.
Tiny dinosaurs cannot choose the Fleet-footed Advantage.
Ancient dinosaurs cannot choose the Ingenious Advantage.

Mesozoic Theatre
Here are a few plot ideas for games of Tooth & Claw:

A tribe of herbivores is under the thumb of some bullies.  A few herbivores are sent out into the wilderness to find big carnivores to help them fight the bullies.

A clutch of eggs is in danger from predators.  But the parents are dead!  Who will protect them?  You will!  Bring them to a safe place.

Follow up story #1 – Malicious dinosaurs destroy the eggs.  You must exact revenge!

A rogue, outcast from his own tribe, comes into town.  He challenges the elder of your tribe (a relative of yours), kills him and takes over.  He’s mean.

Follow up story #1 – The rogue brings in his cronies and they subjugate the tribe.  You revolt!

Follow up story #2 – The rogue brings in his cronies and they subjugate the tribe.  You are forced to flee!

Follow up story #3 – A volcano is going to erupt!  The rogue doesn’t believe this will happen and you move the tribe to a safe place without the rogue or his cronies finding out.

You and your friends have ticks and the tick birds that used to eat them are no longer around because you have moved to a new place.  Find the tick birds, or find another way to heal yourselves.

There is a terrible drought but a wise shaman has seen a fire in the sky that can help bring rain.  Find the sky-sphere and bring it to him (unfortunately, it’s near the lava flow).

An evil dinosaur kidnaps the chieftain’s mate and you must help to find her.

The meat-eating Jungle Lord demands a tribute. Do you do as he wishes or fight him? Or is there another way?

Follow up story #1 – The Jungle Lord is found slain. Who killed him? And what is going to happen to you now that he’s no longer there to keep away all the other carnivores?

The local tribe has no breeding females but the tribe the next valley over DOES.  Try to persuade some females to join your tribe.

You have a personality conflict with another dinosaur from your tribe and one of you is next in line for the position of chieftain.  Then the chieftain dies…what happens?

A powerful female Knife-Tooth cannot bear young so the she tricks males into stealing other Knife-Tooth eggs…then kills the males. The Knife-Tooth elder needs your help.

Blood Madness strikes the tribal guardian and he goes on a rampage! You can either kill him (allowing enemies to attack) or restrain him and find a cure.

Dinosauria Online

Walking with Dinosaurs

Sue (the most complete T-Rex ever found)

Dinosaur Museum

You can also use Google.com to find more dinosaur-related material on the web.

jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com

Posts: 384

« Reply #87 on: May 16, 2003, 03:58:32 AM »

Chapter THREE:

System: Target 15

Song Creation and Resolution

Songs are mental and emotional vibrations that create a physical or Real effect.  That is they can alter Space, Time, or Perception.  Twentieth and Twenty First century psychics were using these vibrations without knowing it.  Malganorn apparently have evolved to level that use of the Songs is second nature to them.  Humans, in the form of The Gifted, are only now evolving to that state.

3.1 Song Resolution

Songs are resolved just like Skills but there are a few exceptions of note.  During a moment, a Persona may use only 1 Song for one of its 3 Actions. The Persona may not use 3 Songs, though the song technically counts only as 1 action. The Persona may choose to perform two other actions as normal.  

Results may very and will sometimes lay outside the normal function of the game.  For instance, the powerful Song of Maybe pushes everyone one back in time 1 Moment to allow for a different action or Resolution to the problem.  This is strange and the GM needs to read all Song descriptions carefully before running a game of SODS.

Songs also may have a cost associated with their use.  Certain songs require the sacrifice of either Health or Sanity on a temporary basis for the Song to be activated.  Each Song
Critical Failure of Songs

When a natural 1 is rolled when trying to activate a Song that tends to be bad for the Persona trying to use that Song.  Immediately they lose a point of Sanity.  Then they roll 1d6.  That is how many hours the Persona loses the ability to activate that particular Song.

3.2 Song Creation

The Process of creating a Song is fairly simple and requires the expenditure of POE.  The process is outlined below.

1.   Discuss Song with GM, make sure it does not duplicate another Song, and mark off 15 POE.
2.   Choose Basic Effect.  What is basic purpose of this Song? What affect does it accomplish?
3.   Song Cost.  This is trickiest part of the process.  In general if a Song does physical or mental damage, then it costs the Persona using the Song 1 point of Health or Sanity per 2d6 of damage.  If it warps the Physical universe, gates into another universe and any weird stuff like that, the GM should try and come to a fair Health or Sanity cost.

A Persona may teach his new Song to other Personas, both Player and GM controlled as long as they pay the requisite Experience.

Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 10459

« Reply #88 on: May 16, 2003, 05:40:57 AM »

Well, last day, and I just wanted to say again how impressed I am with what I've seen already. I assume there will be a bit more last minute posting today, but we've already got a very strong field. I just wanted to thank everyone for their efforts in making this a success again, and say that I'm looking forward with great relish to the judging.


Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.

Posts: 168

« Reply #89 on: May 16, 2003, 07:25:53 AM »


Odin: Ruler of the gods, patron of kings and berserkers.
Thor: God of thunder, patron of warriors.
Ull: God of hunting.
Freya: Goddess of beauty and fertility.
Baldr: God of beauty.
Heimdall: Guardian god of Bifrost.
Vidar: God of silence.


There is an additional type of magic, the magical items of the Svartalfs. These are finely crafted items of higher Scale. For each success when introducing a dwarf-crafted item, the player may raise the item's Scale by +1, provided it is no higher than the Signature rating (or another appropriate Trait) of the crafter.

Using Sphere Traits

Volcano and Glacier replace the Tone modifier of cunning. For each action that is in line with the theme of Volcano or Glacier, the Player or Guide may add the appropriate rating from that character's home Sphere.

Characters gradually acclimate to the Volcano and Glacier ratings of the Sphere they stay in. Upon entering a Sphere, the characters Volcano and Glacier ratings are those of their home Sphere. Every 9 days, those ratings move 1 point each toward the rating of the Sphere they stay in.

The Prosperity Trait of their home Sphere determines the quality of the equipment the PCs start with. At Prosperity 0, they have nothing. At Prosperity 3, they have equipment equal to Dark Ages Europe: chainmail, steel weapons, and a sailing ship. AtProsperity 6, all their equipment is dwarf-crafted.
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