Today is 2/2 and is the very first New Game Day. In honour if this celebration, I’ve released some quick-start and quick-play resources for my new rules-light science-fantasy game – Arkfall. If you’re looking for a new game, Arkfall is one you can get for free and play immediately.
Arkfall is post-apocalyptic science fantasy World of Dungeons/Mutants featuring Planarch Codex heritage moves.
The World Ark was a massive starship that harvested beings and shards of reality from countless worlds. Then it crashed and all that was strewn and mingled across this vast new planet. Since then, the inhabitants have bred and generations have passed. People have rebuilt and old worlds and cultures combine, clash and evolve. Everyone (including the PCs) has weird mixed heritages. Nanites are used as currency and levels of self-augmentation are one thing they can be spent on.
– uses heritage moves to make bizarre PC races
– dead magic world, but technology emulates magic
– levelling up is not mandatory; instead of XP and coins, nanites are currency your characters can spend on stuff, including levels of self-augmentation
– includes a list of chems and their effects
– lore skill reskinned as ‘culture’ to emphasise that anything worth knowing on Arkfall has cultural significance to someone
– includes a few starting scenarios, quests and jobs
– includes an example move for PC flashbacks
If you read or play Arkfall or make something for it, I’d love to hear your feedback (also if you spot any typos, inconsistencies or things that are unclear). Also, it’s Creative Commons (CC-BY) so if you see something you like – or don’t – go nuts, use it, change it, whatever 🙂
Huge thanks to John Harper, Jonathan Walton and Jürgen Mayer for allowing me to use parts of their awesome, inspiring creations.
VERV was not always the solar system-uniting virtual reality device that it is today, able to connect users on distant worlds and give a better life to users on worlds where terraforming did not take hold. VERV has come a long way since its humble beginnings as the Virtual Engineering Rig (VER). It was developed to allow engineers to construct virtual models of buildings, ships, weapons and so on and then perform stress tests and other evaluations of the models under realistic conditions.
Another function of VER allowed users to manipulate robotic limbs as if they were the user’s own, allowing remote repair, exploration and even fine manipulation of deadly substances. This function also found use in a medical offshoot of VER – labelled the Virtual Examination Rig. Doctors were able to virtually explore the body and conduct surgery using a virtual overlay showing the locations of arteries, organs, tumours and so on.
As VER became more popular and widespread, independent engineers and members of the public acquired VER systems for their own use. The input and modifications made by these individuals and groups brought VER to an unofficial second version (VERII). VERII moved from augmented reality towards fully embracing virtual reality. VERII featured the ever-popular Otherworld virtual reality “game” where members could participate in virtual combat, trade with others and interact over long distances.
VER’s developers hired the creators of Otherworld and developed an official third version of the hardware and software (VERIII). VERIII proved very successful and by the time VERVI was released, technology had progressed by leaps and bounds. VERV, the current and publically proclaimed “final” version of the VER hardware is now able to accept a vast range of software, and even allows users to create software from scratch. It connects users to Otherworld and contains fully modular applications which even the most inexperienced user can easily understand the basics of.
VERV is said to be the “final” version of VER because the hardware is now complete and realised, with incredible flexibility for additional modules, so much so that there is unlikely a need for a new overhaul of the system. Additionally, as VERV can now accept any software, its potential appears endless.
Indeed, this potential is being realised by more and more people every day, from children to the elderly. It has united the system, but also presents a new venue for the dark side of humanity. Teenagers see and participate in all manner of vices in illegal v-clubs, hackers spy on individuals, groups and governments, shady deals are made in the anonymity of black boxes, and terrorists rub virtual shoulders with politicians.
VERV has laid the groundwork and it is now up to humanity to decide what to do with it.
In our Pathfinder game this week the PCs visited the tavern of a town they staying at. One of the PCs is a mercenary with a lot of gold to spare and likes to show how tough he is. So I had an NPC ask him if he’d like to gamble. He agreed, but I realised I hadn’t thought of the game they would play.
I wanted there to be dice to add a element of chance to the game, but I also wanted it to help the PC look tough. First thing that came to mind was that knife game where you splay your fingers on a table and quickly stab a knife between them.
Before I knew it I was saying in character as the NPC: “So, have you ever played… knifey-dicey?”
While not as simple as the Simpsons’ “knifey spoony”, it was more fun than cutlery comparison.
On the spot, we came up with some quick rules for this two player minigame, which are as follows:
Decide the stakes (standard games are either 1 or 5 gold pieces).
Decide who goes first (roll a d6 and call odds or evens, or flip a coin – loser goes first).
The player whose turn it is throws the agreed stakes onto the table.
The player rolls a d6 to see how many “circuits” or “laps” of their hand they have to do.
The player makes a Dexterity check with a DC equal to 10 + the number of rounds played so far (0 in the first round) + the result of the d6 rolled in Step 4. Just remember DC = 10 + rounds + d6.
If the player succeeds, it is now the other player’s turn. Repeat steps 3-6 until someone loses or quits (every second time you get to this step, it is a new round so the DC increases by 1).
Winner takes the stakes. For 24 hours, the loser suffers a -2 penalty to rolls requiring two hands (unless they quit before stabbing themselves). DC 15 Healing check or any cure spell removes the penalty.
We played a game of knifey-dicey using these rules and it was a lot of fun. Due to the ever-increasing stakes, the PC ended up winning 30 gold pieces and the NPC walked away with a damaged hand.
I imagined and described the game as extremely fast paced. Decide stakes and who goes first, then begin! Throw gold on the table, roll the d6 and stab stab stab! Other player throws down gold, roll, stab stab stab! Repeat!
Because of the quick pace of the game, the DC increases by 1 each round, so someone is eventually going to lose – if they don’t quit before that, forfeiting the stakes.
Knifey-dicey has several things going for it:
Quick and simple to play
Elements of randomness
Elements of “skill” (the players’ Dexterity scores)
Easy to make variants
Speaking of variants, here’s a few I’ve made up just now for this post:
After their turn (that is, after Step 5), the player chugs a mug of ale or takes a shot of spirits.
The player then makes a Fortitude save (DC equal to 10 + the number of drinks consumed).
Failing the Fortitude save adds 1 to the DC of subsequent Dexterity checks in Step 5.
Dedicated couples play this game, where one partner stabs around the other’s hand.
Often played as “doubles”, where both partners stab at the same time (rolling Dexterity separately).
If one partner gets stabbed, the other can continue on. It’s like having two chances.
Winners take the stakes. Losers suffer regular penalties and whatever their partner dishes out.
The knives are soaked in deadly poison. Winner takes stakes. Loser dies.
After writing this post I started thinking about how this would translate to Savage Worlds and have come up with the following quick and dirty conversion:
Change the DC to TN 3 + rounds so far + d6
Instead of Dexterity roll Agility or Gambling, whichever is highest
-2 penalty for losing still applies, and of course the Fortitude save in Knifey-Dicey-Drinky becomes a Vigor roll against TN 4 + number of drinks consumed.
It seems more brutal, but you’ve got the Wild Die and the dice can Ace as usual. I just played a few rounds with varying Agility scores. Playing with an Agility of d8 and on the round that the TN reached 8, I rolled an 8 on the Agility die and a 6 on the Wild Die. I even lasted a while with d4 Agility, thanks to aces. Die size matters, but it really still comes down to luck.
Knives & Hooks
Knifey-dicey is a quick and fun minigame that you can add to just about any roleplaying game to spice up the action next time your PCs wander into a tavern.
Knifey-dicey could also be used as a hook. “Sure, I’ll give you the information you’re after, if you and your buddy there beat me and my girl at knifey-dicey-wifey”. And I can just picture a showdown with a crime lord who challenges the PCs to a game of knifey-dicey-deadly instead of traditional combat. It would definitely be a memorable encounter.
Do you have any minigames like this in your roleplaying games? What sort of mechanics do you use? And if you try out knifey-dicey in your game, I’d love to hear how it goes.