Chronicles RPG Core Rules

It is with great pleasure that I would like to introduce the roleplaying rules I have been working on for way too long.  The link below is to a PDF file for the 38 page ruleset.  Enjoy!

Chronicles RPG Core Rules_1.0

I think this bit sums it up nicely.

What you are holding is an organic document.  It was never my intention for this to be a static set of rules.  The minute you read it you will have your own ideas, your own thoughts on what you should do with the framework.  Here is what I want you to do… use them!  Make this game yours.  I promise you, I’ll be doing the same on my end and fully expect these rules to go through numerous small modifications and iterations as I prune, graft and grow them.

And from the last paragraph…

In addition, I wanted to give back to a gaming community that I’ve seen evolve and grow and blossom since I first walked the hallowed halls of Gencon in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin dressed up like a ranger and carrying a Crown Royale dice bag.   It’s a community that has given me fantastic experiences, inspiration and some of the best friends I have ever made.  This core ruleset is for them, for you, and, in the spirit of it all, will remain forever free.

Some key features

  • Allows players to have an influence in world building with the game’s host by letting players make Matrix game statements. (Thanks to Chris Engle at Hamster Press!)
  • Only the players roll in combat.  This frees up the game host to help tell the story.
  • Uses a narrative system for level of success.  It uses “Yes, but…”, “No, and…” etc.

Stay tuned and thanks for being here!



Roleplaying Update

In between all this X-com nerdiness, I have a happy announcement for those of you patient, roleplaying folks that have listened to me go on about my homebrew roleplaying game.  If all goes well, I’m happy to announce that over the past few years I will FINALLY be ready to be publish the ruleset here on the blog.  I’m going over the document now, making some editing changes and making sure it looks good for it’s PDF preview.

I’ve implemented one big change which I’ve implemented as sort of a “last turn of the wrench” before finally just telling myself to “be done.”  The big change was to change the XP system by turning it around 180 degrees.  Where as before it was based on the system’s version of Critical Hits it is now based on a character’s failures.  That is, after all, how we learn, right?

Overall, I’m very happy and excited for what is to come over the next few weeks!  Hopefully, your patience will be rewarded!  Thanks for hanging on this long!




Update on the RPG

About a week ago I was able to get a quick playtest in with the final set of rules.  It was a quick run but it gave the players a sense of how the rules worked and how much control they had over the story.  The end result?  Everyone enjoyed it!   In turn, this only inspired me to get more focused on getting this thing done and out to all of you.  It feels good to be getting “serious” about this much fun.

I’m currently organizing another playtest with a group of friends that are a bit more experienced and hardened in the arena of roleplaying games.  I’m looking forward to getting their input and moving forward.

The only thing really left to get done is the formatting and a few of the appendices.  I’m going to supply the basic rundown of a magic system and include it in the initial rule set.  If nothing else, it will work as an initial example for other gamemasters to manipulate as they see fit.

Big week this week with two NPC’s of the week and hopefully the beginning of some solo play fun!


Random Spots with a Google Earth Image Overlay

One of the tools I mentioned in my last Flight Simulator post was a way that I generated a random spot on Google Earth.  I wanted to talk about it briefly and show you how I do it.

The way to do it is incredibly simple.  I came up with it while trying to figure out a way to randomly select areas of the U.S. for a possible game campaign.  Below you will find a simple JPEG image.  Feel free to double click on the image and grab it for yourself.  the other thing you will need is a D6.


I bet you can see where this is going, right?


  • Open Google Earth.
  • Create an Image Overlay using the graph image. (The button is up near the top.  See the image below.)  Adjust the image over whatever part of the world you want to use it on and adjust the opacity so you can see the terrain underneath it.
  • Roll the dice twice.  One roll for the row, the other for the column.  Find the square that coordinates to the die roll.
  • If it is too large of an area then simply shrink the layer down to fit the area of the initial coordinate and… guess what?  Roll again!
  • Wash, rinse and repeat until you get the area you want.

Here’s a quick example of what it will look like in Google Earth.


Also, if you have Photoshop, Gimp or something similar, you could also use this grid to find random locations on a digital map for a fantasy world or anything.  Just add it as another layer and manipulate it as you’d like to put the grid over the area.

The next post today is a more detailed look at how I use the 6 x 6 grid AND some elements of the Mythic RPG Solo game to create one of my more memorable charter flights.

Question on Character Advancement

While spending time on my Flight Simulator, I’ve also been working on my RPG ruleset.   I even attain full geekery by working on the ruleset WHILE flying a long flight.  Geek Multitasking for the win!   The bulk of the basic rules are done and I’m scheduling a playtest in the next week or two to get some initial feedback.  The hope is it will be a fun, story based system that will convert well to Solo RPG play.  Earlier this week, I just finished up an initial run with it in a fantasy RPG setting and I feel it was successful which only energizes me to move forward.

Though nearly finished an important question has come up regarding character advancement.  I’m currently between two decisions and, since this will eventually be free for folks here, I thought I would put the question forward to see if anyone might be willing to offer feedback.

I am torn between two systems of character advancement.  Both have a focus on the fact that levels of Skill become increasingly difficult to attain and full mastery is very difficult and takes times.

DarwinShrugI’ll briefly describe both of them and then you can let me know your thoughts.  Which would be more fun to play?

Version A — A player gets a certain amount of XP awarded to him by the GM, typically between 2 to 4 points.  The player then can spend those XP points on making a roll vs. a difficulty number in a chance to raise the skill.  Low level skills have a low difficulty number, Higher levels are, of course, much more difficult.  This would most likely result in a player missing rolls and possibly burning all of their XP for “nothing but a chance.”  I don’t mind this idea too much but as a player I think it could get rather frustrating.

Version B — My system has “exploding dice” so anytime a 10 is rolled, the player may roll again and add that number to his new total.  If he rolls another 10, he rolls again and adds THAT.  The idea here is that anytime a player rolls an exploding die for any skill use he gets a “tally mark” next to the skill.  When that skill has built up enough tallies to reach the proper level that skill advances automatically, even if it is the middle of a session.  Also, at the GM’s discretion, he may allow a tally mark to be given if a player really bungles a skill roll.  We learn by failure, right?  The downside is that if a character is very focused on a particular skill there may be a bit of a “grinding” feel to it.

Also, it should be noted, players would not be allowed to do a repetitive task in order to try and gain more tallies with an exploded roll.  For instance, throwing a knife at a target over and over to try and get his skill tallies up.  (I understand, in reality, this would be the way you do it but it doesn’t make much of a story, right?)    I suppose I could include a rule that a character could announce between games they were doing such a bit of practicing to earn a single tally mark?

Those are the two versions right now.  What do you think?  Which would be more fun?

Thoughts?  Ideas?


Creating an NPC with Tarot Cards

(This is an old post which I am porting over here from my Yoteden blog.)

When I ran through this the first time, I used Rory’s StoryCubes to generate an NPC character for roleplaying.  This time I’ll use a 78 card tarot deck for each of the 9 items below.  I will go through each set of three elements and draw three cards.  With those three cards I’ll assign them to whichever element seems to work the best.  Once used, those cards will not be placed back in the deck.  For meanings  I’ll not only use the creative imagery of the card but also the “traditional” meaning of each of the cards as I know them.  (Important – credit where credit is due.  This set-up is not mine.  I found this as a post on Solo Nexus which I recommend you check out!)

Before we go ANY further, a personal note on tarot cards – I’ve had tarot decks in my life for several decades now.  I know them quite well.  I’ve collected a few decks and I enjoy not only the cards but their history.  Here’s the shocking statement.  Are you ready?

Tarot cards are pieces of cardboard.

They are wonderful tools to spark creativity and story creation.  When not drawing them for story and character creation they can also be handy in helping you look at a problem a little differently, changing the perspective a bit so you can see something you might have missed. Carrying a deck around with you will not get you struck by lightning or taken over by the Devil.   (From what I know of the cards chances are good it will be just the opposite.)  For this exercise I’m using a mini-deck of the Hanson-Roberts Tarot Deck that I keep handy for gaming.

Alright, that’s out of the way.

I rolled the setting from a chart over on Solo Nexus and came up with Swashbuckling Fable.  I modified this a bit to be a “Swashbuckling Fairy Tale.”  Maybe something like Snow White meets The Three Musketeers?

threemusketeersAs before, I have no idea what kind of character/NPC  is going to show up until I draw the random elements.  That being said, Here we go!

Obvious NPC Story Elements Queen of Swords, Eight of Swords, The Empress
(Looks like this NPC will be a female character just because two of these are highly feminine cards.)


1. The NPC’s role in the world: discerned by clothes, demeanor, initial introduction, etc.
Queen of Swords – A learned swords woman, very skilled and experienced warrior.  She will most often be wearing armor or a standard guard uniform when seen out and around.  Her demeanor would be very too the point and, at first, terse.

2. The NPC’s current home or home-base: learned through initial introduction, casual conversation, etc.
Eight of Swords – This was left over because the other two fell into place so easily.  This one was tough at first.  Eight of swords can indicate capture, being blocked, etc.  For some reason I think of being captured or holding things at bay and I have to go with a city guard or a county marshal.  Someone with the power to lock people up. I think this woman is a captain of the guard.  This really doesn’t go along with the image of the card but it’s the first thing that jumped into my mind.  The other idea would be someone held hostage or held against her will but it doesn’t seem right.

3. The NPC’s signature/unique talent: learned through casual conversation, simple getting-to-know-you questions,  etc
The Empress – This is a bit harder to grasp but I think this just means that once past the initial outward appearance, the PC’s would find her to be very caring and endearing.  She would show that she deeply cares about the city and the people she protects daily.  A softer side would show itself fairly quickly if the PC’s got on her good side.

Personal NPC Story ElementsEight of Rods, Six of Rods, Three of Cups


4. The NPC’s special knowledge about others: requires a bit of trust, shared view of the world, things in common, etc.
Three of Cups – I decided to go with the image on the card a bit more.  I see three women not necessarily dancing or partying (which is typical for the 3 of Cups) but standing close and perhaps talking or even whispering.  With her Empress card above I’ll say she knows a fair amount of secrets and rumors around the city.  She is trusted by many and so they share information with her.

5. The NPC’s special item/tool/useful possession: requires a bit more trust, shared view of the world, things in common, etc.
Eight of Rods – This card usually stands for movement and travel.  I would say she has a special item that allows her to move very quickly around the city.  Perhaps a magic ring or her cloak with either teleportation or speed cast onto it?  (I had thought about a flying mount but that might not be “secret” enough?)  Regardless, she has the ability to be anywhere she needs to be VERY quickly.

6. The NPC’s ally/allegiance to a group or organization: requires the certainty that the PC is not an adversary to the ally or allied group.
Six of Rods – Usually means victory or a parade.  What struck me is the man and his red cape.  I ran with it.  The Scarlet Cloaks are the city guards and they work closely with the locals to maintain order and protection.  She is quite successful at what she does, has the respect of most of the city officials and is a house hold name to many that call the city home.

Intimate NPC Story ElementsThe High Priestess, Five of Cups, Two of Swords


7. A past experience that has shaped the NPC’s current self.
Five of cups – Despair.  Loss.   This character originally started as an orphan, a poor street waif that had to struggle and live in poverty after losing her parents to either an accident or a violence.  She was adopted in her pre-teens and as she neared adulthood she was given a chance to use her toughness and intelligence in the city guard.  This is what powers her drive to care for those less fortunate.  She has been there and understands.

8. A present situation that the NPC is embroiled in that could affect the PC directly or indirectly.
The High Priestess – She is currently investigating some rumors that indicate a local female mage or priest could be involved in criminal activity.  The card indicates that this woman would have significant power herself and so would need to be approached cautiously.

9. A future goal the NPC is hoping to attain…could the PC help?
Two of Swords – The captain is having to decide whether or not to pursue further investigation of the High Priestess character. She is torn over the woman’s innocence but is unable to investigate with her guards directly.  (Perhaps she has been ordered to “back down” by politicians in the city?)  She could possibly want the PC’s to check out the Priestess character and her operation a bit more closely.  Can the PC’s find out information that would help the captain decide to push forward or to ignore the High Priestess and her organization?

And, we’re done.  We have a Captain of the Scarlet Cloaks (or possibly higher rank) who is very good at her job but also takes a nurturing, caring stance as well.   She needs a name and, of course, stats for whatever system you would like to use.  One powerful NPC that could be a player character’s best friend or worst enemy.  Not someone to trifle with at the very least!

(Post edit – Also, I’m enjoying this process so much I think I’ll continue to make NPC’s when the mood strikes me.  All NPC’s will be placed under the Category of NPC on the right hand column.  That way, over time, someone can check here if they need an NPC in a hurry!  Feel free to use them if you need them!)

Creating an NPC with Story Cubes

(Ported over from my original blog post on my Yoteden blog.)

Over on Solo Nexus, JF put together something fun which was to create an NPC for roleplaying with  random rolls of Rory’s Story Cubes.  For those non-gamers, an NPC is a non-player character which is a story character NOT played by one of the players.  For example, the bartender at the local bar, a city guard or a player character’s family member.


This should clear things up, right?

The story cubes are nine different dice that each have a different symbol on them.  The symbols and images are what you use to tell a story.  The idea is that the image on the die can be used in any way to spur an idea for the character.  By using the dice with three sets of three questions you are able to put together a random character for the player characters to encounter.  You could also do this for a player character or for a writing exercise.  You also don’t need Story Cubes.  You could do this with any sort of randomizer.  For instance, you could use Magic the Gathering cards, Tarot cards or even “Random page” on Wikipedia.

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