Monopoly All Euroed Up

July 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm (Games)

The board is 8 spaces to a side.

Players start with 2d4 dice, 2 cubes of each resource and $2000

The player rolls their dice and moves the result +/- their adjustment if desired.

Payday Spaces (2): Passing earns you $100, landing on it earns you $500.

Trade Spaces (6): Players can trade money for resources based on the following scale:
Resource costs/value:
Red: $100/$10
Orange: $50/$9
Yellow: $40/$7
Green: $30/$5
Blue: $20/$3
Purple: $10/$1

Dice Upgrade Space (1):
Trade a d4 for a d6 – purple + $50
Trade a d6 for a d8 – green + $100
Add a d4 – red + $500

Movement Upgrade Space (1):
+/-1 costs blue + $50
+/-3 costs orange + $100
+/-5 costs red + $500

Property Upgrade Space (1):
Steal +1 resource – purple + $50
Steal +2 resources – yellow + $100
Choose what you steal – red + $500

Property Spaces (21):
Unowned properties may be purchased. Landing on an owned property allows the player who owns that property to steal one resource per property of that color that they own from you. The choice of which property they steal is up to you unless otherwise stated.
Red 1: costs orange, 2 yellow, & $500
Red 2: costs orange, 2 green, & $400
Orange 1: costs red, yellow, & $370
Orange 2: costs red, green, & $360
Orange 3: costs red, blue, & $350
Yellow 1: costs orange, blue, & $320
Yellow 2: costs orange, green, & $310
Yellow 3: costs orange, purple, & $300
Green 1: costs yellow, blue, & $280
Green 2: costs yellow, blue, & $270
Green 3: costs yellow, purple, & &260
Green 4: costs yellow, purple, & $250
Blue 1: costs orange, yellow, & $230
Blue 2: costs orange, yellow, & $220
Blue 3: costs orange, green, & $210
Blue 4: costs orange, green, & $200
Purple 1: costs blue, green, & $150
Purple 2: costs blue, green, & $140
Purple 3: costs blue, yellow, & $130
Purple 4: costs blue, yellow , & $120
Purple 5: costs blue, orange, & $110


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Railroading for Fun and Profit: Part 2

January 14, 2012 at 10:59 pm (Games)

How to railroad effectively?

The key to railroading is communication. Your players are smart, fun loving people and they want to have fun in your game, they are not mind readers. If what you have prepared for the game is straightforward adventure, tell them that.

Make sure when choosing or planning your adventure that the session ahead has things that will interest each of your players. When those elements come up, give that player solid eye contact, remind them of the things in their character’s past that make this element important. If the player is not picking up on your clues, outright tell them what you were hoping their reaction would be and get a quick response as to why they didn’t bite. Doing this regularly will help your players understand to expect it in the future.

If the adventure makes it possible for the party to find a vital clue or item to complete the adventure, make sure you change that. If getting the McGuffin is based on a skill check don’t make failure mean that they don’t get the item but rather, they get it and something bad happens as well. Most modules will have in them an ample supply of things that can go wrong in any given room, steal from there. Have a trap go off, have a monster attack, make them sacrifice an item they treasure to get hold of the McGuffin, make that failure matter but don’t make it stop the adventure.

What not to do when you are railroading?

The most obvious bad habit of railroading GMs is to just keep blocking your players for no good reason until they go in the direction you want. This is where communication can help you a lot. If your players are headed off in a direction you aren’t prepared for step out of the game for a while and ask them why they are headed in that direction. If they are going that way to achieve some character goal that might be a whole adventure you should ask them if they will wait to pursue that in another session so that you have time to make that thing awesome. If they are going in that direction because they think that the clues you gave them are leading that way you should consider if you can put the rest of what you had planned in that direction. It might not be possible to do that so you may want to put a more obvious clue where they are headed, back to where you planned your adventure or just be honest with them that they got the wrong impression and point them in the right direction. Do not, do not, do not, let them explore the wrong direction and keep giving them nothing! All that will do is frustrate them and you.

When shouldn’t I railroad?

There are plenty of games out there where railroading is a terrible idea. Even in games where railroading is a viable option it may not be the right option for your group. If your game is running smoothly and your players are having fun the way you are running the game, Do Not Railroad! I can’t say this strongly enough. If what you are doing works, ignore all of this and keep being awesome. If you are looking for a new way to help focus your games and you try this and your group hates it, Do Not Railroad! Don’t keep pushing in a direction your players aren’t having fun in. Don’t railroad if it doesn’t sound like fun to you either. Remember even though you are the GM this is a game for you too, and life is too short for bad games.

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Railroading for Fun and Profit: Part 1

January 2, 2012 at 8:44 am (Games)

What is Railroading?

Railroading is taking the fastest route between where your players are and where your adventure is. Railroading is about keeping the lines of communication open between you and your players so that they know where you are going and you know what they want to see when they get there. There are plenty of systems out there that need a bit of railroading to make sure the game runs smoothly. There are also systems that will fall all to pieces if you try and railroad. Railroading is not ignoring your players or ignoring your player’s impact on the world. Quite the opposite. If you ignore what your players are trying to do your railroad isn’t going to the holiday fun park but rather to the slaughter house.

Why is railroading often seen as a bad thing?

Many players have had bad experiences with GMs who believe that the only thing important in their game world is their plot. Get on that GMs plot car or get left in the dust. Plot not have thing one to do with your character? Wooptee-doo. These GMs give railroading a bad name and have, through the horror stories told by their players, colored many people’s view of what railroading is all about.

When should I railroad?

Railroading is your best option when two things are true. First, if you have a plot in mind with points along it that players should see. Second, if the system has told you, either explicitly or implicitly, that you have all of the narrative control in the game. If both of these things are true and your group is having a blast, getting things done, and not running into major hurdles that stop the game every session then ignore my advice and keep doing what is working for your group. You should only railroad when it works for your game and your group.

Why should I railroad?

You should railroad to help your players get to the fun faster and with less frustration. You should railroad to get more out of each gaming session. Use what your players have told you about their characters, both in character creation and during play to focus where you are taking your plot. Your players’ characters might not be the most important characters in the world but they are the most important in their story. Make sure they are the center of the plot you are running, even if it is a preplanned or published adventure.

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Hacking Boarsdraft

September 13, 2011 at 9:03 am (Games)

As I feel myself closing in on the final design for Boarsdraft I’ve been thinking about what makes the game tick. What started me thinking about this was listening to Fred Hicks on the most recent episode of the Jennisodes. Fred was talking about when he was closing in on the end of his design for Don’t Rest Your Head and how a friend recommended pulling all of the flavor out of the game to see if it still produced the sort of experience that he wanted. That got me to thinking about how to do that with Boarsdraft. 

Much of what Boarsdraft is about is bound into the mechanics. I did that intentionaly and I like the feeling it gives off as players interact with those mechanics. The problem for me now is how do I pull those mechanics apart to see if they will stand on their own. 

I’ve decided that my best option is to hack the game to run a totally different genre. I concidered a few different genres for this and finally decided that the Matrix could potentialy be a good fit for my needs. The flavor of the Matrix is significantly different from what I’m going for in Boarsdraft but I can see where I can use most of the mechanics to tell Matrix-like stories. 

I’m not sure if I will be putting the hack out for public use. More than likely I will be just useing it for a few games with my home group. I’m hoping that seeing the rules in a different light will help me better understand how they work in Boarsdraft. 

Now for a challenge to you my readers. Hack my game!  Take Boarsdraft and bend and mangel it into whatever shape you think might be fun. The only rule here is that you share with me what you come up with. You can share it here or just drop a link in the comments to what you have come up with. Your hack can be as close or as far from Boarsdraft as you want. Me hacking my own game will be helpful I’m sure but I know that I’m probably too close to my own game to try anything too outside the box.

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Sometimes they Win

March 23, 2010 at 8:15 pm (Games, Preview)

Sometimes They Win

3am March 12:

I woke up suddenly with cold sweat beaded on my brow. I sat there in the dark as my dog growled low at me for waking him up. ‘What was it that I had been dreaming?’ There had been blood and metal and screams in my dream but there had also been dice and friends.

I walked to the back door and let the dogs out. As I stood there looking through the foggy glass at my dark yard I began to write down my thoughts.

This game was my nightmare.

“Monsters are real, and ghosts are too, they live inside us and sometimes they win.”

Sometimes they win is a game about real people who go over the edge and start killing their friends. You are your characters and your characters are you. You have no super powers or great technology and all of you are capable of murder. Play starts with each player in the order they arrived. The first player takes a turn telling the second player two imprortant things. The first thing is what is going wrong in their life and the second is why they need to be alive. Both things need to be things that are immediate and important. The second player then assigns one die apeice to those two things at their disgression (d4-d12). Then player two does the same to player three and so on until the last player.
The last player after assigning dice to the player before him flys off the handle and attempts to kill the character of the player before him. The attacking player rolls a d20 and if the number he rolls is less than the dice he has in front of him at the time of the attack that is the end of that players turn. The player being attacked can attempt to keep the attacking player from hurting him by picking up any die d4-d12 and rolling it. A roll of 4 or higher is a success and the players character is unharmed. Win or lose the player being attacked must hand their dice over to the attacking player. At the end of the attacking player’s turn (when the number on the d20 at the start of the round is lower than the number of dice on the table) the attacking player rolls all of their dice while describing how they attempt one last time to kill the defending player. If the attacker rolls over 20 with all their dice then the defending player is murdered and the attacking player becomes the target of one of the other players. If the attacking player fails then the defending player turns the table on the attacking player and kills him instead and then loses his mind and attacks one of the other players.
At any point when the defending player must roll dice he may choose to roll one of the dice that they were given at the start of the game rather than picking a new die off the table. If they do then they can keep that die infront of them rather than giving it to the attacker. Also at any point that the defending player must roll dice they may ask for help. The other players can help by giving one of their die to the defending player and begging the attacker to leave their friend alone. Succed or fail the die that is given stays with the player it is given to. This only works for players who are still alive. Players who are dead may help in a different way. Dead players may at any point that the defender is rolling dice roll one of the dice that was in front of them when they died and use it to add to the defending players roll. If a roll is failed when helped by a dead player the defending players die and the helping players die go to the killer. Attacking players who die keep all of their dice when they die. Keep playing until all of the players are dead.

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Purpose in Stats

September 3, 2009 at 1:11 pm (Games, TGMbC) (, , , )

Reading a post by one of my fellow Game Chefs I saw something that really made me think about my own entry and The Gods Must be Crazy. The post was about the specific mechanics of the designers game but there was a nugget in there that really struck a chord with me. The idea was that if there is a part of your system that is not pulling its weight in the game it needs to be improved or removed.

I started checking through the rules for Of Sky and Sea to see if there were any sagging mechanics. So far as I can tell the mechanics of that game are fairly tight and all of them are pulling their weight. The Gods Must be Crazy is a different story. In TGMbC I have three stats that other than color are basicly work the same way.

My challange now is to take a look at those stats and see how I can get them to pull them their weight in the system to make them worth having on the character sheet. More on this later.

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Rethinking the Unfun

August 18, 2009 at 9:46 am (Games, MetaBlog) (, , )

I apologize to all of you who read my blog and may have noticed my prolonged absence. As some of you who follow me on twitter may already know I was digging in deep into writing for my supernatural highschool game. A few weeks ago I ran into a wall as far as the design went. I had the basics of what I wanted for the structure of the game to give the game a feeling of being in highschool with relationships and deadlines and drama but I didn’t have a good idea for conflict mechanics or how the systems I already had would interact with each other.

I did a bit of whining over on twitter and some really great folks were kind enough to kick my butt and tell me to stop whining and really dig in and do the design. So I did and when I looked at my first draft it really was the game I had envisioned and it sucked. It didn’t suck in the good way that ment that it was rough and could be worked through and be made into a game I could be proud of. Rather it sucked in the way that the game was unfun.

Their were two main problems with the game as it was and they were both sacred cows. The first was the relationship map which had turned into its own seporate game which was mostly tedious. The second was the timeing method that drove the games scene economy and powered characters. It came down to players having to choose between playing the game of succeding at school with lame characters or succeding at the mystery of the game while failing out of school or giving the players enough points to succed at both and removing all challange from the game.

I have decided to put that game down for a while and focus on making The Gods Must be Crazy a fully playable game rather than a half baked playtest document. I hope to return to the supernatural highshool one day but it won’t be soon.

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The Gods Must be Crazy

June 26, 2009 at 10:37 am (Games, TGMbC) (, , )

The playtest version of The Gods Must be Crazy is ready.  It is a game for four players to play in one session.  Each game starts with the creation of the gods that will define your characters’ world.  There are three distinct stages of game play; preparation, questing and battle.  Will your group slay the dragon and save the village or will you loose faith and die horribly while their village burns?


Download the PDF and give the game a try!  Let me know what you think of the game and how it played at your table.  You can contact me with any questions you have at jmhpfan at gmail dot com.  Any suggestions on how the game might play better or how the text could better explain how to play are also welcome.

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I Must have been Crazy

June 24, 2009 at 12:38 pm (Games, Life, MetaBlog, Preview) (, , )

If you have been following my blog for the last few weeks you will have noticed that I posted about wanting to do a series of posts that would end up being a full 4e campaign from 1 – 30.  You may have also noticed that I took that blog post down.  I had already plotted out the course I wanted the campaign to go and had all of the adventures planed out with XP and gold rewards as well as what secrets needed to be revealed.  My issue came when I tried to write my first adventure.  What started off very simple soon grew into a maze of branching flowchart nightmareness.  My own GMing style it seems does not translate well onto paper.  


I was unsure what to do with the site for the next few months.  My plan had been to provide weekly encounters to you the readers while also adding in extra tidbits here and there (like new epic destanys, monsters and items).  I may still release some of those things to you as time goes on but if I had put out one encounter per week it would have been likely that 2109 would have arrived before the last encounter.  I still don’t quite know what to do but I can tell you that I will soon have a playtest version of a free RPG called “The Gods Must be Crazy” ready for you within the week!


The Gods Must be Crazy is a brain wave I had while listening to This Modern Death.  I was (and am) still trying to work out my thoughts for a Harry Potter/Twilight mashup game when this game intruded.  Kristin encuraged me via Twitter to let this project run free and so I did and it should be in a readable format in a few days time.  I hope that some of you will take some time with three of your friends and play this game and give me feed back.

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Speeding up Combat

June 18, 2009 at 3:00 am (D&D, Games) (, , , )

In my last series of posts I talked about making Skill Challenges more central to the game play of D&D 4e by adding in elements from combat into SCs.  In this article I will be talking about how to speed up combat, add more drama to combats and make combats feel more like the epic fights players are use to from fantasy movies.
In fantasy books and movies heroes rarely get hit based on the skill of their opponents but rather on their own failure to block at a critical time.  Thinking about this and listening to Ryan Macklin’s Master Plan podcast on tangibility in mechanics led me to the idea of having the players be the only ones able to initiate an attack.  Only when a player fails to successfully hit his opponent can that opponent strike back.  To keep the game from over balancing the player’s opponent should automatically hit the player with an attack of it’s own of equal power (i.e. a Daily power if attacked with a Daily power).  Another  balancing factor is that whenever a player or an NPC draws an Opportunity Attack that attack will automatically succeed. 
Using this option will both speed up combats in your game but also make each roll of the d20 more exciting as the players watch to see if they will hit or be hit.  This also makes the players feel more in control of the combat because it is their roll that determines their fate not the roll of the DM.  Movement tactics will become much more important and the decision to take a hit to get better position will be that much more important.
As you can see it does not take much to take normal combat and speed it up.  Let me know how this works at your table.
– J.B. Mannon 

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