Thursday 27 December 2018

Regimancy: Dynastic Magic

This is a design post—not immediately gameable, but a half-formed idea I'm putting here while I finish other things. This is fodder for the cultures of the Tristhmus, which are on my mind as I write supplementary material for the compilation.

The basic idea is this: a class of magic whose ritual steps are the workings of states.

Regimantic rituals are really, really long rituals whose steps take months or years to unfold. They are concerned with the progress of polities—petty kingdoms, empires, city-states, dynastic succession.

Performing regimancy always involves politically significant acts such as:
  • giving bank-breakingly lavish gifts
  • having bastards, marrying people with the wrong background
  • breaking the succession to a seat of power
  • oaths of fealty, breaking great oaths and treaties
  • declaring wars, winning battles, dying in battle
The stakes are similarly grand, and involve things like:
  • Cutting reigns short, or protecting them for three centuries
  • Succession stability, breaking dynasties
  • Ending wars, starting them
  • Internal strife, sowing dissent among advisors, fracturing polities into factions or outright civil war
  • Inverting the dominant power and their vassals
  • Major environmental effects: farming boons, plagues, ice ages, droughts
Regimantic rituals always look like bone-headed maneuvers or political blunders, because that's the price you pay to take a short-cuts to greater heights.

Ambushing an inferior army and sacking their capital city isn't regimancy, that's just common sense. Having your only heir slain in battle while leading a foolish war against a superior foe, and then gifting the entire royal treasury to a neutral nearby kingdom, now that's a start!

* * *

Rituals that take years to pull off aren't obvious gaming fodder, but there are a few dimensions I think are pretty useful.

1. Dusty old books are now really, really useful.

In my setting, magic isn't formulaic. Rituals are revealed by flashes of insight, or are discovered accidentally. For this reason, there's no way to invent a new regimantic ritual, and no practical way to discover them through deliberate experimentation.

Learning new regimantic rituals looks identical to the study of history.

Regimancers comb through treatises, accounts, records and tomes trying to find patterns that explain sudden rises to power, remarkable victories from behind, and victorious underdogs. What ritual price was accidentally paid?

Even reasonably well-understood regimantic rituals merit continued study. Does Vassal's Gambit only work when the enacting kingdom has a green flag? All three examples of the gambit from history have been carried out by rulers whose houses had green flags. Is that a coincidence, or meaningful?

Even the histories of dead empires, so remote to the present in distance and time, could be treasure troves of regimantic clues.

2. Court vipers can be really vicious

Regimancers sometimes look like dusty advisors to the king, but the most successful ones would be skilled manipulators—people who get their hands dirty to bring about the necessary political maneuvers to make the ritual work.

Few kings are going to have the only heir killed in a foolish battle, on purpose. That takes someone with vision, courage, and the necessary detachment to stomach the price.

3. Omens are signs that the spell is working

"Dude, we're really not sure about the green flag thing but Clansit IV was determined to go ahead, so we need you to ride top the top of Mt. Ranian to see if you can find a white crow. If you can't find one in three days, get back to the capital as fast as you possibly can to tell me."

3. Multi-generational regimancy looks like prophecy

Regimancers make great quest-givers, because now there's a reason to investigate the perpetuators of prophecies. What are they trying to accomplish? Is it a cultural or religious expression, or is there a hidden logic to it that could be discerned and used elsewhere?

4. Ancient regimancy looks like culture

Why do the heads of the great Grinvolt families all give goats to the poorest clan in celebration of the ascendancy of Clansit I? Why do clan leaders ride out to battle unarmored? (And why is it considered bad luck to strike at them?)

Both situations are interesting: successful regimancy has left a cultural legacy in its wake, or it actually works at a smaller scale. The king's regimantic gambit paid off and now the head of every household carries it out in the small.

5. Rituals in progress create weird quests

This one is self explanatory, but either carrying out or interfering with the steps of regimantic rituals can lead to some weird and interesting quests. Perhaps the prince must be guarded, but only until the solstice. After that, his assassins must be allowed to succeed. Or perhaps an enemy figure of note must be protected from allied military action, because his death will move the enemy ritual further along.

6. Who carries regimantic knowledge?

The manner in which regimancy is carried forward to the next generation is also interesting. Is it a successful of scabrous court advisors, each choosing a successor? Are there region-spanning noble families marrying into other dynasties, working their magic behind the scenes? Wandering wizards dispensing frightful advice to those made enough to pay the price?

Striking directly at the regimancer, or an opposing culture's regimantic store of knowledge is also a well of possible quests. "A tiny pricedom had attacked us, and the heir died immediately in the battle.  We have called a truce, but we suspect regimancy. If they are attempting Vassal's Gambit, then we know they know a lot more than they are letting on. Infiltrate the enemy court, find out whose idea this was, and bring their secret library to me. Do not tell our king."

Monday 17 December 2018

WIP: Holiday Adventure

Another post showing how these things tend to go together.

Because of the way my brain works, it's handy to be able to switch back and forth between writing and illustrating. For this reason (and also because the layouts mean I need to edit down to the letter), I tend to do a layout quite early on while assembling adventures.

Here I have the Sketchup maquette of the tribute wagon, a photobash I made as a reference for the accompanying illustration, and a bunch of placeholder text so I can get a sense of how much room I have for each topic.

Sunday 16 December 2018

WIP: Seree Tribute Wagon

The holiday season is upon me, and despite everything being ridiculously busy, the anticipation is growing.

(Actually, the anticipation is pretty much everything. The idea of mulled wine is quite a lot better than actual mulled wine. Opening a big box of chocolates and poring over the little legend card to find the good one is quite a lot better than lying on the sofa with furry teeth, etc. I digress.)

I'm working on an adventure that both does a bit of world-building, but also will serve as a holiday-themed adventure location.

The idea is simple enough: the Seree used to bring food to their cities using a network of gigantic, automated collection wagons. The wagons are gone (along with the Seree), but at least one is still operational, winding its way through snowy mountain passes and along ley lines.

It's totally not driven by Santa.

EDIT: Here's a quick model in Sketchup to help me get the perspective right.

Friday 14 December 2018

No Samite For You

You've done it—you've won the favor of the Powers. Called to collect your reward, you wade into the shallows of the hidden pool to draw out the holy weapon of the land. What smiting you will do!

But being a humble land, no shimmering samite awaits you. Sorry!

Roll d6Holy weapon of this place..
A wide-bladed sword, so corroded that the edge is a jagged crumble. It carries the weight of aeons, so any attempt to sharpen it is blasphemous. Anyone who tries just cuts their hand, and the blade will get no sharper. Still, hitting someone with it just feels so right.
The pitch-fork of the oppressed. The handle is slick with lake-slime, but the tines gleam with the righteousness of class warfare. The balance is shit, but it goes through plate armor like butter—especially the good stuff.
The living cudgel of the lake-keepers has had a marvelous fucking time in the lake these last three hundred years, let me tell you. It's now a sizeable tree, and pretty happy where it is. An intelligent weapon, it will happily talk your ear off about what it feels like having algae nibbled off your nethers by fish. (Amaaazing.) Every swish of the breeze makes its branches hum with vorpal potential. Hmmmr. Wrrrrm. Wait—you wanna what? Who are you, again?
A sturdy hat pin. Different ages call for different heroes.
The ancient world's most wicked sorcerer was smothered in this chamber pot. It was full at the time, of course. Refilling it is an exercise left to you.
A heavy rock, covered in algae and kinda slippery. It takes two hands to even pick up, let alone heft around. Don't even think about throwing it. This is a weapon straight from the earth, a legend in the first age of men. In fairness, that was a long time ago.. it makes more sense in context.

Saturday 1 December 2018

The Man From Before

A mountain village grows wealthy selling a strange and magical oil. But its prosperity is tied up in the legacy of a fateful war. Only the children know the cost of the work they do—at the bidding of the Man from Before.
Man From Before PDF

I can't even explain this one. On the surface, it's a pastoral mystery, suitable for low-level adventurers. Scratch that surface and there's an extremely powerful NPC, possibly an ally or mentor. Or, maybe the players will see the dynamic as monstrously exploitative and view him as a villain. Push a little harder, and there's a campaign-wrecking bomb, just waiting to go off.

Sorry, kids!

As always, because of my generous Patrons, all the text and imagery is free for non-commercial use! If you like, sling a buck at me!

Friday 30 November 2018

RPG Rules: Fences and Paths

I'm thinking about two very different roles that rules can play in an RPG:
  • Boundaries that define what's allowed/not allowed
  • Procedures that illustrate one possible path
The familiar rules of chess land squarely in the first category. Bishops move this way, exactly this way, and no other way. It's not a recommendation, but a hard rule. Jointly, all the rules of chess create a labyrinthine set of possibilities—huge and complex, but sharply defined wherever you're able to inspect closely.

Here, limits on freedom are intentional—they force you into interesting choices. How will you take down that knight? Which three spells will you memorize?

Changing these rules has big implications. Moving your knight in a novel way completely changes chess, just like being able to disregard walls completely changes the nature of a maze.

* * *

On the other hand, here's a completely different type of RPG play situation, caused by rules that look like this:
When a player tries something interesting, decide which skill is appropriate. Set a difficulty level and call for a skill check.
There's a lot of ambiguity here. What does interesting mean? How does the GM decide which skill is appropriate? How do you decide the difficulty level?
This presents the GM with a judgement call. The GM has lots of freedom, but the analysis paralysis might be too much for new GMs, or in uncommon and high-stakes situations (e.g. trying to whip up a cure poison potion to save a stricken colleague, where the difficulty can mean life or death).

One way to address very open situations is with guidance, such as the essays on combat should feel in Amber Diceless.

Here's another way:

Taken as a strict boundary that defines legal play, this is so procedure-bound that it might as well be out of a board game.

However, you can also read this turn sequence as an illustrative procedure, something to start using until you're familiar enough with the basics that you can comfortably ad lib.

This distinction is important because the first type of rule can't be changed (without materially affecting the game). The second type of rule can be a temporary strut, and moving beyond it might be a natural evolution of play.

* * *

(Yes I know that people play with this as a strict procedure, no I don't think that makes it a board game. Also, this post isn't about skill systems or turn sequences; those just illustrate the larger point. No I don't think it's bad to change the rules of chess. No I don't think it's bad to follow the B/X turn sequence literally.)

Saturday 3 November 2018

Haunting of Hainsley Hall

Almost but not quite in time for Halloween, here's a haunted mansion! It's a whimsical twist on the haunted house: in this case, it's the ghosts that want the adventurers to help them out.

This adventure is a collaboration with Skerples, well known for his OSR-focused Coins and Scrolls blog.
Haunting of Hainsley Hall PDF

Usefully, the first d10 results on the encounter table could easily be used in the area (or city) around the mansion—for example, appearances by grisly ghosts trying to get the adventurers into contact with the medium.

What's great about Skerples' ghosts is the way the tone could vary so widely. One of my favorites is Rex, the crushed spaniel, which could easily be hilarious or terrifying (mostly depending on the spaniel's mood and how he 'moves', I will suggest).

Similarly, the "danger level" of this adventure depends quite a bit on:

  • What ghosts do in your system (ranging from 'boo' to level drain)
  • Whether they're amiable and understand the adventurers are there to help (if indeed they are), or whether they're dissociated and anguished.

Sunday 28 October 2018

PbtA for the Old School

A few days ago I posted v0.14 of my PbtA mecha RPG, and got a reply that surprised me: somebody found PbtA unfamiliar enough that they couldn't "get" my game. Granted, 2G2BT is just a bundle of notes laid out in InDesign; there's not much explanation. Even so, it left me wondering how many gamers see PbtA games as far more alien than they actually are.

First off, Powered by the Apocalypse is not a system, it's a design style. I put hallmark PbtA design characteristics in three categories:
  • Elements that are the same as any traditional or old school RPGs
  • Elements that differ only in terms of mouth feel 
    • different names for things (e.g. stat vs. attribute)
    • minor mechanical differences (e.g. 2D6 vs. d20 vs. 1d6+modifier)
  • Significant structural or role differences from traditional RPGs

First of all, as with most traditional RPGs, play is free-form unless the rules apply: players say what their PCs do, the GM says what happens in response.

Many rules follow a standardized format that looks something like this:

When you attack an enemy in melee, roll 2d6+Str.
  • On a 10+, you deal your damage to the enemy and avoid their attack. At your option, you may choose to do +1d6 damage but expose yourself to the enemy’s attack.
  • On a 7–9, you deal your damage to the enemy and the enemy makes an attack against you.

The standard format is noticeable, but isn't mechanically significant—it tells you when to use the procedure, and what the procedure is. These procedures are called moves. This is a) a bad name, IMO (as it has all sorts of misleading associations), and b) a purely mouth feel difference. When you see move just read rule and you're fine.

Player-Facing Rules

More significant is that most rules are written to be player facing. Much like combat in the old Fighting Fantasy books, monsters don't roll dice when they attack you; the player is the only person rolling dice during melee.

This is a bit like rules for wandering monster movement in B/X D&D—there aren't any. While player food, light and movement through the dungeon are all tracked meticulously, all of that is hand-waved for monsters.

Monsters (or townspeople) just appear when a wandering monster roll says they should, and nobody worries about their precise location before that. Their precise inventory doesn't matter either, not until they're dead and examined more closely.

Until it actually matters, most of this stuff is completely undefined, held behind a "curtain of vagueness," until it matters.

PbtA games take this same approach, but the "curtain" is a bit closer to the PCs. There are no rules for NPCs to jump over things, persuade people, or to hit or shoot things—the rules only come into play when they try those things on a PC. In other situations, the GM just decides what happens.

GM Moves

Speaking of the GM, one obvious hallmark of PbtA games is the so-called "GM Moves."  These look like a set of rules, but they're basically sensible GM advice encoded as a set of imperatives. Many PbtA games do say that the GM should only use these moves, but jointly they're so broad as to be all-encompassing.. so it's no restriction at all.

Here are a few of the GM moves from The Regiment, which is a World War II RPG:

  • Announce impending danger
  • Separate them
  • Inflict fire (as established)
  • Introduce news from home or other fronts
  • Remember: gear can fail
  • Corner them
  • Capture someone
  • Make them buy it (supply, gear, smokes)
  • ...

Now, some people will crow that restricting the GM to these moves are rules and furthermore, that they somehow make the game more fair, taking arbitrary fiat and the potential for abuse out of the GM's hands!

Ignore these people—in my opinion, they're expressing an attitude toward authority that has nothing to do with the game, just like the grognard nincompoops that assert that the DM is somehow the father figure of the play group.

To my mind, encoding GM advice as "GM moves" is a mouth feel difference, not a meaningful one that makes the game something new. It is, however, a concise and useful format, and a good way to highlight important genre differences.


Now for some meatier differences! Not all PbtA games have these things (so they're not necessarily inherent to the PbtA design approach), but they're common enough that they're worth mentioning.

Ensemble Cast

Many PbtA games are very much like D&D in that there's a party that is facing adversity together. They may bicker, but for most of play they share a the same overall goal.

By contrast, some PbtA games are completely different—the GM is still there to portray the world and to bring life to NPCs, but the players are each other's adversity. There is no party.

These games play out like Game of Thrones, or Battlestar Galactica. Most of the fun comes from watching the interaction between characters that have opposing goals, and none of them is clearly the protagonist.

Example PbtA games that are like this:
  • Apocalypse World, where PCs are the various badasses of the wasteland
  • Monsterhearts, where each PC is a high school teen-who-is-really-a-monster
  • Cartel, which plays out like narco-crime themed telenovelas
Even so, there are many PbtA games that aren't like this, and use the traditional party format:
  • Dungeon World (fantasy adventure)
  • The Regiment (WWII combat focus)
  • Night Witches (all-women Soviet airwomen in WWII)
There are also games that seem to straddle the border, such as Urban Shadows. Here, there's often a powerful adverserial force in the environment, but the PCs have their own problems don't clomp around town like a party.

Genre-Focused Rules

For whatever reason (I suspect mostly historical), a lot of PbtA games have a focus that is nothing to do with combat and scrambling around physical environments, and their resolution procedures reflect this.

For example, because of its focus on supernatural teen drama, the basic resolution procedures in Monsterhearts are for things like:
  • Making someone feel dumb or unwanted by shutting them down
  • Unexpectedly turning someone on
  • Gazing into the abyss for an insight (metaphorically, such as by putting your Depeche Mode mix tape on repeat for the whole night)
  • Totally losing your shit and becoming your darkest self
Night Witches has a move to reach out to someone (PC or NPC) and express vulnerability or heartfelt connection.

'Authoring' Rules

Some PbtA do interesting things with traditional GM responsibilities. For example, Urban Shadows is a game of modern supernatural drama—characters might be vampires, werewolves, retired monster hunters, and so on.

Here is the resolution procedure for meeting a new NPC:

When you put a face to a name or vice versa, roll 2D6 + your bonus for their Faction.
  • On a 7+, you know their reputation; the GM will tell you what most people know about them.
  • On a 10+, you’ve dealt with them before; learn something interesting and useful about them or they owe you a Debt.
  • On a miss, you don’t know them or you owe them, the GM will tell you which.

This simple rule has a huge effect on play. Whenever the GM introduces a new NPC, there's a good chance that they will suddenly have meaningful backstory with a PC. The GM can't prepare ahead of time for this, since she has no idea which PC might wind up meeting them first!

This is the sort of rule that you can imagine behind the script when Han introduces the rest of the Falcon crew to Lando in Empire Strikes Back. "Sure, I know a guy.."

I suppose this plays a similar role to B/X D&D's monster reaction table—it keeps the GM on her toes and forces her to try to retroactively figure out why the monster might behave like the table requires, except it operates at the level of backstory rather than immediate visceral reaction.

The Urban Shadows veteran character has a hilarious optional ability:

Catch you fuckers at a bad time? Mark Corruption to arrive in a scene. Mark an additional Corruption to bring someone with you.

Basically, veterans can just kick in the door and show up anywhere with a big bag of guns. From a traditional, players striving against the environment perspective this is downright unusual (isn't it cheating?!), but it's perfect for the genre and has been a lot of fun every time I've seen it used in play.


For what it's worth, 2G2BT is pretty traditional. It expects that the players are a party, not an ensemble cast, and the rules are mostly focused on combat rather than on the emotional context of the PCs. There is a dash of authoring rules, particularly with the addition of the briefing move, but also in the Urban Shadows-inspired way that PCs recognize NPCs and enemy units.

Sunday 21 October 2018

2G2BT: Gauntlet Con/v0.14

After a couple of playtest sessions at Gauntlet Con 2018, which is still in its last few hours, here's v0.14 of 2G2BT.

2G2BT v0.14.pdf
Apart from minor text clarifications, here's what changed since v0.12:

First of all, armor was way too powerful. That's been trimmed down across the board—everything that was once 2-armor is now 1-armor; everything 1-armor was translated into an extra external damage box or two.

I added a briefing move. I'm still toying with how concrete I want the battlefield to be, but for now this is a placeholder move that lets the company tactician define some of the elements of the battlefield.

Assault and covering fire have a small change, fire is exchanged before the stat roll. I find it anticlimactic to roll damage after we know who has won or lost; I think it's better when this is apparent after the smoke clears.

Also, the weapon fire modifiers were clarified, as I think they were a little confusing before.

Taking cover has an additional 10+ benefit, you get to return fire at -AOF.

The critical repair move is clarified: it's for getting rid of critical repair effects, not clearing critical damage boxes.

Spot their colors now works on familiar faces, not just insignias. This is the small, initial stab at me trying to bring more NPC interaction into the spotlight.

The Lieutenant's xp move now fires when subordinates take critical damage, not just when they're disabled. Also, the shortcut move requires shortcuts be iffy, not daring. (I want them to be risky, not done with panache.)

The Commander's xp move only applies to squaddies, not just anyone.

There was an important change to company advancement: the company now advances on every mission, not just when they achieve milestones. I'm not totally sure about this; some of these are good enough they feel like they should just be cash spends.


The con feedback (from Daniel, David, Horst and Leandro) was really useful. In short:
  • I've had a growing insecurity about the 'two rolls' nature of assault and covering fire, but the gang said they enjoyed that part. I used to like it too, so I'm chalking this up to over-familiarity.
  • For players unfamiliar with the genre, even the one-page playbooks are a lot to take in. Lots of boxes to tick off. (I remember feeling this way looking at Blades character sheets.)
  • Horst asked for a stress mechanic, which made me chuckle. Removing 'stress' from The Regiment was probably a mis-step; there's a lot of potential for socially focused downtime moves that interact with it.
  • Daniel suggested more moves to add SNAFU. Also, restricting SNAFU burn to "small-scale" moves may not be necessary. Why not open this up and (while I'm at it) add playbook-specific  moves to add SNAFU?

What's really missing? Human interaction. What I'm finding in playtests is that while the combat moves are in the refining stage, the human element is completely missing.

The source inspiration for the game is The Regiment, in which you have vulnerable humans taking deadly weapons fire. When the party is swaddled in high tech mecha, it's much harder to have an organic exchange of emotion in the middle of a mission—you can't lean on your buddy and have a smoke, for example. (This might be less true with longer missions that aren't in/shoot/out, but I haven't run any of those yet.)

Dungeon World-style flags are a great way to get some interaction in a one-shot, I think that would help push the focus back onto the characters and their interactions. I'm tempted to add either that or some drives (or at least make sure that every character has a solid xp move that drives interaction with other PCs).

As I mentioned with the change to spot their colors, I really want to make NPC interaction a much more significant focus. I feel like "life on base" should not be relegated to a few brief downtime moves, it's too much like browsing a shopping list.

There's a lot of interesting potential there, especially as the mission context accumulates. I like having a Darnan liaison NPC, and in the second playtest this weekend I urged a PC to recognize them.

That's all for now!

Saturday 15 September 2018

The Slow Creep of Night

There is a world tidally locked to its sun. One side faces the sun; it is warm, lush. The other side is permanently dark.

Tidally locked except—not quite. Some precession of the world's core imparts a tiny rotation. It does have a day, but it's two thousand years long.

Each year, 20 leagues of dawnlands are touched by the rays of the sun. Behind them, 20 leagues are claimed by twilight.

Beacuse of this, every living thing slowly migrates. Moving east is an instinct in the soul of every rodent, bird, and people. The giant trees, lichens, and the seething legion of insects beneath the soil stay where they are, but everything else gradually resettles.

It goes on like this for billions of years. The early people were by necessity nomadic, following the dawn. Early tribes would sometimes flourish and expand, taking over swaths of territory and building permanent settlements.

These early kingdoms would appear successful (and through the development of writing would contribute disproportionately to the myths of the world), but each would end in disaster. Torn apart by civil war and chaos as twilight upended their short-sighted arrangements, or sailing stubbornly into the night to be devoured by the things of the dark.

Adventures in the World of Creeping Dark

1. The east is a frenzy of exploration and settlement. Lush new lands are opening up, and the dawnland kingdoms are competing for control of the islands, new trade routes, and a defensible positions for fortresses. There is good money for adventurers, mercenaries.

2. For the truly desperate, ranging far into the pre-dawn nightlands offers the possibility of a precious discovery that could be sold as information, or perhaps even claimed and fortified.

3. Some of these footholds in the pre-dawn night take hold, but to stay viable they must be supplied with news, food, medicines, and specialists.

4. Fighting the vestiges of night. Day comes last to the the valleys, crevices and ravines of the dawnlands. For decades they are inky pools of shadow, and the terrors of the night-side lurk there. Before the lands can be safely settled, these must be made safe.

5. Some of these cannot be disloged, but must be bargained with, placated—or sated.

6. In the far west, the inevitable abandonment of settlements happens unevenly. The day-dwellers rarely give up before they have to, as there are resources that are hard to give up. Mines, fertile lagoons, a final harvest or two of the century crops—all would bring much-needed cash and supplies for the great migration eastwards. But sometimes the dark surges forward - waves of monsters, or lone horrors come soon. These must be fought off, chased back into the night, or at kept at bay while people evacuate.

7. Some things simply cannot be moved, and forays into the darkness to reach them are sometimes necessary. The great fortress of Ing, where the life-giving fountain splashes. It may be a hundred miles into the darklands, but it is the only known cure for the Duke's white palsy.

8. Though they don't like to speak of it, sages have figured out that the daylands are getting narrower. (Court administrators have noticed this too, for that matter.) According to legend, it was once half the world, as you might expect if the world was a sphere. Now, geographers agree: it's a narrow strip, scarcely 800 leagues across. The useful period of human settlements is now barely 40 years! If this waning continues, the people of the day might soon be completely eclipsed.

Sooths from nine kingdoms all claim the same vision—there is a sorcerous cabal in the darklands, the princes of night. Their great working is shrinking the day. They must be stopped, if they can be reached at all.

9. The Duke believes that they have agents on the day-side, moving among us, but this is obviously just the ravings of a man stricken with the white palsy.


This is apparently a recurring idea in fantasy, so there are more resources if you're interested in this.

Scott Charlton was apparently developing the idea at exactly the same day as I was..

Dave McGrogan's The City Standing like a Candle in the Night.

Jahmal Brown has written a full setting based on this idea, apparently to be published through Evil Hat.

Gareth Wilson points out that there's a (non-fantasy) book by Dave Duncan, 'West of January' that is based on a similar idea.

Monday 3 September 2018

The Sorcerer's Feast

For a late-empire Seree sorcerer, a secluded forest vale must have seemed like the perfect place for a home away from home. Build a hall to entertain your guests, have some quiet evenings with your fiancée. Hunt boar, finally catch up on those endless Lycaeum periodicals. Maybe turn the servants into goo to showcase your automaton-building skills?

After all, you've got to keep the mind busy.
Download PDF

I missed my self-imposed August deadline with this one—mostly because I spent so long modelling the Lycaeum. As I worked, it became clearer and clearer that there was no way I could do justice to that place in two pages, so I was going to have to break it up.

The Sorcerer's Feast is actually a location within the Lycaeum's garden quarter, but you could easily plop it down in any otherwise pleasant, lush location. The more pleasant the better, probably.

There are a few things to beware of. First of all, Seree wizards don't publicly showcase their most useful magical items; their esteem is based on the deadly, cursed stuff that they've managed to bring under control. Too venemous to get within thirty paces of it? That will look great on the mantle, everyone will be so impressed.

If you're using this as a one shot, consider making retrieval of the cursed item the actual objective. Otherwise, consider sprinkling some surviving scrolls amid the library detritus, and some gold in the destroyed bedroom.

Other than this, the main danger is the boars. If you're playing a super-heroic fantasy, then this will be a low-level adventure. If you're playing something grittier, it's potentially quite dangerous. Play up the signs of boars before adventurers get inside—facing multiple, pony-sized boars in an enclosed location is a great way to come to a sticky end.

Thursday 30 August 2018

2G2BT: Cracker Jack Run

I ran a playtest session of 2G2BT tonight, with a reduced group: two players, Tim playing the Rigger, and Stephen playing the Prodigy.

We continued with the Darnan Offensive campaign (the one in the PDF)—this time, they were given a "short notice" mission to go and hit an apparently stranded convoy of Fiedan tanks.

Playtesting a game that I've had on the back burner makes things feel a lot less emotionally charged for me, which is a welcome relief. I'm not delivering a newborn up for judgement, I'm showing my friends this thing I have in the garage so we can kick the tires together.

A number of things went well:

I really like the NPC group traits table, that was useful. The players' mercenary company has recently come into possession of a Troll dropship, which has four slots, and they immediately tried to press some Republic tanks into riding along with their mission.

Rolling on the table got me, 'Favored' and 'Green', which naturally translated into them having dragged long some Republic general's children on a show tour. Woops!

Later, after all the action, the players had some prisoners. The question came up as to whether the prisoners would try to escape, or what. Rolling on the NPC table got me: Locals, Vengeful. Obviously they will!

Also, the establishing roll, SNAFU, all felt very natural in play. Despite the adventure being literally a two-sentence description, it was enough to generate a nice setup. The Prodigy's weird plans move also worked out nicely.

Too Tough!

Less successful was incoming fire—the PC mechs are waaay too tough for the fire that was coming their way, and there was a lot of it. 2-armor means that the Prodigy in his Angel can basically shrug off 4d Direct fire, which isn't right.

All in all, I think this miscalibration comes from me treating mechs in the game like main battle tanks. In The Regiment, troops are mostly unarmored (they only get armor late in the game). They're going to die quickly if they take the full brunt of enemy weapons. They need to really make use of the battlefield cover, the squad's heavy weapons, and suppression fire to achieve their goals.

The way I've written up the mechs, they're like tanks, but better all around. I think they make more sense as a high-tech way to protect very highly trained elite infantry; tough, compact, responsive, and deadly. But still, they'd definitely avoid head-on shootouts with heavy tanks.

So, I think I need to reduce armor (tough mechs should have a few more damage boxes, with 1-armor being pretty rare).

Theatre of the—wait, where was group B?

The other thing is subtler, and may involve more extensive changes. Tim's fondness for the Firefight mechanic from Burning Empires is starting to rub off on me, and I think building out the moves so they are creating battlefield terrain would be sensible. Spotting useful positions (and naming them), sites of tactical advantages, that sort of thing gives a very concrete context for the ground-taking moves like assault. If I can do that without making the battlefield overly player-authored, I think it's worth exploring.

Similarly, doing damage to large number of NPC vehicles feels unsatisfying. They're anonymous, and individually not that fictionally interesting.. when they don't have a concrete position. I suppose a chess pawn is a useful analogy: all of its tactical significance comes from its exact placement.

This makes me think that the weapon systems in PC hands can be simplified a bit. There's no need to obsess over the precise AOF and cover damage dice all to find out you do 3 points of damage to tank #2 out of 6. The player engagement and fictional payoffs don't seem that great. (I remember feeling this way about The Regiment.)

I'm wondering if weapons systems could be reduced to much simpler things, mechanically. I may actually take a page from Fortnite, which I think does a nice job of making its weapons feel distinct, yet balanced. It's really handy to have a shotgun (great damage at short range, but it falls off very quickly) vs. an SMG (also deadly at short range, but the recoil makes them no use at range), vs. assault rifles (modest ROF, but accurate enough to dish it out at medium range), vs. sniper weapons (slow, awkward, require aiming, but highly damaging and able to reach at long ranges).

Also, the current damage mechanics don't do much in terms of letting players engage with the salvage rules. Salvage is important to the grind (earning cash, buying upgrades). Taking enemies relatively intact with careful disabling shots seems a thing to bring into the game.

Much thinking to do!

Friday 24 August 2018

Lost Lair of Lorethain Sharr

I wanted to support the One Page Dungeon Contest this year, and Luka Reject hit upon the perfect method—offer an illustration as a prize!

It was a bunch of work to comb through the entries to find one that could benefit from a map, but yet was clear enough—and interesting enough—to illustrate well. It made me respect the judges all the more, as they had a mighty pile to go through indeed!

In the end, I selected Jeremy DS Marshall's Lost Lair of Lorethain Sharr, mainly because of its clarity and richness—it's chock full of things to draw. Enjoy!

Wednesday 1 August 2018

His Eternal Progress

Emperor tortoises have walked the earth since before the rocks were cool; each is followed by a train of pilgrims hoping to glimpse the wisdom of the gods. No wizard has ever managed to capture one, not even the Seree—until Nauz, Lycaeum head necromancer found a horrid way to breach the ancient shell. But now what?

Link to PDF

Okay, I admit it, this is a weird one!

Thursday 19 July 2018

Tips for Patreon Campaigns

This is an edit of an old G+ post I'm republishing here for posterity.

1. Explain what your project is immediately—ideally, the very first sentence. Every paragraph between the start of your Patreon pitch and that will cost you 75% of your remaining readers.

2. Describe the value that your Patrons are getting. So many pitches explain how the money will be useful to the creator, or try to bank on our fondness for the creator as a person.

You might be a lovable rogue who's been playing RPGs since you were 8, and feeling a little shy about putting up this campaign.. but if so, welcome to the club. Instead, say what you're doing plainly and tell us how it's awesome.  We'll be interested in your biography once you're famous.

3. Seriously consider releasing your content for free, so it can become part of your marketing effort. Patreon's user interface makes a terrible storefront, so if you don't already have a huge user base, locking down your stuff is a guarantee nobody will see it.

4. Structure your rewards to match Patreon's revenue model. Patrons come and go, they set monthly maximums, they sign up for one month and see everything, and sometimes their payment doesn't go through.

5. Don't create rewards that up the ante beyond what you're willing to do.  As people back you, it can be tempting to respond to their enthusiasm by giving away more, making it easy to cross the thin line between enthusiasm and exhaustion. But for many creators, free time is the limiting factor, and money doesn't translate into more time very smoothly.

6. Make sure your rewards scale with the campaign. What makes sense to do when you have 5 patrons might be impossible when you have 50.  Also, make sure your rewards are more profitable than the base campaign. It makes no sense to blow your profit margin on some custom, labour-intensive physical good that nets you only a few extra bucks when your base campaign is a digital good with fixed production costs.

7. Work-in-progress posts seem to be especially popular. I'm not sure why this is, but I think it's because it makes what you're doing accessible. It's easier for people to imagine themselves doing what you're doing when they can see the intermediate stages.

(Stolen from others)

7. Make your campaign something that you'd be doing anyway, without Patreon.  The money isn't going to be enough of a motivator for some time.

8. Start early. There's no need to wait until you've got a backlog of content built up. This is especially true if you're giving away content for free.

You will sweat over the wording, the images, etc. All of this can be revised after you launch. Pull the trigger and start revising.

9. Make sure your content points back to your Patreon campaign. Your images will get pinned on Pintrest without attribution, your videos will get copied to Vimeo. Make sure your images, videos, or whatever else is all clearly labelled as yours, and has a URL to wherever you want people to go.

Speaking of which, mine is!

Sunday 1 July 2018

Do it for the Beast

Then the strange man, still holding my wrist, drew his knife across the palm of my hand. Before the pain could set in, the most wondrous thing happened! A red serpent, bright as blood slithered from the wound, and rose in my hand. I was transfixed, but the strange man seemed unsurprised. "You can stay with us," he said, "or you can leave and return home. But whichever you do, you must do it for the beast."

This is a creepy cult lair, but it's not a self-sufficient community. To survive, the cult must have tendrils into a neighboring community (or several)—this is the easiest way to hook adventurers into it.

  1. On her death bed, a wealthy widow confesses that her entire life has been lived 'for the beast'. This causes a great stir among her relatives, who are divided between wanting the matter investigated and hushed up completely.
  2. The cult is straight-up kidnapping people. The town guard has been turning a blind eye, but the cult's bribes are a bit thin, and 
  3. A scholar turns up a roadside tavern, distraught and without possessions. He is telling a tale of being forced to entertain a 'talking lizard' for months by a clan of brothers.
  4. Old Seree documents reveal a cave up in the hills as the the location of the 'Column of Red Might', reputed to be inscribed with a half-dozen magical incantations.
  5. A pair of monks were caught stealing whiskey from a public house. The publican's sons gave them a sound thrashing, upon which one of the "monks" fell clean into two pieces, or so it's said.
  6. Weird-looking brothers have been asking around for trappers with experience with large game—extremely large game.

As always, thanks to my patrons for supporting this project. Because of your generosity, all of the text and imagery is free for non-commercial use under CC-BY-NC 4.0.

I'm also thrilled to bits when anyone helps spread the word on Twitter, Facebook, G+, or wherever you hang out!

Saturday 21 April 2018

Isometric Dungeon #8: 2D to 3D

I've just posted isometric dungeon tutorial #8: how to convert a 2D map into a 3D isometric map.

Tuesday 17 April 2018

Kickstarter: Wightwood Abbey

Soon there will be a Trilemma Adventure for which you can get actual 3D printed terrain. Read on!

I'm walking the halls of Breakout Con when I stumble across a vendor table where a 3D printer is busily at work. Mmmmmmmmmrt. Mmmmmrrrrrt. It's printing the most jaw-dropping piece of medieval architecture, the Wightwood Abbey Scriptorium.

My pen hand starts twitching.. I have to draw this place! Imagine my surprise when it turns out the guy behind the table is James Binnie, local swell guy and my Night Witches GM from the con the previous year.

James and his partner Dawa have teamed up as 'Infinite Dimensions', and they're making right at the tail end of a kickstarter to make print-yourself 3D miniature terrain. Look at this thing. Look at it!

It's not just a scriptorium, it's a whole set of buildings - scriptorium, church, stables, gate house, the abbot's house, and walls to go around the whole thing. It all comes apart, it's built for miniatures play, and it's gorgeous.

Anyways, long story short—James and I were apparently having exactly the same idea. So: I'm going to set a two-page adventure here. Dawa (the model whiz) is going to get me some higher-res reference shots to work from, and it's going to be so much fun.

Wightwood Abbey is already a storied place in James and Dawa's gaming, and I'm going to be tapping into that when I write the adventure.

But, that's all in the future. Now, there's only one thing to worry about: the Kickstarter is nearly over!

Go there now, before it's too late!

Sunday 15 April 2018

The God Unmoving

The monstrous god-avatar of a drowned nation presides over the unholy alliance between the living and the dead. It leaves prosperity in its wake, but its demand for sacrifices is insatiable.

Adventure #42 is The God Unmoving.

I thought I'd try something different this time and do an overview video, explaining how I imagined GMs might use this adventure in their sandbox worlds, but I also present some one-shot hooks.

Some hooks for one-shots!

1. Rumor has it that the Panurians are treating with the Porth-Montoon. What could come of this strange alliance? Infiltrate the Porth-Montoon and find out what the Panurians are up to.

2. Rumor has it that the usurped former King of Panur is hiding out in Narin's Ring. Find him, and bring him back—or maybe just his head!

3. How is that a simple fishing people are awash in gold? What have they discovered? This could either be a fact-finding mission, or an invitation to straight-up murder-hoboing.

4. Safe passage across Narin's Sea would be a tremendous boon. Go to this so-called "High Steerswon" of the Porth-Montoon, get an audience, and find out what they want to spare our ships from piracy.

5. Alas, the Lord of Somewhereton has been taken at sea by pirates. The fleeing vessel was last seen heading toward the center of Narin's Ring, where it's known the pirates congregate. Get in, get the Lord, and get back out. If pirates get hurt in the process, so much the better.

6. The pirates of Narin's Ring have become too bold. Take your party and strike a blow that will make them think twice about bothering our honest, peaceful people.

* * *

As always, the art and text is released under CC-BY-NC 4.0. Thanks Patrons!

A Porth-Montoon Fisherman

Undead Reaver

Wednesday 11 April 2018

One-Page Dungeon Contest 2018

Luka Rejec had the fantastic idea of offering up a illustration-as-prize for this year's one page dungeon contest, and I'm joining him.

As you've probably heard, the one-page dungeon contest is now in full swing for 2018! If you're not familiar with it, it's just what it says on the tin—do up a dungeon that fits entirely on one page, submit it, and win glory and acclaim. You've got until the end of April, and not a second longer!*

There's also a list of cool prizes as long as your arm. Well, Luka and I are making the list as long as your arm with outstretched fingers. If you win (and you select this as a prize), Luka will do up a black and white illustration inspired by your adventure, and I'll convert your map into an isometric 3D version. Something like this:

..except it'll be the dungeon you came up with.

You'll be free to do whatever you want with these. Release a revised version of your 1PDC if you feel like it, include them in your 6-page deluxe expanded edition, put it on a t-shirt, tape it to your ceiling so it's the first thing you see when you wake up, it's up to you.

The only thing you need to do is submit an entry.

* Seriously, not one second later than midnight, UTC. Any later and all you are is crazy early for the 2019 contest.

Thursday 5 April 2018

Isometric Circular Stairs

I've put together a tutorial for one of the more brain-boggling aspects of isometric dungeon drawing, circular stairs.

If you're just watching it to see that it can be done, enjoy—but if you're watching to actually do this and draw some, definitely watch the (less exciting) video on how to draw isometric circles. Circular stairs are (no surprise!) riddled with circles and bits of circles.

Saturday 31 March 2018

Can't Sleep—Clowns Will Eat Me

The good folk of Juniper's Crossing haven't slept a wink since the circus arrived, and not for lack of trying. People are starting to see things that aren't real, and—even worse—some things that are.

This adventure was written by Stephanie Bryant, whom you might know as the author of the Threadbare RPG. She has served up an intense, layered, horror experience.

To spill the beans, deep inside the circus is something horrible, a "dream eater" that both keeps everyone awake, and causes their insomnia-fuelled hallucinations to manifest as shared illusions.

To top it off, the thing nests in a mirror maze with a quartet of dopplegangers. The potential for gaslighting by gaslight is completely over the top.

This adventure is potentially set in a different time than some of the others—P. T. Barnum clowns definitely evoke a period of American history in a way that my other adventures don't, and I really enjoyed where this took me, personally.

There's this aspect of fantasy worlds that are artificially eternal, as if somehow gunpowder, internal combustion, and industrial revolutions will never occur. At the same time, I find it fascinating to imagine a modern world that is somehow living out the past echoes of violent, fantasy world with its  hardscabble holds surrounded by monster-infested wilderness.

In my imagination, the nightmares of Juniper's Crossing are like the PTSD of a whole landscape, brought into painful reality by the dream eater.

Anyways, that's just my reaction! You can just as easily treat this as a slice of modern Americana, mythos investigation by gaslight, or just treat it as straight-up D&D-esque fantasy adventure.

I also have to say, a distorted mirror maze is one of the most dastardly places I've ever heard of stocking a mimic, that's just evil.

As always, the text and illustrations are all released under CC-BY-NC, so feel free to use and remix them non-commercially.

Friday 30 March 2018

The One-Page Halls Untoward

+Goblins Henchman has done a very cool thing, and turned the Halls Untoward into a single-page dungeon.. using Excel.

Here's a video tour:

If you want the Excel version (or a blank template), you can snag them from the Goblin Dropbox!

At the same time, beast-quester +Ben Milton is at work on a similarly motivated project, laying out the Halls Untoward as a series of one-page dungeon fragments, so he can kill his fifth-graders. Check it out!

It's pretty cool what happens when you release stuff under creative commons.

Monday 19 March 2018

2G2BT v0.12

No huge news on the 2G2BT front, but the game has accumulated a small number of clarifications and very minor changes, and it seems silly that the last word on this game is a few versions out of date.

Thursday 8 March 2018

Kickstarter Plans

Time to talk a little bit about my upcoming adventure compilation, which I'm going to Kickstart this year. All of this is tentative, but I figured it can only be helpful to open up my plans and get some feedback.

What will it be?

I'm taking all of my adventures, and putting them into a book. By the time I'm ready, there will be something like 45 of them, all lovingly written up and illustrated.

Beyond this, they will all be:

  • All re-edited, and in some cases rewritten for clarity
  • Brought up to the same stylistic look and feel of the newer ones
  • Replacing a map or two (Steeps of Ur-Menig is really bad)

It will also contain the adventure A Clutch of Shadows, which was never widely released. There will of course be a brand-new compilation-only adventure! Maybe a couple.

The Format

As you may know, some of my adventures are landscape-letter, and some are portrait (tall and skinny). I'm reformatting all of them to have the same orientation, the super-wide and cinematic letter landscape.

If all goes well, there will be three formats to choose from:

A hardcover edition, something on the order of 110 pages. A little more depending on stretch goals. For comparison purposes, this is the of the classic 1e Monster Manual, but of course turned sideways. This is an unusual format, but I think it works really well with the layout.

A saddle-stitched edition. This will come as two or three slim books—stapled, with no spine, they will lie flat. This version is meant to be spread out behind your GM's screen, with everything you need to run one of the adventures right there.

A PDF of the single-volume edition.


At this point, I'm looking seriously at DTRPG POD for the printing. I'm going to be carefully looking at samples before this is for sure, and it does have the "buy twice" symptom: people will pay once for the Kickstarter, which gives them a coupon for an at-cost copy from DTRPG, with shipping charges worked out at the last moment.

This feels like the right move for me to Kevin Crawford this to a sensible conclusion, in a way that works both for backers and the complexities of my life.

This lets me keep the project very DIY, while at the same time reducing shipping charges for European customers ('cause copies can be printed in Europe).

Extra Content

Here are the types of extra content I'm planning. I'm deliberately keeping the stretch goals modest. My plan is to try to complete the project very soon after funding, so stretch goals that jeopardize this are not an option. No T-shirts, buttons, or anything else I don't know how to make myself. Nor anything that depends on stretch goal writers.

Although.. I have been working with some fabulous guest writers recently, and that will continue over the coming months. In a sense, I'm picking writers I've really been wanting to work with before the Kickstarter campaign, which is a little bit like knocking out stretch goals before the campaign starts. :P

When I ran a poll many moons ago, by far the biggest request for additional content was gazetteer information about the world these adventures are set in. I'm planning to have a few pages on the major regions, and the history of the place. There will probably also be a few regional random encounter tables.

EDIT: A section on hooks for one-shots. What should the party be trying to do in order to engage with the adventure most fully?

I'm seriously considering a section on how to chain adventures together to form larger campaigns. There are some obvious links now, such as Oracle's Decree -> Roots of Ambition -> Lair of the Lantern Worm, and the various underworld adventures that lead to City of the Carreg. Then there are less obvious links, like Circle of Wolves -> Chains of Heaven.

There are now enough new creatures and unusual peoples in the adventures to warrant a short bestiary. This will likely be a paragraph on each creature, as well as systemless awesome stuff they do in combat. This will look a little like a Dungeon World monster stat block, just without numbers.

More detail on the magical items and treasures in the adventures.

Maaaaybe Stretch Goals

Color plates of select adventures—what would it look like from an adventuring party's perspective to arrive at this place?  I have already had one commissioned, and holy snot it's so cool to see it painted. If I go this route (if the math works out), then I might do a few more as a color insert in the middle of the book.

System-specific stats for the bestiary. Probably (in order of likeliness):

  • OSR-friendly B/X or Lamentations stats
  • Dungeon World
  • 5e (maybe)
What Do You Think?

What kind of feedback am I hoping for?

1. That sounds great, especially ____________________
2. I'm interested in this project, but I would much rather buy ______________
3. I have run a Kickstarter of this sort and don't forget ________________

Thursday 1 March 2018

Mulciber's Flute

In the Motes of Eternity, the old world has been ploughed under, demigods and all. I've been mulling over this process - was it cataclysmic? Was it gradual? I find that fascinating, the idea that the mythic underworld was once the surface world.

Perhaps it's the regional demigods, the ancestral hosts that protect pockets of the world being lost. Maybe the mountains are hollow, each one an ancient cyst.

Either way, not all of the powers would accept their fate gracefully. Mulciber's Flute is an adventure set in hell - well, a specific kind of hell: a pocket nightmare, the sort of thing you might expect if a demigod went all Vlad the Impaler.

In a way, I suppose it's my take on a paladin in hell, but with the prospect that adventurers could do something about it, without having to upend a spiritual pole of the entire universe. This is a hell without a heaven.

I kinda love Mulciber. :)

Tuesday 27 February 2018

Sirens of Sea and Blood

In collaboration with Kira Magrann, here's Sirens of Sea and Blood. A trio of horrifying sirens lives in a twisty set of sea-side caverns. They've got a taste for man-flesh, but they're more than happy to bestow the gifts of their ocean-goddess upon any women willing to endure their violent ritual of indoctrination.

This adventure can be set pretty much anywhere you have a coastline. The sirens could be the answer to a number of local disappearances, or they might have arcane secrets your adventurers need and must bargain for. Daring women adventurers might even take up the sirens on their offer! This map (like Hounds) was drawn digitally, so it's a little crisper than the hand-drawn ones.

As always, thanks to the generosity of my patrons, the text, map art and the siren illustration are all available for non-commercial use through CC-BY-NC 4.0.

For more of Kira's writing, check out her patreon. She's also recently published A Cozy Den, a story game about lesbian snake women trying to stay cozy during a long winter!

Wednesday 31 January 2018

City of the Carreg

Down in the lightless depths of Ur-Menig, beyond where surface dwellers can breathe, is Sifoon, the City of the Carreg. Once a jewel of the underworld, the laconic clay-people have seen their hold over the city dwindle to barely three districts.

Ever since the Carreg first made an appearance in the Steeps of Ur-Menig, I've been wanting to write more about this place.

Sifoon is half settlement and half adventure - divided between safe and lost districts. Like Moon is a Mirror, there's a random element to the danger and treasure in each lost district; my goal is for each district to be an interesting landscape for the encounters to play out.

As written, reaching or leaving Sifoon requires either magic or help from the Carreg. If that doesn't work for your campaign setting, consider making Ur-Menig a lake or sea surrounding an island with an atmosphere problem.
As always, thanks to my generous patrons, the text and art is free for non-commercial use under CC-BY-NC 4.0!

Tuesday 30 January 2018

The Hounds of Low Tide

The muggy tropical coasts of the Caribbean have many dangerous harbours, but the unassuming Frigate and Barrel Tavern is one of the worst. If the scoundrels and thieves don't get you, the proprietors certainly will.

This adventure is a collaboration with Ennie award winner Kiel Chenier. Wasting no time on a victory lap, he's hard at work on a wavecrawl setting and toolkit book called Weird on the Waves.

"Weird" is an unofficial Lamentations of the Flame Princess supplement, and the adventure assumes a pseudo-historical setting of the Carribean islands in 1655 during the rise of buccaneers, just prior to the golden age of piracy.

Of course, this setting is just a suggestion. This adventure can be used in any fantasy setting of any time period, provided there’s a coast and fishing boats to sail along it.

In any case, there are two versions of this adventure a systemless version, and one statted out for  Lamentations!

As always, thanks to my generous patrons on Patreon, all of the text and art is free for non-commercial use under CC-BY-NC 4.0!