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Stars/Worlds Without Number (General Thread)


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Yora

Legend
I've been looking up the probabilities for rolling hit points in AnyDice, and I'm really not seeing an improvement of replacing 1d4 with 1d6-1 and 1d10 with 1d6+2.

The average amount of hit points for characters remains exactly the same. However, the odds for very high and very low results change quite significantly.

For mages, rolling 1d6-1 means they have a chance to roll a 5, but also a chance to roll a 0, which also counts as 1 hp.
1d4 with a +1 Con modifier means a spread of 2 to 5. (1d6-1)+1 results in a spread of 1 to 6.
Mages get a chance to get higher hp than on a d4, but this comes with a much greater chance to get only 1.

For warriors it's the opposite. They end up with a deceased chance to get very high hp, and a decrease chance to get very low hp.

I feel that this hurts mages a lot more than it helps warriors. And increases randomness for low level characters, while higher level characters are trending closer to an average anyway. (Fewer dice means more outliers, more dice means closer to average.)

A fighter with only modest hp isn't great, but at least it has some hp to work with. A mage with almost no hp is having a much worse day. This seems like a bad change to me.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I've been looking up the probabilities for rolling hit points in AnyDice, and I'm really not seeing an improvement of replacing 1d4 with 1d6-1 and 1d10 with 1d6+2.

The average amount of hit points for characters remains exactly the same. However, the odds for very high and very low results change quite significantly.

For mages, rolling 1d6-1 means they have a chance to roll a 5, but also a chance to roll a 0, which also counts as 1 hp.
1d4 with a +1 Con modifier means a spread of 2 to 5. (1d6-1)+1 results in a spread of 1 to 6.
Mages get a chance to get higher hp than on a d4, but this comes with a much greater chance to get only 1.

For warriors it's the opposite. They end up with a deceased chance to get very high hp, and a decrease chance to get very low hp.

I feel that this hurts mages a lot more than it helps warriors. And increases randomness for low level characters, while higher level characters are trending closer to an average anyway. (Fewer dice means more outliers, more dice means closer to average.)

A fighter with only modest hp isn't great, but at least it has some hp to work with. A mage with almost no hp is having a much worse day. This seems like a bad change to me.
I prefer using set/average HP anyway.

Thanks to @Yora's threads, I may whip up a more S&S inspired setting for WWN.
So as a follow-up:

Here is my new iteration for a Sword & Sorcery setting: Dunia. In many respects, however, it also leans heavily into Sword & Soul, including Crawford's Spears of the Dawn and Charles Saunders's Imaro, but the campaign uses WWN. It sets WWN's idea of weird, alien Outsiders who have come and gone from a world they have altered but puts it in the context of humanity in a quasi-African setting, so there are also post-colonial tones to it.

The Azulans are the optional Elves/Melniboneans/Atlanteans. The Saurians are the obligatory Snake/Lizard-folk. Not sure what else there may be as far as demihumans go.

This map was done on Wonderdraft. It's still a draft.

Dunia.jpg
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Our “first” session is this weekend. I’m going through adventure creation, flip through the exploration challenges section, and see a part on generating points of interest for hex crawls. Why isn’t this stuff all in one place? There’s a bunch on generating points of interest in the wilderness tags section of the setting creation chapter. Why have something slightly different in the adventure chapter? These things should build off and complement each other.

This is my biggest frustration with WWN. I miss this stuff and default to my old ways, which is Alexandrian-style hexcrawl prep (i.e., all the things). I’ve generated so much unnecessary crap. I think I have a handle on it now, but I could have done without the frustration. With all that said, I love the tags-based generators. I’m pretty good at riffing off a few bits of input. I just need to not burn myself out in the process. 😅
 


Yora

Legend
That would greatly depend on what people like about 3rd edition. I really started with 3rd and WWN does feel very familiar to what I'm used to as the default for D&D. I believe Ben also got into D&D later, so that might also be his perception.
But there's really not that much that is specifically like the main distinguishing elements of 3rd edition. There's only three classes (with five mage traditions) and you're locked into your initial pick for the whole campaign. Foci are like feats, but those are in 5th and I believe 4th edition as well. There are skill points, but they work quite different from 3rd edition. And the whole magic system is almost entirely different.
I really don't know where the similar feel to 3rd edition comes from, but I'm with Ben on this that it seems taking influences from that system.
 

Aldarc

Legend
That would greatly depend on what people like about 3rd edition. I really started with 3rd and WWN does feel very familiar to what I'm used to as the default for D&D. I believe Ben also got into D&D later, so that might also be his perception.
But there's really not that much that is specifically like the main distinguishing elements of 3rd edition. There's only three classes (with five mage traditions) and you're locked into your initial pick for the whole campaign. Foci are like feats, but those are in 5th and I believe 4th edition as well. There are skill points, but they work quite different from 3rd edition. And the whole magic system is almost entirely different.
I really don't know where the similar feel to 3rd edition comes from, but I'm with Ben on this that it seems taking influences from that system.
I would propose True 20 as a transitional form that likely influenced Stars Without Number.

True 20 came out as a generic version of Blue Rose RPG during the d20 OGL era of 3E. BR and T20 stripped everything down to a single d20 die and all the classes down to three: Warrior, Expert, and Adept. These were the NPC classes from 3E D&D. But then they split up levels between feats and talents. Also every class got a unique ability for starting in that class as your base class: e.g., a Warrior could spend one Conviction point to erase all bruised and hurt conditions. Magic involved skill rolls (often against fatigue) and used powers as opposed to spells.

IMHO, while Crawford clearly deviates from this, there does appear to be influence. Warrior, Expert, Adept in BR/T20 -> Warrior, Expert, Mystic in SWN and Warrior, Expert, Mage in WWN. Adept Powers in T20 become Mystic Psionic Techniques in SWN.
 


kenada

Legend
Supporter
I was also reminded of 3e when I first read WWN. You can see where it’s built on B/X, but character customization and the action economy are both very reminiscent of 3e. I haven’t played any T20-based games, so I can’t speak to that influence, but it stuck me as doing the sorts of things with 3e that people were doing in their house rules.

I was also reminded a bit of 4e (particularly the lack of iterative attacks and the powerful class abilities), but I try not to draw too much attention to that to my players because they didn’t like 4e. 😅
 


kenada

Legend
Supporter
I finally got to run a session using the stuff I put together using the various tools. I posted a recap over in the session recap thread, so I won’t go back over all that stuff. Instead, I’ll focus on the tools WWN gave me to put together the session.

For the most part, they worked pretty well. The tags I rolled for Finland and for the various courts gave me interesting situations. I don’t think I would have tied together Horsiel’s court with Finland if I hadn’t rolled the tags. There’s also some stuff that can drive the tension between the various nations. That’s all good stuff.

For the ruined settlement of Hirzhus, I decided to generate it as a twenty room dungeon. I used the generator described in the adventure creation chapter then grouped together the various pieces to make interesting places in the settlement. Some of the loops got turned into buildings while others got turned into the flooded amphitheater. I’m awful at designing settlements, so this was really nice.

If I have any complaint, it’s that keying a twenty room dungeon takes too long. I think I spent four or five hours on it (including sketching out a terrible map and working on the court). Overall prep was probably eight to ten hours, but some of that was re-reading the books and doing one-time prep I won’t have to redo (like generating points of interest for the hexcrawl portion).

However, I’m really happy that the book underestimates how long it would take my group to explore a dungeon. It suggests a ten room dungeon would take less than a session and a twenty room one about a session. My group is maybe half way through this one. The primary challenge is exploration, but I also included secondary combat, investigation, and social ones. There’s another faction (some dark creepers who want Horiel’s stuff and to find a way into the magician’s iterum) they haven’t even met yet. Only the coffer corpses and creature (unmet yet) are outright hostile, so it’s mostly going to be exploration and intrigue.

I should note I didn’t exactly run the social stuff as a challenge per se, but parleying and talking to people is important. Horsiel is also keeping information back, and the party might learn something from the other faction too (though they are probably going to be less kind about it). For investigations, I flat out ignored the book. The investigation challenge stuff is bad. I followed the three clue rule and used node-based design to layer on the clues to figuring out the magician’s fate. The procedure in WWN is just too railroad-y for my taste.
 

I finally got to run a session using the stuff I put together using the various tools. I posted a recap over in the session recap thread, so I won’t go back over all that stuff. Instead, I’ll focus on the tools WWN gave me to put together the session.

For the most part, they worked pretty well. The tags I rolled for Finland and for the various courts gave me interesting situations. I don’t think I would have tied together Horsiel’s court with Finland if I hadn’t rolled the tags. There’s also some stuff that can drive the tension between the various nations. That’s all good stuff.

For the ruined settlement of Hirzhus, I decided to generate it as a twenty room dungeon. I used the generator described in the adventure creation chapter then grouped together the various pieces to make interesting places in the settlement. Some of the loops got turned into buildings while others got turned into the flooded amphitheater. I’m awful at designing settlements, so this was really nice.

If I have any complaint, it’s that keying a twenty room dungeon takes too long. I think I spent four or five hours on it (including sketching out a terrible map and working on the court). Overall prep was probably eight to ten hours, but some of that was re-reading the books and doing one-time prep I won’t have to redo (like generating points of interest for the hexcrawl portion).

However, I’m really happy that the book underestimates how long it would take my group to explore a dungeon. It suggests a ten room dungeon would take less than a session and a twenty room one about a session. My group is maybe half way through this one. The primary challenge is exploration, but I also included secondary combat, investigation, and social ones. There’s another faction (some dark creepers who want Horiel’s stuff and to find a way into the magician’s iterum) they haven’t even met yet. Only the coffer corpses and creature (unmet yet) are outright hostile, so it’s mostly going to be exploration and intrigue.

I should note I didn’t exactly run the social stuff as a challenge per se, but parleying and talking to people is important. Horsiel is also keeping information back, and the party might learn something from the other faction too (though they are probably going to be less kind about it). For investigations, I flat out ignored the book. The investigation challenge stuff is bad. I followed the three clue rule and used node-based design to layer on the clues to figuring out the magician’s fate. The procedure in WWN is just too railroad-y for my taste.
It might be hard to tell after just one session, but how robust does the overall design seem to be for a longer term campaign (15+ sessions)? I posted in another thread that I'm reconsidering the extreme minimalism of osr rules lite games for anything other than 1-5 session dungeon crawls. Did your players enjoy the customization aspects of the game, or did those get in the way of "don't look at your character sheet" style osr play?
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
It might be hard to tell after just one session, but how robust does the overall design seem to be for a longer term campaign (15+ sessions)?
It’s probably too soon to say, but it’s still basically D&D. I think something WWN has going for it is that XP-for-treasure is not the default, so you can direct the core loop however makes sense, and the rewards can be adapted to support that.

I posted in another thread that I'm reconsidering the extreme minimalism of osr rules lite games for anything other than 1-5 session dungeon crawls. Did your players enjoy the customization aspects of the game, or did those get in the way of "don't look at your character sheet" style osr play?
We were a 3e/PF1 group for a long time, so WWN feels pretty good to my players. The rules are a lot lighter, but there’s still a good bit of character customization, and the characters are very competent by default. Since this was not technically* our first session, we ended up hitting second level today. Everyone seemed excited about the cool new things they could do.

The “don’t be limited by your character sheet” stuff is tricky because my agenda leans more towards the Right to Dream than OSR-style play. I don’t think a clever solution should work around a flaw or limitation on your sheet. Smart play is still important though because the world is dangerous, and it’s not tuned for your success (e.g., almost nothing in the current location can be defeated head-on by the PCs currently).



* We did a one-shot using their OSE characters that I converted. I expected that we would switch, so the conversion included their progress towards 2nd level. That started them at about 25%, and the one-shot took them most of the rest of the way. This session picked up from the one-shot (in a rebooted setting based on WWN’s setting building procedures).
 

Yora

Legend
Got another rules question:

When you get a bonus skill level from a focus, does that focus pay for that one skill level, or does it remain a bonus that is added on top of what you actually paid for with skill points?
I am under the impression that it is the former, based on how the rules for character creation make it clear that getting a bonus skill doesn't let you get a skill level to greater than level-1, which is the maximum for 1st level characters.
This would mean that deciding when to take a focus that provides a bonus skill makes a big difference to the skill point cost to get it to that level. Which is not like how these things are usually handled in the d20 system. But I think it's fully justified in that you gain the benefit from the bonus skill immediately once you take it. Even though you paid more in hindsight when you look back at 10th level, you did get to use your bonus skill for the whole time since you took the focus.
But I think this is something that players could easily misunderstand and then get miffed when it's pointed out to them. I think this would go down easier if you can show them a line in the book that spells it out and it's not simply "I'm the GM and I chose to interpret it that way."
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
When you get a bonus skill level from a focus, does that focus pay for that one skill level, or does it remain a bonus that is added on top of what you actually paid for with skill points?
It depends on when you get the bonus skill. During character creation, it increases the skill. After character creation, it gives you three skill points towards increasing the skill (see page 55, “Choose New Foci”). The advantage to taking a bonus skill during character creation is it lets you stack it up with your other choices to boost skills to level-1 (equivalent to a free skill point later).
 

Yora

Legend
I really never saw that rule before. It's hidden away in a section about foci, and I've not seen anything in the sections about skills that would indicate that such a rule could exist somewhere in the first place.
Good to know.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
I really never saw that rule before. It's hidden away in a section about foci, and I've not seen anything in the sections about skills that would indicate that such a rule could exist somewhere in the first place.
Good to know.
I missed it too. The section on foci refers you to page 11, but it really should be page 55. 😅

I only found out because your post prompted me to go check reddit for an official clarification. I didn’t find one, but I did find mention in r/SWN of receiving three skill points when gaining a bonus skill after character creation, which prompted me to go see if it was the same in WWN.
 
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kenada

Legend
Supporter
Does anyone know how fast the party moves while exploring if you’re not using a simplified map diagram? Or what distinguishes a small trap from other traps?

While reviewing the cheat sheet I linked previously to improve its organization, I am finding things that are just underspecified or missing. How traps work isn’t discussed at all.

I assume I should be (mostly) fine using B/X to fill in the gaps, but I shouldn’t need to do that. WWN should be a complete game. :confused:
 

Yora

Legend
As far as I am able to tell, there is no exploration speed.

A turn is about the same time as a scene, so I would say moving from one room to the next takes no time and simply starts another scene, and if the distance is a bit longer you spend one turn walking and start another turn when you get there.
Though I'll also be using exploration speed and dungeons of specified dimensions.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
A turn is about the same time as a scene, so I would say moving from one room to the next takes no time and simply starts another scene, and if the distance is a bit longer you spend one turn walking and start another turn when you get there.
That’s pretty much how simplified ruin exploration works. If you’re using a simplified diagram (such as one created by the procedures in the book), and you care about tracking resources, then it takes one turn to move between “rooms of interest”.

Though I'll also be using exploration speed and dungeons of specified dimensions.
This is what I want to do, and the lack of an actual speed is irksome. What I ended up deciding was to crib from B/X: exploration speed is your movement rate in yards per turn.

I’m probably going to do the same thing for traps. I assume what WWN means by “small traps” is the same as B/X, which is what OSE calls “treasure traps”. Now I just need to decide how they work in practice (i.e., use saving throws like 3e or a flat chance like B/X).

I swear I’m going to end up with my own retroclone of WWN before long, which is very silly. 🙃
 

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