Tuesday 21 May 2013

Weapons and Armour in Risus

Hear me out. I don't want gear lists for Risus. I don't want a bunch of modifiers and special rules for specific weapons.

It isn't that sort of game.

Risus already has a perfectly fine rule in place for handling equipment.

If you don't have the required equipment for the task at hand, but you have enough to attempt it, you roll half as many dice as normal (round up).

Weapons and Armour are an extension of this rule. Let's look at the Warhammer 40k Risus game I'm prepping at the moment.

Most personal weapons are designed to take on enemy infantry, with armour being a real possibility As such I'd say that Imperial Guardsman (2) with Lasgun can attack the Chaos Marine (4) in Power Armour as normal. If it were a Terminator (5), I'd knock it down to half-dice.

Most personal weapons are not designed to take on vehicles. Trying to shoot at an Ork Trukk (3) with your Bolter? I'd allow half-dice. Trying to shoot an Ork Stompa (7) with the Bolter? No chance. Work out another way of taking it down.

Similarly, large numbers of opponents may require weapons that can dish out destruction on a large scale. A Hormagaunt Swarm (5) will need something with automatic fire or a blast. Frag Missiles and Autocannons will work just fine, but a Plasma Pistol is going to leave you rolling half dice. If you team up with your buddies, though, you're good to roll full dice.

Using this system, it's perfectly fine to have a Warlord Titan (8) without worrying that it's too easy to take down. Infantry weapons won't scratch it, and even heavy weapons will only give half dice. This is where you call in for Superheavy support. Roll in the Shadowsword Super Heavy Tank (5). 

It's worth stressing the importance of transparency here. Don't wait until the players are rolling dice to tell them that their lasgun won't be able to penetrate tank armour. Let them know as soon as the tank appears.

Space Marines are a notable example here, and I can already feel the rage against my earlier ruling on lasguns vs power armour. The actual power level of marines varies across the history of the setting. It's best to establish, ahead of the game if they're fair targets for lasgun fire, or mostly protected.

Some GMs may even make them immune to such puny weapons. These are the times you really need to warn your players in advance. 

Risus Death Roll

In Risus combat, the winner decides the fate of the loser. This could range from embarrassment to a badass scar or even death.

Sometimes you'll want to put that down to a roll.

Risus Death Roll
In a deadly combat, a defeated character rolls to find out their fate. This roll is made using any cliche that has dice remaining. Characters with no cliché dice left at all cannot roll and are completely at the mercy of their opponent.

This uses the High Die Variant. Take the single highest die from the pool rolled.

1-3: DEAD
4: Dying. Someone needs to help you right away or you're dead.
5: Maimed. Opponent chooses a suitably nasty injury, but you get away with your life.
6: Lucky Bastard. You got away with barely a scratch, but you still lost. Your opponent shouts "NEXT TIME, GADGET!"


Bald Badolf is a Fearsome Dwarf Barbarian (4) but has lost all dice in that cliché. His opponent, the Barfbeast (6), decides he must make a death roll to find out his fate.

Badolf's only remaining Cliché is Unloved Orphan (2). He rolls two dice and gets a high die of 5! Badolf pleads for mercy from the Barfbeast, which bats him away in contempt, burning his face in a pool of barf. As the beast wanders off, Badolf plans his escape and changes his main cliché to Fearsome Disfigured Dwarf Barbarian (4).

Friday 17 May 2013

Recovering Cliches in Risus

In Risus, regaining lost Cliche Dice is left entirely to common sense. The guidance suggests that it depends on the nature of the conflict where the dice were lost.

I like this, but I think there could be another method that looks more to the Cliche itself for direction.

Feeding a Cliche
To recover lost dice, you must Feed the Cliche.

Consider what fuels this part of your character. If it's a physical Cliche, such as Star Athlete, or Bare-Knuckle Brawler, it may simply require some rest and a bandage. However, the former may be fed just as well with a rousing speech from your coach, and the latter with a swig of whiskey.

Losing points in Breakneck Stunt Driver might require a trip to your garage to refuel. Meanwhile, the Chain Smoking Mechanic (4) may just need a cigarette, and the Womanising Publicity Agent (3) a trip to the nearest singles bar.

The Amoral Cannibal Savage (3) may recover lost dice through more literal feeding, on the bodies of his enemies. The Preacher with a Crossbow (2) may be better off treating the bodies to a proper burial and blessing.

Thursday 9 May 2013

The Beauty of the One-Point Cliche

I'm still deep in a Risus phase at the moment. This happens regularly.

Today I've been thinking about those weird little one-point Cliches that characters often end up with. At first glance, they seem pretty useless.

They have hidden depths.

With my Side Pumping house rule, the one-point Cliches can give you a boost when you need it most. Consider this.

Zero-B Shorthorn is a Robot Cowboy (4), Reprogrammed Android Barkeep (1).

He's engaged in a gunfight with a Rogue Gatling Turret (4), and needs something to give him the edge. Grabbing a bottle of Cyber-Whisky, he can pump his Android Barkeep Cliche for an extra die to his Robot Cowboy Cliche. Throw that booze and shoot it, for an explosive attack!

The Barkeep Cliche is dropped to 0, but it's given you a great start to the combat.

Better yet, they may just net you extra bonuses without even rolling.

Theo Sturgeoni might be a World Renowned Surgeon (4), but his Venetian Street Rat (1) Cliche assumes that he speaks Italian. No roll required to translate the overheard conversation between the Roman Cardinals.

Now, if only I can shake off this Adoring Risus Fanboy (3) Cliche.

Wednesday 8 May 2013

House Ruling Risus

I love Risus, but the game begs to be tweaked.

Here, my goal is to make it easier to set TNs, remove those vital seconds spent adding die pools and make combat even more fast and decisive. I'm using a combination of the original rules, additional rules from the Risus Companion and a few of my own adjustments.

High Die Rule

- When you roll a pool of dice, take the highest single die, rather than adding the total.
- Target Numbers start at 4, raised to 5 for Challenging Tasks, and 6 for Heroic Efforts. A task's difficulty may be raised if your Cliche is an ill fit for the task.

Side Pumping

- When using a Cliche, you can Pump a second Cliche for extra dice. The extra dice are added to the Cliche you're using for the duration of the roll, but lost from the pumped Cliche. Reducing a Cliche to 0 in this way does not take you out of the contest.
- This replaces normal Pumping. 

Other Tweaks

- Teams roll their total dice and take the highest. Everyone on the losing team loses a die from their Cliche. 
- On a tie, both parties are treated as losing. 
- Characters splitting off from a team do not suffer damage. 
- Inappropriate Cliches do not cause extra damage. 
- If a character does not have an appropriate Cliche for a task, or combat, they roll a single die, but only 6s are counted. 


- Cliches are the many hats a character can wear. Only one is ever active at a given moment, and each should represent a role, not just a specific action. More Drunken Brawler and Mercenary Sniper, less Sucker Punch and Pinpoint Accuracy. 
- Sidekicks, Vehicles and Personal Armies can all be purchased out of your starting pool of ten Cliche dice. See the examples below.

Akla-Ma: Man-Beast (4), Noble Savage (2)
Sidekick: Kaah, Killer Panther (4)

Rusty Sinclair: Crime-Lord on the Rise (4), Former Vagrant (1)
Gang: Jimmy the Brain (3), Top-Hat Thugs (2)

Crash Atom: Ace Stunt-Pilot (3)
Mech: The Red Knight: Sword of Justice (4), Symbol of Hope (3)

High Die Examples

Akla-Ma is faced with a nearly impossible leap between two skyscrapers. As this is a Heroic Task, he'll need a high die of 6 to succeed. He's using his Man-Beast (4) cliche, but will pump his sidekick Kaah (4) for three extra dice, giving him seven to roll. He rolls 1, 3, 2, 6, 6, 2, 4. The highest die is a 6, a success! He rides Kaah to safety, but the Panther is completely exhausted, now a Killer Panther (1).

Rusty Sinclair is trying to dig up some dirt on his rival, Screwdriver Joe. He sends Jimmy the Brain (3) and the Top Hat Thugs (2) out, as a team, to see what they can find. This is a basic task, so a high die of 4 is required. The team rolls five dice in total, scoring 3, 1, 5, 5, 2. With a high die of 5, they manage to uncover the secret of Screwdriver Joe's illegitimate son. 

Crash Atom has lost another round of combat against the monster, Octo, reducing his Sword of Justice Cliche to 1. He switches to Ace Stunt Pilot to try and pull of a risky manoeuvre, blasting debris into Octo's giant eye to distract it from a killing blow. He rolls three dice, scoring 5, 5, 2, a high die of 5. Octo rolls his dice and scores a high die of 6. He wraps his tentacles around The Red Knight and begins to crush the valiant mech.