Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Game Play (RPG) - (Moved from the old Articles section of

Game Play

Red Ash Follows a simple RPG game pattern. If you have experience playing other systems this will not be much different. For those of you that are new to Role Playing Games (RPG), I will try to explain how the Red Ash System works in a table top setting.


  • DM - Dungeon Master, This is the person that runs the campaign and lets the players know what the environment looks like, smells like, taste like and sounds like. The DM will let you know, when its relevant and if your character succeeds in noticing something. The DM also takes on the roles of all NPCs you encounter in the game.
  • Class - A profession, This is a defined profession that a character starts with at the lowest level of skill, also called level 1. By performing various deeds like defeating an opponent, solving a puzzle or completing a quest a character gains experience. Once enough experience has been earn you may gain the next level up and earn more Life Points, Skill Points and other increases.

The Campaign

A campaign is design by a DM and can be compared to any novel you have read. The difference is in that your characters take on the "leading" roles as the protagonist (or maybe even the antagonist) of the story.

Before the game begins you will speak with you DM on what races and classes are available. Also if you are interested in being a caster you may want to ask what the world view on magic is. It could be common place, a know but mysterious force, strictly regulated and secretly taught, or even punishable by death.

Species relationships will be another issue that warrants a question. Does species X get along with species Y and whats the history. Playing a Minotaur in a Human world may sound like you have the advantage, but you may have to put up with fear, hatred, rumors and hostility on a daily basis.

A campaign of course does not have to have many species in it. It can have one and all others are monsters in need of being hunted to extinction. A campaign can also include multiple races of any species with slight or extreme differences between them.

Once you have the campaigns general background you can move on to character creation.

Character Creation

Characters are a combination of Species and Class. It is common in many game systems to form what is called the balanced party. This is usually a Tank to take damage (and often times dealing it too), a Rogue to disarm traps, find hidden doors and open locks, a Healer to well...heal and of course the Wizard to do a lot of damage to many opponents. Any more players can double up on these base types already stated, or other support classes can be played.

Since Red Ash makes use of an open skills system the balanced party is no longer needed within a limit. A party can, in theory, consist of all healers as long as they make use of their skill points and each focuses on a set to cover the specifics needed to adventure. Make sure someone in the players group takes trap, lock picking and searching skills while another takes combat skills to be more of the tank, etc.

Character Background

The DM will often times say the characters know each other from childhood and grew up together. This is done to simply to avoid the characters having to meet and do introductions in game. Another way for characters to meet is to use a mentor NPC that is recruiting and enlist the characters into the party. Mentors are usually left in the campaign long enough for the new players to learn how to work together and get comfortable with the game rules. Once that is done they are removed via death or other means.

Getting Started

The start of a campaign can have any starting location, but I think the most common is the small city. A small city offers a good backdrop to having various species and classes in one local. A smaller town or hamlet would be to limiting. A larger city would mean more work for the DM up front but is also a possibility for a starting local. A port city is also common. Port cities have the benefits of even more of a mix of species, exotic goods, money and the class of cultures.

This all assumes your are starting from level 1, a DM may have a campaign designed to start you at a higher level. In these cases the DM can simply state your party has already adventured together and for some time.

The first quest is handed to the party by any number of means. A family friend or relative has gone missing, A mysterious group have come to town and rumors speak of dark happenings. Your friends and you on a night of celebration and awake with a hangover and the sounds of a slavers ship. The city's (council, mayor, governor, etc..) has employed you to wipe out the cities infestation of rats, nearby bandits, etc...


All combat is an encounter but not all encounters are combat. Encounters are best thought of as events of note that the party should make a decision about what action to take. This can be a simple fork in the road, speaking to a traveler on the road or coming across a abandoned camp. It can also be that a character has noticed the party is being stalked and of course combat.


Red Ash uses a turned based system. This means that everyone in the combat (player characters and NPCs) all have a turn to perform some action during combat. Combat is based on 20 turns that is occupied by 1 or more participants in the combat. The combat starts at turn 20 and counts down to 1 and then returns to 20 to start the count down again. Each loop is called a round of combat.

To determine where a combatant starts roll a 1d20. When combatants have the the same position they go in order of the highest Awareness and in case of a tie the highest Agility and in case of a second tie who got there first.

It is common for the combatants to change to a different turn from one round to the next. This can be causes by the weapon speed they use and may give the the user a second action in the same round. Or the combatant may opt to hold their action to interject before another. This is a common tactic with non-casters vs casters and is also used so one of you party performs their action first before you take your action.

To keep tract of combatant positions I suggest a length of thin cardboard (or thick paper) divided in 2 length-wise with a line. Separate the top and bottom of the strip with 20 spaces and number them 1 to 20. Then use paper clips or even the wooden clothes pins as markers and number those with the number of combatants, one for each player and NPC. Lastly make a simple numbered list with the names of the combatants. Then use the clips or pins to mark what position the combatants are on. The current round flips between the top and bottom of the strip. Starting combat can start on the top with everyone's initial position. For those that go on the same turn clip the markers for the ones that will go first to the one that go after them.

During combat and after their turn change their markers location to the next turn they have remembering to adjust for the weapon speed of the weapon they just used. This will often place them on the alternate side of the strip. But if they start on say turn 20 and use daggers in combat then they will next go on turn 2 OF THE SAME ROUND then they would go on turn 4 of the next round. If they used a flail and was starting on turn 20, they would go on turn 16 of the next round. This is why a split strip is used, to keep track of the combatants turn within a round and the next.

For characters that are holding their action pull them off the strip and set to the side. When the player states their characters action work them in at the start of that turn.

The DM should keep in mind you are not calling numbers you are calling combatants by name. The strip is just a way to know the order to names to call.

Character Death

The adventures life is one of peril in pursuit of rewards. Death of a character can be and always should be an issue of concern to the player and the DM. A Dungeon Master should take care to not kill the entire party and should try to not kill any of the characters even though this will sometimes happen.

When a players character dies there is of course the issue of its share of treasure and its personal equipment. Characters can have a general will on what to do with these items, the party or the DM can decide as well. A DM may want to consider it a social taboo to take the equipment of the fallen member and maybe even employ a bit of bad luck on the surviving characters that do not follow the rule.

There are a handful of ways to handle death in game and the players should know how you will handle it at the start of the campaign.

  • Hard Core - This is a rule that states if your character dies, it is dead...make a new character. In campaigns that run under hard core rules it is not uncommon to have a spare character already made in the event your character dies. When your character levels you also level your spare.
  • Fate Favored - This rule means your character never dies but may be knocked out and will wake up later. You may have been saved by a more advanced NPC/NPCs that happened upon your combat, or maybe you where captured, maybe a wandering monster came by and killed your opponents after your party dropped and now the monster and the opponents are dead, or maybe you wake up with no idea why you are alive, but your opponents have left without a reason as to why.
  • Clay Pigeon - For what ever reason your party has easy access to resurrection or something similar. Maybe your characters are simply clones (or clay pigeons) that when destroyed a caretaker pulls another from the shelf (or makes a new one) while your real body recovers from the experience of death. If one of your party survives he can drag bodies back to a temple for a resurrection. Many DMs will apply some penalty for this usually monetary and experience based or even favor based (your party must perform a favor for the temple).
  • Other - I have describe a few ways of handling death. A DM may have his own ways of dealing with death and what ever rules he sets, they should be uniform for the entire campaign for both player characters and non player characters (NPC).

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