Monday, 30 March 2020

Dungeon Bitches

This post is the result of a series of shitposts on /osrg/ that accidentally turned out to have a kernel of a good idea in them. Thanks go to regretAnon for getting the ball rolling on this.
That said, this pulls together some ideas I've been forming for a while now. Some of it keys off the same elements as the Wounded Daughters, who will probably get to be their own class in this.
It's Monsterhearts mashed up with OSR dungeon exploration mashed up with survival horror.




So.

A game where you play as dungeon-crawling disaster-lesbians.
Here's the pitch. A faux-medieval gritty fantasy setting with all your standard crap hetero-patriarchal assumptions. Political marriages, dowries, etc etc. Not the best society to be a queer girl in. Luckily, if the thought of getting married off and having to pretend like you're happy with that is too much for you, there are two options.

  • You can run away and join a nunnery. This is slightly more socially acceptable, much less likely to get you killed, but will also result in living a life defined by limitations and restrictions.
  • You can run away, join a band of similar (heavily armed) bitches, and make a living as mercenaries, tomb-robbers and adventurers. This is far less socially acceptable, and far more dangerous, but you might get rich, fall in love, and be able to wreak terrible vengeance on the society that wronged you. 

So how does this game work?
It's a PbtA hack with certain OSR ideas thrown in. I cannot be bothered to explain a) how PbtA games function or b) how the typical OSR sandbox/emergent narrative works. If you're reading this you probably are familiar with them already, and if not, google exists.


I might do this up as an actual game and stick it on drivethru. Who knows?

This is the mechanics. Basic moves and structures and stuff. Not yet playtested, but it probably will be. Character gen, with classes and special moves and sex moves in an upcoming post.

Instead, let's get into our mechanics.


THIS MUCH IS A GIVEN:-Your PC is female, young, isn't straight, and doesn't have a place in polite society. All of these are absolute requirements, but the definition for them is messy. Femininity need not be defined in strict and binary ways, 'youth' is relative by culture and species, you can be ace or bi or whatever so long as The Straights don't get it, and if you had a place in polite society you wouldn't be exploring a dungeon, would you now. 

STATS:
You have four stats, rated from -3 to +3. They are:
  • Hard: used to do harm, act violently, and cope with hurt.
  • Soft: used to behave sensitively, perceive subtleties, nurture, and heal.
  • Subtle: used to avoid notice, deceive or manipulate others, and steal things.
  • Queer: used to seduce your fellow gay dungeon bitches, interact with and understand weird things.

HURT:
When a PC is harmed - physically or mentally, they accumulate points of Hurt. Normally one point at a time. You can have up to four points of Hurt and survive: when you have all four, you're At Death's Door, and things might affect you differently. 
If you would take a fifth point of Hurt, you're Broken. You'll be dead shortly. Or, if not physically killed, no longer able to go on. You hide in the dark to be picked off by monsters, or accept defeat and crawl back to the life you tried to escape. Either way, it's game over. It's debatable which of these ends is worse. Most Dungeon Bitches don't really differentiate between giving up and being claimed by the monsters, or giving up and being reclaimed by society. To them, Broken is Broken.
Sometimes you'll encounter monsters with the faces of your former companions that accumulated too much Hurt and got Broken. Often this will be in the dungeon, but just as often it'll be when you return to town.
NPCs don't track Hurt. If the PCs try to hurt them, then a successful Lash Out move means the NPC is as injured as the PC wants them to be.

STUFF THAT MIGHT HURT YOU:
  • Not getting a proper night's comfortable sleep.
  • Not getting enough food or water.
  • Drowning (AKA, too much water).
  • Eating unsafe food.
  • Monsters trying to eat you.
  • Booby-traps.
  • Town guards kicking the shit out of you.
  • Being on fire.
  • Exposure to awful body-horror.
  • Awful body-horror being done to you.
  • Meeting people from your past who really hurt you.
  • Having to pretend to be somebody you're not.
  • Getting your Heart Broken
  • Being exposed to freezing cold or dangerous heat.
  • Finding the corpse of somebody you loved.
  • Falling from great heights. 
  • Poison.

EXPERIENCE:
PCs learn from the horrible shit they go through. They grow:  more calloused to the world, but also better able to understand others. 
Tally up Experience like you do Hurt. When you get five points of Experience, erase it all and pick an Advance.
  • +1 to a stat (each stat can be increased in this way only once).
  • Take an extra move from your class (up to twice).
  • Take an extra move from any class (which can be your own if you want) (up to twice).
NPCs don't track experience.

BONDS:
Bonds are a measure of how close you are with somebody. You accumulate them sort of like Hurt and Experience. However, Bonds are specific to a given character. IE, you might have 1 Bond on Annie (a fellow PC), 4 Bonds on Beth (another fellow PC), and 1 bond on Xiximanter (an NPC snake-lich that rules the dungeon). Annie, Beth and Xiximanter might all have Bonds on you, too, although Xiximanter is likely to have less since he's an NPC and only gets to gain Bonds in response to moves made by PCs.
There's no limit to how many Bonds you can have on a given character.
You can spend a bond to:
  • Heal an additional Hurt when a move you use would do that. Whilst NPCs don't track Hurt, you can use this to make attempts to heal them more effective, if you're very fond of them.
  • Deal an additional Hurt when a move you use would do that. Whilst NPCs don't track Hurt, you can use this to make attempts to harm them worse, if you're feeling spiteful.
  • Give the person in question +1 to a roll. NPCs don't roll dice, but you can do this to give them useful moral support on their actions.
  • Give the person in question -1 to a roll. NPCs don't roll dice, but you can do this to sabotage their actions with your bullying.
  • Give yourself  +1 to a roll against them. 
  • Offer them one XP if they do something you ask of them. The Bond is spent even if they don't go for it. NPCs don't actually track XP, but will normally accept the offer unless they have a pretty darn good reason not to.

FUCKING:
We're playing as disaster-lesbians trapped in a horrible situation, so obviously characters are gonna fuck eventually. When a PC fucks, each class has a sex move that triggers automatically. If multiple PCs are fucking, all the sex moves trigger. This may cause cascading effects. This is probably gonna be Fun, in the Dwarf Fortress sense. 




MOVES:
When the fiction triggers a given move, roll 2d6 and add the relevant stat. 6 or less is a miss, 7-9 is a success, 10+ an overwhelming success. Sometimes it will happen that the group *as a whole* will trigger a move (such as when everybody gets pulled into a fight or must hide from something): in this case, the players nominate the PC who is taking the lead, and that player makes the roll and takes the consequences.
Every class gets access to all the moves listed below, and then some unique to their class. See the upcoming character gen post for more deets.

MOVES ALL DUNGEON BITCHES CAN USE

Lash Out:
Use this move when you resort to violence to solve your problems. This probably means killing somebody/something, or it might mean using violence to force somebody to act. Roll with Hard.
On a miss: The problem isn't solved, and the GM picks two options from this list (they can pick the same option twice):
  • You take a point of Hurt.
  • Somebody you care about who's present takes a point of Hurt.
  • The move's victim gets a Bond on everyone acting against them.
  • Something valuable of yours is lost or destroyed in the fight.
  • You and your companions are forced to flee, and anybody who doesn't or can't is Broken automatically (this one can't be picked twice).
On a success: The problem is solved and you get what you wanted, with costs. You pick one option from the list above, and so does the GM. If your victim was another PC, they probably need to Endure Pain to cope, taking 1 Hurt if they fail.
On an overwhelming success: the problem is solved, and you get what you wanted, with only mild costs. You pick one option from the list above. If your victim was another PC, they probably need to Endure Pain to cope, taking 2 Hurt if they fail.

Endure Pain:
Use this move when something horrible happens to you, and you must cope with it. Maybe you're risking drowning, maybe you're watching somebody suffer a grizzly fate, maybe you're facing people who victimised you in the past, maybe you're gritting your teeth to act despite an injury. Roll with Hard.
On a Miss: You don't cope. The GM will give you one or more points of Hurt, depending on how bad the situation is. For group rolls, everybody takes this much Hurt.
On a Success: You can just about deal with it. The GM tells you how many points of Hurt you would have taken; if you accept it anyway, mark Experience. For group rolls, everybody gets this choice.
On an overwhelming success: You give no shits. Mark experience. For group rolls, everybody marks experience.

Heal:
Use this move when you spend a significant time and effort trying to fix somebody else's Hurt. Roll with Soft. 
On a Miss: Your attempt fails. If you had  Bonds on your patient, you lose one of them. If your patient had Bonds on you, they lose one of them. If nobody loses a bond, pick one of you to take one Hurt.
On a Success: Your healing leaves scars. The patient erases one Hurt they were suffering, replacing it with an appropriate permanent injury. 
On an Overwhelming Success: The patient erases one Hurt they were suffering, with no long-lasting consequences.

Reveal Truths:
Use this move when you probe a situation (physical or social) to uncover something hidden. You might use it when searching a room you believe is dangerous, when assessing an NPC's trustworthyness, or feeling out your relationship with another PC. Roll with Soft.
On a Miss: You learn nothing. Your probing probably sets off a hidden danger, destroys the evidence you were looking for, or spook whoever you were talking to.
On a Success: You learn something useful. You may ask the GM (or most relevant player) one of the following questions, and get an accurate answer:
  • What is the most dangerous thing here?
  • What is the hardest danger to notice here?
  • What is being deliberately hidden here?
  • What hidden motivations are at work here?
  • What did the most damage here?
On an overwhelming success: You learn something useful, and can act on it. Ask one of the questions listed above. In addition, you can chose one:
  • +1 to the next roll to act on the answer.
  • A Bond on the person in question.

Escape Notice:
Use this move when you rely on your wits and skill to avoid being noticed. Roll with Subtle.
On a Miss: You are spotted. If you want to escape, you will need to Lash Out or find some other solution.
On a Success: You successfully escape notice for now. You may leave the scene safely. Otherwise, if you stay acting with the advantage of surprise gives you +1 to the next roll to do so.
On an Overwhelming Success: You escape notice, with plenty of cover to use and an easy escape route. If you act, the advantage of surprise gives you +1 to the next roll to do so. Even once you've revealed yourself, you can escape safely - immediately, if you wish.

Steal:
Use this move when you try to take something valuable that isn't yours, without being caught. Roll with Subtle.
On a Miss: You're caught in the act. You'll probably need to Lash Out or Escape Notice to get away.
On a Success: You get what you want, and everybody with you gets one Experience, but pick a complication:
  • You and your companions need to leave immediately or you'll be caught.
  • You leave some evidence behind pinning the blame on you.
  •  A tool you were using is lost or broken.
On an Overwhelming Success: You get what you want, everybody with you gets one Experience, and there are no complications.

Flirt
Use this move when you use your sex appeal to make somebody feel good about you, or about themselves. Roll with Queer.
On a Miss: They see what you're doing, aren't into it, and you know. They get a Bond on you.
On a Success: They're into it. They pick one or both of the options below:
  • They offer you something they think you want.
  • You each get a Bond on each other.
On an Overwhelming Success: They're really into it. You get a Bond on them, and they pick one or both of the options from the list above.

Commune with Strange Powers
Use this move when you reach outside of yourself, asking a spiritual force for help or advice. You might be praying to some patron, practicing divination, or taking part in some mind-altering ritual. Roll with Queer.
On a Miss: The results are confusing, overwhelming or frightening. In any case, they're of no use to you, and you will need time to recover.
On a Success: You asked for help, and something answers. Ask one of the following questions, and the GM (or most relevant player) will give an accurate answer:
  • What did I do wrong?
  • What bad shit is coming my way?
  • What is supernatural about this?
  • How does she feel about me?
  • Am I safe?
On an Overwhelming Success: You asked for help, and something has your back this time. Ask one of the questions above. In addition, you can chose one:
  • +1 to the next roll to act on the answer.
  • A Bond on the person in question.




SOME DESIGN NOTES
The 'steal something' move is basically XP for treasure (endure pain also grants XP, but is risky). Lash Out resolves fights in one roll. Endure Pain is your saving throw against all sorts of bad stuff.
Hurt is meant to represent the accumulation of pain, exhaustion, fear, loneliness, that comes with the premise. When it gets too much, you're done for. Healing somebody makes you vulnerable but that vulnerability is needed because it's the only way to recover from being hurt.
Hurt probably won't kill you all in one go, but it will accumulate fast and be slow to get rid of.
Reveal Truths and Commune With Strange Powers are basically parallels to each other. They differ in the situational use, and which stat you use, but otherwise work the same. Being Soft (so sensitive and delicate) makes you good at spotting immediate danger and deceptions, whilst being Queer (and so strange and alluring) deals with more long-term or esoteric stuff.
To succeed, you need to bond with your companions: building up Bonds (by probing each other with Commune With Strange Powers & Reveal Truths, or the direct way by Flirting) is vital: you need those bonds to boost each other's rolls, to bump up healing, etc. It also makes a neat source of XP if you're willing to get into that power dynamic. 
The flipside of Bonds is that they're also a threat: a PC with lots of Bonds on you can spend 'em all and royally fuck you over. So the closer you get with somebody, the more you *have* to cooperate.
Of course, you can get bonds on enemies, and spend 'em to fuck them over. This means its best to probe situations before going into conflict, maybe lay some social groundwork *before* you kick stuff off.

The intent is that being put in horrible situations will cause everybody to trauma-bond just to survive, resulting in messy social dynamics in the dungeon as well as a gritty horrible survival-horror feel. 

4 comments:

  1. This is awesome and the stats are perfect!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Part 2, for reference:
    https://cavegirlgames.blogspot.com/2020/03/dungeon-bitches-part-2.html

    ReplyDelete