Guest Post From Thom Caulfield: Complications For DicePunk

Man, that last post. I HAD to get that shit I just spit off my chest. I WANT to get the taste out my mouth.

So here goes, my first ever guest post:

My friend Thom Caulfield (who if he had his own damn blog, I’d like to it in his name there, hint hint man) came up with these awesome house rules for DicePunk. They squirt a tiny bit of FATE in there, but in the best possible way. Personally speaking, I love ’em. Tell me what y’all think:

“Complications” In DicePunk – Part I

I was recently holding forth on the Big Purple about how Fiasco is neither a good RPG nor a bad RPG but literally not an RPG at all (SW: it’s a clunky set of house rules for the older than dirt writing game called Exquisite Cadaver). Now, in-and-of-itself this is a neutral statement, but I myself was sold Fiasco as “Coen Brothers the RPG” and it somehow managed to fail to deliver the SECOND PART, which was the easy part.

You know what else sells itself as Coen Brothers/Tarantino movie the RPG? Devon Oratz’ (Vanilla) DicePunk (SRD). It’s got the RPG part down pat. But it needs some help being Blood Simple, A Simple Plan, Three Kings, Jackie Brown, Reservoir Dogs, et al.

What’s DicePunk doing wrong? Characters are only defined by their strengths, not their terrible, terrible flaws. And that’s fucking wrong. For this genre. HERO System–aka Champions–has been defining characters by their weaknesses just as much as their strengths since the 1980s. It’s not a new idea– both oWoD had and Shadowrun had their versions of “Merits and Flaws”, hell, the Singularity System has its Weaknesses and Perks– but FATE came along and won every award and sold a million copies and now everything old is new and sexy again. but more importantly…in Coen Brothers/Tarantino the RPG, characters must be defined AT LEAST AS MUCH BY WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THEM AS BY THE SHIT THEY’RE GOOD AT. So at being Coen Brothers/Tarantino the RPG, DicePunk is failing the opposite end of the test.

This is what DicePunk is missing. So I am here to provide. Behold…Complications: The House Rulening!

  • Vanilla DicePunk characters can now take between one and four Complications.
  • Complications are described as and defined by a 20-word quote to, by, or about the character they describe. Lots of awesome examples will follow in part two.
  • Twice per game session: any PC can ‘Raise’ a relevant Complication to take away one die from a Skill Test or Attribute Check before rolling it, or add one die to an Attack Test before rolling it. GM has final say on whether the Complication ‘Raised’ is “relevant”.
  • Twice per game session: the GM can ‘Bust’ any PC’s relevant Complication to make a PC auto-fail a check, test or attack they’re about to make, or to make the reroll one that they just succeeded. Player has final say on whether the Complication “Busted” is relevant.
  • Characters with 3+ Complications should be called “Desperadoes” in Southwest flavored game settings. Characters with 3+ Complications should be called “Hard-Boiled” in old-timey, pulp, and Northeastern flavored campaigns, and by default.  These characters are powerfully fueled by their suck. They’re also going to be cursed by their awesome, hard. Hence: Hard-Boiled.

Complications In Psionics

  • As part of the tradeoff for being motherfucking Espers, Espers get less of everything awesome about being human. Less Skills and less Techniques. So it stands to reason they’d get to leverage Complications less too as part of the same tradeoff.
  • Esper have a Complication slot automatically taken up by their being an Esper. This is a ‘dead’ slot and it does nothing: the ‘Esper Default’ Complication can never be either Raised or Busted.
  • The Esper MAY opt into ONE additional Complication, which functions normally.

Complications In SPLINTER

  • Professionals are not allowed to take any Complications. Amateurs get one automatic Complication called “Amateur”. It functions normally…during Real World gameplay, obviously.

Complications In Phantasm(2010)

  • Humans of any Badass Tier may take anywhere from 0-2 Complications at their discretion. The important thing is they don’t have to take the mandatory one Complication that vanilla DicePunk Humans do.
  • Non-Humans may not take any Complications. Their Complications are already baked in to “Racial Traits” called things like “Blood Junkie” (vampire) and “Lunacy” (shifter) and  “Know Nothing” (Screamer) and “Psychopomp” (Vengeful Revenant), and “Hellbound” (Fugitive Revenant). That last one, the one where you’re being hunted by the Theologians of the Gash who want to literally drag your ass back to hell? That’s worth like 10 Complications for mere mortals, Frank. You don’t need any more.

Next time on I get a guest post on something…loads of sample Complications and rules for gaining/losing Complications during play.


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