Saturday, February 9, 2019

Gathox updates and new player-made optional rules!

Hello, folks! It's been a while sussing out what I'm going to do with the Gathox blog and communities since the announcement that G+ is getting shut down. It's a shame, a lot of my close friends and a large chunk of my career came from G+, and the dust hasn't yet settled on where everyone is going. You can find me a couple of places:

1) Here, at the Gathox blog.

2) Over on MeWe, as D.L. Johnson and with a fresh Gathox gaming group:

3) On Facebook, although I only show up there about once a week, again as D.L. Johnson.

4) Very soon, you can find excellent Gathox gaming content on Patreon. I'm starting a regular Gathox zine called The Mutant Insurrectionist, and it features weekly in-game news from all three neighborhoods, new adventure hooks, new classes and monsters, custom spells, and a new detailed location each issue! I plan to make the zine for at least a year, and release the zines to the general public through DrivethruRPG. I'l post links to that when it starts up!

Next, I'm stoked to announce that GVS1: Gathox Vertical Slum and GVS2: Quake Alley Mayhem! have gone Electrum and Copper bestsellers on accordingly! Thank y'all so much for interest in my gonzo science fantasy game, I cannot thank you guys enough!

Next, I'd like to share with you a player creation for Gathox. Paul Thompson has been a regular Gathox player and playtester since 2015, and he recently dreamed up some optional rules for gang management that I think a lot of Gathox Referees would be interested in seeing. It's so cool to see people create things for Gathox totally independent of what I have planned, and I'm glad to have the opportunity to share his work with you! Paul wanted me to stress that this is a rough draft, and has granted me permission to share them here. Here it is:

"Chief Mastermind”: Gang Business Game


This mini-game will simulate limited contact with a chief mastermind/Brainiac overseeing the entirety of the gang’s businesses. The DM will roll on two tables at the beginning of the week; the News/ Threat Avenue table generates the nature of a news item the chief mastermind will deliver to the PCs at the week’s start, the Actual Value table determines the percentage of the gang’s profits the chief is destined to deliver at week’s end. If disastrous profits are looming, the DM then rolls the chief’s savvy stats to see if he or his staff will take care of the impending problem and avert disaster on their own (report of this triumph becomes that week’s news tidbit). If staff fail to avert disaster, then they’ve failed to uncover it at all. That week’s news item may now be a clue as to the impending disaster, which savvy and intuitive PCs may follow up on diegetically to avert disaster themselves.

Chief’s Savvy Stats (1-10) *currently this is an arbitrary DM assignation:

  • Internal Savvy: The chief excels at training personnel, creating protocols, and is adept at monitoring internal discord and adherence to policy.
  • Larger Market Savvy: The chief keeps a passive eye on larger market trends and larger news items.
  • Local Market Savvy: The chief keeps a watchful eye on neighbors’ competing businesses, especially for nonviolent but cutthroat practices.
  • Security Savvy: The chief orchestrates a lively and ever-ready security apparatus.


At the beginning of the week, roll on both Actual Value and News/ Threat Avenue tables. The News Avenue roll indicates the nature of that week’s news item (and by extension the threat-avenue should the Actual Value come up Trouble or Boom). Then follow the appropriate section below (Steady Business, or Trouble/ Boom):

Actual Value Table: Roll 2d6.

Trouble. (roll Avenue Table and follow Trouble procedure)
50% drain from the company/ party coffers
25% drain from the company/ party coffers
Company/ party is barely in the black; no profit this cycle
Steady Business. (roll Avenue Table for normal news item)
50% Bluebook
75% Bluebook
100% Bluebook
110% Bluebook
120% Bluebook
Boom. (roll Avenue table and follow Boon procedure)
150% Bluebook
200% Bluebook
300% Bluebook

News/ Threat-Avenue Table: Roll 1d5.

Following is a table for determining the avenue by which news, trouble, and boons collide with the party each cycle:
Internal Threats (Embezzling, Loose lips, Employee Theft)
Larger Market Threats (Foreign supply and demand shifts)
Local Market Threats (Direct competitors’ business tactics and operations)
Security Threats (Vulnerability to outright attacks/ hijacks)
*Mysterious Threats or “All Quiet”
*If Mystery is rolled with Steady Business, then that week “no news is good news.” If Mystery is rolled with Trouble or Boom, the avenue is mysterious or supernatural.

Actual Value Results (DM performs one of the following):

Steady Business:

If a Steady Business result is rolled, multiply the total bluebook profits for gang’s businesses by the percentage indicated. These are the real profits for the gang that week. Next roll on the Avenue table for news-item inspiration. It is important to include a news item for most cycles so the presence of news itself does not become a “tell” alerting players they should investigate.

Trouble/ Boom

If Trouble or Boon is rolled, the News Avenue becomes the Threat Avenue for that week’s incident:
  1. Determine auto-defense. DM rolls the threat (1d10) versus the chief’s stat (1-10) in this area.
  • If the roll is equal or beneath the stat, the threat was neutralized by the company without the characters’ intervention. The tale of this near-disaster is that week’s news item.
    • Roll 1d6+3 on the profit table for the new, trouble-free profit if the disaster was Trouble. Skip to step 3: Special Boom for a successfully navigated Boom result.
  • If the roll is above the stat, the event will manifest and take its toll on company profits unless the players intervene. The PCs may, however, receive a clue about its looming presence.
  1. Determine News Clue. The event will manifest unmodified at the end of the week unless the characters intervene. Roll 1d10 again against the chief’s relevant stat. Success on this roll means a news item pops up that includes some peripheral “clue” about the threat looming at the week’s end. Failure means the DM treats the news result as if it were 5/ All Quiet and will surprise the players with the bombshell loss at week’s end.
  2. Special Boom. If the Actual Value result was a Boom, then the danger was a potential loss resulting from a high-risk situation. If staff or the players mitigate the boom, it yields the listed bonanza amount, but failing to do so means rerolling 1d3+1 (a guaranteed loss) on the Actual Value table.

Future Directions:

 Specific Chief Masterminds, complete with Savvy stats, appear in a rogue’s gallery for hire as would any hireling | The week’s news might result in a lead for headhunting/ poaching opportunities | Regular (but slightly more or less valuable) masterminds might appear for hire and contribute a +1 or -1 modifier to the chief’s stats | Players with the right wheelhouse might decide to devote their downtime to add a modifier to the chief’s weekly rolls.

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