Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Song of Dirt and Wind - Introduction, Abilities, and Existing Benefits

A Song of Dirt and Wind

I posted this on Google+, but not sure its a good discussion forum really for game design geekery. 

It has been an age since the old world ended in fire and plague, leaving only dirt and wind for mankind to look to survive.  Now generations have passed and pockets of civilization have appeared, attempting to shield the flickering flame of knowledge from going out entirely.  They struggle against plague, mutants, radiation, and each other to survive in the barren wasteland that is the Bonelands.

A Song of Dirt and Wind is a hack of the Song of Ice and Fire Role-Playing Game for a post-apocalyptic setting.  The setting itself is somewhat generic, putting the onus on the players to create the setting when they create their settlement, which is the hack’s version of noble houses from SoI&F RPG.  The players determine facets of the apocalypse in the creation of their settlement through either random generation of choice.

The player characters are the leaders of the settlement, filling such roles as leader, guard captain, trader, tech-keeper, head scavenger, priest, much as they are the movers and shakers of the house in the SoI&F RPG.  Their roles in the settlement are going to be determined much more by skills and strength than blood or law. 
The core rules of SoI&F RPG remains the same with some additions for abilities, specialties, benefits, drawbacks, and settlement creation.  Character creation remains the same including age, selecting abilities, etc, you’re just creating different types of characters. 

Role Examples

These are drawn from post apocalyptic movies, books, etc.
Expert: The Gyro Captain, Master, Tom Waits
Fighter: Mad Max, The Humungus, Blaster, Ironbar, Eli, Paterson Joseph, Redridge,
Leader: Auntie Entity, Pappagallo, Carnegie,
Rogue: the Feral Kid, Max Beesley,
Schemer: Dr. Dealgood, Theo Feron,

New Abilities

The following abilities and specialties are added to the default list to support the addition of advanced technology to the system.  Characters begin with 2 in these abilities as with other abilities. 


Specialties: Computers, Demolitions, Repair, Security
Technology represents the training the character has with advanced technology such as electronics, computers, or really any technology developed after the Industrial Revolution.  Technology covers any operation, maintenance, or repair of technological devices, a valued but rare skill in the Bonelands.  Technology has the following uses.

Basic Test            Varies
You can use Computers to access, program, and hack computers .  Accessing computers allows the character to get information from the computer or use it to perform its intended functions.  Programming computers allows the character to alter  the computer’s function or add new functions to it, as long as the computer is able to handle the new function.  Hacking computers involves getting past security systems in order to get information or carry out functions that someone secured the computer against performing. 

The Difficulty of the test depends on the state of the computer, the usability of the operating system, the security systems, etc.  Using a well maintained personal computer or smart phone to find hidden information may be Easy (3), while doing the same on poorly maintained versions of the same machines may be Routine (6).  These factors determine the base Difficulty of accessing the computer, while the Difficulty for programming increases by +3 and hacking increases the Difficulty by +6. 

While accessing a computer may take only a few minutes, programming and hacking can take hours if not days or weeks. 

Basic Test            Varies
Repair allows you to maintain and fix technology, everything from cars to firearms to generators.  You can restore health or remove injuries and wounds from vehicles, though repairing injuries and wounds requires some manner of spare parts.  Repairing injuries requires spare parts worth 5% of the value of the item being repaired, while repairing wounds requires spare parts worth 20% of the value of the item being repaired. 

Repairing health generally takes an hour, while repairing injuries requires eight hours, while repairing a wound takes forty hours of work.  These numbers are appropriate for something car sized, but larger or smaller machine should take proportionally more or less time. 

Basic Test            Varies
While simple mechanical locks are dealt with using Thievery, more complex security systems like combination locks, motion sensors, and heat sensors use the Security specialty.  Bypassing such methods usually takes a minute or so, but more complex systems will require more time.  A simple tripwire or combination lock is a Routine (6) test, while a cutting edge motion detection is a Hard (15) check. 

Basic Test            Varies
Both the setting and defusing of explosive devices is a rare art in the Bonelands.  Most of the remaining explosives are home brewed by makeshift chemists.  Setting explosives is usually a Easy (3) or Routine (6) test, while defusing explosives is more difficult.  Setting explosives for a controlled explosion, such as knocking a building over in a specific direction, is at least a Challenging (12) task. 


Specialties: Boating, Fixed-Wing, Rotorcraft, Tracked, Wheeled
While few functional vehicles remain in the Bonelands, they can mean the difference in trade, combat, or just survival.  Those who can operate them are rare and valued, earning places of respect in the settlements they call home. 

Specializations for Piloting operate largely the same, only covering different vehicle types.  Standard operation of a vehicle, like driving a car through flat terrain at reasonable speed, is an Automatic (0) test.  More dangerous maneuvers or operations, such as landing a plane in dangerous weather or dodging landmines at high speeds, require an actual test.  If you fail such a test the vehicle may crash, taking damage, or merely careen out of control, giving you another chance to recover control next round. 

Existing Abilities


New Specialty: Science
Basic Test                            Lesser Action
This specialty represents a general training in the scientific arts.  It  represents knowledge of physics, biology, etc, but the only the knowledge, not necessarily the ability to implement it.  A character with a high Science could explain how a car works or the theories behind artificial intelligence, but could not build a car or program an artificial intelligence without Technology. 


New Specialties: Pistols, Rifles, Shoulder Braced, Heavy, Gunnery, Flamethrower
Gunnery is used for any weapons mounted on a vehicle or stationary structure, though Heavy may be used at the gamemaster’s discretion. 


Breeding and Tournaments are not likely to be very useful in most campaigns, so they’re probably not worth putting points into unless your game is going to feature highly ceremonial or ritualized cultures. 

The range of Status and the positions associated with them are as follows. 

Status                   Example
0                              Slave
1                              Serf, servant, bound agent
2                              Guard sergeant, scavenger, craftsman,
3                              Guard captain, lorekeeper, technician, pilot/driver, settlement champion
4                              Settlement leader
5                              Leader of settlement alliance, regional war leader
6                              Regional leader

Existing Benefits

The following benefits are setting specific to ASoI&F RPG, but could conceivably be used in a Song of Dirt and Wind.  While there it is unlikely to have a massive wall protecting the Bonelands from ancient undead, having some sort of structure that keeps the zombie hordes at bay may exist, so these may end up being useful at the gamemasters discretion. 

While this benefit feels odd in a post-apocalyptic setting, post-apocalyptic knights calling on knightly virtues to help them in times of struggle is pretty awesome, so it stays.  Alternately other sets of virtues could be used as the basis for the benefit, creating other groups of post-apocalyptic heroes for players to join. 

Blood of the Andals/First Men/Ironmen/Rhoyne/Valyria
Unless these benefits fit with a culture or group in your version of the Bonelands, they should not be available.  Blood of Heroes and Blood of the Wildlings are more open ended and could more easily be used in a Song of Dirt and Wind Campaign for great heroes and primitive cultures respectively. 

Brother of the Night’s Watch
While it’s certainly possible, and a pretty awesome idea, for your version of the Bonelands to have a group of criminals and outcasts guarding its borders from ancient evils, that doesn’t fit everyone’s game.  It works great for a zombie apocalypse, nuclear war with roving bands, or an alien invasion, but not so much with a famine or environmental disaster.  If you decide to use it, the same rule apply with character who have this benefit only being able to spend Glory on the organization they have joined. 

This benefit should probably not be available anymore. 

Man of the King’s Guard
This benefit should probably not be available anymore. 

Master of Ravens
While it’s certainly possible a society could develop raven based communications after an apocalypse, there are a lot of other, better options out here. 

Tourney Knight
This should only be available if ritualized tournaments are part of the culture of the Bonelands. 

The following benefits have mechanical changes in A Song of Dirt and Wind. 

Animal Cohort
The list of acceptable animal cohorts should be expanded to include whatever is appropriate to the ecosystems found in the campaigns version of the Bonelands. 

Bravosi Fighter
These benefits should still be allowed, but their name changed to something more setting specific, such as Web of Steel or Blade Dancer.  Also changing the weapon used to something like a knife that is more common in a post-apocalyptic environment is appropriate, but it should still be a light, one handed weapon.

The list of regions should be changed to match your version of the Bonelands, including things like other settlements, enemies, etc. 

Deadly Shot
This benefit can be applied to pistols and rifles as well, but not when using Automatic or Burst qualities. 

Double Shot
This benefit can be applied to pistols and rifle as well, in which case it should be called Double Tap. 

This benefit should not be available unless you are looking to include mystic abilities in your game. 

Head of House
This benefit should be changed to Head of Settlement. 

The item you inherited can be either an Extraordinary grade weapon, suit of armor, tool, or a normal quality vehicle.  The base value of the item before the Extraordinary grade multiplier is applied cannot be over your Statusx2000 supply days. 

Knowledge Focus
The following areas expertise are available for Knowledge Focus: art, folklore, geography, history and legends, literature, occult, nature, religion, and underworld. 

This benefit should not be available unless you are looking to include mystic abilities in your game. 

Third Eye
This benefit should not be available unless you are looking to include mystic abilities in your game. 

Third Eye Opened
This benefit should not be available unless you are looking to include mystic abilities in your game. 

Triple Shot
This benefit can be applied to pistols and rifle as well, in which case it should be called Triple Tap.

This benefit produces 200 supply days times your degree of success each month. 

This benefit applies to interactions with people from outside the Bonelands.


  1. Why don't you put these into a Google Docs and link to it for people to get their hands on. Especially since some of the tables can't be viewed properly.

  2. I've been working on it on a googledoc, so I just made it publicly viewable.