WHITEFRANK Role-Playing Game

Hello,

I have begun publication of WHITEFRANK, which is a Rulebook plus expansions, setting, challenges and items OSR role-playing game system.

It’s based on the original Minnesota Sessions from 1968 to 1970, forked at the point in 1969 that the very first California Sessions were about to begin.

Each character has up to six Attributes, four Skills, and optional Powers and Problems. There are also optional Character Classes.

So far in the range there is the Rulebook, the Item Catalogue and ROSANEBEL, a sourcebook for a town in a mountain pass between two warring empires which provides a lot of NPCs, buildings, monsters, adventures and so on.

At this point where things have just begun, I am happy to send copies of the first three books to anyone who is an established reviewer on the basis that they write a balanced review of the game.

If you are interested please email submissions@whitefrank.com

Also although it is not OGL and never will be I am very happy to consider fully licensed third party products. Not for any share of money simply an approval process to say yes or no to having someone create something with the official trade dress and trademarks.

Anyway, exciting times, I hope people take a look and embrace it.

Creating a characters takes seconds, up to minutes and although there are no standard statistics at all, the various Attributes make for a much more interesting game, as do optional Character Classes. Players can begin to tell their stories pretty much immediately with no wargame-esque stodge or delays.

That’s WHITEFRANK in a nutshell, thanks for reading! :slight_smile:

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oh and the new very basic website is www.whitefrank.com

Sounds interesting. Could you expand on the mechanics? I’m not familiar with Minnesota/California sessions.

Sure, it’s pretty simple.
Game mechanics - 3d6 to roll 12 or more - for any roll. Modified up or down by Attributes, Powers, Skills, Problems and “Bad Changes” and “Good Changes” which are temporary versions of the permanent Problems and Powers.

No “statistics”, as in, there is no set of universal statistics everybody has or all humans have. Instead, there are Attributes, split into Body ones and Mind ones. Players choose six times from the Attributes and four times from the Skills. Each selection is adding +6 to the 12 or more on 3d6 roll in different circumstances or putting a penalty on someone else. Whichever player is telling the story, the equivalent of a DM or GM for that game session or story, sets other difficulties. For example “Notice Something (34)” means roll 34 or more on 3d6 to Notice Something.

Players can have characters cooperate on rolls, so in that example if no one has a character good at Hearing or Sight or PhD (spotting secret doors) or whatever to give a bonus, everyone searching means multiple 3d6 rolls that add together, making it fairly easy. This worked out to be an important part of teaching children good habits while gaming (and in general)- cooperation.

That is pretty much it, and then there are lots of charts, details and “crunch” built into items, weapons, armor and vehicles and so on. So a character can take seconds or minutes to make, into the story straight away and then using a weapon or finding an item or whatever has rules set out for the situation.

Character classes are optional and often boost the powers of a character a lot- but also often come with built in enemies and problems. In the ROSANEBEL sourcebook detailing the setting Rosanebel (town) there are many characters written up and it demonstrates the differences between character class characters and those with no character class.

Hope that helps explain it. :slight_smile:

The Minnesota approach is sometimes deprecated as being “make it up on the fly” but it is really fundamentally “make a ruling, write it down, keep using it” and sharing story telling out in the group when and how people want to. For example playing the bad guys in a story while others play their normal characters, or having one player run combat because they’re better at it. It does not have to be that way, but it can be. :slight_smile:

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Interesting - glad to hear about this.
I would suggest adding a product preview to your DTRPG.com page, at least for the WHITEFRANK rulebook. Although it’s only a $2 purchase, it would still be helpful to see (for example) the table of contents and a bit of the meat of the book in the preview.
[EDIT - just looked more closely and saw that the 2 supporting products have previews, but not the main rulebook. The rulebook is the one that most interests me :slight_smile: ]

This sounds like a different approach to the Free Kriegsspiel stuff that has gained in popularity recently. I look forward to learning more.

Would you comment briefly on what combat looks like in this system? Are hit points tracked, or are ‘consequences’ used, or ‘3 hits and you’re out’, etc.? How many different rolls, for example, might a typical fantasy-adventure combat involve?

Thanks!

Every character and all objects have a Health statistic, which is 1d6 for most living things and based on the value of an object (because there is a Quality system for items). Combat so far in testing and play has usually been pretty quick. So in that respect it is “realistic” in the sense of “realism”-- believability. A Barbarian Swordsman will blitz normal Peasants, get Dodged or Evaded by a Thief - but will wipe the Thief out if he connects. Smashing objects to bits or doors to bits will take forever, like actually battering a door down - a door can have 200 Health, or 2,000 for that matter, so picking a lock or finding something else to do is preferable.

The emphasis is on “challenges” rather than monsters or even combat so yes, there can be straight combat and yes, casting spells, being a killing machine and so on is all there, but for when smaller children play or people who don’t have any background in RPGs play, it is wide open as to how things are resolved. Everything I personally write is written primarily in a more traditional approach - there will be standup fights, there will be deaths - but it does not have to be that way.

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Main rulebook has one 5 star review so far. :slight_smile:

Sounds cool. Thanks for adding more info.
Cheers!

Anyone who would like to localise WHITEFRANK for their own region and non-English language please email me at submissions@whitefrank.com
Very happy to do that, and anyone doing it can publish their own version in their own language for a flat 10% royalty payable back to me. Translation and interpreting is no small task so it is effectively a separate work. Anyway, if anyone would like to do so, email me and we can get started. :slight_smile:

Designer update: WHITEFRANK CLASSES has dropped / will drop over the next few days. Of the original “rules” type books that only leaves WHITEFRANK WAR and WHITEFRANK GODS.

Based on a gaming day one session adventure I am also writing up The Stars Fell On Blackmoor, an adventure set in a quiet village in southern England (Blackmoor, Hampshire, suitably fictionalised).

Introductory flash fiction from The Stars Fell On Blackmoor:


“Where has human Mummy gone?” Best Boy asked again, plaintively. Fierce Lord of the World shivered away the question, and the silly Dog who asked it, and went back to cleaning between his claws.

“She and the other apes have all gone,” Fierce Lord told his housemate. “When the blurs came.”

“Play with me!” Best Boy demanded of the Cat. “Come on come on come on!”

Then Best Boy remembered Mummy and whined, and was sad again.

Fierce Lord finished cleaning his claws and regarded Best Boy with contempt, but also a tiny fragment of sympathy. Like kittens, Fierce Lord thought. Dogs were all like kittens, but with none of the likeability. Dogs, he continued his thought, are a silly people. But then he remembered, and noticed that his memory had a new clarity, devoid of the overwhelming instinct-urges. Is this what the apes were like? He asked himself. Is this why they ruled all Prides, controlled all things? And Fierce Lord of the World remembered all the times that Best Boy had come to his defense, no matter the odds or the terrifying monster that had menaced them- even that time when a Mink had come running out of the Big Trees, run out and opened its jaws, ready to do to Cat what was Cat’s holy right to do to all others – to kill, to feed, to cause pain.

Best Boy was part of Fierce Lord’s Pride. A backward, silly, kitten-brained member of the Pride, but he belonged.

Just like the apes had been, Mummy chief amongst them. Giver of food, provider of cuddly warmth each time the Light went away, never striking like a real Queen of a Pride would have. Weak, naturally. It was well known by all Cats, and even lesser beings, how terribly weak in some ways all apes were. Not were. Had been. Natural cynic like all his race, Fierce Lord of the World knew a cold certainty. He knew that Mummy, and most of the apes, were Gone. No more warmth. No more Light. Just- Gone. Like Strongest Lady, Killer of Mice after the Dog from another place tore her. The blurs had come when the Light was away. The time when Cats enjoyed their rulership of the world and shared their stories, took each other, killed and feasted… This time the Cats had hidden, or stayed inside, or run off to the Pig land or the Duck water. And now, when the Light had come back, Fierce Lord could hear other Cats, foolish and silly Dog-like Cats, shaming themselves by calling out for their apes, telling their apes to feed them and in the process giving away their position.

There was an enemy loose in ape-place. Fierce Lord knew it, his whiskers told him strange stories in the sudden new silence. All the vibrations and the deafening row of the apes had ceased. One of their voices still bleated away, but Fierce Lord knew that it was coming from one of their cold boxes, the crackle inside not really alive, just as the little apes who ran around inside the edges weren’t really there to be caught and played with. Some sort of …reflection, the Cat thought with more new clarity. Not real, he struggled through a further thought. No warm blood, no fur, no death-squeals as the Cat proved its superiority and fed.

“We have to find Mummy!” Best Boy told him.

“Be quiet!” Fierce Lord of the World replied in one short low growling mew. “Enemies close, you fool. And don’t bark either. There are no apes to summon now. We are all that is left of the pride.”

“What?!? But what about Mummy! And Daddy! And Pup Who Is First Always?” Best Boy whined quietly to the weird little Dog (Cat) who led his pack. “We have to save our pack! Have to have to have to!”

“Our Pride,” corrected Fierce Lord, “Is broken. We have been smashed by a stronger Pride who have fed upon us and scattered us.”

“I want to be back inside the caves,” Best Boy whined. “I want warm best stink food and I want my blankie and I WANT MUMMY!” The Dog ended with a howl loud enough to make Fierce Lord jump and wince.

“You idiotic kitten!” Fierce Lord yowled back. “You will bring the enemy to us. And then what?”

Best Boy stopped his antics and turned suddenly, facing the ape land, a clutter of their odd rigid cold caves. He had Smelled Something, and now they both did, and the Cat saw it. Then the Dog saw it.

It did not belong. It had no place with apes, or Cat, or Dog. Not even with the Ducks, or the Pigs. No, not even with Swan or Goose. It had no place because it could not be, must not be, real. Nature had no place for it, not even as Food for Food’s Food, lowest of the low, to be fed on only in Worst Times.

It moved, but not on true legs. It had fed, fed on ape and on Dog and even –blasphemy! On Cat. Best Boy and Fierce Lord of the World could both smell it on the thing.

Things. There were others.

“It is hunting. Hunting us,” Best Boy said, not quite any more the perfect fool. “This is bringing me a blood memory. There is a blood memory telling me things. Bad things. We are as Chickens to this enemy. And they do not let you roll over, we are only food to them.”

One of them peeled away from the others that the Cat and Dog could now see. An ape had remained, hidden in its caves. But now one of them had sensed her, found her. Terrible ape screaming then, and the smell of ape blood. A lot of ape blood. And quiet sounds of ape meat being devoured.

“This is the end,” whined Best Boy.

And then they ran.

This sounds like a very neat concept despite kind of going the opposite way my current table is trending in the OSR. Is there any way one could convince you to do a Chris McDowall and give a semi-serious answer to “How OSR is your game?” as defined by the Principia Apocrypha? Obviously this is not the be-all, end-all of what makes a game OSR but there is a good chunk of OSR/Adventure gamers who are more about that sort of playstyle than historical or nostalgia-driven reasons.

EDIT: The price point for the rules was too good to pass up and you seem very passionate so I snagged a copy on dtrpg regardless of your answer. I didn’t want you to feel like you were being asked to dance for your dinner, so to speak.

I am reading the PDF of the Principia and answering as I go, so bear with me.

“The more of the following a campaign
has, the more old school it is:

I took direct inspiration from the earliest role-playing sessions, Braunstein 1968, Braunstein war, Brown Stone (old west), Blackmoor. Some inspiration from the extremely early California sessions. Everyone is influenced heavily by them, as much so as by the OD&D booklets, whether they know so or not.

high lethality,

Yes indeed. Although- not always. Like all those hoary old chestnut anecdotes which are largely correct, sometimes the 2 Health no character class Rabbit will prevail through clever play or luck where the overconfident 14 Health killing machine wades in and is slaughtered.

an open world,

Yes. No map of the “campaign world”. Lots of references to stuff in said world, but nothing that somehow fits it all directly together. A few name changes will make it all neutral for any fantasy world, a little more tinkering and 90% of it is good to go for even a technological setting.

a lack of pre-written plot,

Yes, other than in the sourcebooks and modules where the whole point is to provide story elements.

an emphasis on creative problem solving,

overwhelmingly so.

an exploration-centered reward system (usually XP for treasure),

for magic using characters there will be no real progress at all without finding new books of magic or holy books, for others it is advancement through repetition

a disregard for “encounter balance”

complete disregard. as it should be. these are meant to be story telling days and role-playing games, not wargames or railroading computer games.

, and the use of random tables to generate
world elements that surprise both players
and referees.

So many charts and tables. So, yes.

Also, a strong do-it-yourself attitude and a willingness to share your
work and use the creativity of others in your game.”

Absolutely yes. Also WHITEFRANK is a cooperative story telling game which explicitly says a player tells a story around the table with the help of the other players. But different ways of doing that are all fine, including players playing the enemies, one player handling combat or something else with which they have an affinity and so on. Absolutely NO pope of gaming, edicts from on high, the DM’s word is law type crap.

Everything in WHITEFRANK is based on: roll 12 or more on 3d6. No d20 or other weird dice in case families or groups can’t get them where they live.

There are no primary statistics. There are Attributes. These Attributes add +6 each to rolls and some can stack, some are less likely to. There is sifting from primary statistics to effects, just effects, lots of them. If you want to play a really strong character you make a really strong character. You don’t hope to roll 18 Strength, you give them Muscles, maybe even more than once. Done. Different characters will have different Attributes meaning some characters will pass even very difficult rolls easily and others won’t. None of that affects the player of the character’s own ingenuity. In that respect WHITEFRANK is more like the traditional family and friends games like Monopoly or other board games where the player is at swordpoint much more than the character or the counter on the board.

Skills - more +6 bonuses.

Powers - more +6 bonuses or more complex effect. Completely optional.

Problems - -6 penalties, role-playing opportunities, required for some characters because of their extraordinary nature or the enemies they make. Completely optional.

And that’s it.

Character classes - other than playing a character with no character class (just 6 Attributes, 3 Skills, perhaps powers and problems) the character classes are all designed to simulate something, be it a talking Rabbit, an Elf, a Vampire or a hockey masked serial killer (or video game hero). The character classes make survival more likely because most of them boost the overall “power” of a character. But they are all essentially either a species template / race-as-class or a defining career or vocation that a real person might embrace for some or all of their adult life.

The rest of the game is based almost solely on charts. Random charts, and large charts that list the cost and effect of items, weapons and armor.

Magic is divided into Magic Spells and Prayers. All kinds of magic and for that matter most psionics etc. are also based on the 12 or more roll. Without bonuses, some magical or other paranormal effects will be far too difficult for any one character to achieve.

It is directly specified that rolls can often be cooperative. This means more than one player can make a roll and the rolls are added together. This applies for several characters all pushing a big rock, or for a group searching an area. It also applies for characters all telling another character that they believe in him, or calling a shot out and helping another character aim a missile or Drive a cart. All of that is “cooperative play” and “telling the story”.

Because WHITEFRANK is for families as well as adullts-only, depending on the content, it is important to emphasize positive team building, the strength of cooperation, democracy and freedom of thought. Unleashing people’s imaginations, not having people sit there all day listening to the Pope speak ex cathedra. No thanks.

The strongest departure of WHITEFRANK from the Principia thing you linked me to is the “don’t tell a story”. That’s the opposite of WHITEFRANK which is entirely story driven. Someone thinks of a good horror story on their way to work - they tell it at a session for everyone else. However, with so many charts, random charts for encounters and items found, and the speed of character creation, the actual WHITEFRANK play is a LOT more free wheeling and off the cuff than it sounds. It doesn’t have to be though.

Hope that helps explain it for you, all the best!

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Thanks for the reply! I gave it a read through and it seems solid although it does try to fix some features from my point of view. I’ll keep an eye out for future releases for more to add to my toolbox if nothing else!


First printing first edition has started arriving for people who ordered it the day it was released :slight_smile:

I’ve now completed and released Hawk Castle campaign book and Hillside Thickets campaign book. :slight_smile:

The remaining original series books are WHITEFRANK GODS and WHITEFRANK WAR, both of which are now awaiting feedback from play sessions and updates to what rules (and Gods) actually got the most traffic in play.

I was checking out your website and saw that Whitefrank is available in Target :scream:
I’d be interested in knowing how you managed that? Was it an arduous process?

It just got submitted to all of the big chains. It’s available in a different one as well but they buried it in their online store so until they give it a page I am not announcing it. It wasn’t arduous. Mainly perfecting the layout

Rosanebel hardcover arrived today so it will be showing up for the customers who ordered it on day one soon too :slight_smile: