Monday, January 23, 2012

Odds and Ends

We postponed session 11 due to me being a tad under the weather with a very sore throat, and the real weather leaving some slippery spots on roads and parking areas.

At least one astrophysicist believes that the universe is a gigantic 12 sider. Wasn't it Einstein that said "God does not play dice with the universe." Hmmmm . . . maybe God is a gamer and Einstein failed his skill check.

Wizards of the Coast will be releasing hardbound limited edition reprints of the 1st edition Players Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide, and the Monster Manual in April, just in time for tax returns. Part of the proceeds go to the Gygax Memorial Fund.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Company of the Bloody Boots - as of early January 2012

The adventuring group in the Lost Baronies of Lendore Isle campaign picked up the nickname in the title during play. Here are their stats and some basic info:

Elanna - female elf, 1st level, 7 hit points, str 10, dex 13, con 14, int 12, wis 12, chr 14

Pedro - male human cleric, 1st level, 8 hit points, str 11, dex 9, con 16, int 10, wis 16, chr 9

Seamus - male human thief, 1st level, 7 hit points, str 11, dex 14, con 14, int 13, wis 7, chr 9

Miera Taloma - female human fighter, 1st level, hit points 9, str 13, dex 9, con 13, int 12, wis 7, chr 14

Rowena - female human wizard, 1st level, hit points 5, str 8, dex 10, con 15, int 13, wis 11, chr 10

Tok - male halfling, 1st level, hit points 9, str 13, dex 18, con 18, int 6, wis 5, chr 11

Valen - male elf, 1st level, hit points 6, str 16, dex, 18, con 9, int 13, wis 9, chr 10

Thorgrim - male dwarf, 1st level, hit points 9, str 16, dex 13, con 14, int 9, wis 11, chr 12

Fred Stone - male dwarf, 1st level, hit points 8, str 12, dex 8, con 11, int 13, wis 13, chr 9

There were two others that have been slain in battle in the course of adventuring, oddly both to the same group of enemies. At the bandit lair Samson the cleric caught an arrow to the throat dying instantly and then in the barn these same orcs and Samson, now all zombies, managed to kill Aiden the elf.

Samson - Deceased                                           Aiden - Deceased

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lost Baronies of Lendore Isle - session 10

We managed to get in a short session that was almost all combat. When we left off last time (a month ago) the party had walked into a colony of Morlocks.

The party had made it about half the way along one wall when the extinguishing of their thrown torches by pale, red-eyed humanoids made it obvious they might be in trouble.

Seamus began easing his way further Eastward hoping to get a better angle to see how many potential enemies they might be dealing with. During that time, various party members repeated in numerous languages "We come in peace", as they began putting away their weapons.

A gutteral response came from the Northern section and echoed a bit. "Leave dwarves, rest can go." The party found this unacceptable despite Fred and Thorgrim reclaiming their weapons and muttering something about "giving them some dwarf alright".

It was at this point that noises to their West, in the direction they had come made it clear they were about to be surrounded and cut off from the only certain exit they were aware of. They began backing to the wall and grouping up defensively while Rowenna stuck her torch into a stone sconce built as part of the wall, freeing her hands for spellcasting.

The fight was on.

The sound of a lever being moved and a portcullis beginning to decend made action imperative. Miera and Elanna rushed toward the lever, meeting oncoming humanoids and seeing more maneuvering toward the flank. To the North/center and East more movement could be heard and now the dwarves could make out what the company was facing. "Morlocks, damn!"

With help, Miera managed to take a larger brute between her and the lever. As the battle went on his corpse was dragged back into the darkness by two smaller, thinner Morlocks.

Seamus who had taken the ill-advised action of separating from the group now found himself surrounded and in a darker area than his companions. Fortunately Thorgim rushed to his aid when the scream of a wounded Seamus echoed loudly throughout the shadowy undercroft.

The battle went on for minutes. As Morlocks fell to the weapons and spells of the Bloody Boots, more seemed to keep coming from everywhere. Control of the portcullis control continued to shift as they inched their way closer to the exit. Most of the company were exhausted, bruised, or suffering minor wounds and all of them prayed they could get out or drive off their attackers, thankful that their original fear of vampires was just paranoia.

In what proved to be a brilliant tactical decision, the party broke and ignited flasks of oil on their East (right-hand) flank, backing away and delaying the attackers on their right. This bought them the time to get control of the portcullis control and open the gate.

Feeling they were close to being overwhelmed the party performed a combative, but organized withdraw using more oil for another flaming defense and one by one slipping the worst wounded out under the rising gate.

This second wall of fire proved to be of even greater benefit as two of the blood-maddened degenerate humanoids tried to rush through the flames only to be stopped within the fire and slain. The few remaining attackers tried to press, but were cut down by arrows and sling stones.

The Company of the Bloody Boots filed cautiously back into the undercroft, watching closely for hidden enemies. Finding none they set about putting more torches up in other sconces and searching the great room. In all 24 morlock bodies were found.

Also discovered during their search was a section of wall that apeared to be a bricked up archway with the brickwork being old, but obviously newer than the original construction. Lying at the foot of this former archway was a pile of thousands of silver coins along with an inventory of silver objects: Silver tray, tea set, 2 goblets, 4 candle sticks, a dirty silvered mirror, silver utensils, a silver necklace, and a silver hairpin.

Taking advantage of some time to rest and count coins they discovered the pile was 6,000 silver pieces plus the various objects.

The party spellcasters had not prepared any sleep spells so this fight came down to the wire. While the Morlocks made all of their morale checks, their attack rolls were poor otherwise instead of taking a few characters down to 1 hit point each and wounding most of the rest, there was a good chance for some casualties.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Eyes of the Demon Idol - real world version, yes, for real

The link is to a CNN video about a 25 pound cut emerald (meaning it was bigger before being cut and polished). It has been appraised at about 1.15 million dollars value and is going on the auction block very soon. The starting bid was set at half a million dollars and even before bidding officially opens, two people are offering 1 million for the gigantic gem. One bidder is a private collector from Houston, Texas. The other is from Dubai. It is easy to see how something like this easily fits into our games.
The emerald in the video is pretty close to the size of the ruby eye the thieves are trying to prise free of the demon idol from the 1st edition Players Handbook. For that kind of profit I might risk a fight with some lizardmen too! The tavern tales alone would be great fun. "twas a great green emerald, big as a halflings torso an bigger than yer head!"

Says the dwarf to the others "This is why we dig."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

D&D - Thoughts on system elements. Hit Points.

With the recent announcement that Wizards of the Coast is working on a new edition of D&D that they hope can bring people of all editions to the table, my gaming friends and I have started discussing various elements and subsystems within D&D. Hopefully readers here will chime in on this as well.

Among the  discussion on the WotC forum dedicated to the next edition has been a little talk about hit points. Opinion is as varied as the number of editions of D&D which is quite a lot.

Some suggest doing away with hit points and using a different system of some sort. Some suggest that 4th edition with a more balanced amount of hitpoints across the classes and no rolling for increases is the best approach. Others like the varied types of hit dice across classes and the random rolls. All of this still leads to a discussion, an old topic for decades, about what hit points represent.

Here's my take on that question and why I like the varied and random nature of hit dice and hit points.

Hit points are not just a character's health. To understand why the classes have differences think about what goes into determining a character's hit points.

Physical Sturdiness - Yes, here Constitution/Health plays a role and this will vary somewhat between characters as it does between everyday people. Over time it can even be augmented or degraded by, events, aging, and magic.

Training - A fighter spends a great amount of his time being trained to roll with blows, maneuver, dodge and parry, wear various armor, use various weapons, and other techniques for surviving and winning in deadly combat. By contrast a wizard spends a like amount of time learning the ways of magic. He doesn't learn as much about physical combat and thus might not know how to avoid an attack that would kill him. When a character is losing hit points, they aren't losing chunks of themself (with minor exception, bruising, minor cuts and scratches) or having vital organs pieced or squashed.

Luck and Determination - Sometimes it is just luck that an attack missed a vital area. Maybe some people have more force of will to fight through the pain and discomfort of injury and exhaustion.

Talent - Some people just have a natural knack for things. In this case it is a knack for something useful that helps survive combat.

The groups I currently play with use a house rule granting maximum points for the type of die that the class would roll at first level, then add or subtract the Contitution derived modifier. All points gained when leveling are random plus or minus the Con modifier. It seems to work for us and is a house rule that is almost as old as D&D itself, having spread from group to group and been spontaneously arrived at across groups decades ago.

So looking at this as a question of how do we make this more apealing across editions, what could be done to merge methods without badly hurting the feelings of a given person or group? Share your thoughts. You may have an idea that would appeal across editions.

Here's an example out of thin air to get things started.

All characters begin with 5 hitpoints modified by a racial modifier of from +2 to -2, then modified by Constitution modifier, and then you roll the class hit die to get the toal starting hit points. All increases beyond first level are random class die modified by Con. Therefore if the character had a Con granting plus 4 points and was of a race granting plus two points then the minimum starting points would be 12 and could range quite higher depending on the die type fighters use.

Frankly I'm not fond of the example since it breaks the keep it simple mantra, but it serves as a conversation starter.

Have at it!

Monday, January 9, 2012

It's official.

Yep, you probably already know that today Wizards of the Coast announced that they have been working on 5th edition or whatever they might call it (it doesn't have an official name yet). They will be doing some playtests at the con known as D&D Experience on the last weekend of this month and opening up playtesting to a much wider audience in the spring.

Go to the Wizards of the Coast website and read the details. It sounds like some of what we OSR types have been on about for a while now may have a place at the table come the release of the new edition.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Lost Baronies of Lendore Isle - session 9 part 2

The party pushed their way into the cramped cave opening with a single torch for light. The roughly 15' by 10' area opened vertically much higher and at angles to the ground level of the cave. A passage continued further back.

The noise and sudden torchlight disturbed a nest of stirges that had been napping high up in the twisty ceiling and they dove in waves upon the companions. There were 10 in total and although they scored some hits, latching onto various people, the party quickly dealt with the threat.

In the scuffle Miera had kicked aside a small humanoid skull and Pedro stepped right where the skull had been, pressing a tiny bag down into the soft loam covering the cave floor. He checked what he had stepped on to discover two gems.

Moving down the extended passage they went left for about fifty feet at a slight downward angle and found a worked stone archway leading into a 15' by 15' room cluttered with bits of broken furniture and droppings from some kind of animal or humanoid. As they worked their way to the opposite archway 5 spitting cobras began an attack. Four of them spit, trying to blind the closest people, all missing, but Thorgrims ill luck continued as one he had stepped over sank fangs through his boot. Again the party rapidly dealt with the deadly adversaries.

Beneath the remains of an old chair was a slightly ripped sack spilling out a handful of silver coins. Pulling it out and performing a rough count they estimated about 700 pieces were there. Splitting it roughly among them for ease of carrying they continued into the vast dark chamber beyond.

The burning sensation in Thorgrim's calf had eased to a mild warmness by the time they finished counting the coins and he confidently shrugged off the venomous snake bite.

At the edge of their torchlight they spied what appeared to be a 4' tall lever jutting from the floor of this larger chamber. Tok crept out to take a better look, dragging a line of rope with him as he went. Having confirmed that it was indeed a lever he quietly asked his companions to look overhead at the entrance archway for signs of a portcullis and they confirmed his observation. Wrapping the rope around a nearby pillar and tying it to the lever he began creating a make-shift block and takle so they could open or close the portcullis by pulling on the rope in different directions.

The group than began their exploration of the undercroft chamber. There were pillars roughly every 20 feet and the ceilings between them were vaulted to a height of 15 feet. Judging by the darkness beyond their torchlight and the echoing of their footfalls, the room must be gigantic.

Slowly they moved along the righthand side of the room passing 3 or 4 more pillars. Pausing and sheilding the light of their torches to reduce interference, they let the two dwarves peer into the darkness for as far as they could see. This yeilded little information except to confirm the enormity of the room. The darkness stretched beyond even their vision.

Lighting three torches, Tok then made running throws to get the torches as far out from the group into the darkness ahead and to the left as he could. This elicited a rapid response. Pale skinned, red eyed humanoids darted out from hiding to extinguish the torches, plunging those areas back into darkness.

That is where the session left off. Next session is tomorrow!
Will the intrepid adventurers be eaten by hungry monsters? Will they discover great treasures? To find out these answers and more, tune in next time, same unspecified time, same silly blog!