Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Wow, the amount of anti-grognard/anti-OSR hate I have been encountering on some of the D&D forums lately is staggering. It's like the 4e crowd are afraid we're coming to steal their candy.

Hell some of them (who may or may not be 4e fans) are so touchy that even mentioning the idea that the designers might want to refresh themselves of all the good literature in the famous Appendix N from the 1eDMG sets off a firestorm of protest. Some even suggested that they should instead stick with the more recent couple decades of fantasy literature. Frankly, they should do both.

If you're one of these folks, chill out. Predators can smell fear and you are giving off the scent of a big snack. None of us old farts will be any use fending off the wolves that are coming to devour you. Besides, we don't want to rob you of "your precious".

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I am not anti-4e. It has some good things in it, but it just doesn't suit my personal tastes. Got that? Good.

Now to address some of my fellow old-schoolers in the blogosphere. There are some who do come off seeming to be anti-4e. If you don't like it, fine, but please remember, others do and like I tell them, there is no single correct way to enjoy D&D.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Once Upon a Game Night

I was just browsing some of the blogs, much in the way I channel surf with the TV and happened to see the Monty Haul post over on Underworld Cleaning Service. That got me thinking about an AD&D group from back in my highschool days.

One of the characters in the large group was a ranger that happened to be amassing quite the collection of magic swords. The player couldn't bear to have the character part with any of them so the joke soon began that he would need a caddy with a golf bag following him around.

While that was goofy enough, this character also had a habit of refusing to leave his horse outside the dungeons and went to all sorts of trouble to make sure his horse was able to come with him everywhere he went. The party had to make some excruciating detours to accomidate our sword and horse happy ranger.

That's not the craziest part.

Somewhere during adventuring he managed to get a very powerful magic sword with what most of us considered the ultimate mixed blessing of power. The weapon perpetually projected a 5 foot radius energy field that did 2d6 damage to anything living or undead passing through the barrier. More than one character got zapped at some point when the ranger, astride his horse would suddenly charge past the front line and into the enemy lines of a battle. More than one horse also died during the career of this by now lonely and psychopathic sword fetishist.

Despite a couple dozen other weapons to choose from (or sell), Lone (as he was called) chose to maintain this weapon and torment his horses and adventuring companions.

One notable event happened during the party trip through White Plume Mountain. Anyone that has run or played it likely remembers the disks held by chains over the chasm where scalding steam geysers would randomly erupt. Horses aren't likely to make that trip. Lone dismounted and followed the party. As he stepped away from his beleagered steed, the energy field maxed out slaying the beast.

Crossing the chasm Lone reached the last of the hanging platforms as it swung wildly. He jumped and rolled poorly. The DM ruled he fumbled his sword, but managed to hang onto the nearby ledge by his fingertips, thus saving his life, but losing his treasured weapon of mass annoyance.

The player sent up quite a fuss and despite lots of note passing to the DM from the other players, Lone got to recover the sword from the ledge just below providing the field of nastiness didn't do enhough damage to kill the character or knock him out causing his fall into the boiling mud below. He got it back.

Good thing for Lone that my lawful good gnome illusionist didn't suddenly suffer a change of alignment and stomp his fingers. Oh, the temptation . . .

Friday, February 24, 2012

20 questions of campaign style

These questions are making their way around the OSR blogs and seem like a great idea for helping define some of the campaign feel for the players and curious onlookers.

  1. Ability scores generation method? 3d6 in order, if average of stats is below 11 start over
  2. How are death and dying handled? 0 = unconscious, below that = save vs death
  3. What about raising the dead? expensive, hasn't come up yet
  4. How are replacement PCs handled? roll up, beam in if appropriate, we have plenty of available characters, no need yet to roll new ones
  5. Initiative: individual, group, or something else? individual
  6. Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work? crits double rolled damage, confirmed fumble breaks or damages weapon (1 followed by another 1)
  7. Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet? helmet comes with armor, without a helmet green slime may be instant doom 
  8. Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly? maybe, on a 1 roll to hit nearest friendly in the melee
  9. Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything? you don't have to outrun the dire bear, just outrun your party mates 
  10. Level-draining monsters: yes or no? yes
  11. Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death? yes
  12. How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked? moderately, experimenting currently with the rules from Lamentations of the Flame Princess
  13. What's required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time? not training, new spells have to be found or be with wizard, can level during adventure
  14. What do I get experience for? treasure mostly, monsters a little, other awarded case by case
  15. How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination? combo
  16. Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work? B/X style
  17. How do I identify magic items? house rule on the blog (July 2011 posts)
  18. Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions? if you can find someone willing to part with them 
  19. Can I create magic items? When and how? When you reach high enough level
  20. What about splitting the party? be my guest, mwahahaha
So far the campaign has seen 5 characters roll death saves, 2 failed, 3 succeeded.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Next play session . . .

Our next play session is schedule for March 3rd. Hopefully everyone can make it. Some characters are getting close to advancing a level in the not too distant future.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Remove Curse - de-trollification (updated - troll back)

It is funny interesting (as opposed to funny ha ha) that in the real world things can be somewhat of a reflection of the game world.

For example that troll I mention a couple posts back, seems to have been cured of the polymorph curse and is now positively contributing to the thread over on EN World. Frankly I'm glad to see it. His human ideas are actually pretty good.

That reminds me of things that the bad guys in a campaign can do to make character's lives "interesting'. Curses cast on PC's make for an occasional interesting obstacle to overcome.

Last night I pulled one of the 2e Encyclopedia Magica books (volume 3) down off the shelf for a little bedtime reading. I was reading the section on potions and spotted one that was originally published in issue 65 of the polyhedron Newszine that lends itself to a rather nasty thing villains can do to characters that have been mucking up their operations.

It isn't so much a curse as it is a heavy duty bit of magic in liquid form. In fact Remove Curse won't fix it. Only a wish can reverse it. It is a Potion of Clay. It changes the drinker into sculptable clay and when the duration expires any changes become permanent.

Imagine a PC is captured by some crime syndicate they've been annoying. Instead of killing or ransoming off the PC, the crime boss decides to hire a very talented sculptor to remake the character to look like what they believe he or she looks like and then set the victim loose for the other characters to go after. To help keep the transformed PC from explaining what happened, they curse him with loss of speech or a curse that forces the character lie whenever trying to discuss the topic.

That would provide a two layered obstacle. The actual curse could be cured the normal way once the player characters figured out what happened, but then it gets difficult and/or expensive to reverse the physical transformation.

This goes in my save file for the time I get back to running Ptolus.

Update: despite a grand effort, the troll went back to his churlish behavior and is now permanently on my ignore list.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Random Encounter Tables and 1e

I rediscovered something useful when browsing my old 1st edition Monster Manual 2 recently.

Beginning on page 139 there is a set of instructions with examples on how to create random encounter tables tailored to your own dungeons. I had never really paid much attention to it all those years ago as I was disappointed with the book and rarely cracked it open. Meanwhile I was busy giving the first Monster Manual and the Fiend Folio a thorough working over. Their covers show the comparative level of use quite clearly. Having rediscovered this gem of a useful tool I have been spending a little time hunting for other previously overlooked things in the 1st edition books.

What if anything have you discovered or rediscovered in the old books?

Monday, February 20, 2012

One-Wayism - aka AssHat the Troll

I spend a fair amount of time reading the threads over on the EN World forums, and sometimes participate. Sometimes meaning very rarely. Since going there before it became EN World, while it was still Eric Noah's Unofficial 3rd Edition News over 12 years ago,  I have barely broken 400 known posts/replies (likely at least 100 higher with some lost in server updates).

Recently I joined a discussion which had great promise to be interesting and fun. That did not turn out to be the direction it would take due to everyone's favorite internet monster . . . the troll.

Trolls in the game are a known hazard, very dangerous and almost fearless. Internet forum trolls share similar traits to their D&D namesake. They are difficult to defeat, they seamingly regenerate to keep posting annoying bullshit that twists the course of the discussion into a horrifying mockery of intent. They are afflicted with an incredible delusion leading them to a fanatic support of One-Wayism.

One major difference between the ones in the monster manual and the forum trolls is that the book trolls loathe flames. The forum trolls are driven to incite flames in the hopes of burning down everyone's enjoyment.

Don't let this disuade you from signing up over at EN World, the place typically is one of the less infested places to discuss the hobby, and most of those participating are genuinely friendly and welcoming.

Getting back to the topic, the current random encounter with forum trolls has informed me of the following:

That any DM using random charts/tables is a poor DM.

That any DM using random charts/tables is Lazy.

That any DM using random charts/tables lacks creativity no matter what they do with the results.

That Any DM that does things any different from the way the trolls do is doing it wrong. There is only one way.

Etc, etc, etc.

If any of you reading this feel as I do, that this is an insult, join the fray. Here is the thread wherein trolls are multiplying and need to be driven off.

Be Warned: these trolls do not appear to be affected by the searing heat of logic or politeness. These don't even back off when you call their nonsense out. Your weapons may not include profanity, politics, religion, or extreme personal insults. The forum operates on the "Grandma Rule" which is, don't say anything that might offend Eric's Grandma.

So that you know what these trolls look like here is a close approximation:

For only the second time in the 12 years as a member there have I added someone to the ignore feature. He can argue with his own farts for all I care.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Lost Baronies of Lendore Isle - session 11

When last we left the Company of the Bloody Boots, they had cleared the undercroft of the ruins and recovered a small fortune in silver coins and silver objects. Being tired and wanting to get their hard earned loot safely away, they returned to town.

On the way they decided to reward the farmer they had been staying with for his kindness. They took the time to show him some of the treasure items and described the "mole men" they had defeated. Just when he was suitably in awe from their story they handed over a small purse containing 150 silver pieces.

As he had business in town he accompanied them to the Inn & Tavern. While they arranged rooms and stabling for their donkeys, the farmer began sharing their tale and buying a round of drinks with his new found bounty of silver. It didn't take long before a crowd was asking to see the goblets, candelabras, and other items, and to hear more about the mole men battle.

While some of the party tended to securing the goods in their room (they had paid to have the upper common room for themselves), a few led by Miera, visited what passed for a town constable to see if there were any reports of thefts that the items might be tied to. Fortune smiled and being honest he informed them that, no, it was unlikely anyone here could afford such niceties and nothing had been reported missing.

The festivities in the tavern continued till a couple hours after nightfall, something that had not been the practice in Troll Pass for many decades out of fear of night creatures.

After a couple days of rest and healing it was decided that they would return to investigate what was up the large spiral staircase. Approaching the ruins they decided that two of the familiars should scout and give impressions of any possible dangers. Sparkle, the crow sized Blue Jay flew above the upper grounds while Darwin was sent slinking in his lizardly way down to the cave entrance. Neither noticed any immediate threats so the party approached the cave.

There was a distinct smell of death eminating from the way into the undercroft and the group realized it was probably a mistake on their part to leave the bodies laying scattered about and not disposing of them somewhere outside. Holding their noses they advanced cautiously back into the gloom. Rotting stirges, decaying snakes, and two dozen Morlock corpses can create one hell of a smell.

Aware of the possibility that scavengers might be present, they pushed their way into the vast undercroft. A buzzing sound like that of an annoying housefly could be heard, much louder than simple houseflys make. Annoyed at their interrupted feast, three carnivorous flies, beasts the size of large house cats with wings, darted toward the intruders, trying to nip at them and drive them out.

The fight was quick. The flys were outmatched and failed to bite anyone before being rapidly dispatched. The party made a quick check for more scavengers before pulling together the morlock bodies into a pile, and returning to their intended search.

Beyond the stairway lay several rooms arranged along a hallway. Two of the rooms were empty, two had floors covered with filthy straw and grass, most likely where the large group of morlocks slept. Another room was piled with detritus to a depth of mid shin or above for most of them.

Finding nothing of immediate value Seamus went up another narrower spiral staircase to discover it led up to the surface. Glancing quickly about he realized where it let out was just beyond the mausoleums with the Devil and Angel statues facing one another. He rejoined the party and they turned to head back down below.

Stealthily ascending the stairs were three gnolls, weapons at the ready, prepared to ambush any of the group they cuold catch off guard. Catch the party off guard they did. Well, most of them. (The surprise rolls went bad for the party.) Charging into the midst of the group from a short 10 feet away the big beast men laid about with weapons. Rowenna was cut down in an instant.

At first response was limited, but a moment later and the Bloody Boots had regrouped and retaliated. Luck was with them and the beast men soon lay slain at their feet. Tending to Rowenna, Pedro prayed for a healing miracle. His diety heard and Rowenna was healed, pulled from the jaws of death by a narrow margin. (Yet a third character makes a death save to survive negative hit points!)

That decided matters. Rowenna would need to be carried back to safety to recover for a number of days. Gathering themselves, they continued down the stairs and on their way out, lit the pile of dead morlocks on fire. (Gee, I wonder why they forgot to pull the big hairy gnolls down and fry them as well?)

Back in town they set things up for Rowenna to be cared for and set about preparing for another trip into the ruins. She would remain behind recuperating from her experience.

During the first couple of days in town they arranged to have a large strongbox manufactured so they could haul around their treasures without them laying loose in the cart. They also rented some pick, maul, and shovel from the locals, who wouldn't sell because it takes time to get new ones brought in.

Gathering the tools, the group, without Rowenna, returned to the undercroft  intent on breaking through the bricked up archway where the silver coins and items had been piled. They were undisturbed during their short trip and paid no mind to the smell of burnt morlock and decaying gnoll that greeted them on arrival.

Setting to work on breaking through the blocked passage, they hammered some spikes into points the dwarves felt sure would give them an easier task and then set to work with pick and mall. Stopping periodically to shovel away broken brick shards, it was only an hour before they could access the chamber beyond. Despite all the noise, nothing bothered them as they worked.

On the other side was a large bedroom with old furnishing. Within sat tables, chairs, a rooltop desk, a bookshelf, long ago all emptied of belongings, and a large canopy bed with what in the dim light appeared to be a single figure beneath the covers.

Setting watches, they began a detailed search of the room, first checking the occupant of the bed. The figure was mostly bones and had a good sized wooden stake wedged between two ribs. Their examinations only turned up a single coin, a copper piece wedged into the southern wall of the room. Seamus soon pointed out the outline and mechanism of a secret door.

Before they could set to work opening the door, the dwarves whispered that they heard some voices and noticed torchlight coming from the far end of the main room. Listening quietly the party could hear what was obviously some sight seeing locals checking out the scene of battle and the pile of smouldering morlocks.

Tok decided to have a little fun and worked the sheet loose from the bed without displacing the skeleton by much. As the farmers approached the archway closer he pulled it over his head and lept from behind the silent dwarves screaming "Ooogitty boogitty woogitty!" much to the discomfort of two of the farmers.

One was startled off his feet, planting his buttocks hard on the stone floor. Another vacated his bladder and ran screaming for the exit, while the third, the farmer they had rewarded, laughed hard at the antics of his silly companions. "I told you guys it was them." A short chat latter and the tourists went back to their farms.

Exploring the two rooms hidden by the secret door, the found what were apparently the splintered remains of some crates and barrels and a basin through which a natural spring had been channeled to flow. Nothing else of value was found.

They again returned to town to witness more merriment by the locals, some of it at the expense of "Glen, set to running and didn't stop till he got back to town!" Tok bought the sullen man a large ale by way of an aopology and the party went up to bed and to check on Rowenna.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lost Kitty Coming Home Soon - PCs Beware!

I got news yesterday that Fluffy the missing Manticore is one the way home.

Ok, actually I went on Ebay and managed to locate a Buy It Now deal that wasn't too outrageous of a price and ordered the miniature. Yesterday the shipping notice hit my email saying it should arrive in 2 to 5 business days.

So now I can plunk down a Manticore mini to torment my Player's characters with if I so choose.

And speaking of lost minis . . . I was putting some things away and managed to misplace the minis for the PCs. I have no idea what I did with them. Time to reorganise all of my minis.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Missing Pet - Manticore

I bought a case of the Pathfinder Battles miniatures since prepainted miniatures are a weakness of mine, in the hopes of getting all 40 pieces from the set. No such luck.

Here is why I ended up missing one of the figures. The place I bought them from did not leave the cases sealed, instead they unboxed the bricks and stacked those on shelves and when filling orders they pulled 4 random bricks to make up a case. That is a mentally deficient way of doing things.

Fortunately it is only 1 of the set that I am missing, but did it really have to be the Manticore? When I was buying cases of WotC minis (which had horrible collation) I also kept missing out on the Manticore. Am I to remain bereft of Manticores? Are my players to not know the horror of being perforated by the tail spikes of this ignoble beast?

Were I to purchase that single figure from the Paizo webstore it would cost me $20 plus shipping. That is absolutely nuts, especially considering how much I already paid for a case, and I still don't have the dragon I paid for either, but hope to have that soon.

The rest of the set seems to be a good mix, and while I like having 4 dire rats, I really did not need four of Carrot Top's angry Mini-Me figure (Gnome Fighter). And what the hell do I need 3 of Seelah for?

Fortunatley I did not suffer the problem with unbased figures that was apparently a common enough happenstance to get a lot of mentions in reviews of the figures.

As to the figures themselves, I think they did a great job with detail and painting compared to some of the WotC sets. They should have cut back on the cartoony nature of a couple of the sculpts though.

CoughTrollCough. The Ogre looks crappy as well.

My only other criticism is about the packaging. Way too much waste material. Correcting that problem would save everyone money and reduce the environmental footprint a bit. Every little bit helps.

When I was on the Paizo site earlier I noticed there will be a small set of repaints (Champions of Evil?) that includes the Cleric, Succubus, Gargoyle, and Zombie, multiples of the figures. The Gargoyle which I consider one of the best in the set is going to be a nifty demonic red. From the picture on the site, it looks very cool. The sculpt makes it a nice dual purpose figure and the repaint shows that off well.

I am looking forward to seeing the upcoming Rise of the Runelords figure set.

Meanwhile if anyone has seen Fluffy, please direct him home. The other figures of the set miss him dearly.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Slacking Off

I somehow need to get my energy and interest levels up when it comes to doing some blogging. I owe it to myself. There were some grand ideas I had for posts and they are still on the to-do list.

At least session 11 is on schedule for playing tomorrow. That will give me more material on top of the backlog of other stuff.

The recent announcement of 5e has my mind working through some stuff and I have been spending some time on EN World discussing these things. It will be interesting to see how the open playtest works, especially with the wealth of great and some not-so-great ideas that are all over the internet.