Friday, March 30, 2012

. . . and a new DM awakens.

The weekly group hosted by Bighara and participated in by the other Faster Monkey Games folks along with a bunch of us other gaming hoodlums got a treat last night. Shelly, the editor among the Monkeys ran her very first session as a DM. There is more to go so if you know what adventure she is running please do not spoil it in the comments.

The party began at a tavern listening to tall tales of some old fellow over a few ales. He told of a prison the next county over that was run by a mad Earl who would sometimes put prisoners into a "hole" with a key at the bottom. If they could get the key and make it back to the door, they would be freed. And of couse there was a guardian with great rubies for eyes.

After a few too many pints, the group of greedy naer'do'wells decided to march over and make our fortunes. Aberdeen, a fighter; Sparlky Dude (?), an elf; Lobo, a fighter; and Brother Tippleton, a cleric; easily found the place and got trapped inside.

There was a hallway with numerous doors other than the one we entered, which would of course no longer open without the key. We set about checking the rooms after reading magical inscriptions hinting that chutes would take us downward and ladders would bring us up.

Some of the rooms were empty while others held snakes and some with snakes had holes within which were ladders. Lobo, one of our not too bright fighters tried climbing down a ladder, after my very wise cleric Brother Tippleton suggested maybe the Earl's wicked sense of humor made it better to go backwards through the puzzle dungeon.

As Lobo was decending the ladder, the top five rungs transformed into snakes and they with Lobo, fell 30 feet to the packed earth floor below. Lobo luckily broke his fall on top of 4 of the snakes, killing them outright. He then fought and slew the last one, but not before it bit him.

Before entering the dungeon, Lobo had traded his magic sword to a farmer for a pair of "lucky pants and lucky boots". While they did nothing for him this time, in a later altercation with more snakes, the pants would prove to be of some worth. Fortunately he did have a neutralise poison potion of questionable efficacy he bought on the cheap from a local "alchemist" as well.

The party investigated the room below and behind another door encountered a nest of many spiders.

Tossing oil and a torch in there and closing the door the party decided to go back up the rope and look for another way to the key and the treasure rumored to await below.

Encountering more snakes, the party broke out weapons and went to war with the venomous reptiles.
Brother Tippleton got to work with his mace +1, mostly missing while his companions took care of the pests. This continued to be a theme throughout the session.

Gradually the group worked their way to a room with a chute and dove into it to rapidly avoiding more spiders and snakes. Below we opened another door behind which was a room with rats.

Uh, no.
That's more like it.
In another nearby couple of rooms were more snakes. We arranged a meeting of the two groups and they had a mutual hate fest.

That is where the session ended for the night with the party bedding down in another room.

Hopefully the end boss of the dungeon is not a much more dangerous snake.
And hopefully the treasure is something we can spend.
All together, I think for a first timer Shelly did a great job behind the screen tormenting we bunch of goons. I'm looking forward to part two of this dungeon.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

More on the Druid part 1

Question: Why not just port the Druid class over from the AEC?

I thought about it, and decided to make it my own as a creative exercise and because I want to impart a slightly different flavor to the class.

Some spells will make the jump of course. Of the first level spells here are some thoughts.

Entangle seems to be a favorite for most players because of the power it has to stop large numbers of enemies or powerful enemies from moving and as a first level spell it is amazingly potent. I considered bumping it to second level since the wizard elf equivalent Web is a second level spell. After reviewing I decided to leave it as is and to have it make the jump since it is limited to when/where it works.

One of the things about Entangle that crossed my mind is how would you rule on it in desert environments or on/in aquatic environments? It could be done, but you would definitely want to make the player work out the details so that they made some sense and had the right flavor. As written it appears to require verdant plantlife to function. Would you create variant spells for the other environments?

It would be nice to have some feedback from readers on what to do about Entangle and why.

Faerie Fire looks like a good candidate for the jump. It is flavorful and helpful without being overpowered.

Animal Companion, like Find Familiar, can lead to abuses unless the players are willing to police themselves by sticking to the intent of the spell and not selling out to the abusive potential. I might bump this one to second level or make it a class ability with limitations. Nothing is decided for it yet.

Detect Snares & Pits is simple in design and intent. This one makes the jump.

Inisibility to Animals could be an interesting spell to use at the right times though I wonder if it should be bumped to second level. More thought required on this one.

Pass Without Trace is a spell I have never seen a player select, but the potential for what can be done with it is interesting to ponder. Also, since a simple detect magic spell could be used to determine that "something magic happened here" and allow for being followed anyway, it isn't in the easy to abuse category.

Purify Water makes the jump. It is a no brainer.

Shillelagh, I was on the fence about this before rereading it. I had considered creating a replacement spell, but I've come to appreciate the useulness and flavor of the spell. It jumps.

Speak With Animals, the character is a druid after-all.  :)

It looks like the number of new spells I need to invent for level one will be very few.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

By The Dragon's Fire Be Thee Roasted!

I want this grill.

Go And Change Your Armor

Just a quick bit of information for those who get things a tad mixed up when talking about types of armor.

This is a Brigantine, a type of sailing vessel:
This is Brigandine, a type of armor, also sometimes called jack.
If you manage to mix the two up it just goes to show you don't know jack!

I keep seeing armor discussions on various forums and find myself wondering why anyone would try to wear a ship.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Thoughts on Class - Paladin

As stated in the previous post, I am working on trying to create the Druid and Bard classes for use in Labyrinth Lord basic. A friend asked me why not the Paladin?

I've always been bothered by the Paladin class. It seems to me a redundancy. We already have the heavily armored and armed Cleric which can easily be said to represent the militant arm of a church. The religious orders of knighthood, sent out to protect the flock with force of arms when prayer alone just doesn't do it.

Why not make Paladin a title bestowed upon the leaders of the armed and armored church troops in the field instead of a class?

When most people think of priests they seldom think of them armored like knights and going about bashing heads. Instead they see them as either robed monks (monks are another class I take issue with) or wearing holy raiment and being mostly tied to a given location giving sermons a couple days a week or involved in the Machiavellian internal church politics.

One of the things currently being discussed for D&DNext is the possible split of the Cleric into two classes, the Cleric as the armored version and the Priest a more spell focused version. That still leaves us with the redundancy of the Paladin. We will see which way they go with that, however I have no plan to try to wedge the Paladin class into my LL basic campaign.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

LL - B/X Druid Class (work in progress)

For a little while now I have been pondering how to introduce other classes into Labyrinth Lord. Among those on my to-do list are the Druid and the Bard. Here then is the beginnings of what might become the Druid class. Note: I have only just started creating spells for the class and will definitely be porting over some of the standard Cleric spells to reduce the workload.

Requirements: None
Prime Requisite: WIS
Hit Dice: 1d6
Maximum Level: None

Spells per day: as Cleric
XP progression: as Cleric
Saves: as Cleric
Combat table: as Cleric

Class Abilities and Limitations:
Druids can not wear armor of metal. They can use any weapon, preferring lighter ones, especially those made of wood.

During periods of rest (1 turn or longer), the Druid can apply a poultice to anyone (1 person/turn) with reduced hit points. This helps reduce pain and fatigue providing 1d3+1 hit points. Individuals can only be treated this way once per day.

Curing Disease:
Individuals resting for 24 hours under the care of a Druid and imbibing the herbal remedies prepared for them may make another saving throw at +2. Success cures the disease if it is of natural origins. Curses such as Mummy Rot and Lycanthropy require other means to remove.

Please feel free to chime in on the ideas here and offer suggestions for ther arrangements that might help this class become playable. As more spells come to mind I will be posting them with the note (nature) beside the name.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

New Spell - Trail of Thorns (cleric - nature)

Trail of Thorns

Level: 1
Duration: 1 turn
Range: 100 feet

The priest scatters a few thorns while reciting the prayer causing an area 10 feet wide by 10 feet long (plus 5 feet per level) to become painful to travel upon. Creatures that move on the affected area are struck with intense pains in their feet and legs reducing their movement by half for the remaining spell duration. Save vs Pertrify/Paralyze to ignore the effects.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Failing An Open Locks Roll

I very recently had the opportunity to watch a professional locksmith attempt to open a common door lock with internal workings that had been worn over time and daily use. I learned something interesting. Even the professionals can run into obstacles that prevent their basic tools from doing the job.

This fellow had a basic set of picks that could easily be carried in a pocket, boot, or fold of a cloak.
His attempts were thwarted by the erosion of the tumblers and other parts inside the cylinder. After about 10 minutes of trying the methods available with the tools at hand he resorted to the next best option.

He brought in a heavy duty hand drill and bored into the cylinder until a hammer and screwdriver would let him pop the mechanism free.

So the next time a player complains that their thief character should be able to just walk up to any common lock and easily defeat the challenge, remember, it isn't always as easy as it appears.

Fortunately for the locksmith I was observing, he had a van full of different tools available. It is unlikely an adventuring sort will have a wagon devoted to carrying tools for opening locks. That's what the brutes with heavy armor are for.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Another schedule change for Lost Baronies.

I just received an email from one of my two remaining players explaining that the next scheduled session conflicts with a scheduled family day at the circus. Our next session has now been postponed until April 21st.

Family fun time is always a cool thing. It is good to do things together. However, why would you want to terrify your offspring by putting them within close proximity to clowns? Those things are dangerous!
Number appearing: 2d4 (+ 6d4 with clown wagon)
Alignment: pure evil
Movement: 120 (40)
AC: 5
Hit Dice: 3+3 to 9+9
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d6 plus poison
Save As: Fighter 4 through 10
Morale: 12 (they may temporarily run away to later stalk and toy with prey)
Hoard class: IV
XP: 100 to 1,700

Clowns are anything but friendly and funny. They are terrifying and deadly humanoids with a cruel streak wider than a dragon's wingspan.

A person bit by one must save versus poison at -3 or be permanently cursed with dreadful nightmares that only a wish can remove. A clown once bit my sister.

They are easy to locate if you wish to risk life and limb. Just attend a circus. In some cultures it is accepted practice to risk one's entire family by putting them in danger of being overwhelmed by a clown horde. This is typically done by whole villages, sometimes several villages at once, to reduce individual risk while making a spectacle of the horrific event.

Clown treasure is always trapped. Spring Snakes (3 attacks vs AC for 1d4 damage each) , Liquid projecting flowers (acid spray, save vs paralysis or take 1d6 damage).

The red nose of a clown, if undamaged when removed, can be sold to alchemists for making the ink used for scrolls of the Fear spell.

Lone clowns have been known to show up seemingly at random, at children's birthday parties. The results are never pretty. The most maladjusted adults were often present for something like this in their early childhood.

GaryCon - Wish I Could Go

Conventions seem to escape me these days. It always seems that I either lack the spending money to cover costs when I have the time, or I have the money, but not the time. In this case I could easily take this Friday and next Monday off, but with some big expenditures on the near horizon I dare not commit the money.

It makes me wonder if this is why some folks start their own mini-cons. I and a former roommate of mine used to do just that.

We would plan way ahead and hold a game day at our place, and later the place of his wife's mom who is all kinds of cool for letting us use her house. We would send out open invites and the turnouts were actually pretty impressive. The very first one had 40+ people all day long in our decent sized appartment. Frankly, while these game days are fun, they are also a logistics headache and since people don't always RSVP, your turnout can vary wildly.

I definitely could use a vacation so maybe I can look for something local within budget.

Next year though I hope the stars align so I can make the trip to GaryCon.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mistakes DMs Make

Being a Dungeon Master can be great, rewarding fun. If it were not so then I doubt I would still be DMing 30 years into the hobby of RPGs. But that 30 years does not make me immune from making mistakes or from handling situations in a suboptimal way.

Take for example session 2 of the current campaign. While there are many things about that session I am proud of, there is one thing that sticks out to me after rereading the blog post, that could have and should have been handled better.

The mistake was in handling the introduction of the three new players and their characters into the game. These players are tacticians by nature and not as fond of exploring the social side of adventuring. Give them an enemy to pound into the dirt over talking to towns people any day.

Where I could have made their introduction and the session much more entertaining for them is at the very beginning. What would have been a lot more fun would have been to have everyone roll for initiative and then explain that running toward the main group were the three new PCs and close on their heels was a ravening horde of goblins numbering almost twice the total party in number. That would have thrown everyone into a uniting situation and gotten things going with excitement.

With the blog posts of the game it provides a valuable source of hind-sight and a way to continue improving technique. I hope to keep learning and improving for many years to come and perhaps someone else will get some value out of the posts as well.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

John Carter of Mars - after viewing

I'm very impressed. As a person without intimate fore-knowlegde of the stories I have to say the film was really a lot of fun. The people with me were in a similar position, also lacking a frame of reference for what it was drawn from, and they too found the movie engrossing and fun. Every one of us would love to see a sequel or related film. Sadly thanks to the marketing team completely failing their reaction roll, nobody has a clue about just how well done this movie is and that explains the lack of crowds in the theaters.

Of note, I am duely blown away with the quality of 3D used in this film. The only part that I found jarring was the scene with the chase on horseback. It was almost enough make me dizzy since the perspective of the camera seemed to be bumping along on its own unsteady horse.

Getting back to the one blogger that panned the film. If I recall that person's complaints they had to do with the film maker not sticking to exactly what was in the books. I do not feel I missed out on anything in this film and do not feel that it hurts the original work in any way (have not read them yet, but definitely will). It did just enough to exlain the premise of the story as it went, and gave us the action that a lot of film goers want from a movie these days.

This movie has a chance to bring new sets of eyes to the Barsoom stories. The group attending with me consisted of thee adults in our upper forties, and three kids ages 12 through 16, none us having read the books with a slight exception, one of the adults read an brief excerpt over a decade ago. We left the theater with a feeling of time well spent.

John Carter of Mars - Before viewing

In some brief scanning of the blogs I have found 3 reviews (more are likely out there) of the movie from members of the OSR blog community. Of those, 2 were positive and 1 absolutely panned the movie saying it sucked.

I'll be seeing it in IMAX 3D this afternoon and afterward I can report back with my thoughts.

Here's a shameful admission: I have not read the books. My knowledge of John Carter and Barsoom comes from what others have mentioned in passing over the years. I've been well aware of these stories existing, but not once have I made the effort to pick them up and read them.

Part of that reason is that I for a long time held a bias against most sword and planet stories. Sci-fi in my Fantasy? eewwww!

That bias gave way quite some time back and still I have not picked up the Barsoom stories. I'll get there. Heck, I only just read Tales of the Dying Earth by Jack Vance (and loved the stories).

I'm looking forward to this excursion to the movies with some friends and their kids since it will allow a number of us to see with new eyes what this is all about. Also the last 3D film I saw was one from the 1950's.

Stay tuned for the film review later.

Friday, March 16, 2012

5e Playtest Leak?

As usual my "surfing of channels" has allowed me to get pointed to a post on Something Aweful that purports to be leaked info from very early playtest documents as remembered by the poster.

I cannot vouch for the authenticity and not being a playtester have no clue to the veracity so consume this information with a grain of salt. Also note: At this point it is all speculation and we don't know how the Kraken will take shape come release time.

Below is a condensed form of the info weeding out the nonsense posted by people replying to the OP.

· Rolling primary method. Array is something like 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8.
· Race is +1/-1. Class is +1 to the prime stat (but only if it’s your first class—3.x multiclassing is in effect).
· At level 3, +1 to one stat.
· CON: Your starting hit points is equal to your CON score.
· INT: Extra languages.
· CHA: Loyalty and Max Henchmen
· WIS: Gives bonus to CHA saves (?)
· Score maximums: 18+class+race, so 20 is max, but not clear what “max” means.

· +1/-1 to stats.
· Dwarf: Dwarven weapon training (good with hammers and axes); darkvision 10’.
· Halfling: Automatic proficiency in slings, thrown, etc.
· Human: +1 to all saves, and two bonus d6 that can be applied to any d20 roll(s) in a day.
· Dwarves move 20’, halflings 25’, everyone else seems to be 30’.

· Skills: +2 for passive checks; +1 for active checks.
· Wizard
o Detect Magic
o Flame Javelin (at-will)
o ritual caster
o Mage Armor (+2 AC for the rest of the day).
· Fighter
o d10 HD
o d10 crit dice (don’t have to confirm to deal the extra damage, but can confirm to deal even more damage)
o Fighting Style
§ Archer: When you shoot, you can shoot again at -5
§ Guardian: Adjacent enemies get -2 to attacks if they don’t include you
§ Slayer: Do an extra d10 on a hit, but then can’t do it again until your next long or short rest
§ Two-weapon fighting: +1 to AC; when you hit with your main weapon, you can attack with your off-hand weapon at -5 (but if you do, you lose the AC bonus until your next turn)
o “Skills”: +1 to break down doors, smash “compartments”, or destroy objects
o +2 to damage rolls with weapon attacks
o Fighter’s surge: Once per day, the fighter can take an action at any time.
· Spell lists, “spells per level” tables
· Knock: Opens anything. Stuff that’s welded shut, portals held by chains, etc.
· Charm Person: level 1 (brd, drd, wrlk, wiz); Turns someone into a trusted friend and companion. Won’t do anything outside of normal, etc. Target remembers being charmed.
· Invisibility: level 2 (brd, src, wrlk, wiz): DC 17 concealment, advantage against all creatures you attack. It goes away if you do anything harmful.
· Animate Dead: Exists in some form; has a max HD

· "Advantage," "combat advantage," "skill advantage," "+2 to skill" - Not normalized yet.
· Crits: Max damage on 20, plus crit dice on confirm, and 20s explode.
· Rules for donning and removing armor
o Heavy armor takes 1d4+1 minutes to remove
· Many of the rules for the playtest documents were copied directly from older sources
o Many 4e-like rules are reworded
· Monsters can lack ability scores—they aren’t susceptible to attacks vs. that ability.
o A wraith with "–" STR can’t be bull rushed; a golem with "–" CON can’t be poisoned
o Undead lack CHA, which means the current version of Turn Undead technically doesn’t work on them.
· Nine alignment axis is back, as are items that have mechanical effects based on alignment.
· 20 status conditions, many of them similar or overlapping
· Healing surges are gone; each rest gives you a certain amount of HP back.
· Action economy is not strictly called out.
o There are no “move actions”, etc.; such things are described in prose.
· “the core maths of the system don't scale with level anymore. There's no base attack bonus and no 4e-style +halflevel, no skill points and no +level to skills either. Absent feats and so on, you have the same chance to hit at level 12 as you did at level 2.”

· "Monsters are built 4e-style. They're divided into minion/standard/elite/solo and monsters of increasing rank get more hp and damage per round. Their hp, damage, and AC/to-hit/to-hit-with-spell all scale with level."
· "So anyway, the rules tell you to pencil in what you think the monster's ability scores might be, then compute its hitpoints and attacks and so on. If it makes multiple attacks, divide its per-round damage by the number of attacks it's supposed to make and otherwise mess with the math so everything lines up with the provided table. (Presumably, this is the point when you go back and fill in the monster's precise ability scores, carefully massaging its Str to line up with the static damage bonus on its melee attack, etcetera)."

· Potion of Delusion (Healing): When you drink it, it heals d8 HP, but the next time you take damage, you take an extra d8.
· Unknown item: Each enemy you kill is raised as a 1 HD zombie under your control which doesn’t count against the max HD of undead you can control with Animate Dead.

So let's have a look at some of these bits of info.

There will also be a point buy option for stats that the collector seemed to leave out of the above. I like that rolling is listed as the standard with point buy and set arrays as options. I expect this to be the case anyway.

The class gives a +1 to the prime requisite stat. Ok, nothing wrong there I suppose.

Upon reaching 3rd level characters get a +1 to apply to one of their stats. I don't know the reasoning for it. We never used the aging rules back in 1e unless someone got zapped badly by monsters that cause aging or got that one longevity potion that undid youthfulness instead, or too many haste or wishes were employed. I'm not fond of the 4e explosion of stats since it made no sense. What was causing this vast and unending race to demi-godhood? Why was the common man stuck in 3d6 land while the PCs could have stats eclipsing some dragons? The rationale behind it escaped me. So where does this +1 come from? Will there be more at higher levels too?

CON score as starting hitpoints and then class dice each level after. That isn't too much beyond early edition fighters, and below what a 1e Ranger could potentially get. When it comes to the other classes though it breaks with my feeling that hit points also reflect the training one has in avoiding getting killed in combat. Why would a mage with a high CON be as tough or tougher than someone trained for combat? Also it gives those poor old 1d4hp wizards potentially 4 times the old style hp, talk about a bonus!

INT for extra languages, CHA for Loyalty and Max # of Henchmen, nothing new there. Will reaction rolls be an option?

WIS giving a boost to CHA saves. While I can rationalize it, I still don't know how that is meant to work in game.

Stat score max of 18 + race and class bonus, capped at 20 total. I really have no problem with that or anything to add.

Dwarves are automatically good with hammers and axes. What if the dwarven culture in the campaign world has dwarves more accustomed to using magic than mining and fighting I supposed you could house rule as we're accustomed to doing.
Dwarves also can see 10 feet in the dark. At least there's one race that doesn't need a nightlight to find the bathroom.
Dwarves move 20 feet while halflings move 25 and others move 30. Ok, so that darkvision is perfect for locating the perfect party member to piss on since he's too slow to get to the latrine in time.
Halflings automatically good with slings and throwing things. Read my campaign journals and you'll see that in action.
Humans get a bonus to all saves and twice a day can add 1d6 to any d20 roll. I guess they'll need something to make them interesting enough to play.

Wizards start with Detect Magic, Ritual Caster, An at-will called Flame Javelin which requires a to-hit roll. I'm ok with those I suppose, but they'll also have available the spell Magic Missle which won't miss. Where is Read Magic? Shouldn't they also start with Read Magic?
They also get an all-day-sucker style defense bonus called Mage Armor. It stops functioning when they take their "long rest" You have to sleep sometime you spell sllinging jackass! You just nod off and BAM!

Fighters. Do they get all of the above or is it a menu to choose from?

Invisibility sounds rather weak. The DC to overcome it is a mere 17. A lot of enemies will find the user of that spell easy enough that it won't matter.

Skills seem to have take 10 as the standard passive option and the choice to roll as active option. Also there are various types of "advantage" that give a +2 bonus. Hmmmm . . . can I backstab the lock while I pick it?

Critical hits cause maximum damage for weapon die type on a natural 20. (fighters can automatically add 1d10) Also the 20 can "explode" allowing an additional weapon die type for each natural 20 rolled. Is that going to be needed? Are monster hit points going to still be very high? I hope not since more hit points means longer combats,

20 conditions like slowed, prone, petrified, etc. How often do all these things come into play?

"So anyway, the rules tell you to pencil in what you think the monster's ability scores might be, then compute its hitpoints and attacks and so on. If it makes multiple attacks, divide its per-round damage by the number of attacks it's supposed to make and otherwise mess with the math so everything lines up with the provided table. (Presumably, this is the point when you go back and fill in the monster's precise ability scores, carefully massaging its Str to line up with the static damage bonus on its melee attack, etcetera)."  So much for keeping it simple. I'm not looking to do math homework, I'm looking to play a game. If I'm buying the book the least the publisher can do is give predetermined monster examples to drop right into the game that don't require a slide rule to modify.

Ok, so I'm a little snarky about some of it, but I suppose if they really are trying to make everyone happy they risk pissing everyone off. And, this may not even be legit.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Ides of March - Time of Assassins

An auspicious time.

The time of Ceasar's assassination at the hands of numerous members of the Roman senate in 44 B.C. There were believed to have been 23 stab wounds. That is not an assassination, but a piss poor job of butchery. The conspiracy may have included over 60 people. That means they had lousy THACOs.

The Assassin in D&D has been a character class on and off again through the various editions going all the way back to OD&D. It was left out of the Moldvay basic set, and was included in Advanced D&D 1st edition.

Personally it never made much sense to me as a character class in a dungeon crawl setting. Instead it seems much more at home in urban adventures with plenty of criminal and political intrigues.

To the left is Lassiviren the Dark from the Rogues Gallery - played by Al Hammock.

If you're planning to play an assassin in a D&D game do some homework. Learn about the many subtle ways a target can be killed. There are many beyond the brute force acts that require face-to-face bladework. Try to find creative ways to limit risk to your character while increasing the threat to the target NPC.

Perhaps you decide to have your PC become a member of the target's kitchen staff or the staff at a favorite eatery of the soon to be deceased. If so don't go for something quick and obvious, instead make use of natural ingredients that take time before the poisoning takes effect. All the better to avoid suspicion and have days to prepare or make your quiet escape. For example, the Deathcap mushroom. "Would his majesty like a nice garden salad?"

Of course if your character's getaway is very clean and all suspicion is pointed in other directions how is one to become infamous? If notoriety and infamy are your goals then the more dramatic the attack the better.

"I needed that like I needed a hole in the head!"

Where Does The Money Go?

I was reading the post over at Echoes from the Geek Cave that Bighara posted about player character wealth and ways to deal with it - Cash or (In) Charge. That got me thinking about a number of things adventurers might do with their money or have done to their money.

Of course taxes were already mentioned along with buying big, expensive items like ships, but thinking about it, there have to be a ton of other ways to separate an adventuring fool from his or her money.

Nobles often need ready cash in their treasury for emergencies and day-to-day upkeep. Many would likely welcome expensive and rare gifts from visitors seeking an audience who are interested in currying favor. Others might welcome a deposit of coins in exchange for a writ allowing the bearer to recover most of that cash at a later date.

Characters might be able to buy titles of nobility or knighthoods. Perhaps the nobles require adventurers to buy the exclusive rights to claims with areas of their territory offering them favorable tax rates on anything recovered.

Merchants might likewise offer a writ in return for investing in their next big scheme or to pay for a long expedition to new markets, with of course a nice expected return on the investment in the future.

The PCs themselves might like to start or buy a business and hire people to run it while they're off killing monsters and taking their stuff.

Entering new cities and towns it often happens that parties of armed and armored adventurers won't know the local laws well regarding wandering about ready for war and frightening the local children. Here then is an opportunity to extort, I mean offer them a permit to wear armor and carry arms for a nominal fee, provided they are peace bonded, naturally. That fee should be high enough to cover the wergild in the event they happen to break the peace bond and incidentally kill or maim someone.

Should they decide they don't want to pay the fee then offer them the chance to store their arms and armor in a magically secured facility, for a fee to cover the cost of guards and the wizard casting the Wizard Lock and other protective wards.

And of course should they break any laws there can always be fines, and if it is heinous enough perhaps a court case resulting in the need to hire representation or to buy the judge.

During their long journey things are bound to wear out and animals might get sick or slain by monsters. There are the repair and replacement costs.

These are the tip of the iceberg. It shouldn't be too difficult to find ways to part them from their money. And they themselves might decide to go carousing and blow a bunch of money living high and having fun. Remember the scene in the Schwartzenegger Conan movie where he falls face first into his porridge after what could have been weeks of carousing night after night? He looked at that point to be flat broke having partied away his loot.

Reality is also full of other examples. (Automobile registration and emissions testing fees anyone?) Maybe the town dislikes animal droppings on the main street through town and pays cleaners thus requiring anyone with animals to pay fees or purchase permits.

The list could easily go on.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lost Baronies - Next session

Due to scheduling issues, the next session is set for April 7th.

RPG Kickstarter

Searching through Kickstarter for RPG related products can be fruitless without some kind of help. Since there are a lot of people thinking alike, along comes RPG Kickstarter to help us all out. Kudos to the person or persons that put this thing together since it has already led me to some things I'm interested in.

Update to Pin Shadow Spell

An update has been made to the spell Pin Shadow based on feedback and suggestions.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The OSR Is Vibrant And Very Productive.

An OSR Catalogue of sorts. (this post is a work in progress being updated as time allows)

As previously stated I like to surf the internet for game related material much like I channel surf the TV. Most of what I find is meh, but there some true gems out there to be discovered if you want to look, especially among the OSR blogs and discussion forums.

Of course there are plenty of detractors as well (see GET OF MY LAWN for example). Some people that believe they know all about us old farts in the OSR have made the claim that nothing new and innovative has been produced by the OSR. I'm about to debunk that simply by listing a bunch of the things available (obviously not everything). If you know of something I missed off this list please send me the name of it and provide a link (to the publisher's website or blog preferably) and as time permits I'll keep updating this post.

Here is a list of the OSR products I have bought or been given since jumping back to basics.
Not in any order:

From Goblinoid Games:
Labyrinth Lord (the basic rules, print copy), but you can download the rules free as a PDF from the site.

From Faster Monkey Games:
Turn Tracker - very useful for keeping time during dungeon crawls.
Skull Mountain - a fun adventure that is now part of my sandbox with minor modifications.
Lesserton & Mor - I very much enjoyed playing in this setting with Mr. Joel DMing. He brings his creation to life when running it and that allowed me to appreciate his vision. I also figured out something about a murder mystery with some clues and was amazed both how close I was and how sideways off I was once I actually read the material after spoilers weren't an issue.
I also expect to pick up the new release from Faster Monkey Games (In The Shadow of Mount Rotten).

I have bought issues #1 through #12 of Fight On! magazine in print version and was given issue #13 in PDF format as a prize for participating in the random table contest and both of my entries getting Honorable Mentions.

I also have issues #1 through #3 and issue # of Knockspell magazine.

From Michael Curtis at The Society of Torch Pole and Rope:
Stone Hell
The Dungeon Alphabet

From Lamentations of the Flame Princess (James Raggi):
Lamentations of the Flame Princess Grindhouse Edition
Vornheim: The Complete City Kit (Zak S.)
Carcosa (Greg McKinney) (note, while this link goes to the publisher's store I would feel as if I were doing a diservice by not explaining that I got mine from Troll & Toad.)

I am in as a $100 supporter for James Maliszewski's Dwimmermount Kickstarter project. His Kickstarter for the product was targeted at $10,000 and blew past that in 2 days and kept going.

Another Kickstarter I am a $22 backer for is the Random Dungeon Generator as Dungeon Map poster which also met it's goal and blew past it in 2 days.

Those are just the ones in my personal library. Below will be a bunch more as they get added.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Carcosa Hard Cover - Short Review

I finally received my copy of the recently released Carcosa hard cover published by Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

Here are some quick thoughts on the book and contents.

The book looks fantastic. It could easily fill the role of a prop in your fantasy game representing some ancient tome of foul wisdom. The cover and spine bear only imagery avoiding the writing and titles we commonly see on a book, and this adds to the mysterious appearance.

The text and graphics are mostly black and white in a large easily readable font. There are accents of purple and green text as well that in natural daylight really pop, greeting the eyes with a wonderful effect.

While I did read some areas for details I mostly skimmed the rest. I might have missed it, but I do not recall seeing the fighter class description and experience table in the classes section. (Carcosa has only Sorcerer and Fighter as classes.) If it is there it must be brief or it could have been left out either by accident or perhaps there is no real difference in classes except how one chooses to play them. If the latter is the case it would be nice to have that pointed out in the book.

I read the Psionics rules with interest after having read a couple of reviews that remarked on how short and simple they rules actually are, and those reviewers were correct. In fact I like the random element to the availability of powers on any given day. Any character has a percentage chance of having psionic ability based on their mental stats (Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma). The way this is handled keeps it from being an overwhelming game breaker, making it just an extra tool.

It would be nice for the D&D developement team to take a look at how elegant these Psionics rules are and impliment something similar as an option in their next iteration of the game. Meanwhile I could easily port this into my own game with no fear of runaway mentalists stealing the show.

A good friend of mine is a Cthulhu fan and this might just be a great addition to his library of game books. Sadly it is too expensive to just order him another hardbound as a gift, and he has brutalized every book I have ever lent him so he'll have to settle for buying it himself if he wants it. (PDF files are handy, but I'm a dead tree fan.)

Overall the production values are top notch, hitting the mark for what the publisher's intent happens to be for this artifact.

The game world is bleak and hopeless which suits a world where the Great Old Ones actually reside or are easily contacted should be. It isn't meant to be the typical fantasy campaign environment, but this would make for a nasty little side-trip caused by entering the wrong portal or being cast into it by a powerful enemy, as long as the stay was brief and escape not too difficult.

I like the book, though it is more something for me to steal ideas from than a campaign I would run for more than a session or two.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

New Spell - Twitch


Level: 1
Duration: 1 turn (10 minutes) or 1 round (see below)
Range: 30 feet

The caster places a flea into a small pile of clipped hair letting it struggle about for a moment and then blows the components off their hand.

The spell causes discomfort for 10 minutes to the target if they fail the save vs spells, otherwise the effect lasts 1 round. Target suffers -2 (- 10%) on all rolls for the duration as they feel an itching sensation as if something is crawling all over them. Spellcasters must roll a d6 to see if they successfully cast spells while affected. On a 1 they fail to get the spell off, losing it.

For every two levels of caster an additional creature may be targeted.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hit points as fatigue

Over on A Paladin in Citadel, Aaron was musing on a possible fatigue rule that might be tied to hit points somehow. Having recently put down some of my own thoughts on hit points, I wanted to chime back in briefly.

I'm a believer that simpler is often better. Not always better, and not always more fun, but keeping things simple seems to work well most of the time.

With hit points, I feel that they already represent fatigue since it can be presumed that the character is doing their utmost to stay alive in combat no matter how pathetic they presume the enemy with the pointed stick might be. When those points are down it represents them being somewhat fatigued by the effort. Thus for me I don't worry about an additional fatigue mechanic.

Labyrinth Lord and other B/X versions already include an additional fatigue mechanic when a group has been exploring for an hour without rest.

If you were going to include a hit point related mechanic I would recommend the simple approach and give a -1 to everything at half hit points and below.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New Spell - Pin Shadow

Pin Shadow

Level: 1
Duration: 2 rounds plus 1 additional round per level of the caster
Range: touch of target's shadow

The caster takes an ordinary nail and jams it into the surface the target's shadow is covering to complete the spell. The target rolls a save vs spells with failure causing the target to be limited to movements that remain within 15 feet of the location of the nail. The target creature is not hindered in any other way. For flying creatures it draws them down in a spiral until they are within 15 feet of the nail, but does not force them to land. This spell also works on the creature called a Shadow, but is dangerous because the caster will be affected as if hit by the creature.

Based on feedback and suggestions here are some modifications to the spell.

The target can elect to tear free in order to avoid being stuck or dragged along in the event the nail is in a movable object such as a wagon or barrel. Doing so damages the target's shadow and prevents natural healing (magical healing still works) until either Remove Curse is cast on the victim or a Mending spell is cast on the shadow of the victim.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Lost Baronies of Lendore Isle - session 12

Before jumping into the update I wanted to mention that we are back down to 2 players again. Our third player (and newest) has been given an opportunity to make better money, but that meant sacrificing availability on Saturdays. If anyone is local enough and would like a seat at the table drop me a line.

The session was brief and lacked combat so this will be a short report.

The party spent a couple more days resting up in Troll Pass while waiting for their large strongbox to be completed. Once it was delivered the group set about loading it with coins and goods, then disguising the wagon by loading it over-full of hay and dried grasses.

Heading north along the road they arrived later in the day in the much larger town of Grest. They arranged for lodging at the Inn of the Giant Dwarf whose proprietor may actually be half dwarf and half ogre.

In town they visited several shops including a general store, glass-blower, potter, and an alchemist. They are trying to have some sling ammo manufactured that will contain flamable liquids and be able to ignite on impact.

They managed to sell some more of the silver goods and buy a map of the sutrrounding towns from Grest up through Cobblethorp and west to Kroten.

An old ruin sits atop a wooded hill behind the estate of the Alchemist. They agreed to go into the woods to pick some Barrow Wort leaves and a flower for her, and she warned them "Do not go into the ruins, stay away, nobody comes back from there."

Of course that means that is exactly what they plan to go do in the very near future.

Currently one character is 26 points away from 2nd level and a couple more are not too far behind.

Stay tuned for our next exciting episode "Certain Doom!"

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Monster Ecology - From larval to juvenile to adult forms

Some of the monsters through the history of the game lend themselves to inventing reasons for them to exist. This is an attempt to show how 3 monsters fit together even if going by the rules wouldn't quite make sense. F it, it's magic!

Our subject today is the Roper.

In caverns deep there are horrors aplenty just waiting to make a meal of your frail adventurer. It could be things like the Mimic and it's cousins the trapper, lurker, etc. In this case we're looking at the Roper and what it might look like at various stages of life.

I posit that what we know of as the roper is the adult form of a very long lived monster:

The roper is a strange stalagmite appearing creature, powerful enough to destroy adventuring parties or at least block their way to where they want to go. It can drain the strength of opponents when it grabs them with tentacles and begins dragging them to where it can deliver a savage bite. It is also exceptionally intelligent and knows it can bargin or extort treasure or magic from the potential food in order to avoid a fight and still gain something to lure other easier prey.

The monster is rare and that is a good thing since a monster of such power and intelligence could control or wipe out whole underground kingdoms should a group of them be so inclined. Thankfully then they are chaotic.

But what do they look like and behave like when they are younger and not so powerful?

Perhaps this is their juvenile form:

The much more mobile and vulnerable Darkmantle. In this younger form it is able to fly short distances, create areas of darkness, an ability it seems to lose in adulthood, and it spends most of its time skulking about at the tops of cavern rooms waiting to ambush prey, a trait maintained from when it was in the larval form. This creature is often encountered in numbers since on their own they are fragile and easily slain if the prey are in groups. You can see from this image that it has formed numerous tentacles and begun to take on a form similar to what it will have as an adult. The multiple eyes will gradually combine into a single, large ocular orb and the tentacles will fuse to form fewer, but much stronger appendages.

Moving on to what I believe to be the larval form of the dreaded roper:

These pathetic creatures imitate stalagtites, hanging in larger groups, high up on the ceilings of mineral rich caverns. They have a very strong outer shell formed by absorbing calcium and other rocky minerals. Some might even manage to pick up some small semi-precious stones as their carapace hardens. In this form they are nothing more than hungry ambush predators desperate for anything they can fall on and devour. It is very likely that they can sense the vibrations of movement below and their eyesight, though primitive, is enough to sense light. Through these combined senses they know when dropping down is likely to score a hit on something they might be able to eat.

Once down below they are so slow moving that surviving prey can often slaughter them before the beasts can climb back up to safety. This might account for the large number encountered at any time. Their hardened shells help buy time for some of them to reach safety and grow into the juvenile form.

Of course this could all be a flight of fancy and these could well and truely be unrelated monstrosities inhabiting similar niches in our magic rich world.

Yours with curiosity and imagination,

                                                              Prinportia the Sage, of Loreltarma