Monday, January 30, 2012


:Requirements:  Porcine ancestry
:Primes: STR, CON
:Max Level: 9
:Hit Die: d6+2
:Combat: Great To Hit Progression, Med Armor, Small Shield
:Saves: as Fighter

"To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women."-- Pitfighter answer to "what is best in life?"

Pitfighters roll abilities differently:

 * STR 2d6+6
 * DEX, CON 3d6
 * INT, WIS, CHA 3d4

Pitfighters need 13+ in both CON and STR to earn 25% XP bonus. Those with a CON of 13+ and STR of 16+ to earn 50% XP bonus.

  Low-light vision; see clearly even in the dimmest of light.

"Dirty Blow"
  Once per combat. If target hit, attack does no damage, target must Save vs Death or be stunned for d4max rounds.

"Finishing Move"
  When melee attacking Stunned/Unawares/Incapacitated otherwise defenseless opponent, the damage die explodes on >= half die size. So, on 4-6 with d6, on 7-12 with d12.

"Die Hard"
  Roll twice (take best) when required to use the Death and Dismemberment Table.

Orcs derive from pigs.  They are prized as Pit Combat Gladiators.  The "Finishing Move" is same as I handle backstab damage.  "Great to-hit" is whatever fighters get.  d6max means roll d6 at start of your turn, if '6' (the max value) is rolled then effect ends.  Feel free to replace that with normal d6, I just don't like to track things).  The rest should be interpretable.


:Requirements:  Ogre Ancestry
:Primes: None
:Max Level: 9
:Hit Die: d6+4 (two HD at 1st level)
:Combat: Great To Hit Progression, any Armor, any Shield
:Saves: as Fighter
"Urgh, me smashy now?"
-- Bubba Twoclub
Brutes do not gain any XP bonus for high abilities and roll them differently:

 * STR d6+12
 * DEX 2d8
 * INT, WIS, CHA 3d4

Brutes are dumb, dull, ugly and strong.  Large, 6.5' - 8' tall.

   d8 damage die size.

  May melee attack up to X opponents where X is character's to-hit bonus.  All opponents must be <= 1HD (2HD at 5th level, 3HD at 9th).

  After dropping foe, roll free attack against different foe that is within range.

  Declared after successful hit. Keep making attack rolls until you miss or choose to stop. If you miss, your turn is over and you are over-extended; no action next round. If natural unmodified roll <= number attacks this round you're exhausted for d6max rnds; 2x(worst), no attacks, 1/2 move.

Based on various house rules.  I'm not overly concerned with balance but other classes get 25/50% XP bonus for high stats which mitigates the Brute's brutish abilities.  Most classes use d6 damage die (for all normal weapons). "Great to-hit" is whatever fighters get.  d6max means roll d6 at start of your turn, if '6' (the max value) is rolled then effect ends.  Feel free to replace that with normal d6, I just don't like to track things).  2x(worst) means for every required die roll (saves, attacks, etc.) roll two dice and take worst result. The rest should be interpretable.

Friday, January 27, 2012

What Movies / TV Shows Illustrate Your Game

While writing up blurb to announce afterwork game for coworkers I started a list of movies / shows to give folks a feel for the game.  I kept list a bit old school, cause that's how I roll (haha!). 

Also see my past RPG Movie Posts.


Everything in this Ray Haryhausen compilation.

Fire Lances of the Ancient Hyperzephyrians

Conan the Barbarian



Clash of the Titans (this fan made trailer flippin rules!)

What's your list?

Daughter of Delphi

:Requirements:  Human, Female, CHA 9+, CON 9+
:Primes: WIS
:Max Level: 12
:Hit Die: d6 (+1 after level 9)
:Combat: Good To Hit Progression, Med Armor, Any Shield
:Saves: as Cleric

"Your own reason is the only oracle given you by heaven, and you are answerable for, not the rightness, but the uprightness of the decision." -- First Daughter Kalliste

Daughters with 13+ WIS earn 25% XP bonus.  They must have a WIS of 16+ to earn 50% XP bonus.  May only use bludgeoning weapons, i.e. those that don't draw blood.

Daughters of Delphi are clerics of Apollo the god of sunlight, seers and medicine.  They are all that remains of the Cult of Apollo centered around the ancient Oracle of Delphi.  The Daughter's advise, protect and heal those who value truth and beauty.  They delude, obstruct and harm those who do not.

"Divine Prayers"
  Clerical slot progression, no memorization, on demand. Litanies at 1/2 highest level slot.

"Shield of Faith"
  20% per level magic resistance vs arcane, divine, faerie magic.  100% at 5th level.  Only applies when direct target of spell, not spell effect.  Idea from Supplement VI The Majestic Wilderlands.

  50% chance of vision. (d20 + 5 + lvl >= 20) vision completely correct without omissions.  A vision is either an answer to one yes/no question or a fleeting glimpse of past, present or future.  1/day, (2/day 4th level, 3/day at 7th level).

"Healing Touch"
  Curative prayers heal +1 hitpoint per die, (+2 3rd level, +3 5th level, +4 7th level, +5 9th level)

"Favored of the Gods"
  2x multiplier for Divine Intervention.

"Turn Undead"
  Turn undead as Cleric of same level.

Based Judges Guild Dungeoneer 1-6 Compendium article.  Utilizes various house rules I might have mentioned in past blog posts...  Feel free to replace 25/50% XP bonus with more standard 5/10%.  Good to hit progression is what Clerics get.  I don't require Clerics to memorize spells.  But, there is possibility (DM's whim / omnipotent knowledge of god) "prayer" goes unanswered.  Litianies are divine version of ritual casting (10min + 10gp/lvl).  Divine Intervention is last ditch appeal to gods d100 >= character level.

I don't let real life males play this class, it's a "reward" for girls cool enough to nerd out around the table with us obnoxious males.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Elves, they are Freaky

This is how Elves (Skandians) work in GnG

Also, Die Antwoord rules.

Circean Enchanter

:Requirements:  Human, Female, INT 9+, CHA 14+
:Primes: INT, CHA
:Max Level: 12?
:Hit Die: d4 (+1 after level 9)
:Combat: Gimped To Hit Progression, Light Armor, No Shield
:Saves: as Magic-user

"You think a few tears upset me?  My friend, every woman is a pragmatist at heart."
-- Circean

Circeans must have 13+ in both INT an CHA to earn 25% XP bonus.  Must have a CHA of 16+ and INT of 13+ to earn 50% XP bonus.

Circeans are temptresses, beguilers of men, and poisoners of mind.

"Arcane Magic"
  Intrinsic Arcane Magic, focii oriented, not memorized, CHA based.
  Requires casting checks; d20 >; spell level. New spells gained only via capture.

"Shield of Magic"
  20% per level arcane magic (i.e. not divine, not faerie) resistance.  100% at 5th level.  Only applies when direct target of spell, not spell effect.  Idea from Supplement VI The Majestic Wilderlands.

"Arcane Perception"
  Can identify potions, sense magical auras, and the like. Must sample potion, handle object, etc. 2 in 6 chance, (3 in 6 at 3rd level, 4 in 6 at 5th level, 5 in 6 at 7th level)

"Arcane Prestige"
  Minor magical effects based on currently memorized spells.  May Counter Arcane Magic and engage in Arcane Duels.

  Once per day a Circean may attempt, (d20 + 2x Circean's level - target's level >= 20), to charm a human male by merely speaking to him.  This charm is broken if victim leaves the sight of Circean for more than a moment.

  Circeans know the secrets to brewing non-magical potions. See Dungeoneer 1-6 Compendium pg 18 for details.

  Ability to discern Fate's path.  Requires access to astrological structures, orrery, library or the like.

Based on Judges Guild Dungeoneer 1-6 Compendium article.  Utilizes various house rules I may have mentioned in past blog posts... Feel free to replace 25/50% XP bonus with more standard 5/10%.  "Gimped to-hit" is whatever magic-users get.  Not posting Arcane Duel, Counter spelling, or Astrology rules, use your imagination (or Google).  Intrinsic Arcane Magic, think D&D3.5 sorcerers and illusionist spell lists.  Or this.

I don't let real life males play this class, it's a "reward" for girls cool enough to nerd out around the table with us obnoxious males.

Monday, January 23, 2012


:Requirements: Human, Female, CHA 9+, CON 9+
:Primes: DEX, CHA
:Max Level: 12
:HD: d6+4 (+3 after level 9)
:Combat: Great To Hit Progression, Light Armor, No Shield
:Saves: as Fighter

"Go in peace my daughter. And remember that, in a world of ordinary mortals, you are an Amazon."

-- Queen Hippolyte

Amazons must have 13+ in both DEX an CHA to earn 25% XP bonus.  Must have a CHA of 16+ and DEX of 13+ to earn 50% XP bonus.

Amazons are raised from birth to be warriors.  They serve no man and will only follow Amazons or other similarly powerful women.  Amazons favor the spear, hand axe, and long dagger above all  weapons.  Amazons will not use missile weapons such as bows, guns, and slings.

"Warrior Women"
  Increased damage die when using favored weapon (d8 at 2nd, d10 at 4th, d12 at 6th).  Natural medium "armor" at 1st level, (heavy at 3rd, plate at 5th).

"Focused Strike"
  Once per combat, if target hit, attack does no damage, target must Save vs Death or be stunned for d(Amazon's damage die)max rounds.  At 9th level, target must Save vs Death or die.

"Gilded Bracers"
  Amazons are trained to block and deflect with their bracers.  Which protect as Large Shield vs melee and ranged.  Including Shields Shall be Shattered, in this case destroying the bracers.

  Generally successful at jumping, leaping, tumbling, etc.  Takes 20' less falling damage, (40' at 8th level).

"Riding Mastery"
  Amazons are raised in the saddle. Experts at all things mounted, esp combat. At 3rd level a white mare of superlative attributes will appear and serve Amazon, (a unicorn at 6th, a pegasus at 9th).

Loosely modeled on Monk and Judges Guild Dungeoneer 1-6 Compendium article.  Utilizes various house rules I might have mentioned in past blog posts... Feel free to replace 25/50% XP bonus with more standard 5/10%.  Most classes use d6 damage die for normal weapons.  "Great to-hit" is whatever fighters get.  d6max means roll d6 at start of your turn, if '6' (the max value) is rolled then effect ends.  Feel free to replace that with normal d6, I just don't like to track things).  The rest should be broadly interpretable.

I don't let real life males play this class, it's a "reward" for girls cool enough to nerd out around the table with us obnoxious males.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Shit People Say to Roleplayers

I can't figure out how to comment to the post on The Escapist Blog.  So, replying here.

I'm a single (41yr old) programmer and board/card/computer/RPG game player.  I live in a liberal city.  I work at a small hi-tech company.  Most the people I interact with are well educated and tech-savvy, many are nerds of one sort of another (music, computer, game, TV, etc).

I say all that cause the list of what people say to RPGrs from The Escapist Blog was so negative.  I rarely have heard shit like that since high-school.   Holy crap guys!  Where do you live and who the hell do you hang out with?  No wonder people "hide" the fact that they are gamers.

Mostly I get:
"How does it work?" 
"Its like WoW?"  Often people don't realize right away I'm not talking about MMORPG or other computer game. 
"Can I join?" 
"Can I have my own figure?" 
"Wish I had still had time for that." 
"Oh man, let me tell about the time my Paladin Centaur ...."
The winning / what's the point thing comes up fairly often.  But, more from curiosity / wanting to understand rather than derogatory angle.

OwlCon 2012

February 3-5 2012

I won't make it this year, not enough time :(

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fighting Man

:Requirements: Human

:Primes: STR
:Max Level: 12
:Hit Die: d6+2 (+2 after level 9)
:Combat: Great To Hit Progression, any Armor, any Shield
:Saves: as Fighter

Fighting men with 13+ STR earn 25% XP bonus.  They must have a STR of 16+ to earn 50% XP bonus.

Fighting men aren't complicated or specialized.  Which makes as flexible as your imagination (and ability to connive DM).

"Combat Master"
  Fighting men's damage dice explode.

"Downright Blow"
  Once per combat.  If target hit, one damage die does max damage, which will cause die to explode.

  May melee attack up to X opponents where X is character's to-hit bonus.  All opponents must be <= 1HD (2HD at 5th level, 3HD at 9th).

Posted mostly to provide baseline for comparison with classes to follow.  Utilizes various house rules I might have mentioned in past blog posts...  "Great to-hit" is whatever fighters get.  "Explode" means if max die value rolled, re-roll that die and add to total.  Anything else should be broadly interpretable.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

23 Questions, Answered

Zak Asked too many questions.  My answers...

1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be?

Hmmm, "proud" and "invented" are too strong.  But, I enjoy eliminating modifiers and rolling 2 (or more) dice.  e.g. attacking invisible target, roll two attacks take worst result.  charge, roll two take best.  Ranged into melee, both must succeed to hit target.  If only one does you've hit some other random target in the melee

2. When was the last time you GMed?

Last Sunday, Jan 15th

3. When was the last time you played?

Within a month.  But, I don't play nearly enough.

4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven't run but would like to.

The Dirty Dozen - Twelve humanoids prisoners, given option of beheading or suicide mission to sneak into the Fey Court's Winter Festival and slaughter as many Elven Princes, Princessess, and Generals as possible.

5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?

Pester players to do something, review notes, go pee, remember to take notes (rarely)

6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?

Nothing. Take break for food.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?

No.  I tend to GM standing which I find tiring, significantly less extreme than exhausting

8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?

My elephant ex-butler arm wresting a wolf biker for his chopper. (After the Bomb)

9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?

Neither. Setting and players are, happily, middle of the road, nice mix of serious and sillyness.

10. What do you do with goblins?

Create unique tribes of them. Butt-stink(stink bombs & disease), Fart-knockers (flaming gas attacks), Poo-eaters (poo toss attack), Red Eye & Runny Nose tribes related tribes addicted to snorting zombie "blow", Mud Face (mud covered, +sneak, favor swamps/rivers).
Like all humanoids I use the basic stats and reflavor them.  Need pygmy orcs, use goblin stats.

11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)?

Conan the Barbarian orgy scene -> Toad God's pleasure chamber and complex were strange lotus incense is used to convert the faithful into God's image ala "Innosmouth Look".  But, I do this constantly.  I'm not creative, but I am good at mixing/mashing/converting.

12. What's the funniest table moment you can remember right now?

I have bad memory.  The players deciding to drink all together at same time the potions of "water breathing"(actually poison) that the EHP (whom the deal with far too often) gave them.  So, instead of being able to swim down to the Black Dragon's lair while he was being distracted,  1/3 party was dead, rest injured with very perturbed Black Dragon almost done destroying distraction and looking for those responsible.  Very funny to me, players not so much.  I (NPCs) told them to not mess with dragon, but player agency and all that ;)

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it?

Latest Fight On! Cause it just arrived in mail!

14. Who's your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?

Illustrator's work varies.  A "Perfect" RPG illustration inspires me to create or play RPG.

15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?

Once that I remember.  Got the players so paranoid and afraid of each other the each put back to different wall and drew weapons on each other until they finally figured out there was an invisible tormentor in their midst.

Now days they're mostly just shell-shocked.  "Pfft! Your character only died?  My guy in Norm's campaign had his soul stripped away who knows where.  He's not dead, not undead, just drooling."

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever)

Caves of Chaos at various conventions.

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?

DM at end of long table, DM surrounded by shelfs and cases, side table for DM's stuff.  NO DM Shield!  Lots of decoration for "ambience".  That or someplace with lots of "traffic" to recruit new people to hobby, game store, mall.

18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?

I will limit answer to RPG games.  "Bunnies and Burrows"  "Pallidum Rifts"

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?

Serving in the U.S. Navy.  Reading Jeff's Gameblog.

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?

Engaged, well-adjusted, mature.

21. What's a real life experience you've translated into game terms?

I use my military and tactics training when running Hobgoblins, Gnolls, and elite soldiers.  Which really (sadly) fucks up players who for the most part don't know doodle about tactics.

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn't?

Nope.  There's more existing now than I can possibly ever use.

23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn't play? How do those conversations go?

Lot's of people; Sister, friends, co-workers.  Some are simply humoring me, thanks sis!  Others don't understand why people "do" RPGs and are vastly interested.   Many are into other games / programming and like to discuss mechanics, world creation, player interactions, etc.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Potion Brewing

For brewing potions I use similar mechanics to Spell Research.

To brew any potion requires it's recipe, non-magical lists of ingredients and instructions.  It also takes time and money.  Success is not guaranteed.  In fact peculiar or even deadly results are possible.  The chance of success can be increased if a congruent spell is cast as a ritual during potion creation.

One day and effect's level*d4*25gp per roll:

  2d6 + mods >= 7 potion created
    "doubles" - Funkyness from bad (12) to good (2)

    +X brewer's level
    -X potion effect's level
    +X matching ritual caster's level

Example "doubles"; 12, poison. 10, Potion of Delusion. 8, potion lasts only 2 rnds. 6, brewer's skin is green d6x days. 4, d4 doses created. 2, double strength.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Spell Research

In my Gold and Glory campaign I've created some fluff around standard D&D magic.  Which has lead to particular research rules I use.

Magi open valences in their mind that attract and store magical energies (aka memorize spells into spell slot). To do this they study complex mathemamystical formulae (aka spell book).  Each valence is unique and it is not possible to open two identical ones. (aka no duplicate spells).  It takes about a night's rest to accumulate enough magical energy (aka cast each spell 1/day).  These energies are expended when spell is cast, but, the valence remains open (aka spell book only needed to change "load out").   These formulae may be written in any language, but most grimoires, at least the good ones, tend to be written in ancient, obscure, and/or diabolical languages (aka no read magic required).  These formulae are not magical in and of themselves (aka no scrolls).  With a source of concentrated mana to fuel spell in place of valence energy, a formulae may be slowly followed/recited (aka 10gp/lvl & 10min ritual casting).

[I make frequent use of a 2d6 mechanic where player rolls 1d6 and DM rolls 1d6 (in secret).  The player will have some idea of the total, but not absolute knowledge.  I use this for various rolls below.  I picked this up from some blog post where it was used for reaction roll.  In addition rolling "doubles" indicates some special (odd) occurrence from bad (snake eyes) to good (boxcars).]

Spell formulae maybe be copied

It takes a great deal of skill and time to copy formulae. Ruining the copy during this process is common. There is always the chance of introducing an unintended and unnoticed alteration. The Magus may continue spending time and money until they create the number of copies desired.

One day and d4*25gp per roll:

  2d6 + mods >= 7 copy of formulae created
    "doubles" - Funkyness from bad (12) to good (2)

    +X Int Mod
    -1 spell is not known
    -2 transliterating spell from one language to another
    -4 transcriber does not know language spell is written in

Some example "doubles"; 12, error in transcription, spell will explode (d6/lvl, centered on magi) when cast. 10, spell will have opposite effect.  8, spell will fizzle.  6, spell's effects won't manifest until d4 rounds after it is cast. 4, weird but not that beneficial change to spell.  2, spell improved (better range, duration, effect).

Spell formulae must be learnt

Learning a formulae, which is required to cast spell, requires only time. Magi "learn" a given formulae after a number of "research points" equal to 10*spell level is accumulated.

One day per roll (reset to 0 if one week passes without study)

  2d6 + character level + INT Mod research points accumulated
    "doubles" <= spell level, roll on Formulaic Research Mishap Table

  Base difficultly 10 * spell level research points. Multipliers:
    .5x      With tutor, access to extensive library, or the like
    .1-1.0x  How well understood is formula's language

This same process can be used for other research, magic item creation etc. Additional researchers are possible. Add their level(s) and Intelligence modifier(s) but still only roll 2d6. Inventing new spells, creating magic items takes more time and costs money. Typical spell research; d4x days uninterrupted study and d10*100gp per roll (reset to 0 if four continuous weeks pass without study)

Formulaic Research Mishap Table

1    "Formulaic Magic is relatively Safe", roll on Heinous Blunder Table,
     but effects only last d6x days.
2    Unwanted magical discharge destroys d4x nearby formulae.
3    "Whoa that was intense", wake up d4x days later.
4    "Blammo!", take Xd6 damage (X=spell level), laboratory needs rebuilding.
5    Research attracts a knicker fairy which now lives in your pants.
6    "I am a meat popsicle"; Mental breakdown, worthless for d6x days.
7    "Who set the roof on fire?"
8    "Who set me on fire?" d6 cumulative damage per round until put out.
9-11 A kindly Magus offers you assistance; send them packing? Yes; research
     failed very next day... No; roll d4
     1) Robs you instead.
     2) Is an incompetent idiot and kills himself in process of ruining
        your research.
     3) Spy for an enemy.
     4) Actually helps! d6x research points.
12   Brain is mental mush, can't memorize spells for d6x days.
13   Develop minor psychosis, lasts d6x days.
14   Roll on d10,000 magic effect table.
15   Research ruined when peasantry with torches and pitchforks come round
     to put and end to your "deviltry".
16   Burnt out; no Formulaic Research for d6x weeks.
17   Waste d4 more days of fruitless research.
18   "Note to self; brandy good, research good, together bad."
19   Succumb to exhaustion and sleep for 8+d6x hours. Wake up refreshed with
     desire go outside, take a walk, see the Sun.
20   "We learn from failure", re-roll to determine nature of that failure
     but formulae is learnt/researched.

Heinous Magical Blunders Table

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Experimental Magic System

When I've run games with "new to Pen and Paper RPGs" players I've noticed they don't pick up well with the standard spell mechanic (memorizing a subset of spells they know into spell slots).  It's also kind of a pain to track what's memorized and what's been cast.  New and old players don't jive well with "I cast one spell, and then nothing until tomorrow morning?"  Over the years I've tried various mechanics to reduce paperwork, planning, and increase frequency of "action" for spell casters.

I see two very different types of magic-users, that appeal to different types of players.  Magi, scholarly types who poor over tomes to memorize spells. i.e. the traditional D&D Vancian magic-user.  And Wizards, intrinsic magic types that have a smaller set of spells but can cast them without memorization.  Something akin to 3.x sorcerer but I believe sorcerer class made mistake of using spell slots.  Not different enough to be unique and similar enough to be confusing.

This is the experimental draft system I'm gonna try in my "after work with coworkers" campaign starting soon.  Experimental in that it hasn't been play tested and thus is lame blog filler ;)

Wizards have a pool of mana. [need glass beads, poker chips, MTG life counter, something tangible / better than keeping track on paper].  The amount of mana in pool will increase in level.  Exact numbers TBD but 10 + spell slots seems good starting point.  Mana resets daily.

When spell is successfully cast, reduce wizard's mana pool by amount equal to spell's cost, minimum 0.  It's ok not to have enough mana for spell's cost. [maybe should rename it "arcane stamina"?]    Cost normally equals spells level.  The cost for spells that scale with level (e.g. fireball, magic missile) equal effect's level.

Unlike Magi Wizards, do not get "at will" Rituals (which take 10min and cost 10gp/lvl).

To cast a spell Wizard must roll successful casting check.

    d20 + mana pool >= 20 spell cast (expend mana == spell level)
      natural "1"  - consult Intrinsic Arcane Magic Miscast Table.
      natural "20" - mana not expended.

Basically a spell point system with twist current spell point total is casting check modifier.  The slowly eroding chance to successfully cast spell gives lot of intuitive control and options for resource management.  A casting check with fairly high chance of failure is key to giving the player more to do (trying to make roll every round) without greatly increasing the number of spells cast.

Overall these house rules seemingly result in more spells being cast.  But, if rituals (which I have play tested) are an indication, it's really less "running back to town" to rest/memorize and nearly same amount of casting per session.  Which is great in my book.

I'm not sure how it holds up at higher level, 5+.  When they have large mana pool they will be able to cast many lower level spells.  First, I'm fine with magic in general and Wizards being "powerful".  Second, there is always 5% (natural 1) chance of failure.

Hmmmm, just thought of variation:   Instead of total pool being modifier to casting check, the player decides how much of their pool to use as modifier each time spell is cast.   If they make pass casting check mana is expended.  Otherwise, it's retained.

Obviously I need to ruminate a bit further.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Monster - Big Bad

When I think of player challenges (monsters, traps, puzzles, etc) I think less about stat blocks and numbers and more about theme and feeling.   In my notes I'll write "fire monster" and couple lines on cool abilities/tactics, "flame whip", "sticky napalm".  I'll figure out how many, what hitdice, damage, AC, etc on the fly.  Faster for me to wing it than look it up.   So, I've never been a big author or consumer of monsters.  Instead I use things like this;

Big Bad

This monster should be large and the centerpiece of an adventure's / dungeon's climax. It is the Big Bad, the terror the party has been hearing rumors of, seeing clues of it's presence, and eager with anticipation and fear to finally face it.  The exact stats (AC, HD, hitpoints, Damage, Immunities, etc.) are left up to you to determine.  It should be tough though.  The main feature is the Big Bad's counterattack.

Counter attack:  Every time the Big Bad takes or is hit for damage it gets to immediately strike back.   Attacking whoever just damaged it.  Or, random opponent if source of damage is undefined or unattackable.  This occurs in violation of any rules regarding initiative, number of attacks per round, etc.  The Big Bad should have a melee and a ranged counterattack.

Ongoing threat:  Instead of a normal attack the Big Bad (or it's environment, spawned minions, etc) drains opponents of some resource (hitpoints, stats, levels (ouch)).  This is to make it tougher to work around / exploit limitations of counter attack.

Example Big Bad

The Blobinator

This humungus blob of oozes, jellies, and puddings must be the source of all the things that have dripped on, corroded, slimed you in this dungeon. It's the Mother of all gooey things, end it's reign of gelatinous terror!

At all times the Blobinator is belching, spewing and otherwise projecting bits of ooze, slime, jellies, and puddings (use your favorites).  Everyone and thing in the area of the Blobinator has a 50% of being hit by one of these each round.  Figure damage/effects as appropriate for type of goo.

The Blobinator's primitive alien nervous system will respond to any attack with reactive counter attack.  Melee and any target within 20' will be responded with a slam of a oozy pseudopod.  To reach targets further afield the Blobinator can swing a pseudopod around like sling until the tip flies off to strike opponent.  Critical hits result in random oozy thing's effect on target.

Each creature killed by the Blobinator will rise as a random oozy thing d4 rounds later.

Immune to fire, cold, acid, electricity, mind affects.  Takes "normal" damage from holy water, alcohol.  non-magic weapons have 25% chance of corroding, breaking, getting gooified each time they hit.  The Blobinator can stick/climb along walls and ceilings.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Monster - Soul Wraith

[I couldn't sleep last night and this came floating into my head.  Scaled for d6 damage system,  descending AC.]

Soul Wraith

HD: 8hp, attacks as 4HD monster
DAM:  d6 swipe that rips life force from victim
AC: 8*
MV: 12 (fast as unencumbered human)

*Incorporeal, only hit by magic, blessed, and the like weapons. Can pass through holes, thin cracks but not solid material.  Soul Wraiths are not undead and can't be turned.

Every living being the Soul Wraith had line of sight at some point during the round takes d6 damage as their life force is drained into the Soul Wraith.  This damage heals the wraith (up to 8hp).  Any leftover becomes temporary hitpoints for the Soul Wraith.

Soul Wraith Assassin

HD: 8hp, attacks as 4HD monster
DAM:  d6 swipe that rips life force from victim
AC: 8*
MV: 12 (fast as unencumbered human)

*Incorporeal, only hit by magic, blessed, and the like weapons. Can pass through holes, thin cracks but not solid material.  Soul Wraith Assassins are not undead and can't be turned.  They fade to invisibility at the start of any turn and after they are hit if they have 8 or less hitpoints.  They remain invisible until they attack.   When attacking while invisible Soul Wraith Assassins do back stab/critical/max/(whatever your system uses) damage.

Every living being the wraith had line of sight at some point during the round takes d6 damage as their life force is drained into the Soul Wraith.  This damage heals the wraith (up to 8hp).  Any leftover becomes temporary hitpoints for the Soul Wraith.  Draining produces faint wisps of life force revealing the general location of an invisible wraith if bright light is available.  Soul Wraith Assassins can suppress their draining so as to retain surprise.

They are highly intelligent, cunning and will use hit-and-run and other tactics to survive and drain the life out of their victims.

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