Friday, February 15, 2019

Friday Trivia Tragedy



A question a week, answers the following week, until I get bored or forget. All questions from the 2ed AD&D Players Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide, Monstrous Compendium Volume I, and Monstrous Compendium Volume II. Even putting aside that 2ed is one of my least favorite editions, most the questions are troll piss. Rule math minutiae. Aspects of 2ed I find too stupid to endure. Quite a few that are common knowledge to any player these days. Mostly in regards to iconic monsters that were relatively new and unknown back in 1991.


First up last week's answer; How much is falling damage. 1d6 per 10 feet fallen.

This bothers me for reasons from trivial to vital. 10ft even 30ft pits are nothing after a few levels. The, "oh I jump off cliff, get up and carry on cause max possible damage is less than my hitpoints" maneuver. Physics! Later editions even cap the number of dice, 10d6! That fall from orbit? Yeah, I walk it off.

I use to rule it was 1d6 cumulative; 10' 1d6, 20' 3d6, 30' 6d6, 40' 10d6, etc. and/or any fall 60' or greater is auto-incapacitation (often via death). That there is a reason to have Feather Fall, Levitate, rope, thieves, something. But, as I've matured (or become mentally decrepit) I've learned to be less bothered by things not worth bothering about. Now I just put spikes slathered with Save-or-Die poison at bottom of my pits :)




Question (3rd lvl)

Which is of greater value, a topaz or an amethyst?

Monday, February 11, 2019

Specialist Retainers

Additional Specialist Retainers available in my B/X Sandbox using Judges Guild Wilderlands setting.


Astrologer

10 gp per reading.

Most settlements village or larger will have an astrologer. A basic reading costs 10gp gets 2d6 roll. With a “sacrifice” of 50 gp or more roll d6 + d8. A great sacrifice, 200 gp or more, earns a 2d8 roll. Outcome effects entire group and lasts until next Downtime.

Roll Outcome :
2 Monsters receive undisclosed bonuses.
3-4 Twice as many random encounters.
5-9 The omens are unclear. No effect.
10-11 Each player gets one saving throw or To-Hit re-roll.
12 Half as many random encounters.
13+ As “12” and all player saving throws are rolled using d30.

Chronicler, Venerator

d6+2 x 100 gp per month

Useful only in cities. Abstracts together several related occupations hired to raise the social status of people in the Noble, Gentlemen, and Military hierarchies. Increase character’s Social Level (JG Ready Ref Sheets p2) by one if 2d6 die roll is greater than their current Social Level.


Slanderer, Spy, Thief

d6 x 100 gp per mission.

Spies are hired to gather information about a specific person, group or area. They are also used for sabotage, rabble rousing, rumor mongering and the like. The Referee will determine the probability of success based on the scope and difficulty of mission, the details and aide provided by players. Spies may or may not be reliable, and could stab the hiring character in the back. Maybe literally!.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Friday Trivia Tragedy



A question a week, answers the following week, until I get bored or forget. All questions from the 2ed AD&D Players Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide, Monstrous Compendium Volume I, and Monstrous Compendium Volume II. Even putting aside that 2ed is one of my least favorite editions, most the questions are troll piss. Rule math minutiae. Aspects of 2ed I find too stupid to siffer. Quite a few that are common knowledge to any player these days. Mostly in regards to iconic monsters that were relatively new and unknown back in 1991.


First the answer from last week: How many eyestalks does a beholder have?  I'm reluctant to admit I was not sure of the answer, which is 10.  One central eye to neuter the MU and ten stalk eyes to waste the party.   From ODD "Supplement I Greyhawk"
BEHOLDERS: These monsters are also known as Spheres of Many Eyes, or as Eye Tyrants. The body of these creatures is a great globe of about 3' in diameter. Atop it are ten eye stalks, while in the center of the spherical body is a great eleventh eye. The body can sustain 40 points of damage, each eye stalk 10 points, and the central eye can withstand up to 20 points. The armor class of the body is 0. the eye stalks 2, and the eyes proper 7. Each eye functioning is a different manner: From 1-4 of the small eyes are able to function at one time.

The eye powers were: Charm Person Spell, Charm Monster Spell, Sleep Spell, Telekenesis, Flesh-Stone Ray, Disintegrate Ray, Fear Ray, Slow Spell, Serious Wound Spell, Death Ray, and the central eye of course is an Anti-Magic Ray.





Question (3rd lvl)

Guido and Wanda are plummeting from a cliff. How much damage will they suffer when the smash to the ground below?


So, this question has a some style and flavor. I like that. Easy question. Although I disagree with the rule, I usually resist house ruling it. For reasons I'll discuss next week.


Hint: per 10 feet fallen.


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Wilderlands Optional House Rules

Putting together B/X Sandbox using Judges Guild Wilderlands setting, I of course have to create a setting & house rule booklet. Here are a couple rules I moved to "optional" and may drop all together. I have used versions of them before in OD&D based Planet Eris campaign. The sources include Judges Guild Read Ref Sheets (repartee and locution), Jeff Rients and quite possibly many others.

Divine Intervention


Characters may plead for Divine Intervention and may even do so when dead or unconscious. Characters of like belief should pray together and combine their levels in one roll. Different characters repeating a similar, recently ignored plea is a sure way to annoy deities. Beseeching higher powers more than once per Lunar cycle also risks incurring divine wrath.

The chance to be heard is the supplicant's level expressed as a percentage. Sacrifices relevant to the deity will improve this chance:

  • +1 for any amount of animal(s), foods, or other items sacred to diety. 
  • +1 per Hit Die of sentient creatures. 
  • +1 per 100 gp of treasure.

Deity's action upon hearing request is dependent on request and nature of deity. But, most will be something (even it's only to berate supplicant for being weak). Deities will refuse to aid non-believers. And will not directly harm any creature.

Example interventions:
  • Allow supplicant's spell to affect all faithful within sight.
  • Miracle! Effects as any spell.
  • Return life to a faithful servant.


Dueling Sermons

Clerics may verbally assault one another. Clerics who do not respond to an opposing polemic are immediately rebuked for their lack of conviction. Losing half their current Hit Points.

Each faith rolls two differently colored d6 (one "condemning" and one "extolling"). After rolling, each participant may replace a die roll with their level.

If both rolls are greater than the corresponding rolls of all other faiths, a devastating sermon has been served. All participants of other faiths must spend the next d6-1 rounds stunned as they rationalize away winner's arguments and reestablish their faith. Believers of the winning faith are inspired and get +1 on Saving Throws, To-Hit, and Damage rolls for duration of the encounter.

Otherwise, participants may "drop out" after first round having minimally defending their faith. If two or more opposing faiths remain, the theological throw down continues into the next round.

While sermonizing, participants are protected as Sanctuary spel. In addition if they take damage, the source of that damage is divinely rebuked, taking damage equal to amount dealt + d6.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Friday Trivia Tragedy



A question a week, answers the following week, until I get bored or forget.  All questions from the 2ed AD&D Players Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide, Monstrous Compendium Volume I, and Monstrous Compendium Volume II. Even putting aside that 2ed is one of my least favorite editions, most the questions are troll piss. Rule math minutiae. Aspects of 2ed I find too stupid to siffer. Quite a few that are common knowledge to any player these days. Mostly in regards to iconic monsters that were relatively new and unknown back in 1991.


First up, last week's answer; Name the Dragons types.  Chromatic (from root chroma meaning color) Red Green Blue Black White and the Metalics (metal) Gold Silver Copper Brass Bronze.  Traditionally the Chromas are Chaotic "evil" in modern parlance and had Tiamat the five dragon headed (one of each color) as their Queen / demoness.  The chromas are Lawful / "good" with Bahamat as their godhead. Many other dragon "series" have been added over time: gemstone, elemental, oriental.



Question (3rd lvl)

How many eyestalks does a beholder have?






Hint: More than 1, less than 20.



Monday, January 28, 2019

Reading B2 The Keep on the Borderlands

Because B2 was my first, I will always consider it the best. After getting Into the Borderlands and reading Age of Dusk review recently Ahead of starting Wilderlands sandbox I decided to have a deeper look at the DM advice and Keep portions which I maybe read thirty whatever years ago but have skipped past in more recent times. The tldr; is that it's pretty honking great.




All quotes from "Dungeon Module B2 The Keep on the Borderlands" by Gary Gygax, copyright 1981 by TSR Hobbies, Inc.

"... for as DM you are to become the Shaper of the Cosmos. It is you who will give form and content to all the universe. You will breathe life into the stillness, giving meaning and purpose to all the actions which are to follow. The others in your group will assume the roles of individuals and play their parts, but each can only perform within the bounds you will set."
I'm a huge fan of B/X, at least how I run it, because it leans heavily towards "game" rather than towards "story time". It manifests as play over narration, as play over character "builds". Backgrounds, goals, character growth are emergent rather than preconceived and related. It has taken a fork away from narrative "story" games. [Some people like the narrative games. I do not.] B/X is just as cooperative, but players contribute through the actions of their characters, not as players spending fate points to alter the plot / world. There is a clear delineation between Referee and Players.

"It is now up to you to create a magical realm filled with danger, mystery, and excitement, complete with countless challenges. Though your role is the greatest, it is also the most difficult. You must now prepare to become all things to all people."
No pressure...

"Welcome to the land of imagination. You are about to begin a journey into worlds where magic and monsters are the order of the day, where law and chaos are forever at odds, where adventure and heroism are the meat and drink of all who would seek their fortunes in uncommon pursuits."
That is pretty hokey. I'm sure I loved it as a 13 yr old.

"... the DM must be a truly disinterested party, giving information as required by questioning and proper action, but neither helping nor hindering otherwise."
I fail at only giving information "as required". I want players to know too hard. I can't keep secrets. I always assume that is my fault when players don't "get it", whatever it is. So feel I owe them hints or 2nd chances. Also, if I'm honest, I want players to see my hard work, my "clever" secrets, etc. I don't have a problem with them turning left when the adventure is to the right (not a no good, dirty railroader). But once they're in the adventure and so close to discovering some "truth" or planted foreshadowing, I can't help but give it to them.

What's even worse; many players do not thrill at discovering the "world building", figuring out secrets, seeing how it is all connected, etc. as much as I do. So, not only are they fine with "not getting it", they probably don't enjoy me ramming it down their brain holes.

"In this game, the action is only limited by the abilities of the character, the imagination of the player, and the decisions of the DM. The play will often go in unexpected directions and the DM will sometimes be required to decide on situations not covered in the rules."
I know (cause they designed 3ed and too many other games) there are people that want everything defined, explained, codified. I just wish they'd learn that that doesn't work for RPGs.  All those pages and pages of crufty rules is better handled by the above two sentences.
"... Just as the referee of a sporting event, the DM must be fair. He or she cannot be "out to get the players". Nor should he or she be on their side all the time. ... The DM must be fair, but the players must play wisely."
That last bit! You may not agree with it. I may not be correct in believing it is true. It ties into wanting my RPG to be more of an active game and not just passively "play acting a story". In games, to do well, you must play well. You can't win or lose D&D, but you can fail at it. And it is your responsibility to not fail, not the DM's not the other player's.

Being not out to punish players is obvious. Not ensuring players always win doesn't seem to be as well understood. For play to be satisfying, there must be risk of failure. Players must have bested the challenges put before them by their own wits (or luck). If success is pre-ordained, then they're not playing a GAME. They are reading a (probably poorly written) book or watching a (definitely low-budget and poorly acted) movie.
"Throughout all this -- making decisions, playing roles, handling monsters -- the DM must remember that he or she is in control. The DM is the judge, and it is his or her game. The DM should listen to the players and weigh their arguments fairly when disagreements arise, but the final decision belongs to the DM. The Dungeon Master's word is law!"
Man, I really wish that last sentence wasn't there. It's redundant and just pushes things in antagonistic way. I can see esp younger, less mature DMs remembering that and not the excellent and balanced previous bits and using it to be a dick.
"After the party leaves the dungeon safely, all surviving player characters should divide the treasure and be awarded their experience points. Division of treasure is the players' responsibility."
I try to push treasure splitting on party. I do not interfere when the thief steals shit.

"DM Note: Have each player identify his or her character's name and profession. Have them answer in their own words why they seek entrance to the place. If they answer sounds unnatural, assume the role of the corporal of the watch, and begin to cross-examine the speaker. Now is the time to make the players realize that whatever they say -- as speech or relating their actions -- will be noted by you, as Dungeon Master, and acted upon accordingly in whatever role is appropriate to the situation."
I distinctly remember in games I ran 20+ years ago vs those in last 10 or so everyone being in character most of the time. Players talked and acted in 1st person. Not in funny voice/acting.  Just saying "I open the door." vs " opens the door". I enjoy that more. It also kept play more focused and speedy. But, and this may be rose colored memory or due to other factors, it really seemed to positively alter game play. Players were more imaginative with questions and actions. They interacted with the world via "voice" rather than via dice (rolls).

I usually start campaigns, in media res, at or in the "dungeon", often with an ambush. I like action, and new players never know what to do and everyone putters round town forever! But, I'm definitely using something like this from now on. Since I still don't want to start "in town", I'll have a patrol question the characters. Then jump to the dungeon. Knowing the people I usually play with they will probably antagonize and fight the patrol, ending up dead or in jail instead.

[To the players] "Of course you are inexperienced, but you have your skills and a heart that cries out for adventure. You have it in you to become great, but you must gain experience and knowledge and greater skill. There is much to learn, and you are willing and eager to be about it! Each of you has come with everything that could possibly be given you to help. Now you must fend for yourselves; your fate is in your hands, for better or worse."
This is only applicable for specific old-school, non-heroic style of game; "you have everything... fate in your hands".  The history of your character begins now. You will be judged based on your actions henceforth. You start as nobodies, clean slates. No backstories, no angsty youth, no secret bastard of the king.

Act, don't tell!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Friday Trivia Tragedy



A question a week, answers the following week, until I get bored or forget.  All questions from the 2ed AD&D Players Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide, Monstrous Compendium Volume I, and Monstrous Compendium Volume II. Even putting aside that 2ed is one of my least favorite editions, most the questions are troll piss. Rule math minutiae. Aspects of 2ed I find too stupid to siffer. Quite a few that are common knowledge to any player these days. Mostly in regards to iconic monsters that were relatively new and unknown back in 1991.



Question (4th lvl)

Dragons come in two major varieties: chromatic and metallic [that would have been a decent if dated trivia question right there].  Name the chromatic dragons and then name the metallic dragons.






Hint: Looking for five of each.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

OwlCon Feb 22-24, 2019


Almost every year I drive over to  Rice University in Houston for one of my favorite local area game conventions, Owl Con.  Reasonably priced, easy going, not crowded, but big enough to have interesting stuff.  Very well run by the University's RPG club, after doing it for more than three decades, they got their shit figured out. The campus is nice, plenty of inexpensive parking. Depending on your events, it can be a bit of walking back and forth. 

RPGs old, new and everything in between. Boardgames. A few miniatures. Several companies demoing new games.  Lots of open gaming. I don't remember any huge CCG events/tournaments but I'm sure there is some people doing that.

http://owlcon.com/files/current_flyer.pdf


Games I'm playing in ...

Dragon of Whistmire Swamp

Dungeons & Dragons White Box

Deep in the land of Greyhawk, evil stirs in Whistmire Swamp. Rumors of cults whisper through nearby taverns while villagers go missing. Merchants who challenge roads through the swamp speak of strange magics. And many swear by sightings of dragons in the night sky. Who will delve into the swamp's ire, who will brave the dragons' breath?

Reflections in the Dark Mirror

Dungeons & Dragons Cyclopedia

Something is VERY wrong in Grenton - and only your group can see the change! The townsfolk are acting completely wrong, guards are everywhere, slavery has taken root, war with nearby Hillendale is imminent, and even the gods are not what they were yesterday. You must navigate the almost-familiar city, discover the dark power that has twisted Grenton, and find a way to counter it, before it's too late! A low-level D&D adventure - all you need are dice and your imagination.

The House of Secrets

RuneQuest Fantasy Earth: 1001 Nights

Fleeing for their lives, the characters climb into the mountains to evade their pursuers. There they find a villa, a surprising bit of civilization in the wild mountains. It offers safety, but it is also cloaked in mystery. They might rest there, but can they ever leave?


the dog can't wait to go!


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

3rd Party Plugs Wednesdays

Couple of things that came to my attention recently that are RPG related.


The Fantasy Network free-to-watch streaming video service "deliver creator-owned genre television and film content... It is accessible online at http://thefantasy.network and via IPTV apps on iOS, Apple TV, Roku, Android, Android TV, Amazon Fire, and Chrome TV.  Things like "The Gamers" series which is really excellent btw. 

"... also features a special channel dedicated to original digital programming from Gen Con, the largest hobby gaming convention in the United States."

The full details from their Press Release.



I learned about this OSR Survey put together by "Brendan S and Ben Milton are two hobbyists with a long history of participating in discussion related to the OSR and classic DnD." from Bat in the Attic.  I was my typical cynical self. After taking it, it's not gonna change the world or anything. But, it seemed like useful to know, good for discussion questions around "OSR" the term, the legend!


Take the survey your self ->  OSR Survey.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Echoes From Fomalhaut #2

I've been a big fan of Gabor Lux since I first read his stuff (maybe in Knock Spell, maybe from some OSR blog). At this year's NTRPGCon I picked up the first issue of Echoes From Fomalhaut and promptly ordered the 2nd issue. Which arrived today!



Produced by E. M. D. T. "First Hungarian D20 Society". Don't be scared away by d20ness. The style and feel is very much Appendix N inspired. It's not just another imitation of old-school sensibilities. It's its own product. And has a sprinkling of unique "spices" that derive in part from it's Hungarian roots, I assume.  Besides, Gabor Lux's and other contributor's work is great due to their ideas, structure, and writing.  Not statblocks.



What do you get? I haven't read it yet and this is not a review.  But I'm the happy owner of a digest sized 44 page, nice layout (a fair mix of modern / readable and callbacks / homages to zines of yore), varied and evocative / inspiring art (which for me as an RPG user is the most useful and valuable trait art can have). Plus a really nice looking on thicker paper, two sided, 4x digest size map. For $8 + $4 shipping to USA.

You can order the first two issues of Echos From Fomalhault and The Barbarian King from EMDT's online store.


Beyond Echos From Fomalhaut, there has been a significant amount blogged about and published (self-published, in OSR magazines, and other products). Much of it in Hungarian (to the loss of non-speakers, like me, I am sure) There are online English Fomalhaut Resources.  And I definitely suggest acquiring back Knockspell issues for the "Isles on an Emerald Sea" series.

Reading the first issue made me want to get on my DM cape and play! In fact I've since started organizing a Wilderlands sandbox starting with the Beekeeper adventure in that issue. Flipping through, it appears Echos From Fomalhaut #02 will be just as inspiring. I can't really say anything better than that [it makes me want to play] about an RPG product.

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