Monday, July 30, 2012

Seriously Awesome Basing Solution for Paper Minis

This link comes from a forum all about paper minis - if you're into them, you've probably been there, but this was too good not to share!

Here.

Dice and Kids

I think my two girls share my affinity for all things dice.  They are constantly bugging me to play with them, and they've begun to ask about the games that are played using them.  My oldest has even picked up a game book or two (since she can read extraordinarily well for her age) and has flipped through them.  I believe she tried reading Gary Gygax's introduction to the 1E DMG the other day, since that book was laying out.  Naturally, the robust word choice foiled her attempt.

This leaves me facing a conundrum.  The oldest is definitely old enough to play a roleplaying game with Dad and be able to understand the basics, but the youngest, well, she hasn't learned all her letter sounds yet.  I would love to start them off with a nice, girl-oriented, fairy or Oz type of game, and make it very easy for kids to understand, but I'm not sure I want to frustrate my youngest.  I may wait.  She is going to be a stubborn one, and she hates to learn if it bores her, and it does most of the time.  The oldest is the exact opposite - she's a sponge.  It's amazing that two kids 15 months apart are that different.  And for sure I'd have to keep violent conflict out of it at such a young age.  Not only do I not want them to think that is a way to resolve a problem, they just wouldn't understand it.  We don't let them watch television with violence in it, so they're very unaccustomed to seeing it in any more detail than Tom & Jerry or Looney Tunes.  I mean, I even turn off wrestling if it gets too bad (or vulgar, but that's another matter) - they've never even seen MMA and they're not allowed toy guns (and those of you who know what Anabaptists/Mennonites believe about violence, that's us, and that's why).

Any of you dads out there - how've you handled the young 'uns?  How did you deal with kids that couldn't read much or wanted to play with Dad but the game was beyond their understanding as far as the rules?  I know there's a few of you out there who have used roleplaying as family time, which I think would be amazing, but for the hurdles involved.

Friday, July 27, 2012

House Rule: No Experience Points

I haven't used experience points in at least ten years.  It goes back to my days with 2E, when I began to detest the calculations involved and keeping track of numbers during the game, since it was always impossible to remember who did what at the end of the game (we kept track of individual experience totals for each character back then, instead of divvying everything up equally for the group).  However, my longest running 2E campaign rarely kept track of XP this way.  It was a bit more of a typical campaign, the only oddball being a halfling cleric that spoke every language in my game world (Helenista).  That is when I stopped handing out experience and we ruled that every 2-4 adventures, we would raise levels.  If I wanted the PCs to move quickly through beginning levels, it was every 2 adventures, and then I slowed it down during the mid-level sweet spot to every 4 adventures.  It worked pretty well.  It's something I kept doing throughout 3.0 and 3.5.  I've never once handed out experience points while running a 3.X game.  Nor will I ever do so with 3.PF, which I do intend on running (it's too cool not to, and I love messing with rules like 3.X encourages).  I will be taking this rule into the canon for my S&W/Frankenstein OSR game.  Depending on how quickly I need to move them along, they'll advance 1 level every 2-4 adventures.  Complete adventures, mind you, not just sessions. 

What's the side effect of doing this?  Well, in OSR games it helps negate greed and murder as a primary motivation.  It might be right for a certain character in the game who has that sort of persona, but when that is the main way characters are rewarded it fosters that behavior as proper within the context of the game.  I thought to myself - would I want my children (I have two daughters, 5 years and 6 years) playing a game in which greed or murder are rewarded?  Easy answer.  No.  When you take that away, and reward the PCs with level adjustments based on them actually completing adventures, it has the effect of motivating them toward story goals and thinking about what their characters would do instead.  Some may see this as "against" an OSR game philosophy.  I say that those particular folks have put the game on a pedestal on which it does not belong, and that no game is important enough to argue about or "revere".  The "spirit" of D&D is fun.  Not how you play the game, not what rule set you use, and not "keeping it old school."  It's... a... game.  So, with that in mind, I freely adapt what I see fit - and since I had a problem with the moral issues in play with the older XP reward systems, and to some extent the current (PF/3.5) ones, I made the switch to the system I use now, which is the lack of one.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Dungeon Doesn't Care

Dante's Underworld doesn't care if you survive.  Neither does Leptis Magna.
Since the game world I'm using now is one I intend to be used for multiple campaigns and different rule sets, I have created enough dungeon space to keep the group going for a long, long time.  There are, as I count now, 3 megadungeons including Leptis Magna, Spiderspire, the Necropolis of Voor, and several more large dungeons that I know exist within the known portion of the world.  Too many, you might say.  Just enough, at least for my gamer ADD, is what I say.  Surely the PCs will not become embroiled in all of them, but see, in my world, they are interconnected in a very Underdark sort of way.  Tunnels to and from different dungeon areas exist underneath the continents, and some of them might as well be mega-highways for the nasties below ground.  Some of the dungeons have their own sets of rules, like the Necropolis of Voor, which seems to come alive to repel any attempts to gather its secrets, going back to the idea some have maintained about the dungeon as an "underworld" setting.  Not entirely off base, although I don't think I'd necessarily declare it to the players in my campaign.  We'll have to see how far I can take the idea, depending on my gumption levels.  One thing I will definitely adhere to is a rule I have about dungeon ecology - the dungeon doesn't care if a game is balanced.  It does what makes sense.  If it makes sense for a gaggle of nasties too difficult for the players to defeat to live in a particular area on Level 1, well, then, they're going to live there.  If the PCs don't run, they face their fate with blank expressions and morbid surprise.  This is going to be difficult for my group to grasp at first.  They're used to 3.5 and 4E.  The balance factors present in those versions of The Game may have spoiled my guys.  This I shall accept.  They began playing that way with 2E and I was surely part of that problem.  I facilitated it.  But no more.  Take an extra PC, suckers.  Don't worry, if they die, I'll make it fun.  Or gross.  Or both.

New Monster: Vulkanite

Vulkanite

Hit Dice:  3+3
Armor Class:  12
Attacks:  1 touch (1d4 plus 1 Con dmg)
Saving Throw:  14
Special:  Con damage, can only be hit by silver or magic
Movement:  Fly 12
Challenge Level/XP:  4/120

 The vulkanites are near-incorporeal denizens of the depths of Leptis Magna.  They are of mysterious origin, and not many who have encountered them have survived to tell tales of their existence.  It is theorized that they were cursed in ages past by sorceries now best forgotten, or enthralled by evil gods.  They are cruel and life-hating, and seek to destroy all those who would delve too deeply into Leptis Magna.

In combat, they touch their targets with their wispy claws, and this inflicts a wracking pain that deals 1d4 damage plus 1 point of Constitution damage.  Reduced Constitution, of course, can lead to additional hit point loss if appropriate (by the loss of Con bonus, or if a Con penalty is gained).  Also they can only be hit by magic, magic weapons, and silver weapons, as their sorcerous nature protects them from most mundane forms of attack.

New "Monster": Thuggi Cultist

Thuggi Cultist

Hit Dice:  2
Armor Class:  12
Attacks:  1 weapon (1d6 + weapon dmg modifier)
Saving Throw:  16
Special:  Backstab (x2), strangulation, hide in shadows 55%, move silently 35%
Move:  12
Challenge Level/XP:  4/120

The Cult of Thuggi is a pervasive threat to the Empire of Karthage.  It is a cult of assassins, thieves, and cutpurses who worship a god whose identity is kept secret to all but those initiated into the cult.  Members of the cult have been kidnapping and holding for ransom high-ranking members of the Karthaginian aristocracy with increasing frequency, and often the victims end up slain even if the ransom is paid - the bloody god of the Thuggi demands ritual sacrifice as part of its worship, and the cult will not deny their god.  They are fanatical in their belief, and have been known to slay opposing religious leaders as part of their initiation.  They are especially opposed to the Nameless God of the Megiddians, as the Nameless God is the sole symbol of purity and hope in the bleak world of Antediluvia.

The Thuggi are adept at sneaking up behind their targets in silence and strangling them to death.  As this is part of their training in the cult, these abilities seem to be supernaturally bestowed upon them.  A successful backstab attempt also allows them to initiate their strangulation ability automatically, as if they had won a grapple.  During strangulation, victims take 1d4 points of Constitution damage per round.  If the victim's Constitution reaches 0, he dies, windpipe crushed.  Breaking free of this requires winning a grappling contest (see house rule on Grappling), but the Thuggi gets a +2 bonus to their roll due to the supernatural adeptness of their ability to kill in this way.

New Monster: Spiderborn

Spiderborn

Hit Dice:  4+4
Armor Class:  14
Attacks:  1 bite (2d4 + poison), 4 claws (1d4 each), or 2 weapons (1d6 + weapon dmg modifier)
Saving Throw:  13
Special:  Poison (save or 2d6 damage plus paralysis for 1d6 turns), call spiders, shapechange, immune to poison
Move:  12, Climb 9
Challenge Level/XP:  10/1400

The spiderborn are the degenerate descendants of humans who hid from pursuers in the tunnels below the mountain called Spiderspire and encountered there what was to become their living god - The Spider.

Spiderborn have poisonous fangs that they can use during combat to great effect, causing paralysis.  They also have the ability to call nearby spiders.  Three times per day, a spiderborn can call 1d6 giant (smaller) spiders, 1d4 giant (man-sized) spiders, or 1d2 giant (greater) spiders.  The GM may substitute spider swarms, scorpion swarms, or giant scorpions if he wishes.  The spiderborn can also shapechange at will per the spell alteration of physical form.  They cannot be harmed by poison.

New "Monster": Monkey Swarm

Monkey Swarm

Hit Dice:  3
Armor Class:  13
Attacks:  1 swarm (2d6 + distraction)
Saving Throw:  14
Special:  Distraction, half damage from slashing/piercing weapons, automatic damage, cannot be flanked
Movement:  9, Climb 12
Challenge Level/XP:  5/240

In the teeming jungles of the south, fearless adventurers brave worse things than angry simians trying to defend their territory.  However, when a horde of monkeys gathers as one to defend themselves or to seek food, they can become a terrifying force to behold, ripping and tearing at their foes in order to devour them.

A monkey swarm must move into an opponent's space to attack them, but they deal automatic damage without need for an attack roll.  When a monkey swarm damages an opponent, they are distracted unless they make a successful saving throw.  If the save is failed, a character is considered nauseated and suffers a -1 to all attacks, damage, saving throws, and ability checks for 1 round from the distraction.  A monkey swarm cannot be flanked or backstabbed, and it suffers only half damage from slashing and piercing weapons.

New Monster: Negalu-Man

Negalu-Man

Hit Dice:  3+3
Armor Class:  14
Attacks:  1 barbed sword (1d8 + 4) or 1 mind blast (2d6 + stun)
Saving Throw:  14
Special:  Mind blast, travel in the cracks between at will
Move:  12
Challenge Level/XP:  6/400

The Negalu-Men are a race of beings that live on the lush, green moon of Negalu, one of the two moons of the world of Antediluvia.  They are tall, lanky, and powerful of frame, with skull-like visages and violent attitudes combined with a militaristic society bent on conquering.  Their sky-ships ply the skies of Negalu, bringing war to all those they meet, and their sorcerors have been researching methods of sky-ship travel to the world they see in their sky, the world of Antediluvia.  So far the magic has eluded their grasp, but nothing is impossible - it is magic, after all.

In combat they use wicked curved and barbed swords that cause incredible pain, and they alternate melee attacks with their mind blast ability.  The mind blast is a blast of concussive, invisible, psychic force that they can employ once per round against one target, and may use again every 1d4 rounds (a roll of 1 being the very next round of combat).  A saving throw is granted to resist the mind blast, and if successful the victim suffers no damage and the mind blast attempt is expended as normal.  If the save fails, however, the victim suffers 2d6 points of damage and is stunned for 1d4 rounds.  Negalu-Men can also use travel in the cracks between as a spell-like ability at will.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

New Monster: Mistman of Phyrgilus

Mistman of Phyrgilus

Hit Dice:  3
Armor Class:  14
Attacks:  1 weapon (1d6 + weapon dmg modifier)
Saving Throw:  14
Special:  Aura of mist, assume gaseous form 3/day, magic resistance 25%
Move:  12
Challenge Level/XP:  4/120

The mistmen of Phyrgilus are a race older than humanity, dwellers in the lands of Antediluvia from before recorded time.  They dwell in their namesake city, Phyrgilus, which is located in the land of Xotath, deep in a valley of the jungle called The Drape, which is at the foothills of the mountains named The Bridge of Ixtomelja.  Accessing the city is difficult, since it is guarded well, and surrounded by the mountainous jungle, inhabited by strange peoples (although much less strange than the mistmen).  They have no existing trade with the outside world, and seem to exist wholly in isolation.  Most of those who have journeyed to the city have never been seen again - only those who the mistmen have allowed to leave are ever successful at escaping.  The entire city of Phyrgilus is covered in a thick fog, and the valley it resides in seems to lie under constant low cloud cover, filling the entire valley's jungle canopy.  They worship the demon-god Yuggog.

Mistmen have a perpetual aura of mist that surrounds them which acts as a mist-like emanation of obscurity spell, which is centered on the mistman at all times.  They may also assume gaseous form, as the potion, up to three times per day.  The aura of mist is active even while they are in gaseous form.  In physical form, they typically attack with weapons, although many mistmen have been known to use sorcery.

New Monster: Leng Spider

Leng Spider

Hit Dice:  15
Armor Class:  22
Attacks:  1 bite (2d6 + poison) or 1 web (special)
Saving Throw:  3
Special:  Fast healing 5 hp/round, poison, web, immunity to effects causing confusion or insanity, immunity to poison, magic resistance 50%
Movement:  12, Climb 12
Challenge Level/XP:  22/4500

The Leng spiders dwell on the Plateau of Leng, along with the only slightly less monstrous denizens of Leng.  However, the spiders and the denizens of  Leng have long been at war with each other, and they are vicious predators that desire nothing but utmost power, and they are determined to have it.  That desire for power is not confined to the Plateau.  They construct lairs made of webs and found objects, and these lairs would be considered works of art for their beauty if it were not for the purpose of their design - to trap and hold all who enter.  They are 18 feet long and weigh 6,000 pounds.  They never have an even number of legs - the most common number of legs is 7 or 9.

Leng spiders heal quickly, at the rate of 5 hit points per round.  They are very hard to kill, which makes them all the more dangerous.  Once reduced to 0 hit points, they cannot heal themselves back to life, but if they have positive hit points, the ability is constantly in effect.

The bite of the Leng spider is highly venomous, and if bitten, a victim must save or die in 1d10 rounds.  During the time that the character is poisoned and dying, he acts as if under the effects of a curse of chaos and disorder.  If the saving throw is successful, only the curse of chaos and disorder effect is inflicted, and only for 1d6 rounds.  The horrific hallucinations experienced by those under the effects of the poison are indescribable, and survivors block these images and sounds from their memories forever after they recover.

Leng spiders may also shoot webs from their abdomen to ensnare prey.  This requires a saving throw to avoid.  If the saving throw fails, the character is ensnared and the spider can reel in the victim at a rate of 30 feet per round.  Treat ensnared characters as having the entangled condition.  Characters must make a Strength check at a -3 penalty to break free from the sticky strand.

New "Monster": Kanaima Tribesman

Kanaima Tribesman

Hit Dice:  1
Armor Class:  12
Attacks:  1 weapon (1d6 + weapon dmg modifier)
Saving Throw:  17
Special:  Tracking
Move:  12
Challenge Level/XP:  1/15

The Kanaima are a tribe of nomads of dark skin tone who dwell along the northern coasts of the Konga region. Their territory encompasses the southern coastline along the Elbows of Inthal, as far west as the River of Dreams and as far east as the Blood of Sebkhedis.  They keep animals on the coastal plains, and hunt in the jungles within their territory.  Their typical dress includes a turban or similar headdress, a light shirt or no shirt, and leather leggings.  They are known for hardiness, brutality, honesty, and fierceness.

The Kanaima are renowned for their tracking skills, and can track quarry with a base 75% accuracy, modified for situation at the GM's discretion.  This has earned them the name "the Hounds of Konga," which they are quite proud to own, and are sought far and wide by nobles who wish to find their enemies or allies in the wild.

New Monster: Fetchling

Fetchling

Hit Dice:  1+1
Armor Class:  14
Attacks:  1 weapon (1d6 + weapon dmg modifier)
Saving Throw:  16
Special:  Shadow blending, hide in shadows 95%, disguised by shadow, backstab (2x damage)
Movement:  12
Challenge Level/XP:  4/120

These strange humanoid creatures make their homes in the ruins of the world, finding their territories in out of the way places where they will not be bothered by humanity.  However, when humans encroach upon their dwellings, they stop at nothing to remove that threat.  They hate human life, and will eradicate interlopers without mercy.  They are beings of darkness and evil, fully corrupted long ago by the denizens of Voor, who had enslaved them.  They broke free of their captors with the demize of the Voori civilization, but had endured centuries of torment and degradation at their hands.  Now they seek to live in isolation amongst themselves.

The fetchling's shadow blending ability makes attacks against them made in dim light or darker have a 50% miss chance rather than the normal 20%.  This ability does not confer total concealment, it simply increases the chance of missing the creature, as it blends with the shadows and makes them do the fetchling's bidding, assisting them in moving weapons away from them - the shadows visibly shift around them in dim light.  A fetchling can also disguise itself with shadowstuff in such a way as to assume the form of any humanoid creature it desires for 1 day.  They are also natural assassins, and can backstab and hide in shadows with expertise.

Note:  Converted from Pathfinder.

New Monster: Devourer of Aktenshepset

Devourer of Aktenshepset

Hit Dice:  4+4
Armor Class:  14
Attacks:  1 bite (2d4) or 1 weapon (1d10 + weapon dmg modifier)
Saving Throw:  13
Special:  Magic resistance 10%, ritually devour
Move:  9
Challenge Level/XP:  6/400

The devourers of Aktenshepset are evil servitors of the foul god worshipped in the city of the same name.  They are eaters of men, and they gain power from their ritually sacrificed victims.  Physically, they are hunched, powerful-looking creatures with jackal- or hyena-like features of the legs and face, and are often clothed in ceremonial robes or wrappings.

The devourers have a peculiar ability to draw strength from victims during ritual sacrifice, or even on the battlefield if they dedicate their slain foes to their dark god.  If a devourer of Aktenshepset kills a sacrificial victim during a ritual, or performs a dedicatory ritual during combat after slaying a foe, and then devours, in whole or in part, the creature slain, it gains hit points equal to the Hit Dice of the victim, and a +1 damage bonus in addition to any other bonuses it may have.    It can perform these rituals up to 3 times per day with no upper limit on how many hit points it can gain.  Hit points gained past its maximum are kept until the next day.  The maximum bonus to damage that a devourer can gain is +3 in regards to sacrifices.  It takes 1d6 minutes to properly sacrifice and devour an offering.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Paper Minis

I love miniatures.  All kinds of miniatures.  That's why I added rules like flanking into the S&W/0E rules set.  One thing I've always struggled with is finding the right mini for the job - sometimes it's not viable to go out and buy every mini I need - I'd be way broker than I am right now, and I'm broke, brothers and sisters.  One thing I stumbled on was a site for paper minis the other day - cardboard-warriors.proboards.com.  The things some of those guys are doing with 2D paper minis are amazing, and some of them look incredible.  It's got me inspired to do all sorts of papercrafting once my financial situation allows it (right now it allows food, electric, TV/Internet, and housing).

Thursday, July 19, 2012

House Rule: No Alignment

The chart at right should look familiar to old-school gamers.  It's the metric by which we have gauged character behavior for years (until 4th Edition, but that's beside the point).  As I was dreaming up the house rules that would define the setting I am using further (the originator of the setting, which is Antediluvia, dreamed up several things which I've posted and am using currently), I decided that in order to get a real sword & sorcery or sword & planet feel, I needed to abolish alignment.  Of course, this does have an effect on the game - not as much as in 3.X, but it does have one.  For instance, what do you do when an alignment-based spell is cast?  Well, in the case of something that detects evil, evil is defined morally for most of us from an early age.  Sure, someone will try to make the case that evil is "subjective," but that's a bunch of hogwash as far as I'm concerned.  The priest about to sacrifice someone in the evil temple?  Yeah, that's evil.  How about the goblin about to do 1d8 points of damage to your face?  Evil also.  So it can be done rather easily in many situations.

Instead of alignment, I have decided to have players choose 3 adjectives that describe the personality of their character best.  At the simplest level that means defining your character in 3 words.  I am also going to encourage them to pick at least one positive and one negative word - those being subjective to the viewpoint of the player, surely.  Every one of us has different facets to our personality.  If I was labeling myself, I might use "jovial" as a positive, "procrastinator" as a negative, and for an extra, "intense."  That's just how I see it.  This will allow players to worry less about the game mechanic of alignment dictating their character's behavior and facilitate the development of the character a bit more.  Think about it - Conan was honorable in many situations, yet there are numerous stories where he killed and thieved the whole way through.  Sword & sorcery characters should operate more in that gray area for which they are famous.  It also will not be random, since I want players to use their imaginations.  No d30 tables will appear on this blog for this rule, mark my words!

New Monster: Denizen of Leng

Denizen of Leng

Hit Dice:  10
Armor Class:  16
Attacks:  2 claws (1d4 + 1d4 Dex damage), 1 bite (1d6 + 1d4 Dex damage)
Saving Throw:  5
Special:  Sneak attack, move silently 80%, hide in shadows 75%, Dexterity damage, spell-like abilities, fast healing 3 hp/round, connection to Leng
Move:  12
Challenge Level/XP:  15/2000

The denizens of Leng are the inhabitants of the mysterious Plateau of Leng.  These eerie folk pass for human at a distance, being disguised in loose-fitting robes and wrapping their hands and faces with strips of white cloth.  What these clothes and wrappings hide are horned brows, vicious claws, tentacled mouths, and goat-like legs that end in cloven hooves.  They often abduct humans from the settlements closest to Leng, consisting mainly of the Kombolo people, who live in the jungles that surround the plateau.  What is done with the humans they abduct no one can guess, but rumors abound of sacrifices to unknown gods, torture, and for the luckiest, never-ending slavery.

When a denizen of Leng hits with its horrid and otherworldly claws or bite, it deals 1d4 points of Dexterity damage in addition to the regular damage listed if a saving throw is failed.  A victim whose Dexterity is reduced suffers penalties according to his reduced score (including diminished AC bonus and possible penalties to any roll that would require Dexterity to modify it).  If a victim's Dexterity reaches 0, he is completely paralyzed until he recovers.  Treat a Dexterity of 1 or 2 as if it was a 3.  Dexterity points lost through this attack are regained at the rate of 1d6 per day.

Denizens of Leng will regain any lost hit points at the rate of 3 per round, up to their maximum.  This is due to their completely unnatural nature, and their psychic power over their own physical forms.  This ability only functions if they are away from the Plateau of Leng, traveling the world beyond.  They have a deep connection with the Plateau, and it is quite impossible to kill them unless they are encountered on the Plateau itself.  A "slain" denizen of Leng that is defeated at a location other than the Plateau dissolves into nothingness in 1d4 rounds, leaving behind only clothing and equipment.  It then reforms on the Plateau of Leng in a location determined by the GM.  It can only be truly killed when its fast healing ability is not functioning (which is when it is on the Plateau, or if the ability is somehow negated).

Denizens of Leng also have a few select spell-like abilities at their disposal, including psychic expansion of consciousness at will, bodily levitation 3/day, and spell of discovery and location 1/day.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

New Monster: Ape of Tuzun Thune

Ape of Tuzun Thune

Hit Dice:  4+4
Armor Class:  13
Attacks:  2 claws (1d6), 1 bite (2d6)
Saving Throw:  12
Special:  Rend for 2d8 damage if attack roll is 18+, muttering, camouflage
Move:  12, Climb 9
Challenge Level/XP:  6/400

The apes of Tuzun Thune are a vicious breed.  They dwell all over the sides of the great mountain of Tuzun Thune and in the deep caves with which it is honeycombed.  They inspire fear in all who know of them, for they are not entirely natural creatures.  There is a malevolence within them that is evident to all who have seen them in the flesh.  Their eyes glow green at night, as if a strange fire burns behind them.  Their fur is mottled black and brown, providing them with an element of camouflage in the wild.  They kill for pleasure as well as for food, and commonly make meals of the Phalechites nearby, even carrying off their women for purposes unknown (although it is surely nothing pleasant).

If an ape hits with a natural roll of 18 or higher on its attack roll, it automatically rends and mauls its opponent for an additional 2d8 damage - a saving throw is allowed for half damage from this attack.  Also, when three or more apes are present at once, they begin to make strange and eerie muttering sounds that seem to invade the psyche of the listener, the sound coming from both the mouths of the apes and also from within the very mind of the victim.  This has an incredibly unsettling effect even on hardened warriors, and victims who hear this muttering must make a saving throw or be affected as by a curse of fear spell.  If there are six or more apes muttering at once, the saving throw is made at a penalty.  This penalty is -1 for every additional three apes present, rounding down.  Thus, a group of 6 apes would garner a -1 penalty to the victim's saving throw, and a group of 11 would inflict a -2 penalty.  -4 is the highest penalty that can be accumulated - the mutterings of 15 apes are just as overwhelming as 100.  Also, the mottled fur of the ape provides natural camouflage.  In a setting in which it would apply (such as in the forest or in dark caves), they impose a -1 penalty on opponents' surprise rolls.

My World Map

So I mentioned before about a friend of mine who had a blog and created some things and then crashed and burned as soon as it seemed he was rolling.  Well, my world map is a direct result of this.  He gave me the ok to re-work and re-post any of his things I wanted to since he's still down and out.  So, I took the game world, Antediluvia, for my own.  I've re-worked the map and added quite a bit, and subtracted some.  Here it is, in huge jpeg format.

By the way, I found the original post where this map came from:  here.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

S&W Condition Cards

My last post led me to a revelation - it would be nice to have condition cards to pass out to players when they gain one of the conditions listed in that post.  So, I spent some time with Open Office and created a nifty PDF from someone's 3x5 recipe card template.  I left off the Surprised condition since it's only ever a 1-round ordeal for whoever is surprised.  That can be done easily on the fly.  For all the other conditions, I present you with the file link below, and I dressed it up with some barbarian silhouettes for real Sword & Sorcery feel.  It's on Google Docs.  Have fun if you decide to use them.

House Rule: Conditions

Mummies - a large cause of the Frightened condition.
In my Frankenmonster old school game, I thought it would be great to have conditions as in Pathfinder (I borrowed 3.PF conditions since they are the most concise).  It helps to simply say "You are cowering," and be able to then have a set parameter of effects when that happens.  Find below all the conditions I use in the game, re-worked for S&W Complete.  Sorry for some of the wonky spacing issues below.  I copied this out of a PDF that the former writer of these rules made.

Blinded:  A   blinded   character   cannot   see.   They   are   -2   to   AC,   lose   any Dexterity bonus, and are -4 to Strength and Dexterity. All checks and activities relying on vision fail. Opponents are considered to have total concealment in combat (50% miss chance). To move faster than half  speed, a Dexterity check is required, and if  failed, the character falls prone.

Cowering:  A cowering character is frozen in fear, and can take no actions. They are -2 to AC, and lose their Dexterity bonus.

Dazed:  Dazed characters are  unable  to act normally. They  can take no actions,   but   they   have   no   penalty   to   AC   while   defending themselves. The dazed condition typically lasts just 1 round.

Confused:  Confused   characters   are   mentally   befuddled,   and   cannot   act normally.   They   cannot  tell   the   difference   between  ally   and   foe, treating all other characters as potential enemies. Allies attempting to cast beneficial spells  must be  treated as  if  they  were  enemy spellcasters   and   it   might  be   necessary   to   subdue   the   confused character. On the subject's turn each round, roll 1d100 - 01-25: Act normally.  26-50:  Do nothing but babble incoherently.  51-75:  Deal 1d8 points of  damage + Strength modifier to self. 76-100: Attack nearest creature. If  a confused character can't act on an indicated action, he babbles incoherently.

Deafened:  A deafened character can't hear. They are -2 to initiative and fail all sound-based checks and activities automatically. They also have a 20%  chance   of   spell failure  due  to  not  being  able  to  correctly pronounce incantations when deafened, being essentially unable to hear themselves speak.

Entangled:  An entangled character is ensnared or caught in something, or their mobility is impeded otherwise. They may only move at half  speed, and can't run or charge. They are -2 to attack, -4 to Dexterity, and suffer a 20% chance of  spell failure from lack of  full mobility and distraction.

Exhausted:  An exhausted character moves at half  speed, and cannot run or charge. They are -6 to Strength and Dexterity. After 1 hour, an exhausted character moves up the scale to the fatigued condition.

Fascinated:  A   fascinated   character   is   entranced   by   a   supernatural   effect   of  some sort. They stand or sit quietly, paying attention only to the effect that entrances them. They are -4 to any check made as a reaction. Any potential threat to them allows a new save versus the effect, if  one is allowed. Any obvious threat breaks the fascination effect, if  the GM sees fit. An ally may shake a fascinated character free of  the effect, if  the GM allows, taking a full round.

Fatigued:  A  fatigued  character  can't   run  or  charge,  is   -2  to  Strength  and Dexterity, and doing anything that would normally cause fatigue in this condition moves the character into the exhausted condition. After 8 hours of  rest the character is no longer fatigued.

Frightened:  A frightened character flees from the source of  its fear as best it can. It may fight if  unable to flee. They are -2 to attack, saves, and ability checks while frightened.

Grappled:  A character in the midst of  grappling is considered grappled. They are -4 to Dexterity, -2 on attack rolls except for rolls pertaining to the grappling contest, and must make successful Dexterity checks in order to cast spells. They can't complete actions that require two hands to complete, as at least one hand will be considered involved in fending off  the other grappler.

Incorporeal:  Incorporeal creatures are immune to non-magical attacks, and only take  half  damage  from magic  weapons, spells,  and supernatural effects. They take full damage from other incorporeal creatures or ectoplasm-based magic attacks.

Nauseated:  Nauseated   characters   become   extremely   ill   and   suffer   severe stomach   distress.  They   are   unable   to   attack,   cast   spells,   or   do anything requiring concentration. They may only move or defend themselves.

Panicked:  Panicked characters must flee at top speed from the source of  their fear.  They have a 50% chance of dropping   anything   they   are carrying. They will flee along a random path, and are -2 to saves and ability checks. If  cornered, a panicked character cowers in fear and does not attack.

Paralyzed:  A paralyzed character is frozen in place, and cannot move or act. Dexterity   and   Strength  are  effectively   0,   and   the   character   is helpless. They may only take mental actions.

Prone:  A prone character lies on the ground. They are -4 to attack and cannot use ranged weapons other than a crossbow. They receive a +4 AC bonus against ranged weapons, but are -4 to AC in melee.

Shaken:  Shaken characters are -2 to attack, saves, and ability checks.

Sickened:  Sickened characters are -2 to attack, saves, damage, and ability checks.

Staggered:  Staggered characters only move and attack at half  speed.

Stunned:  Stunned characters drop anything they are holding, can take no actions, and are -2 to AC. They lose any Dexterity bonus they may have.

Surprised:  Surprised characters lose their Dexterity bonus to AC, if any, on the round they are surprised.

House Rule: Grappling

I've had to house rule grappling for old school games.  The S&W solution for grappling left me... wanting more.  The 3.X version of grappling left me.... wanting less.  And do you really want to use those stupid tables from 2E?  Even Gygax started fiddling with his original rules in 1E.  So here's my solution.  Poke holes at will.

When a character initiates a grapple, his player must state whether he is attempting to overbear or finesse the target into a grapple.  If he is attempting to overbear the target, his Str score will be more important.  If he is trying to finesse the target, his Dex score will be more important.  

The target of the grapple then makes a saving throw, using the Str or Dex modifier of the initiating grappler as a bonus or penalty.  If the initiator of the grapple is trying to overbear his opponent, his Str modifier is used to affect the final save value, and if he is trying to finesse the opponent, his Dex modifier is used in the same way.  A positive modifier on the part of the initiator of the grapple is added to the number needed by the target to successfully save, making it more difficult.  A negative modifier on the part of the initiator is subtracted from the number needed by the target to save, effectively making it easier.

For instance, if a character with a Str of 18 (+3) is attempting to overbear a character with a saving throw of 12, the character making the saving throw must roll 15 or higher (+3 from the initiating grappler's Str score is added to the saving throw of 12).

Also, if the target is a PC or NPC with ability scores (in other words, not a standard monster), his Str or Dex modifier, whichever he chooses, will apply to his saving throw.  In the example above, if the target making the save had a Dex of 15 (+1 modifier), his +1 is applied to his saving throw roll.

If the target character saves successfully, he is not grappled.  If the target character fails his saving throw, he gains the grappled condition.  The initiating character is considered grapped also, but is also considered to have a hold.  Characters who have a hold on a target impose an additional +2 penalty to the number needed by the target to break the grapple with a saving throw on subsequent rounds.

On the appropriate initiative phase of the next round, the target may attempt to break free from the grapple, which means another saving throw with all appropriate modifiers.  The initiating grappler, if he still maintains his hold during the round, may choose to do his basic unarmed damage to the target or pin the character, which causes the target to be unable to move - he can still fight back and resist, but he cannot move.  Certain other effects may be decided upon by the GM as he sees fit (such as a possible loss of Dex bonus), depending on the situation.  A pinned character is not considered helpless, just severely restrained.  Pinned characters may be tied up on subsequent rounds if the target does not break free.  The GM can decide how he wants to handle tying a pinned character - another save may be called for, or a Dex check on the part of the character attempting to tie up the pinned character.

Note:  to initiate a grapple, a character must close with his target and essentially step into the same space.  If the initiating grappler closes with a target who is armed and attempts to grapple him, the target gets one free attack against the initiator as he closes to grapple, the result of which does not affect the grapple attempt unless the controlling player calls off the move.

Grappling with monsters poses a slight problem.  They do not have ability scores and are often much larger than a regular PC.  Monsters of higher power levels should be sufficiently difficult to grapple, as should large ones.  Generally, the more powerful or larger a monster is, the more Hit Dice it has.  Monsters use their HD as a modifier on their saving throws against being grappled, and as a modifier on their attempts to grapple PCs.  For instance, a 5 HD monster attempts to grapple a character with a save of 12 and Str of 17 (+2).  The monster imposes a +5 penalty to the save value, which means the character needs a 17 or higher to save against the grapple.  He defending PC gets a +2 to his roll due to his Str.

As stated earlier, it also works in the reverse.  Monsters use their HD as a bonus to their saving throw roll if they are the target of a grapple attempt.  In the example above, the 5 HD monster, if he should be the target of a grapple, would get a +5 to his saving throw roll to avoid the grapple.

Using the HD of a monster as a bonus to the saving throw may seem weighted, but when you consider what it would actually take to wrestle a red dragon (basically a huge, smart, diabolical dinosaur), with 9-11 HD, it's not that far-fetched.  It would be a difficult proposition at best, and probably doomed to failure.  Smart men do not choose to wrestle dragons (or other beasts, for that matter), and most will take all precautions against becoming grabbed by one.  Care must be taken by the GM, however, not to abuse this system of grappling with monsters - a 17 HD elemental that decides to grapple might want to have a good reason for choosing that option, since grappled characters need not break a grapple to make an attack.

CONDITIONS
Yes, I've implemented the use of Pathfinder's conditions into my game of S&W - like I told you, it is a Frankenstein monster of house rules.  Here is the Grappled condition.

Grappled:  A character in the midst of  grappling is considered grappled. They are -4 to Dexterity, -2 on attack rolls except for rolls pertaining to the grappling contest, and must make successful Dexterity checks in order to cast spells. They can't complete actions that require two hands to complete, as at least one hand will be considered involved in fending off  the other grappler.

My band has its first show

My band National Collapse will play its first show in East Canton OH on August 25 (Saturday) at something called Leroy Fest.  Should be a good time, and there should be one or two other metal bands of varying degrees so we won't be too bored.  We'll probably scare some of the squares right out of their pants.  This will be the first time in 5 years I've climbed onto a stage somewhere other than church, so this oughta be great!

House Rule: Flanking

See the gray cat on the left?  Yes, that's a backstab.  To the face.
When making a melee attack, characters receive a +1 bonus if their opponent is threatened by another enemy character or creature on its opposite border or opposite corner.

When in doubt whether two characters flank an opponent, trace an imaginary line between the two attackers' centers.  If the line passes directly through opposite borders of the opponent's space (including corners of those borders), then the opponent is flanked.

Characters who have the ability to backstab, or another similar ability, can attempt to backstab if they flank their opponent.  The opponent receives a saving throw to take half damage if the opponent is not surprised and if the backstabbing character is not hidden or invisible by some means.

Note:  Why would I add this to an "old rules" game where so much of the action takes place in the theater of the mind?  Well, I like miniatures, for one, and for two, this totally solves the dilemma of "When can I backstab?"  If you're like me, you barely used it in 2E and BECMI since the rules simply said "behind the target" or something similar.  Plus, this gives the thief a bit of added punch.  They don't have the hit points to duke it out, so if they dare get that close to an enemy they'd better hit hard once and scatter.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

House Rule: Spellcasting and Low Ability Scores

One of the rules in Swords & Wizardry Complete is that wizards must have a certain Intelligence score to cast spells of certain levels, as per the Intelligence table in the rulebook.  A house rule has been added to help alleviate this problem - wizards can cast higher level spells than their Int score allows, at a risk.  When casting a spell of a higher level than his Int score would normally allow (provided he has been able to learn it successfully - see below), the wizard must make a saving throw with a penalty equal to the difference in level of the spell being cast and his normal maximum spell level.  For instance, a wizard with a maximum spell level of 6 (Int 12) casting a 9th level spell would make his saving throw at -3.  If he fails this saving throw, he suffers 1d6 points of damage per level of the spell as the magical energy backlashes due to an incomplete understanding of how to harness it.

Learning Spells of Higher Level Than Intelligence Allows:  Wizards may learn spells that exceed the limit of their Int score, but it is difficult.  A -5% penalty per level higher than the normal maximum spell level limit is applied to the wizard's chance to understand a new spell.  Thus, a wizard whose maximum spell level limit is 6 (Int 12) trying to learn a 9th level spell would have a 40% chance to learn it, instead of the normal 55%.

House Rule: Shields Shall Be Splintered

This is a variation on Trollsmyth's house rule.  Here.

Any time a character takes damage, he may opt to sacrifice his shield (if he is equipped with one), declaring it "splintered."  This renders the shield useless, but has the effect of completely negating the blow that would otherwise have damaged the combatant in question.  This only works for melee attacks, and cannot be used in regards to missiles or thrown weapons.

Against damaging magical spells (even breath weapons) that are clearly targeted and that cause effects which could be blocked, this rule can be invoked in the following way:  the player can declare that his character absorbs most of the effect with his shield, and gains a saving throw (if one was not allowed originally by the spell or magical effect) for half damage.  If there was originally a saving throw allowed, the invoking of this rule means an automatic success on the saving throw - but the shield is rendered useless in any case.

House Rule: Bonus Spells

I used to love looking at this picture of a magic-user in the RC.  I grew up in an all-white neighborhood, and truth be told, when I was 11, hadn't thought much about black or white or anything in D&D.  This picture changed that.  Unrelated to the post, yes, but important nonetheless.

Spellcasting characters, at lower levels, leave some players feeling useless as soon as they use their few spells during an adventure and the rest of the group does not want to or cannot rest a full night.  Bonus spells (as well as some other rules I shall share later) help alleviate that issue.  These are additional spells per day that can be cast as any other.  However, the spellcasting character must have access to the spell level in question in order to gain the bonus spell(s) indicated for his Prime Requisite level.  Use the table below for any character who casts spells.

Prime Requisite Score: Bonus Spells (1st/2nd/3rd)
13:  1
14:  1/1
15:  2/1
16:  2/1/1
17:  2/2/1
18:  2/2/2

RPG Blog Alliance

Hit Adjacent Ally is now a member of the RPGBA!  I'm excited that my scribblings may be seen by more than just the handful of followers here.  Granted, the blog is only a month old at most.  Here's to old rules!

House Rule: Damage

Damage is handled differently from typical games in my campaign.  Str and Dex determine your damage die, not your weapon, as indicated on the table below.  No damage modifier is granted by high Str, since damage is a direct function of your Str score.

Score: Damage
3: 1d2
4-5: 1d3
6-8: 1d4
9-12: 1d6
13-15: 1d8
16-17: 1d10
18: 1d12

On the table above:
  • Str determines melee damage.
  • Dex determines missile damage.
  • Str and Dex averaged (STR+DEX/2) determines thrown weapon damage.
  • Weapons grant modifiers to the damage roll, since they are simply tools to enhance the natural death-dealing ability of the human body (tables to be provided later detailing the modifiers).
Open Ended Damage:  When the maximum number on any damage die is rolled, it is rolled again and totaled.  Thus, if a character (or monster, for that matter) rolls 1d6 for damage and gets a 6, the die is rolled again.  If a 4 is rolled, then total damage from the attack is 10, plus any weapon modifier.  The process repeats until a maximum roll is not made.  If, instead of a 4, a 6 had been rolled on the second die roll, a third roll would be made and added to the current total, which would be 12.   Weapon modifiers are added to the roll just once, however. Note that critical hit rules are abolished in my campaign because of this.  This rule makes criticals redundant since any hit can do more damage.  Open ended damage applies to both PCs and NPCs, whether monster or otherwise.

Note that magical damage - breath weapons, magical spells, wands, etc. - is not open-ended.  It is rolled normally.  Falling damage and things of that nature, however, are open-ended.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

House Rule: Ability Score Increases

Why would I add such a thing to an OSR game where it doesn't mean as much in terms of character optimization?  If nothing else, I add it simply because I like it.  I always liked the idea of being able to get stronger, faster, or smarter as time goes on.  The influence of the game world can cause it, magic can cause it, etc.  See below for the rule.  Note that my classes all go to 20 levels.  More on that later.

"To represent the growth of characters in the game outside of just their class, at 5th, 10th, and 15th levels, a player may add 1 point to any of his character's ability scores.  No score may improve above 18, of course."

House Rule: Hit Points

One of my rules for damage is going to mean characters will necessarily need to have more hit points to last a minute in the game world.  I'm not a Killer DM by any means, and I like continuity, so I felt it necessary to adapt the rule below in order to keep things up.  When I post my damage rules, you will know why I have done such a thing.  (What about the monsters you say?  Well, monsters are not heroes, plain and simple.  Some are there to get a hit or two in before the PCs stick them to death, and that's all.  They get no extra hit points.  But they can do craploads of damage, as you'll see in a future post.)

"To reflect the heroic nature of the sword and sorcery genre, 1st-level characters receive twice the maximum amount of hit points indicated for their hit die type at first level plus 5 (modified by Con bonus as appropriate).  Hit points are rolled for normally after 1st level."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

House Rule: Ability Scores & Modifiers

Here's one of my house rules for ability scores and modifiers.

"The Swords & Wizardry system is much less cohesive than rules systems based on later design, and it follows set patterns less often.  Thus, the bonus structure from BECMI has been adapted.

Modifiers are applied as follows:
  • Strength:  Melee attack rolls and Str-based saving throws.
  • Dexterity:  Missile weapon attack rolls, thrown weapon attack rolls, AC, Dex-based saving throws, and initiative.
  • Constitution:  Hit point rolls and Con-based saving throws.
  • Intelligence:  Int-based saving throws.
  • Wisdom:  Wis-based saving throws.
  • Charisma:  NPC reaction rolls and Cha-based saving throws.
Other things affected by ability scores are unchanged from the S&W Complete rules, except for dealing damage in combat (which will be detailed later) and the effect of Intelligence or Wisdom on spellcasting and learning spells, also to be detailed later."

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Survival World by Frank Belknap Long

So the cover looks cool, right?  So did all the blurbs on the back.  Check this out:

"Marauder!  The desperate men are loose in the world.  They come by night, slipping past the guards and around the barriers, driving ever Eastward, until at last they meet the barrier of the poisoned Atlantic.  They turn northward, but no matter where they go, the land is turning arid, the fish are dying in the waters, animals are disappearing from the fields.  Hunger feeds their desperation, for the world is starving to death, the final result of the work of the polluters.  They have poisoned the waters;  scourged the soil, destroyed the seeds of viable life... and now the planet Earth draws a shroud of pestilence, waiting for the final moments... waiting to die... waiting until one man no longer submits to the inevitable, and fights back against the messengers of death!"

Sounds cool doesn't it?  I thought so.  And I bought it on cover and blurb alone.  What a mistake.  It would indeed be awesome, if that was really what the book contained!  That man, which should be rights be the character of Malador from the book, does none of this within the pages of the novel.  Three fourths of the novel is spent in near-future earth debating crop reinvigoration techniques and time travel theory.  No lie - three pages were spent on whether or not Malador could in fact hypnotize Roger in order to let him out of the locked cell in the time machine.  FBL only hints at what this dystopian world of Malador's is like.  Hints!

Oh yes, there's a time machine, but it doesn't take them anywhere until the last quarter of the novel.  The only cool thing contained is when the crew finds a monolith in the perfect likeness of the gent amongst them responsible for reintroducing wheat to the world.  And that happens in the last three pages.  Verdict - don't waste your time unless you're a huge FBL fan.

Giants in the Earth - Inspiration from Scripture

No, it's not just an article in old Dragon magazines.  It's from the Good Book, and it's a very inspiring passage for those of us who play RPGs.  Check this out - I expected to hear Mako's voice saying "Those were the days of High Adventure!"

"There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them.  Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown."  (Genesis 6:4 NKJV)

That's just awesome.  It makes me want to roll d20s.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Antediluvia

About a year ago the blog Antediluvian Witchery disappeared from the internet.  I tracked down the author and he said it had been due to some problems at home and with his health (mental and physical) and he hasn't done anything with it as of late, and his plans for a 'zine had fallen through, and he removed himself from gaming for a while.  As such, since it was sitting around, I was given permission to reprint his material and appropriate it for my own game world.  Naturally, I won't be picking up his ideas for printing a 'zine, since that's hard work that I don't need at the moment, but rest assured, some of this great stuff will reappear right here on Hit Adjacent Ally.