Friday, January 31, 2014

House Rule: The "Good-At" System

More relevant to this post than I originally intended!
In trying to define the human cultures of my game world (the only race that will be present in my campaign is human, but with various cultures), I am modeling them after different real-world cultures I find interesting, or a mix of real-world cultures that I think creates a fun role to play.  However, I was faced with the fact that my players are number-crunching, game-busting, min/max-happy power gamers who are going to have to get used to old-school RPGs again.  Some of them have never played anything older than 3rd Edition, and most haven't played anything other than 3rd or 4th Edition for over 10 years.  I'm certain they'll be sold on it once we get underway, but I wanted a bonus to dangle under their noses to make their choice of a human culture "mechanically" different as well as a different shade of fluff.  

So, I came up with the "good-at" system.  What is it?  Just what it says.  A character of the nationality in question is "good at" something that is needed in his society, giving him a +1 or +5% on any D20 or D100 roll required in relation to a task that is relevant to his "good-at" ability.  There might be a few choices for some cultures.  For example, Ingurista is a coastal nation that is modeled after medieval Spain in quite a few ways.  Fishing is their main occupation and fish are responsible for the livelihood of many of their citizens.  A player with an Inguristan character could choose to be "good at" sailing on a boat.  He would receive a +1 or +5% to any D20 roll or D100 roll relating to sailing a ship.  Think of it as Secondary Skills from AD&D without the random roll or subsystem to determine what skill you get.  A player with a Horseclanner character, modeled on a mix of Mongolian and Native American culture, who live on the cold Deathwind Steppe, might choose a "good-at" ability of surviving in the cold, granting a +1 or +5% to any roll relating to surviving in cold weather.  It would certainly apply in foraging situations, building a shelter, etc.

If you have any ideas after you read this, feel free to comment.  It's a system that works for me and is very simple and open to interpretation, which is what the OSR is all about to me. 

Keep on playing!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Monster: Chameleon-Warrior of Xotath


Chameleon-Warrior of Xotath

Hit Dice: 1
Armor Class: 11
Attacks: 1 weapon (1d6 + weapon modifier)
Saving Throw: 18
Special:  Camouflage
Movement: 9
Size:  Medium
CL/XP: 2/30

The Chameleon-Warriors are typical Xotathi in every way except that they have endured a grueling ceremonial religious rite at a location deep within the Naquggian Fens that has changed them into something more than human.  This secret rite has bestowed upon them the ability to change the color of their skin to match their surroundings exactly, granting them a near-perfect camouflage.

When standing completely still and attempting to hide, a Chameleon-Warrior can only be detected on a roll of 1 on 1d6 if the area is actively being searched for his presence.  There is no chance at all of casually noticing a Chameleon-Warrior.  Missile attacks at medium to long range suffer an additional -1 penalty to hit these men, due to the difficulty of tracking them across terrain.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

New Monsters: Haunter of the Black Pyramid & Larvae of the Elder Spider

Haunter of the Black Pyramid
Hit Dice: 9+9
Armor Class: 18
Attacks: 1 weapon (1d8 + weapon modifier) or 1 spit of acidic saliva (2d6 + special)
Saving Throw: 6
Special:  Acidic saliva, spell reflection, summon spiders, bonus damage on great hit
Movement: 12
Size:  Large
CL/XP: 15/2900

Atop Spiderspire is an ominous black pyramid, abandoned except for the remnants of an ancient and diabolical cult devoted to the worship of their living god, the Elder Spider.  Chief amongst the protectors of this pyramid, and the main servitor of the Elder Spider, is a creature known only as the Haunter of the Black Pyramid.  This horrific being accepts sacrifices on behalf of the Elder Spider, which never ascends into the pyramid from the Central Shaft, which runs down the center of the mountain into the hellish labyrinth of caves and dungeons below.  The Haunter appears as a half-man, half-spider abomination, the bottom half being all spider, and the top half being what might pass for human.

In combat, the Haunter will attack with a weapon on the rounds it cannot use its acidic saliva attack.  Every 1d4 rounds, the Haunter can spit acidic saliva at a single target, at a range of up to 30 feet.  If the victim fails his saving throw, he is hit by the stream of saliva.  The saliva does 2d6 damage on the first round of contact, and then continues to burn into the victim's flesh for 3 more rounds.  On the second round, damage is 2d4;  on the third round, damage is 1d6;  and on the fourth round, damage is 1d4.

Spells of 3rd level and below will not affect the Haunter and will "reflect" back upon the caster.  The caster can only save against this effect if the spell would normally grant a saving throw to the target.  The Haunter can also summon 1d6 giant spiders once per day, which will arrive on the scene in 1d3 rounds.  If the Haunter rolls a natural 20 on an attack or exceeds the number needed to hit an opponent by 4 or more, it does 1d8 points of additional damage, which is not open-ended like typical weapon damage.

Larvae of the Elder Spider
Hit Dice: 3
Armor Class: 12
Attacks: 1 bite (1d6) or 1 bile expulsion (special)
Saving Throw: 14
Special:  Bile expulsion, nauseating excretions, telepathic connection
Movement: 6
Size:  Medium
CL/XP: 6/400

Each sacrifice given to the Elder Spider by its cult provides it with a fresh soul to transform into what the Cult of the Spider calls the Larvae of the Elder Spider.  They have rubbery, grub-like bodies and appear much like huge maggots, but are clearly an unholy creation.  They are about six feet in length and covered in a foul-smelling, milky ichor.  The Elder Spider gives birth to 1d4 of these awful creatures whenever a single human sacrifice is made to it.

In combat, which the Larvae will mindlessly enter, even if unprovoked, they typically bite their victims.  Once every 1d4 rounds, however, they can expel a disgusting bile-like fluid from their mouths in a 60' cone.  If a victim caught in this fails their save, they take 1d8 points of damage from the bile's acidity, and are nauseated.  If the save succeeds, the victim is nauseated.  The nauseated condition lasts for 1d6 rounds.

Just coming into close quarters with these creatures can bring about a sick feeling as well.  If a PC is adjacent to one of the Larvae, he must succeed at a saving throw or be splashed, quite accidentally, by the milky substance covering the body of the thing.  A failed save means the character is nauseated.

The most disturbing aspect of the Larvae of the Elder Spider, even more than their appearance, is the strange telepathic connection they attempt to establish with their victims.  Each Larva may attempt to mentally contact one target each round.  The target must make a saving throw, and if it fails, contact is established.  The creature then projects all its suffering and rage and fear upon the victim, and the very next round the character gains the confused condition, and is clearly insane.  The confusion will last as long as the Larva is in contact.  The only way to break contact is to disrupt the communicating Larva - any of the ways a spell can be disrupted will disrupt the communication.  When encountering groups of these creatures, they typically hold several of their number well out of reach to sow their madness within the ranks of their opponents.