Thursday, February 20, 2014

Campaign Notebook: Nations of Antediluvia, Part 1

This post is the first in a series about the various nations that inhabit the world of Antediluvia.  Each is assigned a real world cultural approximate, city and rural vistas (which will provide easy sensory details for players), primary deities, population centers with approximate populations, a rough sketch of the government, monetary system, resources, and known dangers.  This is my attempt to get all of my game information out of the notebook and into a place where it can be kept online for use when I need it.

Ingurista

Real World Cultural Approximate:  Medieval Spain.
City Vistas:  Fishing villages with square wood homes, muddy roads with heavy wagon wheel ruts, rough-looking inns and taverns, salted fish in the markets, friendly people.
Rural Vistas:  Fishing ships off the coast, other Inguristan islands on the horizon, roaming herds of livestock, cold but pastoral landscape, rocky terrain, evergreen trees.
Primary Deity:  Arsago.
Population Centers:  The islands of Inditrul (7,000), Nerari (5,000), Hamigola (2,000), and Tugosi (3,000).  They are named after the original tribes that settled Ingurista.
Government:  Each of the four islands must choose a person from their ranks to represent their interests on the Council of Four.  The Council meets on the island of Inditrul to decide all major issues of trade, infrastructure, and war, and often hear civil complaints.  A unanimous decision must be reached or the item is left undecided until the next meeting, which is typically a monthly affair.
Monetary System:  Many barter livestock and fish, but Ingurista has largely adopted the Karthaginian Standard, and Karthaginian coins are used in day-to-day affairs.
Resources:  Fish, livestock, salt.
Known Dangers:  Rough seas, cold, pirates, tavern brawls, brigands.

Rime

Real World Cultural Approximate:  Dark Ages Scandinavia with Medieval Russian overtones.
City Vistas:  Log longhouses, muddy roads, fish in the markets, wonderful woodcarving and wood architecture, friendly but wary people, all citizens are armed.
Rural Vistas:  Cold but beautiful hill-country, evergreen forests, roaming herds of livestock and wild elk, fertile ground for a short farming season, fishing ships off the coast.
Primary Deity:  Soom.
Population Centers:  The cities of Govad (2,000), Kamuj (3,000), and Ogrod (2,500).  The capital city, where the King lives, is Kamuj.
Government:  Rime is a feudal monarchy, led by a king who delegates rulership to his vassals.  Each town or city is governed by one of these vassals, appointed by the king according to his noble station.  Higher ranking nobility typically receive rulership of a larger area.
Monetary System:  Karthaginian Standard, supplemented heavily by barter.
Resources:  Fish, logging, piracy, herds.
Known Dangers:  Pirates, brigands, large wild animals, roving bands of soldiers, cold, ruby goblins along the coast.

Nushirvan

Real World Cultural Approximate:  Ancient Tibet.
City Vistas:  Magnificent stone architecture juxtaposed with more utilitarian housing, trees nestled in the midst of the city, rather strange dress and customs compared to surrounding nations, peaceful people but with capable city guards and soldiers.
Rural Vistas:  Cold plains, mostly evergreen brush scattered about, well-cultivated tiered farmland, wandering religious men, roaming herds of antelope and elk.
Primary Deity:  Thoshallo.
Population Centers:  The cities of Uzuldaroum (8,000), Ughatuar (3,500), Datuara (6,000), and Phaustek (2,300).
Government:  A religious class rules over this land, and the dictates of the god Thoshallo, who stresses the union of body and mind, guide their rulership principles.  They govern democratically, each priest receiving an equal say in any matter.
Monetary System:  No coinage is used.  The priests have decided coins have no value.  Only barter is accepted.
Resources:  Grain, stone, precious stones, herds, plant-based drugs.
Known Dangers:  Large wild animals, poisonous plants, occasional incursions of ruby goblins from Rime.

Monday, February 17, 2014

My kids learn old-school roleplaying - with a play report and a lesson

So, a few days ago, I introduced my two daughters, ages 7 (about to be 8) and 6, to the idea of roleplaying games.  They were curious about a "game that never ends" and where they work together instead of against each other.  And they especially like the idea of using all of my miniatures, so they can "play with Daddy's monsters."  (They love the figures and set them up all the time just to play around with them.)

I wasn't supposed to get the kids this weekend, since it's technically an "off-weekend" for me due to the parenting time schedule, but my youngest had been wanting to see more of me, so I decided to make this weekend special.  I got a PDF copy of the game Dagger by Brave Halfling Publishing, which is appropriately billed as old-school roleplaying rules for kids.  It works perfectly.  In combination with my Rules Cyclopedia for found treasures and additional monster stats (I usually just made up monster stats on the fly, however), I found Dagger to be one of the best rules-lite systems I've come across.

The kids chose to play Elves, since they are already familiar with fairies from cartoons and such, and they have watched The Hobbit and the first Lord of the Rings movie, and liked the elves in it.  Plus they wanted to use magic and be good at fighting (which I made sure to emphasize as "defending themselves" - as Christians of the Mennonite denomination we are non-resistant and do not believe in violence as means to an end and I try to keep violent material in the home minimal where the children are concerned).  They immediately chose Cure Light Wounds as their spell.  Possible influence from Sunday School was noted by me here.  They are learning of the various miracles of Jesus right now, focusing on the different healing miracles.  I was happy with that choice, since I knew they would try to fight every monster.  I did the same thing when I first played D&D.

They began in the elf city of Lightbottle in the Woodwind Forest (the forest was named by my oldest, I was proud!).  Pretty soon they heard a scream, so they went to look.  I had to prompt a bit here since they didn't realize they couldn't actually see what was happening, that it was in the distance.  When they arrived at the scene, a giant spider was trying to get into an elf cottage, owned by their friend Myrtle (by the way, my kids named their characters Selena and Roknee Fear - excellent names!).  They won the fight, vanquishing the spider and saving their friend.  

Long story short, some Dryads from the forest came to find them and took them to the King of the Forest, a huge treant (for which I had a pre-painted plastic mini from an old D&D Minis line, and I'd been itching to use it somehow).  They loved it when I sat that sucker down on the floor with their characters (we played on the floor, with me in a recliner - I don't have much furniture after the divorce, so we make do more often than not with less than optimal seating).  The King of the Forest charged them with finding the spiders and what is causing their attacks.  As it turns out, they discover in the nearby village of Pinecone that orcs are involved with the spiders.  They track them to an abandoned castle surrounded by a huge graveyard, and getting through the graveyard involved fighting a group of skeletons.

Upon entering the castle, they immediately alerted the orc guards by barging in and making lots of noise (note that by this time I'm fudging all kinds of rolls to keep it moving, because they're out of spells and healing potions because they're fighting and not running - my youngest's exact words were "I'm always going to attack!").  They destroy the orcs and move on, but not before the last orc escaped and returned with an ettercap in tow!  They chose to proceed directly to the largest room, the old throne room, where a swarm of spiders was located.  The finished dispersing the swarm, searched the room (with a bit of prompting), and found the secret door to the dragon's lair.

At this point you're asking why I would subject them to a dragon at first level.  Well, they love dragons, and I can fudge rolls all day and they won't know the difference.  They had a blast and that's all that matters.  Plus, I gave it 1 hp per hit die and an AC of 3.  It breathed at them and "missed" but nailed one of them with a Magic Missile spell.  The best part was when after defeating the dragon and finding evidence that the dragon was what was commanding the spiders and orcs, they wanted to clear every room in the castle.  Unbelievable.  Especially considering the recent OSR meme of empty rooms and completist players.  It turns out my children are completists.  They absolutely hated the two empty rooms in the castle.  They looked at me like they got robbed!  They wanted a monster behind every door.  In a megadungeon I'd have to use every monster in the book to keep them satisfied.  Sounds kind of fun....

Here's where I wanted to show them what the treasure in the game is all about.  I loaded them up with GP, gems, and 4 magic items (an egg of wonder, a wand of magic detection, a short bow +1, and a scroll of something or other that I can't remember right now).  They made out big time, and had so much fun.  They went back to the King of the Forest and reported what they learned.  I made them try to remember, especially since my oldest is having trouble with reading comprehension and remembering what happened in a story - very little prompting was needed here.  Random rolls for a magic item reward were next, and out of it came a wand of lightning bolts and a ring of protection +1.  Now, that may sound like way too much treasure, but it was meant to show them the cool things in the game.  Plus, I can toss some tougher monsters at them.

In the end, they reached 2nd level, gained 2 more hp each, dropped their saves to 13, and got to pick a 2nd level spell each.  They both picked Invisibility.  My oldest wants to "haunt" someone while invisible.  That should be a entertaining!

The only problem I ran into, and this is simply due to my youngest only being in Kindergarten, is that I had to spell everything she wrote down and help her to read what she wrote and read the character sheet.  She can read, but not fast like my oldest.  But they have both declared that Dagger is the "most fun game they have ever played."  When I asked if it was better than Monopoly, I was treated to an enthusiastic "Yes!"  I may have myself two new enthusiasts.  They love playing games with Daddy, and I live for our time together, and it has become really the only thing I truly look forward to every week.  We're inseparable when we have our time together and we love to play games together - they often fight over who gets to sit next to me, which is a good feeling.  The hardest thing about the divorce has been coming home to an empty apartment with no children.  If you've never had the experience, the pain can be awful, especially when you're used to those two munchkins running around and causing chaos.  It's worse than just someone not being there when you get home.  Think about it - your kids do not live with you any more and it's just the way it has to be.  It's been a really hard year.  Please, if you have kids, treasure each moment of time with them.  You could lose that all too easily.

Friday, February 14, 2014

New Magic Item: Chain Mail of Gaseous Skulduggery

This is my last entry into the OSR Superstar contest.  "Gaseous Skulduggery" kind of sounds like something I do in the bathroom, though....





Chain Mail of Gaseous Skulduggery

This suit of typical-looking chain mail provides the wearer with a strange ability.  Once per day the wearer may invoke the power of the armor, which is to make the wearer gaseous immediately for 1d4 rounds.  In gaseous form the wearer cannot manipulate the physical world, so all equipment falls to the ground, except for the armor and one weapon chosen at the time of the power’s invocation, which turns gaseous like the wearer and returns to solid form along with the character.  A gaseous character may pass through cracks in walls, through holes, and through other areas too small for his body to fit, as well as over walls and other barriers. He gains a flying speed of 9 while transformed.  The character is immune to physical attacks of all kinds during the time he is in this form, but a forceful wind or similar effect will cause the character 2d6 points of damage as his form is pulled apart temporarily, not to mention falling from height if he chose to fly upward while gaseous.  The Referee should roll the duration of the change in secret and not reveal how long the transformation will last.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Why Hit Adjacent Ally Has Irregular Updates, and the Silence This Past Year

And all that gets me through it is my faith and my kids.
Hello folks.  I thought it was time to explain the at times sporadic updates to the blog, and about the long silence (for the most part) on the blog in the last year or so.  They are related.

Let's start with why there are irregular posting intervals.  I haven't had ready access to the internet, other than at work, since about the end of January last year.  At this point, I cannot afford internet access of my own.  The amount of child support that I pay is large, and my other financial obligations are fairly brutal as well, so I'm living in a cheap apartment in a run down (but really cool) old building, eating cheap food, and using paper and pen to write game material.  My computer also bit the dust back in December of 2012, after I cooked the board one too many times trying to eke a few more hours out of the thing.

Now, the Long Silence during 2012.  I went through a hard and nasty divorce.  I wound up living at my uncle's house (after a week-long stint in the psych ward since I couldn't deal with what was going on very well) with pretty much no possessions of my own except for my music and book collections for the better part of 2012.  All they had for internet was a tablet with a two-gig restriction on data.  Ever try typing on one of those things?  Not to mention surfing the internet is just out of the question with a data restriction like that.  And it isn't terribly easy to do it at work unless it's after hours or I get a long spell with not much happening (which is rare).  So, I've been quietly creating things offline for a long time.  Expect to see the fruits of that work here on HAA.

However, don't expect terribly regular posting habits until somehow I make enough money to pay for internet and a computer.  Just letting y'all know, that's all.  I've had one or two eyebrows raised at me in the last couple of months, with people guessing if the blog was going to be dark or not.  Rest assured I'll try not to let life silence me this year.  I've been using libraries, work, and the odd McDonald's to do updates, and will continue to do so until I'm in a better position.  But you know what?  It's liberating, in a way.  Not paying for cable and watching broadcast TV with an antenna instead, using only a prepaid cell phone for communication (no land line), walking short distances instead of driving - it all works out rather well.  I don't expect to change much of that any time soon, and I'm OK with it.  I've had to re-learn how to like myself after all the dust settled, and I've committed myself to living simply, without certain things people take for granted.  It's kind of nice, and I'm finding a kind of peace in it.

I suppose this could be considered more information than the blogosphere wants or needs, but it's totally worth telling those who read this blog why it's been silent until recently.  Keep up the work out there in OSR-land (I follow every OSR blog I find), and hail poverty!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

New Monster: Fungal Scion of Negalu

Oh they are going to hate me...  so much.  

Fungal Scion of Negalu

Hit Dice: 4+4
Armor Class: 11
Attacks: 1 weapon (1d6 + weapon modifier) or spores of influence (special) or rotgun (1d10 + special)
Saving Throw: 13
Special: Spores of influence, infestation, rotgun
Movement: 9
CL/XP: 6/400

The fungal scions of Negalu are tall, lanky folk that are much more plant than man.  Native to the Green Moon, also called Negalu by Antediluvian sages and natives, they control a handful of powerful city-states in the Fungal Forests near the moon's equator.  They have a fascistic government, and leaders of the city-states are autocratic as a whole - their dictates are law.  One supreme leader rules over them, and often decides the direction of the leaders' decrees.  Other natives of Negalu steer clear of the fungal scions, due to their well-earned reputation as merciless slave-takers.  The scions' use of spores to affect the minds of their victims helps, rightly, to perpetuate this fear.  The Negalu-men are their primary rivals when it comes to territory and expansion, and a constant state of war exists between the two races, the Negalu-men raiding from above in their sky-ships, and the scions enslaving them at every turn.

Three times per day a fungal scion can emit a cloud of spores from its mouth that affects a 20' radius and lingers for 1d4 rounds.  Any living creature with above animal intelligence that enters this space and fails a saving throw will inhale these microscopic spores.  Affected creatures can be commanded by the fungal scion who released the spores, and there is no limit to the quantity of thralls he may command.  Commands that are obviously harmful to the victim, such as a command to inflict harm on the victim's self, receive another save at a +3 bonus, success indicating that the command influence is broken and the target is free.  Commands to attack allies are generally followed, since the victim will view the scion as his ally instead, and will want to help it achieve its goals.  This control lasts for 1d10 days.  A new save is granted each day to break the spell of the scion's spores.  However, there is cumulative 5% chance per day that this control becomes permanent, broken only by the death of the fungal scion that initiated control.

A fungal scion can also release a special cloud of spores over a dead organic being the size of a typical man or larger.  The spores will begin to feast on the decaying body, and 1d4 days later, a new scion emerges, grown directly from the corpse the spores infected.  It will rise with full HD and all typical abilities of fungal scions.

Perhaps the most feared item, among many, that the fungal scions possess is the rotgun.  It is a missile weapon reminiscent of a modern day rifle, but is somehow alive.  Those who have touched one can verify that it seems alive in some way - in fact, they are grown by the scions, not made.  In fact, they cannot simply be picked up and used by those who are not infected or carrying the spores of the scions.  They shoot a thorned projectile not much bigger than a bullet.  Rotguns never run out of ammunition, since the projectiles they shoot are grown within the gun itself.  Once per round, a rotgun can be shot at a target, potentially dealing 1d10 points of damage.  If a target is struck by a rotgun blast he must make a saving throw in addition to the projectile's damage.  If the saving throw is failed, the projectile will begin to burrow itself deeper into the victim's body, dealing 1d3 points of damage per round.  Once this process begins, it can only be stopped by digging out the projectile with a sharp object (essentially battlefield surgery).  The Referee can determine the detrimental physical effects of this sort of surgery on the PC as he sees fit, but one method of resolution would be to allow a saving throw to determine success on the part of the surgeon, with a failure indicating he deals weapon damage to the injured party.

This Blog Has A Monster Index

Hello, folks.  I figured it was time, since I have 28 monsters (I think) up on this blog at this point, to create an index for them so they can be browsed easily.  You can find the link at the top of the page under the Hit Adjacent Ally logo.  Alternatively, you can click here.  They should pop up in a new window for you, making navigating the list easier.  Happy PC killing!

New Magic Item: Wardingbell

So here's an item I've submitted to the OSR Superstar contest that's running out there in OSR land:

Wardingbell

A wardingbell is commonly used by people with a desire for secrecy, privacy, and protection.  Wardingbells appear much as any other ordinary bell, but do not have a mechanism to cause the bell to actually ring.  Typically they are installed near doors, in hallways, and on gates, although they have found creative uses among adventurers who occasionally mount them on poles as a protection while camping.  Wardingbells must remain stationary for 1 hour before they activate.  Anyone not specifically named by the owner of the wardingbell when it is installed will have difficulty passing through the area it protects.  A wardingbell affects a 20' radius area.  Any character passing through this area must make a saving throw at a -2 penalty.  If the save is successful, the character feels a little strange, but can pass through the wardingbell's area of effect.  If the save is failed, the character will stop in his tracks, paralyzed.  This paralysis lasts for 1d6x10 minutes.  The Referee may decide what effects paralysis has in his or her game, but it is recommended that the character is frozen in place, unable to move or act.  The character is considered helpless and may only take mental actions.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

So.... 5th Edition.

Warning:  ranty but honest.

5E is not something I've weighed in on before on the blog, and I figured it's high time I did so, since playtesting is well over.  I just decided to study some of the rules while in the bathroom (yes, I do a lot of reading in there because I have Crohn's disease - look it up and you'll understand why).  I've decided it probably isn't for me.  It still has too much of that... I don't know what... for me.  It just isn't what I want.  I like that they got the whole AC inflation thing handled, and it looks way simpler than 3E, so that's good (even though I am a fan of 3E, it's a real sumbitch sometimes).  I might even nuke attack progressions in my old school game.  I just have a feeling that it's going to be as bland as I found 4E to be - no offense to the fans of 4E.  I just knew I wasn't going to enjoy that whole thing.  It's why I went and bought Swords & Wizardry instead and went backwards in time.  I'll reserve my final opinion for after the ruleset comes out (but I'll be damned if I buy them right off the rack this time).

I have no brand loyalty to Wizards.  Paizo, however, is so good at what they do it's astonishing (it is no secret that I love Pathfinder because Paizo took the system they were best at writing for, tweaked it, and made it even better).  Every time D&D as a brand drops the ball, Pathfinder goes to pick it up.  Think about it - did you really think you'd see an 80% to 20% mix of Pathfinder to D&D product on the shelves at your local chain bookstore?  That's what it is here in northeast Ohio (I mean Alaska! - not really but it seems like it lately).  Paizo really put a dent in Wizards' business plan.  It's not that the rules are more fun - any game can be great fun, and that includes 0E, 1E, 2E, 3E, 3.5E, 4E, 4E's revision, 5E (jeez, that's a few editions)....  Paizo just does it better!  They have their finger on what PF fans want.  I haven't heard too much grumbling about the rate of supplemental material.  What I think Wizards needs to address is this:  the obvious planned obsolescence of a ruleset (see above reference to 0E, 1E, 2E, 3E, 3.5E, 4E, 4E's revision, 5E...).  They've somewhat addressed this by producing a few new things for 1E, reissuing old rules, making things available in PDF and whatnot, but they've really got to get that obsolescence thing under control.  The perception is that it's planned.  And according to what I've heard and read, it seems to be the truth.  I just wish they could innovate within the rules for more than half a decade - there is quite a bit of room for it in all editions, and truly identify what D&D fans want.  I dare them to produce new adventures for old rule sets or support a new ruleset for more than five years.  And I triple dog dare them to re-release the Rules Cyclopedia (in print).