Wednesday, February 3, 2016

RIP Grandpa

My grandfather passed away yesterday morning at the age of 89.  He recently suffered a stroke and was left paralyzed on the right side of his body and unable to speak or swallow.He was a pretty typical grandftaher in some ways; he showed me the basics of car repair on one of his old cars when i was little, my first car was his 78 Malibu on it's third engine, he'd slip $5.00 bills into my pocket when I wasn't looking into my early 30's. His only vice that I am aware of was gambling and that was mostly at OTB where he made daily visits when it was open, he gambled for years off of a "big" win and never let it be a problem to the family finances so it wasn't all that much.

 This doesn't have a lot to do with gaming aside from my grandparent's home always being a place where family got together to play games, tons of scrabble and familiar family games but we also ranged far afield and played obscure games and made up our own as well.  Back in my early D&D days my uncle used to visit about once a month and my father, uncle and a few work friends of my father's would play D&D with me DMing; during this period my grandfather would play a few times a year in those early days. My Grandpa's D&D chaarcter was a dwarf with a spear, I can't recall the character's name but the figure sat on my grandparent's mantle for years. While my grandpa enjoyed D&D a bit he enjoyed StarFrontiers more the few times we played it together he was a bigger fan of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon than Conan and elves. 


A few pictures.


Grandpa (in the middle) back in WW2 playing with a scratch built "Japanese Banjo", most of the men in the picture are Japanese Prisoners of War. The Japanese POW's used to gamble with each other for work duty assignemnts such as trash carrying, of barber (can you imagine that Japanese POW's shaving U.S. servicemen with a straight razor?) 

Grandpa dressed up for my Aunt's Wedding in the late 1970's.



Grandpa chatting with a horse.  Animals seemed to like the man, birds would land on his hands if he held them out for a bird to perch. 
Ashes to Ashes. We all have our beginning's and our end. I lucked out with a decent grandpa who certainly contributed to my love of games.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Scornsmen

That which rots in the underworld is best kept in the underworld. Those that pry the filthy lucre, cursed  refuse, and grave-goods of forgotten tribes should be called out for their sins. - typical notions of The Scornsmen.

The Scornsmen are an association of anti-dungeon delvers that is just begging to be included in a megadungeon campaign. Put them in on the random encounter tables for your local dungeon or town, have the be a foil for your murder hobos, or a faction to join. the following are a few ideas on using a loose confederation of anti-dungeoneering activists in campaigns.

Scornsmen in the local tavern.
Seeing as “adventurers” like to frequent taverns that’s where you are going to find scornsmen. Scornsmen in taverns will typically be of two varieties the obvious rabble-rousing do-gooders preaching about the dangers of dungeon looting and the moral and spiritual decay that it inflicts on practitioners and spies keeping an eye on dungeon-looters. If the scorns men are busy in the local taverns adventurers will have half the chance of finding henchmen, patrons, and clues as they normally would.

Scornsmen in the Streets.
Some scornsmen will appear to be soap-box prophets, or stange cultists preaching about the danger s of dungeon delving but some will also be hit squads willing to act when the law will not or when the law find’s it convenient to not offend a bunch of psychotic murder hobos of undecided power. Having scorns men causing a ruckus in the streets will reduce the opportunities dungeoneers have in unloading less portable loot, scorns men have been known to report sales of illicit goods to the proper authorities.

Scornsmen in the Outdoors
Scornsmen encounter on the road iand in the fields will come off as much as they do in the streets and alleys of a town but sometimes they will draw up large crowds of rustic folk and work them up into a frenzied rabble that wouldn’t be wise for a band of adventurers with sacks full of freshly looted coin to bump into. Scornsmen have been none to host educational events to boost their ranks and warn the public and sometimes these encampments can last for weeks drawing in the curious for miles about.  There have been events all to similar to with-hunts/burnings sponsored by scorns men or taken to extreme by locals (many scorns men would be happy to shame adventurers onto a righteous path).

Scornsmen in the Courts of power
Scornsmen will constantly be trying to sway the opinions of nobles and royals to get them to pass laws and decrees that make dungeon-looting illegal or more difficult. when the scorensmen don’t; resort to violence but do have the ear of a prince or duke there will be tough times ahead for adventurers.

Scornsmen in the Dungeons
It would seem and unusual place for the scornsmen but the more militant of them and the hardier can be found in the catacombs and dark mazes of the underworld where they seek to save souls, stop the flow of dangerous contagion to the surface world, and purge the world of the unredeemed. Such wandering bands of scornemsen can be almost as well equipped as adventuring parties but they may lack some of the prized times that can normally only be found while looting dungeons.  Some scornemen chapters leave the goods heaped in dungeons, some trap and even guard illicit caches down in the underworld, some destroy what they can in the depths while others secret them away to vaults of dangerous goods kept safe by the scornsmen.

Scornsmen as Adventurers
They are no fools these scornsmen and they will recruit and employ those who may otherwise fall to drawing forth the tainted goods of the underworld and as such this offers adventurers a number of opportunities.  PC scorns men could gain exp for converting NPC dungeons, for treasure liberated from looters, for time spent guarding caches, and for times secreted away into vaults.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Random Dungeon Generation with Binary Space Partitions

One method used in computer games to generate random maps is the binary space partition (the BSP). In it's simplest application a space is subdivided into multiple smaller halves, this is repeated until enough breakdown is achieved and them details are added to flesh it out. It works in computer games, it should work in randomly building dungeons for table-top games.

Take a grid and block it off roughly in half.


Take those halves and split them in rough halves. I'm offsetting a little here and there .


Keep splitting up those halves either vertically or horizontally as you wish.

After a whiel you'll get enough complexity to suit your tastes, stop subdividing and draw in what fills those paces. (In my example here I went with rectangles one square in from the border of each space most of the time. I also decided to take my original couple dividing lines and make them wide corridors.)
 Add some details such as minor connecting corridors and doors and there you are a randomly generated dungeon map.


Quick and easy random BSP dungeon generation tables, mark 1a.

Die rolll
BSP split
1
Divide Vertically exactly down the middle
2
Divide Vertically offset to the west
3
Divide Vertically Offset to the east
4
Divide Horizontally exactly down the middle
5
Divide Hortizontally offset to the north
6
Divide Horizontally offset to the south

Die rolll
Detailing the BSP area
1
Ignore  the area, it’s full of stone.
2
Whole space is open. 
3
Offset inward one square
4
Only fill the middle half of the space
5
Fill with a triangle that best fits.
6
Fill with an Oval that best fits

Die rolll
BSP connections
1-2
One Connection to one neighboring space
3
Two connections to same neighboring space.
4-5
One connection to each of two neighboring spaces.
6
one connection to  all neighboring spaces

Friday, December 18, 2015

Longer Living (possibly) with HTK

A complaint about old-school RPG is how gosh-darned lethal it is at low levels and while I completely understand the and even appreciate the brutal campaign model that helps establish there are other ways game play can go with minor adjustment to rules and in this case what HP are.

Here on out in this post HP are going away  as the definition of a charter and monsters durability in combat  to be replaced with an old time alternative of HTK (Hits to Kill), Hit Points are the degree of damage a blow, effect, or situation inflicts upon others.

Alternative HTK based Combat
HTK serves to measure two things: durability and a threshold for being defeated in a single blow.

Whenever a character, NPC, or monster suffers damage equal to or in excess of their current HTK score said charcter, NPC, or monster is Killed.

Whenever a character, NPC, or  monster suffers damage under their current HTK score they are Hit and theHTK score is reduced by 1 point.

Natural Healing occurs gradually, 1 HTK is restored per day of rest. This might seem slow but it is an entire hit thus a wound that is being shaken off and recovered from.

Magical Healing works as normal with 1 HTK being restored per traditional HP that would be restored by a spell. Magical healing is a bit more magical as it isn't just healing portions of wounds but entire wounds, likely multiple wounds.

So a massive blow will still eliminate a combatant but minor blows will wear away slowly at combatants.  This gives Pcs a little more room to be heroic at lower levels as (by example) 2 successive blows for 3 pts of damage each do not vanquish  a character with 6 HTK but instead inflict 2 hits that reduce the HTK score to 4.   Protracted combat becomes more and more dangerous but the threshold from living to dead may take longer to be breached.

It should also be obvious that higher HTK characters and monsters are going to be around longer in fights unless some really big guns are brought into play. Clever play and tactics should involve combats that are more than simple attrition on abstract HP abd maybe even encourage non-combat resolution to potential threats in a game. A 44 HTK dragon under this alternate combat variant would be be pretty fearsome if there was no way a party could deliver 44 or more pts of damage in a single blow.


Possible Elaborations

Non-lethal combat-
Non-lethal damage. Non-lethal damage still wears a combatant down in the same manner as potentially lethal blows and makes it possible for lethal attacks mixed in to slay combatant but if the blow struck that overcomes a combatants HTK is non-lethal they are knocked out instead.

Recovering from non-lethal damage is quicker with 1 HTK being restored by 10 minutes of rest or incapacity.  Once a character has regained 3 HTK or more while knocked out they may make a saving throw to recover their sense and function again.

Note: knocking your ally out is not an option to save their life when they are down to 1 HTK  only ht non lethal damage is restored at 1 HTK per 10 minutes. 


Serious Wounds-
When ever a character is wounded once HTK are reduced to 1/2 HTK or less previously they must make a saving throw or suffer from a Serious Wound.  Serious wounds could either be specific effects like broken hands, severed arms, or more generic like the temporary loss of ability points.

Serious wounds should typically be recovered when HTK are recovered in excess of 1/2 HTK but some campaigns may be well served by longer lasting grievous injuries which while someone hasn't suffered enough Hits to Kill them they are still in a very bad state.








Thursday, December 17, 2015

HTK instead of HP ?

Old timers may be familiar with HTK (Hits TO Kill) being used instead of the now more standard HP (I'll use it now and again for no good reason). I've seen some posters online a little confused by HTK and if you collect vintage D&D/RPG you are going to see now and again and as above it is just another way to write Hit Points.

  I got to thinking about it and realized it has a lot more certain definition built in as opposed to HP.  HTK = take this much damage and death is the result, HP = there's this many points to fiddle with. HTK is a lot more certain and a tad more grim.  Hmmm, I think like it more than ever before.



Monday, December 14, 2015

Problems of Dinning on Dragons

Last post I covered some possible benefits of dinning on dragons. Dinning on something as dangerous as a dragon may not the the safest of prospects, the following are some possible risks and dangers (not all of which need be present in all campaigns or all dragons).

Dragon Blood is caustic.  While it may be possible to drink or bathe in dragon blood it is a dangerous liquid that must be neutralized before eaten or bathed in by mortals. Anyone foolish enough to bathe in dragon blood will begin to take 1hp per dragon HD in acid damage after the first 5 minutes.  Anyone foolish enough to drink it will suffer 1d6 damage per dragon HD.


Dragon Flesh is Littered with Bone. Dragon flesh is edible but he flesh is packed with a huge variety of boen spurs and splints that enhance the dragons muscular abilities but will cut the uncareful that eat dragon meat. Eatign poorly prepared dragon flesh will inflict 1-3 hp of damage on the uncareful and if a whole portion is consumed the damage to their intestines will prove lethal within 3 days if a save vs death is failed.


Dragons are full of parasites.
Dragon flesh organs and blood are contaminated by a host of parasites. If not properly cooked these parasites will get into the victims bloodstream and slowly distribute throughout the body and begin to bore into flesh and bone causing those contaminated by the parasites to lose 1 point each of Dexterity and Strength each day for 2-7 days.  Rumors of claim more immediately dangerous dragon parasites exist.

The Gold Bug. This is a parasite or perhaps the spirit of the dragon. One who dines on the flesh of a dragon may find themselves compelled to rebuild the dragon’s hoard. A PC so afflicted will not be able to gain experience points due to the distraction until they reassemble the entire hoard. A remove curse spell will only put off the process for a week at best.

Dragon-dinning Stink. Eating dragon flesh leaves the gourmand with a stench that takes 13 years to wear off. The stench is almost impossible to notice to normal folk but the draconic species will note it easily (within 100 feet per HD of dragon eaten). The stench of a dragon eater will cause even the most benevolent of dragons to react with an increased degree of hostility (at least one degree less favorable on reactions). Dragons as the same type that was eaten will know and react with rage gaining +2 to attacks against the eater of dragons.

The Heart of the Dragon. Rumors abound of much power begin gained by one who dines upon the hearts of dragons and it is mostly true, one who consumes 7 dragon hearts of the same species of dragon will fall into a deep sleep for as many years as Hit Dice of the dragon (they are safe from starvation, dehydration, and normal temperatures while so sleeping) and during the last year grow a dragon-egg like cocoon from which they will emerge as either a half dragon or dragon.  Sounds great to some but the years of imposed hibernation are not conducive to a successful adventure career while so asleep and a DM is free to declare when such a sleeper emerges from the cocoon they are now an NPC monster.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Benefits of Dinning on Dragons.

There’s got to be more use for dragons beside topping large treasures and serving as steeds to high level baddies, right?  What about serving them up for dinner, surely there’s a lot of good eating from the average dragon…


Possible benefits of eating dragon flesh:

Drinking Dragon Dlood is restorative. If a character drinks the blood of a freshly slain dragon they will regain 2hp per dragon HitDie of damage they have suffered. There’ may be enough blood in a dragon for 1 does per HitDie of the dragon. Some alchemists can create expensive flasks that will keep dragon blood fresh for up to a week.

Dragon Blood is fortifying. If a character bathes in the blood of a freshly slain dragon they will regain 3 hp per dragon Hit Die if damaged by the beast’s breath weapon but even more importantly the bather will gain a +2 save vs that dragons breath for a week (if a solo bather).  One bather is possible per 2HD of Dragon but the bonus to the saving throw is not magically imbued if there are multiple bathers.

Dinning on the Pyrocatalytic Gland. The gland that allows a dragon’s breath weapon can be consumed to temporarily gain use of the drain’s breath weapon.  This is risky if the Dragon hadn’t expelled all of it’s daily uses of the breath weapon prior to use a saving throw is required by the dinner (-2 if eaten raw) or the would be diner suffers as if struck by the dragon breath.  If safely consumed the gourmand will receive the ability to expel a 1/2 strength dragon breath attack 3 times; this is dangerous however and the breather is required to make their own saving throw each time (at +2) or suffer the effect of the breath weapon themselves which other wise inflicts harm upon foes in 1/2 the are of effect for 1/2 the usual damage.
Some wizardly chefs claim they know a recipe that allows the gland to be split into three portions (each portion granting 1 use of the breath) so it can be consumed by more than one and the harmful effects are less dangerous (+4 to initial saves and following saves when using the breath weapon)

Dragon Bile. Not directly consumed itself but it makes an excellent agent in marinates and for pickling. Foods preserved in a proper mixture of dragon bile will last indefinitely until the seal on their container is broken.

Dragon meat, plenty to eat.  A dragon will typically feed twice as many man0sized begins as it has Hit dice for a week (if the meat is safe to eat).

Dragon Wing Soup. A soup properly prepared with dragon wing will enhance mundane and magical flight. A portion of dragon wing soup will increase flying speed by 50% for 10 minutes per dragon Hit Die if the flight is attempted within 4 hours of consuming the soup.  There are some witches that claim to know how to preserved the soup so it may be carried as a dry power before begin  reconstituted and warmed. A small dragon could supply up to 4 portions, a medium one 8 portions and a large one a dozen portions.


Item or Service
Typical Cost
Dragon Blood Flask (holds one portion)
1,000
Dragon Blood
100
Recipe for Pyrocatalytic Gland
3,000
Chef service for the above
500
Dragon Bile, one pint
30
Fresh Dragon Wing Soup, freshly served
50
Dried Dragon Wing Soup
200