Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reflection and prognostication

Reflection and prognostication, all the cool kids are doing it. This tome a year newspaper, t.v., radio and the interweb is full of 10 ten lists, the best and worst of the year, navel gazing and fortune telling. I would be lax in not joining in a little.

During the past year of gaming I finally made the leap and started my own blog. The Old School gaming thing is growing and we're seeing more products and wider distribution for Old School titles. Some trends seem to be developing, old undercurrents being tapped into and even classic revisited with energy and ambition (Swords & Planets, Science Fantasy I'm looking at you). The last several titles I've purchased have been old school titles. Skirmisher released a number of Mutant Future products I gobbled up. StoneHell inspired me. Fight On! magazine is looking good and I must catch up on the back issues I missed.

The blogosphere has been full of a lot of useful and fun old school gaming goodness. I just started to type a list up and decided...nah, not going to go there list-mania is probably a bit too much this time of year. Check my followers do some Google searches follow some links, you'll find more then I could point you at.

In my personal life my family has grown by a new child. My D&D campaign was put on "indefinite hiatus" for a mutant future game. I did a ton of home construction this past year, got to play with a jackhammer and fix my septic system (lucky me).

Next year promises a bunch of new Old-school releases. Mars is going to get some new attention. Planet Algol looks promising to me. Hopefully the deeper level of StoneHell will be as good as the upper levels were. Swords & Wizardry White Box has a new publisher and is actually getting a box. Labyrinth Lord is getting a companion volume to allow play not at all unlike AD&D. I'm going to be jumping into self publishing after years of absence with my first gaming title "Fomorgard" to be released some time this year.

I hope everyone has a Happy New Year and that 2010 is full of dice rolling for all.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

One Post Zombie Massacre !

1-Post Zombie Massacre Mini-Game
Can you and your fellow cast of PC's survive a Zombie Massacre? Will they survive to the inevitable sequel?

Ability scores-

Players get 7 points to build a character. Put pts in each score.
Cool- Ability to keep it together and not freak out
Run- How fast you are
Shoot- how well one shoots guns and hits with other ranged attacks
Brawl- how well one fights in hand-to-hand combat
Brains- how clever, smart and perceptive one is

HP- players have 2dice worth of hit points + per point of Cool and Brawl. When damaged you lose HP, when HP reach 0 a player character is dead.

DF- defense factor = 2+ Run + Brawl

Doing Things-

when a player character tries to do something and the GM isn't sure if it would be immediately successful the player rolls 2 dice + the relevant ability score and tries to roll over the DS (difficulty score) set by the GM. (usually a score from 7 to 12)

Hitting Things-

players attack zombies by trying to roll over a zombies DF. 2dice + shoot to hit something with a gun. 2dice+ brawl to hit something in Hand to hand combat. 2dice+ Brains to hit something with a clever trap or gimmick.

Getting Hurt-
when players are hit by zombies they suffer 1dice or more damage. If a 6 is ever rolled the PC is infected and will become helpless in 1dice scenes from fever and then Zombify in 1dice-1 scenes after that. (the GM makes these rolls in secret)

Hurting Zombies-

Zombies don't usually have HP like players do. Zombies have a Body score. Any time a die of damage equals or beat the body score roll on the zombie hit chart to see the effect of the damage. only check once for an attack except for explosives.

1- Eyes Hit - zombie is blind, can't attack but can still be trouble
2- Zombie Disemboweled- everyone but PC making hit must make a Freakout check 1st time they see this.
3- Zombie cut in half- everyone must make a Freakout check 1st time they see this.
4- Arm ripped off -3 to attacks
5- Leg ripped off -1 to speed.
6- Head Hit- Zombie destroyed

Freaking Out-
Whenever something really gross or spooky happens a player has to check against freaking out. This is a Coll check of 7 or higher. on failure roll on chart--

2, Scream -(could attract extra zombies)
3,4 Stagger/Jump Backwards (could be dangerous, GM discretion)
5,6 Drop Things in Hand
7 Hesitate (no actions for 1 turn)
8,9 Start Shaking (-2 to all actions for 1dice scenes)
10,11- Panic (must flee from all zombies for 1dice turns)
12- Lose -it/Collapse- you are useless and must be dragged about for 1dice-1 scenes.


Players start with equipment appropriate to the scenario set by the GM.
Only 1 piece of equipment will be available to a player in a sequel per level.
Players can sensibly collect equipment during a feature as it unfolds.

Attack Damage-

Punch 1 die HTH
Knife 2 dice HTH
Bat 3 dice HTH
Machete/Sword/Axe 4 dice HTH
Chainsaw- 5 dice HTH
Low Calibre gun, thrown weapon 1 die
Med Calibre gun, Bow 2 dice
High Calibre gun 3 dice
Shotgun 4 dice
dynamite stick 2 dice
grenade 3 dice
plastic explosive 5 dice

Features,Scenes and Turns-

A Feature is a Zombie Massacre adventure. A sequel is a new feature with new and surviving characters. A Feature should be playable in an evening but can stretch into 2 or 3 if player and GM are willing to do so.
A Feature can progress like a film or open RPG session as the GM feels is appropriate.

A scene is an encounter or situation in an extended encounter set up by player actions or GM decision. A scene has multiple turns and can have a clear objective such as "The Players have to run from the car into the house".

A turn is when the player get to do something it's usually a single action sometimes more can be done, sometimes an action can tie a PC up for the rest of the scene.

Run Away-

If players try to flee Zombies before an encounter they must roll 2dice + Run vs the zombies rolling 1 die + speed to get away. This is usually only done once a scene.

Escaping from hand to hand combat without suffering any attacks from zombies requires a roll of 2 dice +Brawl vs 2 dice + speed for zombies.

Avoiding a Surprise attack from a zombie is 2dice+Brains vs 1dice+ Speed of zombie.

Levels and Experience-

Every 10 kills a Player gains a level and gets to add a point to an ability score. A multi kill of 2 or more zombies in a single attack is only counted as 2 kills towards experience. A Pc can only level up in the beginning of a scene they are active during.

Some Types of Zombies-

Shambler- Defense 4, Body 3, Speed 1, React- 0
Squishy- Defense 5, Body 2, Speed 2, React- 0
Groaner- Defense 5, Body 3, Speed 2, React 1 (noisy undead a bunch can freak PCs out)
Bloat- Defense 4, Body 2, speed 1, react 0 (destruction causes toxic bile to spray all nearby , PCs must save on DS-6 Brains check or become infected)
Ghoul- Defense 7, Body 4, Speed 3, react 3 (can taunt: must make freak-out check DF-6)
Chaser- Defense 4, Body 4, Speed 4, react 3
Hulk- Defense 6, Body 6, Speed 2, react 1 (rolls 2 dice of damage)
Vampire- Defense 8, Body 5, speed 4, react 5 (can direct attacks of other zombies, can taunt: must make freak-out check DF-7)
Revenant- Defense 9, speed 3 , react 6 (fully reanimated dead person. They have 2dice +12 HP (same rules as PC wounds) and can use weapons, control nearby zombies and taunt.)


The scene after a player is hurt they can use bandages/medicine to recover 1/2dice worth of lost hit points after DS-6 Brains check . Resting for a scene restores 1 HP. No resting while nearby zombies are groaning or taunting.

Zombie Reactions

Roll 2dice+react score for Zombies encountered unless the GM has designed a special encounter.
2 or less ..... The zombies seem oddly distracted by something else and don't pay you any attention this scene
3-4 ... The zombies seem confused by the stimulus of fresh meat (roll again next turn)
5-6 ... the zombies are surprised by the walking talking meat before them, they stand there for a turn salivating (roll again next turn)
7-11... The zombies stumble onward ready to attack
12+ ... The undead are thrilled to see the PCs, they howl, scream, moan, groan or murmur "brains"as appropriate to draw more of their ilk to the oncoming feast before they attack.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mutant Future gameplay

In my current mutant future Mutantbox campaign the hardy band of scavengers has gone deeper into the hospital after battling some pigmen that came snooping about in the lobby area previously occupied by the Mansquitos and their hemofowl. Fluffy was almost killed in the battle with the Pigmen and was rather sheepish about his wounds for a while. Carhoo manged to dispatch the last of the Pigmen with his gas weapon.

One wing of the hospital proved to be secured and seemingly untampered with. After failing several attempts to gain access via door the party set to hammering their way through the walls and after a fair amount of time. Gevin and Enkay first explored through the hole the party dug in the wall and ran afoul of security robots resulting in the female mutant fleeing down the corridor and Gevin being hauled away to a vivisection chamber.

In time the rest of the party managed to regroup with Enkay and find their way into the secret sub-tunnels under the hospital where they encountered orange clad security men with stun pistols. Craniax and Bay Aluminum battled the security men and robots for a time until Craniax set ff deep into the tunnels to find the power source for the place.

Bay fell to the security robot after dispatching the security guards with the help of
a nearly dead Fluffy. While fluffy was reviving the other members of the party Bay was hauled away.

Luckily for all Craniax ran into the path the security robot was traveling with Bay and found his way into the heart of the complex. He discovered vivisection chamber just as Gevin was having an arm removed by a medi-bot acting under the instructions of three freakish Whitecoats he was able to silence with a captured stun gun.
We ended the night with Craniax attempting to still the medi-bot and save Gevin while the rest of the party was trying to find safety in the tunnels from an oncoming security force.

Due to a number of recent issues and scheduling problems we haven't played for a month so it was fun to leap back into the game. I had prepared a simple map of one wing of the hospital on a sheet of paper and simply changed the room contents on the fly as the party explored with just a couple of possible encounters pre-planned and in mind.

Fomorgard: Castle Sketch

Here for folks curious in the matter is a low resolution, low detail sketch of Fomorgard.

The sketch is lacking a lot of detail and the simplicity conceals the size of the place. The outer walls themselves are huge, high enough to keep giants out. Being the visual person that I am, I'll be working up models and renderings of the details of the place to post here on the blog and have some art inside the finished work.

Fomorgard: Spelte Vaettir

Here now are some of the potential occupants of Fomorgard or the nearby wilds.

Spelte Vaettir (Harvest Elves, Speltev)
No. Enc.: 2d6 (6d10)
Alignment: Neutral (Evil)
Movement: 120(40)
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 1
Damage: As weapon
Save: F2
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: III x 6, X x 2
XP: 38

The Spelte Vaettir, also known as Harvest Elves are a grim reminder of how cruel nature can be. The Harvest Elves consider themselves to be the true masters of natures bounty and demand tribute of the younger races that would till the soil and graze beasts in their fields. Those that do not comply or offend ancient tradition may escape wrath for years but when vengeance comes it will be savage and certain. Unlike many elves, they are a tall people (6-1/2 ft) but still of the very slight build associated with most elves. Their clothing and hair match the autumnal colors of the deciduous forests and hillsides they dwell within and their skin is a silvery-grey not unlike moonlight. They can see only a short distance in total darkness (having 30 ft infravision) but can see for hundreds of yards in a starlit night. They can easily move silently 90% of the time and are all but invisible when hiding in the outdoors. All Spelte Vaettir are able to cast 3 spells a day drawn from those of 1st level illusionists and 1st level druids.
In a group of 10 or more one will include a Harvest Knight (60%) or Green Jack (40%) able to act as F4/I2/D2 or T4/I3/D3 respectively. In their lair or in special raiding parties there may be individuals with the abilities of the Fighter,Illusionist, Druid and Thief classes that range as high as 6th level in any of the classes.
The Harvest Elves arm themselves with spears, strange polearms, long-bows, axes, sickles and long swords. They protect themselves with unusual armors that look to be a scale made of leaves, these armors never survive into the next spring if captured in battle or stolen away.
If somehow trapped by iron bonds a harvest elf can not escape and will actually lose all will to do so in short order (after failing a save vs wands), they will obey masters if possible but will shortly wither and die (in but a century or two).

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Who Dwells in Fomorgard?

I've begun preliminary work on a commercial old-school adventure-site module currently bearing the working title of Fomorgard. The module will center on a massive castle originally built by the Fomorians from where they did rule as far as their great reach did extend. The castle changed hands a number of times over the ages and each era's occupants have left their mark on it's massive walls and grand towers. Now nominally abandoned this castle draws the attention of brave adventurers willing to pit themselves against horrors rumored to dwell in vast halls guarding treasures long lost to the world of man.

There is a lot of work ahead of me and I ask you my gentle readers for a bit of advice as my notes are not yet tied to any one set of rules:

What rules system would you like to see this written for?

1. Labyrinth Lord with the Advanced Edition Companion.
2. The Basic Fantasy Role-playing Game (BFRPG)
3. Swords and Wizardry, core rules
4. Sword and Wizardry White-Box
5. House Rules meant to supplement any old school rpg
6. House Rules written as rules adequate enough to run the adventure.
7. Generic Fantasy rpg
8. other

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Battles in the heart and mind.

Morale and battles.

Morale plays a pivotal role in battles and it's often underplayed and ignored in Fantasy RPGs. In typical old school situations morale is checked in a very limited range of conditions or this pivotal element is left to DM fiat. It's my opinion that ignoring morale and the impact it can have in battle robs the game of some flavor it could have.

Throughout this article I will use a scale of morale based on scores of 2-12, higher scores reflecting a force with stronger morale then a force with lower numbers. Troops are assumed to be drawn up into companies of varying size and to be of uniform morale regardless.

To make a morale Check: roll 2d6 vs morale score.

These suggestions are meant to be applied in mass battles where the engagement of hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands may be played in a manner to make such large battle play out differently from regular melee.

On First Sight
When troops first spot the enemy on the battlefield initial impressions can have serious impact on the remainder of the battle.

Make a morale Check.

If the die roll is 2 the regiment is En-heartened and raises the units morale by 3.
The unit also gets a +2 to hit and on all saves until it fails a morale check for the remainder of the battle.

if the die roll is less then the morale score by 5 or more points the unit is Determined raise the units morale by 2. The unit also gets a +1 to hit and on all saves until it fails a morale check for the remainder of the battle.

If the unit rolls it's morale score exactly they are forlorn. The morale of the unit is reduced by 2 for remainder battle,If a future morale check succeeds the morale penalty is lost. The grim reality of the battle to come provides the unit with +2 to hit or save for 6 battle turns or until it fails a morale check.

Failing the check by 1 to 3 points makes the unit hesitate, it will not engage an enemy unit for 1-3 turns but may otherwise maneuver. If pressed during this time they suffer a morale penalty of 2 points. A charismatic character may be able to rally the unit before the 1-3 turns are over.

Failing a morale check by 4 or more points makes the unit quarrelsome. The unit will not respond to orders for 1-4 turns and will not maneuver. If pressed during this time they suffer a morale penalty of 3 points and are -1 to hit and save. A charismatic character may be able to rally the unit before the 1-4 turns are over.

Failing a morale check on a roll of 12. The unit surrenders the field of battle. A charismatic character may be able to rally the unit and get it to return to the battle 7-12 turns later (if the battle is still on).

Orders to advance
An advance is any move bringing a unit within a half move of an enemy unit.

When a unit is ordered to advance any unit with a morale under 9 must make a morale check.

A roll of 12 the unit balks . It's morale is reduced by 2 points. The unit will not advance or maneuver for 1-3 tunrs.All friendly units nearby suffer a 1 point morale penalty.

On a failed roll the unit hesitates and will not advance on enemies this turn. it suffers a 2 point penalty to morale if engaged before the turn is over.

On a roll of exactly the units morale score the advance falters, covering only half the distance. It will not engage an enemy unit this turn.

Motivating a unit to successfully charge the enemy can be difficult and a charge that falters can turn the day.

A roll of 12 the unit balks . It's morale is reduced by 2 points. The unit will not advance or maneuver for 1-3 tunrs.All friendly units nearby suffer a 1 point morale penalty.

On a failed roll the unit will move no more then 1/2 normal and has it's morale lowered by 1 point. Will not close with enemies this round.

On a roll of exactly the units morale score the unit charges but gains none of the typical benefits of making a charge. It also suffers a penalty to morale of 1 point.

On a roll of 2 the unit is emboldened. Increase the units morale by 3.

Holding ground vs a charge.
if a unit is charged by another unit it is forced to make a morale check. Make this check before other results of the charge are resolved.

On a roll of 12 a unit is scattered.

A roll that fails by 5 or more points will retreat.

A roll that fails this morale check by 1-4 they will not set weapons vs charge and will suffer a 2 pt morale penalty and a -1 penalty to hit and save until next successful morale check.

on a roll of morale score exactly the unit will stand ground but doesn't set weapons vs charge.

on a successful roll the unit stands ground and may set weapons vs charge.

on a roll of 2 the unit is emboldened. the unit stands ground and may set weapons vs charge. it and all adjacent units get a morale bonus of 2. This unit is +1 to hit and save until it fails a morale check.

Being attacked from rear.

Units attacked from the rear can be thrown into confusion and quickly overrun by being outmaneuvered.

rolls a 2, unit is enraged at cowardly enemy tactic, add 2 to morale. +1 to hit for remainder of battle!

Makes morale check, unit stands ground

if unit fails roll by 1-2 points the unit is shaken, -2 to morale. -2 to hit and save until next successful morale check.

if unit fails roll by 3-4 points the unit retreats. -2 to morale. -2 to hit and save until end of battle.

if unit fails roll by 5 or more points the unit is broken. -3. to morale. May rally 2-12 turns later

on a roll of 12 the unit surrenders/is overrun

Unit loses leader-

roll of 12 the unit is scattered

failed roll the unit is broken

roll morale score exactly the unit retreats. -2 to morale

successful morale the unit stands ground. -2 to morale

roll of 2 and one of the members of the unit steps to fore and leads unit with enthusiasm. +1 to morale.

Retreats- Unit gets an extra half move which must be used to move away from immediate threat. -2 to morale. All allies that witness the retreat are -1 to morale.
Unit will move up to full move each following turn until it rallies. Friendly units it passes during this period must check vs morale as if they themselves have been charged.
A retreating unit may counter attack if enagaged by enemy units but is -4 to hit in such a situation.

Broken- the unit is thrown into confusion. No maneuvers may be made nor may counter attacks. Unit is -2 to Ac and saves while broken. If the unit fails a following morale check the unit is scattered. A broken unit may rally.

units are removed from the battlefield. A rally may be made to reform the unit 7-12 turns later.

checks to rally may be made on turns following a serious morale failure or as directed above.

A roll of 12, the unit scatters

A failed roll and the unit does not rally.

on a successful roll the unit rallies.

on a roll of 2 the unit rallies with pre-battle morale. Nearby units are encouraged by this and gain 1 morale.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Yet More of the Unknowable

over at grognardia the value of not having all the answers came up in this post: The Unknowable.

While I myself do enjoy long richly detailed histories and long hidden secrets driving the action behind the scenes RPG campaigns really don't need all that all the time.

By Example my current Mutant Future campaign takes place in the remains of a massive coastal metropolis that might have once looked like a 21st century American city. I have no idea what city it is, I have no idea how long ago "the apocalypse" happened, who killed who, why they did so or what weapons were involved. It will never matter to the campaign, even if we get a year or two of play out of it I can't imagine how it will ever be relevant. Time spent answering those questions would be wasted and only lead to more questions with answers that don't matter one bit or that will restrict me as GM.

My campaign has plenty of mysteries to resolve in just the remains of one moribund megalopolis, I have no reason to worry about the whole world and the why behind it all is play a game and have fun.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fight On! No.7

Just purchased the pdf download of Fight On ! Number 7. This is the first issue of this old school fantasy gaming zine that I've purchased. I'm enjoying it so far, I'm certainly tempted to pick up back issues now.

This 88 page zine has about 2 dozen pieces of old school goodness, several adventures, some good advice, some nasty critters and a good amount of evocative art. I'm not going to review everything in here but I'll cover some of what I like. This issue also has a number of articles for Tekumel/Empire of the Petal Throne.

Knightly Orders by Robert “Treebore” Miller is a 2 page article on knightly orders meant as a way for knightly PCs to personalize their fighters. Two Solid examples are given and should serve well as a jumping off point for other knightly orders.

The Shaman a class for the original EPT by James Maliszewski provides a new "uncivilized: spell casting class for EPT games with a new list of professional skills and a tailored spell list for the class. The class also provides the opportunity to play something different in Tekumel an outsider spell caster that isn't' tied up directly to the mythology of EPT but doesn't clash with it.

Details: Pé Chói by Baz Blatt provides 5 pages of rules, background and examples for more detailed play of Pé Chói in EPT even other old-school games. I'm fond of the format of the article and the use of random roles to assign background details and special abilities.

The Song of Tranquility is an interesting looking adventure by Jerry Stratton. The adventure is inspired by a variety of certified old school sources and the site is marked by a wooden cross that could possibly reveal the resting place of Noah.

Tables for Fables by Age of Fables provides some random charts for Pits, Teleportation, Lingering Effects of Being Raised and more.

The Wandering Harlot Table Compensated Companionship for Mutant Future by Adam Thornton generates the specifics (and oh boy is it specific) for Mutants of the Red Light District for customers of all tastes (or poor eyesight), it's an eye opener and certainly in the adult end of gaming.

Notes from (the Tekumel) Underground by Aaron Somerville provides descriptions and summaries of portions of the authors campaign within his version of the underworlds of Tekumel. Good stuff covering a number of interesting situations with Description, the authors notes and what happened in his campaign when the players got to the encounter.

There is a one page Tekumel Adventure and a longer 9 page adventure neither of which I've had the pleasure to digest just yet.

Taking It With You by Lawson Reilly covers the hiring and bearers from The Guild of Porters.

The above is just a portion of what is in Fight On #7 there are adventures,articles, variants, monsters and spells I just haven't had the time to read yet but what I have read leaves me recommending this to fans of Old School gaming.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

They Can Be Heroes !!!

Folks often argue fighters feel like they lag behind in old-school and not so old school rpg campaigns. Their combat prowess, decent Ac and hit-points eventually seem to play second fiddle to the world shaking encounter ending spells of the Magic-User.

Recently playing S&W where fighters get 1 attack per level against foes of 1 Hit Die or less really opened my eyes in how effective and heroic the fighter can be. Even being second level and getting 2 blows per round vs common foes of 1 HD or less really makes the player of the fighter feel heroic.

This heroic combat prowess fades as levels go up to some degree but I feel this can be countered simply by raising the flunky HD the fighter is able to fight against. In my last post I touched on this in by allowing a random chance to increase the HD the fighter is able to get multiple attacks against.

A 6th level fighter able to get six attacks per round vs 3HD monsters (for example) doesn't' break the game, it actually frees the DM to toss in more monsters and have fighters that just might be able to face off against hordes/companies of the enemy leaving the fighters standing triumphantly upon a mountain of corpses.
Higher HD monsters are still evidently really tough as the fighter that is able to wade into combat versus dozens of orcs with a touch of confidence is now clearly in a bitter battle for his life only able to get in one blow against a horrible foe of high HD, the fighter feels like a bad ass facing foes that are a distinct challenge and in being able to slash into a horde of enemies, they can be heroes.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Random Old-School Character Improvement

Here now is a random system for character improvement as a variant meant to replace traditional character improvement by level. This is a 1st draft.

Characters Receive 3 rolls each time they gain a level, 2 of those rolls must be associated with the character class of the PC, one roll may be made on another classes
table at the refs discretion (based on PC behavior).

Fighter Improvements
1 - 20 Gain 1 Hit Die
21- 30 Improve Fighting Prowess
31- 40 +1 to STR
41- 50 +1 to CON
51- 55 +1 to DEX
56- 57 +1 to CHA
58- 70 +1 to hit w/weapon of choice
71- 75 +1 to damage with weapon of choice
76- 80 +1 to AC when Parrying
81- 85 +1 to save vs death and poison
86- 90 Combat Master, increase hit die of foes by 1
91- 100 Improve Saving Throw rank.

Cleric Improvements
1 - 10 Improve Turning Rank
11- 30 Improve spell casting
31- 40 +1 WIS
41- 50 +1 CHA
51- 55 +1 INT
56- 60 +1 CON
61- 65 +1 to hit type of monster
66- 70 +1 to damage type of monster
71- 80 +1 to save vs death and poisons
81- 95 Improve Saving Throw Rank
96-100 +1 to hp healing spells

Magic-User Improvements
1- 30 Improve spell casting.
31- 45 +1 INT
46- 50 +1 WIS
51- 60 +1 save vs spells
61- 70 +1 save vs scrolls
71- 80 +1 save vs rods,staves & wands
81- 90 Improve Saving Throw Rank
91-100 foes -2 to save vs spell of choice

Thief Improvements

1- 10 +1 DEX
11- 15 +1 INT
16- 20 +1 CHA
21- 25 +1 to AC when withdrawing from combat
26- 35 Improve Saving Throw Rank
36- 45 +5% climb walls
46- 55 +5% remove traps
56- 65 +5% pick pockets
66- 75 +5% hear noise
76- 85 +5% hide in shadows
86- 95 +5% open locks
96-100 Improved back-stab damage

Fighting Prowess: How well the character fights and improvement in fighting prowess mroves ones chance to hit to the next step on the combat table. (Depending on game and class +1 to +2 or, 1-2 to 3-4, 1-4 to 5-8)

Saving Throw rank: as Fighting Prowess above but as for saving throws.

Spell Casting: all spell casting character start as per level 1 for their class but may only improve with by the appropriate casting level.

Turning Rank: Clerics start at 1st level as normal and make a step in improvement on each improvement roll when diced.

Combat Master: I play allowing 1 extra attack per level vs foes of 1 HD or less for fighters, improvements increase the HD cap.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

oops scheduling problems

my regular group couldn't get together last night to play our Mutant Future game but my son was chomping at the bit for some RPG dungeoneering so the Wife, kids (all 3 of them) and I whipped up some characters and played using the Swords & Wizardy WhiteBox rules.
We used my variant races and randomly rolled levels and ended up with this party:

Erin Starkill an L3 Amazon Fighter
Bugbane the Sweaty another L3 Amazon Fighter
Jannay a L4 Amazon Magic-User
Bee Wee a L3 Pygmy Cleric (played by the wife and 4 month old baby)

We journeyed into the Dismal Depths: Tunnels of the Molemen (from sham's Grog & Blog: ).
On night on the journey from the town to the dungeon the party was sneak attacked by a trio of mangy looking Morlocks, two of which attempted to flee with the sleeping Bee Wee while the largest battled Bugbane as a distraction, the escape of the cannibal pygmy-nappers was thwarted by a phantasmal forces spell causing the morlocks to hesitate long enough to be caught and dispatched by the amazon fighters.
The molemen demanded tribute from the trespassers and one of them accidentally insulted the amazons and the molemen slaughter began. Bee Wee spooked off one large number of moleemen using a light spell which surprised and demoralized the fuzzy subterraneans. Creepie Crawlies almost took out Erin when she decided to root about in a garbage pit but a sleep spell ended their assault. Later after 2 days rest a sleep spell was instrumental in slaughtering a number of molemen and a moleman priest of sorts.
The slightly different monster selection, variant races and simple rules made for a quick and fun romp.

How's a 4 month old role play you ask? Mom helps out of course. Bee Wee only was bright enough to speak his native language of Pygmy and the only member of the party which understood Pygmy was played by his mother so mom would consult with baby and play out bee wees actions as seemingly appropriate.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Heralding Soliloquy

Far too often DM's and GM's short themselves and everyone at the table by failing to use one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal...words. All to many a time descriptions fall on two grim poles of verbiage they are either woefully scant in their brevity or works of mind-numbing encyclopedic prose and accounting of mercurial minutia that beats all fun and excitement out of an encounter just as it starts.

Why not let the villains and fiends our adventurers throw themselves against do the talking?

It's as old as the words of the immortal bard, a corny but evocative tradition of comicbooks, a twisting hint of drama to come.

I'll leave you with three examples of the same situation:

1- A balrog wreathed in flame steps out of the portal.

2- Your attention is drawn to the 20' by 20' metallic portal, it's profane metal runes become stained as by a furnace flame and all hint of moisture is boiled away. A shadowy form is coalescing out of smoke lit by an unseen light from the depths. The now suffering portal formed by the stygian priests of Xelbec who fell before the priest kings of Dorn are now surely open as from that gate now a huge demon wreathed in flames fueled by malice steps out. Its wicked whip some 15' in length formed from succubi hair licks the air like lightning, it's great 10' ebony sword forged by grues in the deepest furnaces of the abyss projects a malice of it's own. The demon grins as you behold the visage of the master of fear and flame.

3- A dark voice booms as a huge demon steps through the dark runed portal with unyielding confidence in it's stride. It speaks:
"Hark,the quivering shadows make haste to flee my presence,
secrets once consigned to darkness are revealed,
coruscating demons of dream ride out on nightmares of eld,
death shall be the last blessing, boiling blood a passing sacrament
a hymnal of screams shall fill the blazing night
your souls are forfeit, before this searing dawn the lucky shall die .
Behold, I am the Master of Fear and Flame."