Saturday, October 20, 2012

Questions of Mog, take one

20+ questions for Mog.
What is the deal with my cleric's religion?
There are many gods known to the denizens of Mog and even more religions. Some religions hold sway over whole regions other are but a small band of cultists. Most religions recognize more than one god and only members of mystery cults tend to devote themselves to one patron deity. Clerics can find themselves treated as heretics and sorcerers in areas their gods are little known. The common man knows there are gods as there are also demons and spirits and would rather go unnoticed by all most of the time.

Where can we go to buy standard equipment?
The bazaars of the cities are where one may buy equipment. Shops as you and I know them are few and far between.  Travelling peddlers carry a host of common and unusual goods from place to place.

Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?
You are joking right? You had best be strong in sword arm or feared for your magics if you hope to travel about with monsters at your side.

Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?
There is some debate there but the two most spoken of are Amrizel of The Magister of Panthoom and The Radiant Green Wizard.

Who is the greatest warrior in the land?
Many claim this title but the mightiest is indeed Kang the Cruel Conqueror of the Five Cities of the Golden Flame.

Who is the richest person in the land?  
The sultan of Zallsibaar.

Where can we go to get some magical healing?
The faithful may find healing in their respective churches if lucky, some witches brew draughts that they sell for favors and pieces of a man’s soul.

Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?
Not likely. There are covens and orders of various mysteries one might be able to join but no schools for young wizards.

Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?
Any great city hosts many a soul who claims special skills, one has to wonder about ones willing to be employed by wandering marauders and tomb robbers.

Where can I hire mercenaries?
Those who make their living selling their sword arms are common and always looking for work. Few lords can employ vast armies for long so men of arms are always looking for new sources of coin. 

Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?
Yes, customs and law vary wildly throughout Mog. Men of distinction are free to travel with their swords in most places but those that flaunt magical power and arcane devices will be treated as a menace by most.  Foreign Clerics, Technologists, and Psychics are all just as likely to be treated as sorcerors by common men and warriors.
The sword is a symbol of influence and prowess that define one as a man of distinction among the martial cultures of Mog. An oaf or beggar may mark themselves as a thief or upstart by strapping  a sword to their side. Parading about in armor and carrying heavy arms is a sure sign one is a troublemaker.

Which way to the nearest tavern?
The nest taverns can be easily found by the thirsty . Some cities have no taverns at all, but do not despair as those of mighty thirsts may find a variety of dens throughout Mog pandering to other vices. Smoking parlours, gambling dens, and fighting pits abound.

What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?
There are many monsters wandering the mists and shadows of Mog. A man who rids a dog of all its lice will be well regarded by the dog, for a time.

Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?
Sure the masters of the cities are seldom at peace for long.

How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?
There are the fighting pits mentioned earlier, annual tournaments are also held in many cities. Only Panthoom has a large public arena where combats are fought regularly.

Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?
There may be…

What is there to eat around here?
Locale fare will vary greatly and most men eat common dishes of cereal porridge and simple stews. Anything that flies, crawls, digs, walks ,or does swim is usually served from time to time.
A wide variety of bulbs of broth, chowder, syrups, and ale can be found throughout Mog, the most exotic of all are found stashed in ancient ruins still potable after untold ages,

Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?
Yes. Relics of bygone ages are often marketable even of their original purpose is lost to antiquity regardless of superstitions. 

Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with vast treasure?
Who would tell you ?

Who is the most beautiful woman in Mog?
The Queen of the Amazons has many beautiful daughters but the most comely in all of Mog is The White Lady of Torre whom it is said over a 100 suitors have slain each other while dueling for her favor.

How is the Weather in MOG?
It’s drier in the west, colder to the north and hot and humid in the southeast. All about Mog men fear the ghost-mists and the colour storms. Weather while generally bound by the seasons is wild and dangerous.
Who are my fellow adventurers?
The roads, alleys, ruins, and battlefields are host to a wide variety of peoples Men of all Hues, Amazons, Pygmies and Cyclops have been known to take up arms or spell as Warriors, Hunters, and Tomb-robbers.

What does one wear while travelling about Mog?
In the north common garb among men is a loin-cloth, leggings and tunic with a mantle, cowl, and cloak worn as purse and climate allow. Furs and leather from all manners of beasts can be found on less refined persons.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Earthquake !

we just had an earthquake. 4.6 magnitude not all taht far away. felt like  the washing machine was shaking the whole house

Saturday, October 13, 2012

100,000 Pageviews

Woo hoo, 100,000 Pageviews !  Well maybe more, maybe less when you read this but it's near and I felt like point it out. Pretty sweet. While I'm typing the blog is at 579 posts, 99,864 pageviews and 205 followers.

Piles and Piles of Loot

Pile of coin have been in the gaming buzz on the ol'-blog-o-sphere lately and there are a few good point on loot here at the 9and 30 kingdoms on coins. I feel part of the problem with things like having a pile of 2000 c.p. in a room guarded by a pair of goblins or some giant rats comes from a lack of common descriptive terms and picky precision drawn from counting encumbrance by the coin.

Some common and loose terms sounds like the way to go: a couple coins, a handful of coins (also a less easy to gather scattering), a purse, a pouch, a small sack, a large sack (also a pile of coin). How many coins that actually is can vary from game to game and table to table. Loosen up folks enjoy some descriptive variety.

How long does it take to count those coins? A handful in but a moment, a round or two to count out a coin purse, three or more rounds to count out a pouch, a full turn to count a small sack, three whole turns to count out a large sack or a pile sounds about right. If folks don't want to risk their skins counting out the coins they heft the sacks and worry about the accounting later.

Some Nice Chinese Food

When you go out for Chinese Food here in the U.S. of A. you get a meal of mixed cuisines and cooking styles that is a familiar subset of Americanized dishes. Your favorites are usually available anywhere here that has a Chinese Restaurant. Not every place is the same, one of my favorite places is this little hole int the wall place down a flight of steps in a basement in Boston's china-town, it has a lot of Chinese food slop standards and handwritten menu in Chinese hanging next to the counter, the dishes on this menu are a little different and yummy but still pretty familiar to the American fan of Chinese food, that place gets an odd mix of foodies, working men and Asian immigrants.

My absolute favorite dinning experience at a Chinese restaurant was at an unremarkable plaza on Long Island (in New York), it was the weekend of my Grand Parents wedding anniversary and the extended family was packing a couple tables we reserved at the place. It was a pretty typical and boring restaurant on first glance nothing remarkable on the menu. The owner of the place discovered why we were all there and offered us some choice selections form the standard menu but he would be thrilled to offer some kitchen favorites and party foods his family and staff enjoyed. Over the next couple hours a variety of food came out I'd never had in a Chinese restaurant came out heavier on seafood than usually seen and simple but flavorful dishes like a scallop and spinach soup. It was a dizzying array of familiar ingredients in different dishes and entirely new foods.

So, what's my point talking about this here? Well D&D and related RPGs have become a Chinese food of hobbies. Offering the same fair with minor variation again and again a little same-same a lot of the time but with some stand-by favorites. There exists the ability to pull some delights and wonders out of that kitchen and we should be striving for that amazing banquet now and again not the same old comfortable meal,

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Mog, Riperia Redux, Lost River Kingdom?

I bounced a few ideas off my son for the next campaign and got as close to D&D as possible answer from him...sigh. Which led me to ask "Why Son"? to get the answer of "You know me I'm afraid of change"...

Here were the pitches:

Mog: A savage and brutal METAL sword and sorcery world in the ruins of a great civilization. Warriors, Wizards and Psychcs battling it out to forge the next age. embrace the wahoo and corny side of sword and sorcery with a little post apocalypse thrown in for flavor.

Riperia Redux: A feudal realm of knights and bandits finding adventure in border wars, tournaments, and faerie haunted woods. What I wanted in the campaign we've been playing for some time now with the power level cranked down to 5 from the 9 it's at now.

Lost river Kingdom: The King's River flows into the ground and is lost in the depths of the earth, the access to the vaults and tunnels carved by the river and an ancient dwarven kingdom are guarded by a small city of gnomes that allow miners and treasure hunters into the depths past their guarded gates.  A Mega-dungeon that is the whole campaign sort of campaign.

What do you kind reader's think of the above?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Coinage, are we cheating ourselves?

Folks want realism or immersion or a fantasy epic that deeply involves the players or escapism and yet over and over again folks want to keep the coinage simple. The bog standard is the familiar breakdown of  10 cp to 1 sp, 10 sp to 1 gp. pretty boring and non-evocative stuff.

If old school rpg is about discovery and escapism where are the Lemurian Shekels and the Goblin Empire's Lead Lupins? Why did the men of an ancient age mint coins in the same metals and denominations as commonly minted in a campaign's modern age?

I'm a victim and perpetrator of this myself while I've got foreign coins those of the campaign homeland are the plain old 10 cp to 1 so, 10 sp to 1 gp and 5gp to 1 pp coins. I do it for convenience but i feel i'm cheating the players a little as they have had no trouble keeping track of Trade Mission gold Tokens (gtk)or Hesparan Royales (GR) worth a base rate of 2/3 a gp or 2 gp. The coins are worth their relative value some of the time or are changed by a trip to the local money changer.

Now a trip to a money changer can be a trying experience. the money changer charges a small cut for his services and always downgrades the coinage to a lower denomination/metal. All foreign gold is returned as silver; if one wants gold coins there is another charge for buying all that gold. It is a mechanism to remove some cash from the players but it also pumps coin into the coffers of the local authorities... something for thieves to seek if they are daring enough.

One reason for the decimal accounting of our fantasy coins is encumbrance sometimes counted in overly large coins weights. Ive seldom seen folks really bother with counting all the coin weights and encumbrance gets hand-waved until everyone is caught walking about with 200-300 pounds of gold in their coin purses. I myself keep a simple 50 coins to a pound of encumbrance regardless of coin size themselves as encumbrance is also how bothersome keeping track of something is and 50 nickles really isn't much more or less troublesome than is 50 pennies so I live with it.

I'm starting up a new campaign soon and there isn't going to be simple decimal accounting of coins but I'll keep the coin metals in the names of the coins. I want escapism and immersion I want the players to feel like they aren't just shuffling about pennies, dimes and dollars. when one finds a stash of 40 Golden Lions they may realize those coins have been hidden away for a century and wonder what value there is in a clay pot full of Brass Minarum. beyond the treasure instantly disappearing into a nebulous cloud of coins that float on the character sheet lost among all the other faceless boring coins.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

On Using Dragons

I hear it time and again in the D&D crowd:"I've played D&D for X-years and never encountered a dragon","I've DM'd for 25 years and never used a dragon.".  Really, wtf folks?

The name of the game is Dungeons AND Dragons; there is an implication that folks will run into dragons now and again. Look at the original rules, a walk outdoors resulted in an encounter with dragons an awful lot of the time according to the encounter charts. In the first basic set we had a few different dragons presented in all their glory. In the 3.x versions dragons ans half-dragons were all over the place. So what's with the "Here There Be NO Dragons"?

In my campaigns I use dragons. My first huge two level dungeon had a red dragon on the second level. I use dragons to indicate an NPC is a bad-ass or a place is dangerous.  White Dragons circling the highest tower of the Snow Queen's Palace, a witch riding a skeletal dragon, A dragon laying beneath a king o his throne are all pretty good indicators of the power of those involved. Dragons are excellent scenery, they are more than a bundle of stats.

The fierce bundle of stats attached to dragons may be why the occasional DM avoids dragons: dragons can be party killers, I'll agree they can be. When played as a bundle of exp waiting to spit out gp or when enshrined as the monster above all other monsters DM's and players are missing out.

Dragons need not be ever present to remind players they are in the game but it sure sets the mood to have one fly far overhead or hear a cow was snatched from a local field last week. Some players might loose focus and go dragon hunting or abandon the adventure to go hide (or level up) before tackling a dragon. Such diversion can be a good thing as the player are chasing a new goal in the first case and reacting to the environment in both. It's bad when players think every glimpse of a monster means a fight is coming: players and DM should be able to do more with the game.

In my estimation young dragons should be encountered far more often than the older apex predator-demigod dragons. A young (and relatively weak) dragon has to aggressively seek treasure and as such will be founds causing trouble. Such dragons should be the ones most often encountered unless civilization has diminished the young dragon population to cut down on the dragon inflicted chaos.
It is these dragons player will test their blades and spells upon: every dragon need not be Smaug or an even more fieree elder worm.

Some argue dragons should always be of demi-god like wrathful power to keep therm important and this why they are so seldom encountered. To such a notion I must ask is every npc warrior Conan in his prime, is everynpc  magic-user 10th level or higher? If they aren't why must every dragon be overwhelming

Beating a dragon at 2nd level with a two handed sword is something a player is going to remember far more then defeating a more dangerous beast that lacks the gravitas of a dragon. Use dragons for the imagery, scene setting, challenge and power they represent.  Don't short yourself and your fellow players for fear of a failed save vs breath weapons.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Equipment Wear and Tear

In real life equipment wear and tear is a big deal. A broken sword can certainly limit the ability to fight, long distance runs with rags wrapped around your feet are no fun. How much wear and tear matters in a campaign should be balanced with the type of adventure being presented. Some argue heroic adventure shouldn't deal with wear and tear as it isn't; flashy enough but I hold that argument is empty as I recall the occasional warrior king to be traveling the countryside with a sword that must be reforged or a weapon the hero depends on breaking at a critical moment forcing the hero to rethink tactics.

Suggested conditions for equipment.
Functional: nothing to track, this normal equipment working well and in good condition.

Damaged: the equipment has been subjected to some distress. It should be considered to be -1 in quality; this modifier being applied to all variable rolls when the equipment is deployed.

Worn: the equipment has been subjected to repeated distress. It should be considered to be -2 in quality; this modifier being applied to all variable rolls when the equipment is deployed.

Broken: It's broken. No longer useable for it's designed task.

Quality of Equipment
Not all goods are made to the same high standards. The quality of equipment can vary by source of manufacture and are a great source for what to do with PC funds.

Poor: Low quality equipment. Poor weapons must check vs damage on any attack roll of 1,2,19, or 20 or be downgraded to worn.or break if already worm. Poor equipment costs 1/2 normal.

Common: pretty normal equipment. common weapons must check vs damage on ant attack roll of 1,2, or 20. Common weapons downgrade one factor on a failed save. Common equipment cost normal list price.

Good: decent equipment definetly a cut above normal. Good weapons should make a save on a attack roll of 1 or 20. Good equipment commands a 1.5 to 2 times normal price.

Fine: a notch above good. Afine weapon need only make a save on an attack roll of 1.
fine equipment costs 5 times list price.

Very Fine: top end for mundane gear. Very fine weapons should make a save on an attacke roll of 1.
Very fine equipment costs 12 times list price.

Equipment Repair
A craftsman with a proper set of tools and workplace can repair equipment at a cost of 1/8th per damage factor. Going from broken to functional is 3 steps of repair. A craftsman must be skilled enough to craft equipent of the quality they are repairing to actually repair such damaged equipment.

 Wear and Tear Saves
Equipment save are made just like PC saves. If your game already has equipment saves use those rules with appropriate modifiers. If d20 based I recomend -2 for poor, +1 for good, +2 for fine and +4 for veryfine. Magicla bonuses add ontop of those save modifiers.

Game doesn't have a save. Go by quality of item: Poor 12+, common 9+, good 8+, fine 7+, very fine 5+ on a d20.

If yuo want level based saves use modifiers as per generic d20 saves.

Having equipment cards on mide i relaized there was room to put a check box for condition of equipment and to list the quality of equipment on the card withotu worrying about a player missing those details.Keeping track of such details without cards or detailed equipment sheets might be a chore indeed. For those striving for gritty and realistic wear and tear should be part of the game.