Saturday, May 16, 2015

How many monsters does a campaign need?

This is a curious topic for me as I am a monster-junkie but how many different monsters does a campaign need? Not the game itself the game could have thousands of different types of wicked humanoids, devilish fiends from beyond, and gobbling grues in volume after volume but ... how many does a campaign actually need?

Years back I made a gentleman's bet with another D&D player that you could run a healthy campaign with 60 or so monsters, I did weasel out and have normal animals and player races excluded from the count of monsters. I dug into my monster books of the time and came up with a trimmed roster of monsters that fit the campaign and they did the trick for a few years until the campaign grew beyond it's original scope.

About 60 monsters did the job fine and dandy when the campaign focused on a large valley region of a continent. Some adventures could start out elsewhere onto the continent but most took place in the same 5,120 square mile region.  I do not have the original monster roster on hand any longer but it did include an abbreviated humanoid line-up of Kobold, Goblin, Orc, Gnoll, and Bugbear. There was a short list of giant-kind including Ogre, Troll, Stone Giant, and Fire Giant. Undead had the classical mix for Skeleton, Zombie, Ghoul, Wight, Wraith, Spectre, and Vampire with Death Knights topping out the list.  I Used the chromatic dragons and just Silver and Gold for the metallic ones. There were a few fairy types and a number of odd-ball monsters (mostly from the fiend Folio). When you got down to it about 60 types of monsters, player races (as NPCS), and normal animals was probably crowding up the place.

No one noticed a shortage of monsters and it wasn't until the campaign went deep into the underdark and to foreign continents, other worlds, and times before I had to expand the roster of what was likely to be creeping behind a door and down a tunnel. It's clear from that (for me) that a tailored monster list helps define a campaign setting as I didn't feel the need fro more until the players and I stretched the size and scope of the campaign.

So I suppose I knew the answer the whole time before I asked the question: A campaign needs as many monsters as it takes to define the campaign and entertain the players. You want to meet some expectations but you also want to change things up a bit; while I restricted myself to a small variety of monsters (for post monster manual D&D) for a good long time I did make use of gimmicks like character levels for intelligent foes, unique equipment, and changing the relation ship of monsters. One area (composed of the orignal restricted roster) was plagued by berserker cultists with elite members able to change themselves into werewolves, all lead by bad-guy druids; that arrangement worked well enough the PCs relationship with druids was always a tad restrained and bersekers were feared much more than their 1+1 HD would indicate they should be. Trying to do more with less led to more inventive and creative use of monsters and reduced the monster zoo feeling of dungeons.

So how many monsters do you think a a campaign needs?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Expanding White Star Starship Combat

Starship combat is White Star is brief and simple the following options are included to expand range of options possible in duking it out between starships.

Two new Starship Statistics
Sensor Rating: This provides a range at which the starship sensors are fully capable. Firing on targets outside this sensor range up requires a saving throw to successfully acquire the target or the attack is made with a penalty of -5.  The saving throw to acquire a target is either equal to the starships saving throw or the saving throw of the pilot.
OPTIONAL:  The save to lock on may be penalized for each bracket over the sensors normal range.

Saving Throw: this score is used identically to the saving throw score for characters. A saving throw for a ship is used to avoid tractor beams and other space hazards in addition to avoiding precision attacks. A Pilot may use it's superior Saving throw as many time per combat round as per level of Pilot instead of the ships saving throw if desired.

Blockade Runner
Heavy Transport
Medium Transport
Light Transport
Space Mine
Space Yacht
Star Cruiser
Stunt Fighter

New Combat Options

Jinking: Taking evasive maneuvers. When jinking the pilot can do nothing else in a round distance covered in a round is 3/4th normal but the Armor Class of the vessel is temporarily improved by 3 or 1/2 the Pilots level, whichever is better. The pilot may not fire weapons and others attempting to fire weapons this round do so at -4 to hit.

Running Cold: This maneuver requires systems to power down. Only 2/3 speed is allowed with no maneuvers. Any weapon fire while cold running ruins the maneuver. Any other vessel attempting to fire on a vessel or make a sensor lock must consider the vessel to be twice as far away.  Some weapons systems may require 1 or more rounds to power up after Running-Cold.

Sensor Flash:
This is a dangerous maneuver where all active sensor pulses are directed at an opposing starship to overwhelm that vessels sensors. A hit roll is required and the opposing vessel is allowed saving throw if the save fails the target vessel has it’s Sensor Rating reduced by 1d6. Each attempt to use a Sensor Flash reduces the Sensor Rating of the attacking vessel by 1d3.
Damage from sensor flash requires special repairs that take 3 times a along as other repair attempts.

Precision Targeting: Starships  may fire at specific systems on other vessels to cripple a vessel without destroying it. There is a modifier to the hit chance for each and the target vessel is allowed a saving throw. IF the save is successful the attack is considered to have missed. Precision hits only inflict 1/2 the amount of damage they would normally inflict.
Precision Targeting is only possible within the current Sensor Rating of the attacking Starship.

Shield Generator
Lose 1 Shield Strength for each 5 pts of damage
Lose 1 movement for each 6 points of damage
Downgrade targeting by 1 point for each 10 points of damage
Weapon Damaged beyond Use if damage roll if 5 or more, destroyed is damage is 10 or more
Sensor Rating Reduced 1 point per 6 pts of damage
Other Systems
Deactivated until Repairs may be made if damage is 6 or more
Repair of deactivated units is at the discretion of the GM who should consider resources available.

Space Monkey PDF Available

The Space Money Player Character meant for The White Star White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying game and compatible RPGs is availbale as a Pay What You Want title on:

DriveThru RPG:



It's the first of many titles, many of which will be PWYW so people can sample my wares even if they aren't a reader of this blog and would like to contribute to my being able to write more on a wide range of mostly old-school RPG titles and subjects.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Poor Referee's Press

Poor Referee's Press is opening shop.

My amazingly inexpensive banner/logo
I've had the publishers account sitting there for years and somehow never managed to get anything out the door. I got motivated today and  have a file pending approval.
I'll link stuff better when things are updated.

Space Monkey Characters [WHITE STAR]

 Space Monkeys appear in the White Star White Box Science Fiction role Playing Rules as an alien creature that may be encountered. I couldn't help but feel there are players out there that might enjoy the role-playing challenge of being a Space Monkey as a PC.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Ur-Men of The Crimson Hive

Among the hivenests of the Dragon Queen Ember and her Vassals one can find populations of Ur-men and worse that are used as cattle and to breed a host of servile species.

Ur-men are a basic breeding stock of men often sheltered and dominated by more powerful beings that find their nature useful in breeding a host of minions. Ur-men are not innovative or particularly intelligent but once they are taught a soil they will retain it and pass it on to their descendants; if one were to teach a skill to a group of Ur-Memn and somehow visit them 10,000 years later and they were not interfered with in all those years they would likely have advanced no further than when they were taught that new skill. They do have a curious trait where any physical changes or scars endured to an Ur-men are passed on to it;s descendants, it is this trait and the relative stability imposed by their lack of innovation that makes them desirable minions to a host of overlords.

Ur-Men: HD 1; AC 9 [10]; Atk 1 weapon (1d6); Move 12; Save 17; AL N; CL/XP 1/15; Special: None.

Tall men with large powerful legs bred to be riding beasts for lesser dragonkind. Striders are normally unintelligent and lack the skills to make use of weapons and tools.  they stand nine to ten feet tall and serve as a reliable mount to a man-sized riders (both mannish and dragon-kind).

Strider: HD: 2; Ac 8[11],Atk- kick (1-3); Move 18; Save 16; AL-N; CL/XP 2/30

Pack Korl
Devolved and savage Urmen that run about on all four limbs serving as war dogs and watch animals. Pack Korl are more useful than canines because they are able to follow long and elaborate commands and have no enduring fear of dragonkind.

Pack Korl: HD: 1; AC:7[12]; Atk bite(1d3); Move 15; Save 17; AL K; CL/XP: 1/15; special: none.