Wednesday, March 24, 2021

A desperate Tuesday night.

 Due to scheduling hell my Monday night game didn't happen until Tuesday and only my youngest child was able to play.

Lastnight we had these two hardy adventurers going it on their own.

Thorn a Petty Dwarf Mage. 1st level.

Cobalt a Human Burglar.  1st level.

 It was a simple training adventure for my son and his two characters as hackneyed but fun "I'm having trouble with some rats in the basement" adventure. Boy oh boy were those rats troublesome.

After poking about the Inn basement for a while the two adventures eventually pounced on 3 big rats and a comedy of errors ensued resulting in a doused torch, a broken dagger and a damage wooden baton. One of the rates escaped into a whole in a tun barrel and the pair of adventurers discovered there was a tunnel they could crawl through back behind the huge barrel.

The pair climbed into the tunnel with the petty dwarf mage taking the lead (because he fit better). After quite the long crawl they came upon a chamber with 9 big rats gnawing away at some wretched refuse and oblivious to the adventurers. A sleep spell was attempted and bungles alerting the rats to the intruders presence so they fled with rats in pursuit. there was a desperate struggle as the mage lost most of his hit points and and a fair portion of one of his shoes.

After resting the night the pair descended back into the tunnel and successfully dealt with the swarm of rats and fetched their tails and discovered two other tunnels leading deeper away underground  but dared not risk it with just the two of them and returned the tails for the bounty offered by the inn keeper.

All told the pair of 1st level adventurers defeated 12 giant rats in 3 separate encounters and received 22 copper pennies total for their efforts. 


This was a hard one on my son because while it was conceptually simple he was still a little lost in all the rules options, and the challenge of bad decisions and bad dice rolls killing his characters. I pointed out the only way to really lose is to not play at all. But he has discovered a way into a larger dungeon complex and future opportunity for adventure.

He still as to learn he can get more out of me and expand on options by being inquisitive and creative by asking questions and looking in corners I might not have thought of or detailed for him yet.


Monday, March 22, 2021

Initiatve in D&D from original to 3E

Following up from the last post on initiative here is a quick analysis of Initiative resolution from Original to 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons. A lot of the picky details have been misunderstood, argued about and mostly ignored for years, they are all full of edge cases and exceptions that can complicate resolution of who goes first.

Original D&D  (Round by Round,Group, Phased Action)
Plain and simple (if some explains where it is hidden in another entire game) . Each side is bound to the roll of 1d6. Highest side gets to choose to go first or last. Than in sequential order teach set of actions is resolved with the “first side” getting to resolve actions first and the “last side” getting to resolve actions for that task only. In order both side conduct movement, than artillery fire, than missile fire, followed melee fire. Spell casting happens during artillery fire (I believe).

Original D&D  employing the Greyhawk supplement (Quickness, Round by Round, Group…possible individual, Phased Action)
Melee is conducted as per above but now it is noted dexterity impacts a character’s ability to act/react with no clarity as to how that is meant to be applied.

Original D&D  employing the Eldritch Wizardry supplement (Quickness,Round by Round, Group or Individual, Phased Action)
As an alternate rule and Alternate Combat system is introduced which is meant to resolve when in a round actions are resolved. Each melee round is broken into 8 segments from pre movement to 1,2,3,4,5,6 and Post movement. It is indicated that all actions are likely possible at some point in the melee round.
To see when a combatant can attack Adjusted Dexterity is is determined for each combatant.
Adjusted dexterity is determined by comparing each combatants dexterirty score and a comparing the two score to find a relative adjusted score. This score is checked on a table and a character is able to act once maybe twice a round on speficic segments of the melee turn.

(this initiative system would work better with duels than a general melee because of the nature of determining adjusted dexterity scores.)

1st Basic Set  (Quickness,Standard, Just in Time
Who goes first in every round of combat is determined in order of Dexterity of combatants from highest first to lowest last. If  combatants have a Dexterity score within 1 or 2 points of each other a d6 is rolled and the higher roll gets to strike first.

2nd version of B/X D&D (Quickness,Round by Round, Group, Just in Time -Phased Action in specific conditions)
Initiative in the 2nd and later version of “Basic” D&D employs a 1d6 roll with the higher roll winning and getting to go first. Combat is conducted in sequence where each side conducts its actions. The sequence is spelled out explicitly but each side is able to resolve their entire range of actions prior to the losing side so it is in essence that the side with the highest initiative roll goes first and conducts all it’s actions first. ( I have seen many DMs resolve the sequence in order for each side but this is not how the rule is written within the game). If the sides Tie in the initiative roll each action is meant to be resolved in order and simultaneously for each side.
As an option Individual initiative may be applied. When used each player rolls 1d6 and applies modifiers for dexterity, highest roll goes first. When combatants tie the tie is broken by another d6 roll.

1st editon AD&D initiative (Quickness,Round by Round,Group with optional Individual, Declare and Act,Delay based modifiers)
At it’s core it’s simple: roll 1d6 for each side and the winning side has won the initiative. However as with much of 1st edition all the picky details spread about the rules muddy things up.
Weapon speed factor is applied when two combatants have the same initiative score. The one with the quicker weapons (lower weapon speed factor) gets to strike first.
Casting time further complicates matters delaying the casting of spells that take under a rounds to cast by a number of segments for some spells. possibly allowing a foe to attack before a spell is cast.
(some DM’s adhered to a phased order of sequences similar to that of chainmail but this was not universal. The declaration step would often be ignored but that complicates matters more if one looked too hard into the ruels after ignoring that.)

2nd Edition AD&D Initiative (Quickness, Round by Round,Group or Individual, Declare and Act,Delay based modifiers)
Both sides roll 1d10. the LOWER rolling side gets to go first.
Dexterity modifies this roll only if individual resolution is applied.
When individual actions were considered weapon speed or casting time was added to the initiative roll to determine which actions were resolved first. All actions are considered to be possible and are resolved according to the adjusted initiative score.

3rd Editon D&D. (Quickness, Battle by Battle, Individual, Just in Time)
At the start of each combat 1d20 is rolled for each character or monster. Dexterity and special abilities may modify this roll. The roll is set for the entire combat. Some actions allow for the number to be changed or reset but it is essentially a fixed score for the entire combat.
Highest initiative score acts and so on down in order. It was common practice for whole groups of monsters and NPC to act on the same initiative roll to speed up combat resolution.
There was both picky nd loose resolution of how many actions a character could conduct in a round but generally a character was able to move and conduct all the attacks they were possible of making in a round with specific limitations being added for movement-actions, quick-actions, and so on.


Thursday, March 18, 2021

House Rules Ability Score Generation

Here are the ability score rules used in my current Monday Night game.

Roll 3d6 in order of STR, DEX, CON, INT, WIS, CHA. After that select the PCs Kin keeping in mind the ability score swaps.

Humans can swap any 2 ability scores as desired.

Brownies must swap their lowest rolled score into STR.

Hobbarts must swap STR with DEX or CON if it is higher than either score.

Higgelwyn must swap STR with DEX or CHA if it is higher than either of those.

Petty Dwarfs must swap the lowest roll into CHA.

Stone Dwarfs must swap their highest roll into CON.

Dusk Elves must swap their lowest roll to CON. 

Modifiers are similar to the B/X -3 to +3 range differing in having Charisma have the same range of modifiers.

Keeping it simple and restrained while allowing for some perceptible differences between characters based on their kin.


As per my last post we created 4 characters and managed to get two Humans with Strength scores of 5 but with other scores that didn't encourage their swapping any for that STR score. So we ended up with a physically weak Healer and Burglar.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Monday night game night

 Last night I played D&D with my two boys. It was my latest Frankenstein mish-mash of rules not the Rust and Runes project I'm working on (but I am "secretly"playtesting some of the mechanics for that in this campaign).

Characters were rolled up 3d6 per stat in order with some minor score swapping based on choice of character kin. Humans may swap any two scores while Petty Dwarves are required to move their lowest score into Charisma as examples of that. 

The Characters Played Last Night

Thorn a Petty Dwarf Mage. CHA 7.

Cobalt a Human Burglar. STR 5.

Gromlin Longstache a Stone Dwarf Fighter. CON 16.

St Piere a Human Healer. STR 5.

 I found it amusing both human characters had a strength of 5. Swapping that out to another score just didn't pay-off for either player so it stayed. We are using a fairly simple slot based initiative system so both fellows were encumbered by their starting equipment. the first step of encumbrance is just no sprinting and a minor penalty to some agile tasks.

It's a rustic pastoral medievalesque dung age setting so we ware using somepicky but still fairly simple equipment wear and tear rules. Most of the characters starting equipment was less than ideal. The best armor is the party was a padded cap, padded cotte, and leather greaves with a wooden buckler. Giving a decent armor class nonetheless and 2 points of damage resistance.

We are using 1d12 round robin initiative with Weapon Speed Factors roughly in line with my previous campaign play. Highest initiative roll on a side goes first on a round. If your weapon speed factor is over your sides initiative score for the round you attack at -4.

The adventure (jokingly called Tutorial Adventure)  started straight and simple with the 4 adventurers meeting a locla miller's sun who was looking for help because beastmen had attacked his family mill. The players agreed to help his family while he ran to fetch the local lord and his men.

The party quickly made it to the mill to see a dead chicken outside and the large side panel doors flung open. The dead chicken found it's way into Gromlin's haversack. Cobalt took a quick peek  and they could see there was nobody on the ground floor of the mill but there was noise coming from upstairs.

The party krept up into the living quarters above the work area of the mill and discovered two goat bodied beastmen rooting through the families goods. Gromlin rushed to the attack and sliced one with his Basilard, Cobalt began to sneak to their flank when Thorn popped up and took down the to goatie beastmen with a  successful sleep spell. After slaying the wounded beast man the second was trussed up and interrogated allowing the party to discover the rest of the bad of beastmen had hauled of a bunch of good and the miller and his wife. The party left the trussed up beastman in a shed for the lord's men to deal with and headed off to the old barrows west of the mill.

Entering the meadows with the old barrows the party had trouble following the tracks of their quarry and stumbled across an open barrow. thorn spied something within but couldn't make it out too well so the party rushed in tot barrow to remember they hadn't brought torches luckily for them while it was shadowy there was still enough light to fight the creature within that they disturbed gnawing on the old dry corpse within a ghoul.

This encounter did not go as well and quickly as the first. The ghoul put up quite a fight locked in hand to hand combat with the dwarven fighter Gromlin for 6 rounds. Early in the fight Gromlin broke his staff striking the ghoul on the head and retreated to ready his magic missile spell. Everyone opted for daggers and basilard inside the shadowy barrow to take advantage of weapon sped and becasue of the close quarters. The ghoul raked at Gromlins armor several times but failed ot actually harm him and while he stabbed or sliced the ghoul a number of time they were having only meager impact as it grasped the burglar Cobalt and tried to haul him deeper into a dark corner of the barrow before it was finished off by a lucky blow by the doughty dwarven fighter. The mage didn't get the magic missle spell ready quickly enough for it to have a telling result.

A broken staff was the worst the party suffered in that desperate fight. Had they remembered torches they may have been able to see better and organize a group offense good enough to gain a quicker telling advantage against the ghoul. All that was found worth carrying away was a thin silver ring.

The party exited the barrow and found the goat men on the other side of the meadow where they discovered two deep into a barrel of ale and the three more teasing and harassing the miller and his wife behind a pile of flour sacks. Thorn with Gromlin at his side able to sneak u close enough to the three to lay them low with another sleep spell. The two large goat headed beastmen took notice of course and one rushed the adventurers but his charge was checked by the spear of the healer St Pierre and it was quickly dispatched. The largest beastman had held back and suffered an arrow shot and a magic missile before fleeing for parts unkown while a failed magic missile was cast and two more arrow wasted.

The sleeping beastmen were  dispatched and the miller and his wife untied and healed with a pair of Cure Light wound spells. The miller and his wife rewarded the party with the remainder of the ale an a bif sack of flour before they all began hauling the goods and beastmen's weapons back to the mill to meet the Lord and his men mounting a rescue.

In the next morning the beastman who had been left in the shed was hung by the lord and the party was also granted a reward of 50 bronze groats for their prompt and timely efforts. Not a huge reward but a successful adventure.


I was happy the players quickly figure out how to deal with the initiative system (my older son had played with one very similar in the past) and the equipment wear and tear was considered worth it for the tiny bit of book keeping because of the drama it set in for the players in deciding what equipment to risk when, it also gives them a very obvious short term goal of better weapons and gear. the players did discover the beast men were more properly known as Hammer Goats and fear they may have made a enemy. The frequency of spell use for 1st level characters was possible becasue I'm using a variant spell point system that requires a casting roll and management of readied and cast spells that favors lower level spell use without an otherwise endless stream of zap cantrips.

I knew the damage resistance on the padded armor would prove useful but not as useful as it was as the ghoul wasn't able to rip through it and into the dwarf that suffered the bulk of it's assaults. Throughout the session I believe there were 14 rounds of combat split among the 3 encounters  but not an HP of damage was suffered by any of the PCs. they consider themselves lucky not invulnerable.

Thanks to the 50 bronze groats reward, the sack of flour, and 5 hammers liberated from the Hammer Goats the party will be able to scrape by for another couple weeks with little effort (6 groats will house and feed a man out in the villages in meager fashion for a week) but are definitely in need of more lucrative pursuits.