Sunday, February 12, 2017

Tabletop Terrors is hosting this month's RPG Blog Carnival, with the theme of 'Rethinking Encounters': including rethinking encounter mechanics, making them memorable, redefining encounters, and creating items associated with encounters...

And I've found that if I don't take advantage of some inspiration as it strikes, it tends to dissipate into the aether.

So here ya go - 15 minutes of inspiration and Wikipedia....


Saint Iriabel's Censer of Alliance

The Way-Priest Gegar Iriabel was a missionary-explorer to the Chaos-lands that encroached on (and periodically overran) the boundaries of the tamed lands.  Rather than simply smiting Chaos as he found it, he was known to proselytize to the 'Darkness' and occasionally found some success, as evidenced by his periodic entourage of hobgoblins and orcs.

For Iriabel found it much more profitable, and less hazardous, to create small alliances, or sway factions within Chaos forces to either support him, or at least allow him passage in his greater crusading goals.  These goals often included recovering hostages, retrieval of lost or stolen artifacts and relics, and re-sanctifying desecrated places along the edges of civilization.

In this pursuit, he fortified his own faith and powers of persuasion with a chain censer blessed to magnify the powers of a wandering priest in hostile lands, such as himself...

The Censer was made of silver worked with rare examples of lapis and topaz.  Swung by a short chain while burning certain blessed charcoals and incenses, the Censer creates the following effects for a Law-aligned cleric (or class allowed use of cleric magic items):

  • +2 on reaction rolls with potentially hostile or unknown parties.  Irabel blessed the device to have its greatest benefit when encountering an unknown individual or group in unfriendly territory.  While the Censer may not have the outward benefit of a charm spell, Irabel found that, along with his own powers of persuasion, such an amplifier was quite suitable to create voluntary temporary allies.
The Censer grants bonuses to the following common encounter-based spells
  • An additional +1 bonus to saves (and corollary -1 penalty to chaos forces) Protection from Evil, (For Protection from Evil, 10' Radius, the radius if doubled)
  • An additional +1 bonus for a character under the benefits of a Bless spell
  • An additional -1 penalty to creatures affected by a Prayer spell 
Other bunuses granted by the Censer include:
  • +1 on undead turning rolls
  • While the Censer is burning, any ally within 10 feet is protected from contracting disease due to its protective smoke and fumes. 

Bonuses will last while the Censer is burning,  The Censer will burn for 1d2+1 hours with each charge of charcoal and incense.

After Iriabel's death and canonization, the Censer was housed in his fortress-monastery in the northwest of the kingdom,  Ironically, the monastery was overrun by Chaos warbands a decade after his death, and the Censer itself was stolen away.  Perhaps a brave and clever party will seek to recover it...

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Hitting things with sticks (and Swords & Wizardry Light)

Been poring through Tenkar's Swords & Wizardry Light treatment.  Erik was kind/brave enough to leave a Word copy laying about unattended, so I was making some personal edits and additions, including adding pared down interpretations of the four additional S&W Complete Rules classes (Assassin, Druid, Monk, and Ranger).  I was working on the Druid, when I noticed that the S&W druid doesn't have 'club' as a weapon option on the equipment list.

I was bit confused by this, as the AD&D 1st Edition, where S&W gets a lot of its inspiration and mechanics, includes the club as a druid weapon - after all, the class is often constrained to non-metallic weapons, in addition to armor...

So I'm not sure if this was an oversight or other simplification.  But anyway, my S&W druids will be allowed to swing clubs. Likewise, my Light version of the druid will be issued a club or spear as part of starting equipment.

Which brings me to a very brief rant.  Ok, I know that D&D,etc. isn't specifically 'realistic' or sometimes even internally consistent, but after all these years of reading the rules, I noticed that there is only one other class that can't wallop things with a cudgel.

Come on folks, anyone can pick up a stick...  no skill or significant strength required... Give the poor magic users a club.


Anyway, here's my tweaks and additions to Erik's original document - feel free to swipe for use and abuse.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Mini Review: Swords & Wizardry Complete, 3rd Printing

I supported the latest printing of the Complete rulebook via the Frog God team's recent Kickstarter.  The new book arrived promptly (Especially as I'm only a ferry ride away from the Frog God's home swamp).

As stated in the KS campaign, the book is a new printing, rather than a new edition. The text is essentially unchanged from the previous printing (which I also supported).

However, the book layout and artwork were reworked with the intent of drawing in new players and a new audience. The project was headed by Stacy Dellorfano, who invited a crew of female artists to provide the illustrations.

While there was a bit of controversy (isn't there always) that the art was exclusively by XX chromosomes, that's not the point to me.  It's good art.

Thumbing through the book has that element of inspired imagination. Kaos Nest's gothic-tinged cover piece evokes dark spells or demonic shadows.  Example characters, scenes, and reinterpreted monsters (the kobold has a hint of plumed dinosaur) do a good job of rekindling some inspiration for this lapsed gamer.

And I'm always a sucker for a good bulette.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Building some class

I recently stumbled upon Erin Smale's 'Building the Perfect Class' and updated 'Building a More Perfect Class' procedure for building alternative classes for old school or OD&D variants of the game.

Erin did some serious heavy lifting back-calculating experience point/level builds using the original classes/races to develop a matrix for creating or modifying playable races/classes.  He broke down HD, saves, equipping, skills, and spell abilities, assigning values to the variables.  The outcome is a reasonably balanced approach to class creation, and seems, at face value, to avoid over-powered classes.  (He does go on at some length about how the classic magic-user appears to be very hampered by the assigned XP requirements vs his calculated XP, built out via criteria).

So as a thought experiment - I tried a build-out with my Lizardfolk class that I wrote up a couple years past.


Erin lines out the criteria as such:

1. Hit Dice
2. Class Saving Throw
3. Attack/“to-hit” progression
4. Armour availability or restrictions
5. Weapons availability or restrictions
6. Spell-casting ability
7. Special Abilities: the class’s special abilities, (Erin has an inconsistency in this item - he notes that the abilities are not based on race in his summary, but includes racial abilities in his special abilities list.  Since there are no other racial qualifiers elsewhere in the list - I assume this is a typo)
8. Skills: learned skills, not based on race
9. Weapon Mastery: weapon proficiency (from the Rules Cyclopedia, if used,otherwise a generic value)
10. Level Limits - name-level or none?

The individual point options are provided in his document and associated spreadsheet.  My lizardfolk-specific notes are summarized below:

1. HD - 400 points (d8 is assigned 300 pts, but I'm adding value for 2HD at 1st level)
2. Saves - 100 points (fighter equivalent)
3. Attack - 500 points ('monster')
4. Armor - 100 points (Restricted to shields)
5. Weapons - 0 points (Racial restriction)
6. Spells - 0 points (this may change, since a 'shaman' class is allowed)
7. Special Abilities - 100 points (Natural armor)
                                100 (Natural weapons)
                                100 (Swimming)
                                100 (Breath-holding)
8. Skills - 0 points
9. Weapon Mastery - 0 points (generic)
10. Level Limit - -100 points (name level)

Total: 1400 points

Seems realistic - comparable to the cleric class.  The target XP is lower than the familiar demi-humans (dwarf, elf, halfling), but this may be representative of the Lizardfolk's perceived primitive or degraded state.  Flexing in a cleric-type spell ability option could add 100-400 points to the buy.

The base XP requirement is extrapolated to the appropriate level goals

Therefore - the Lizardfolk-specific class levels line out as:

Lvl XP Required
1 0
2 1,400
3 2,800
4 5,600
5 11,200
6 20,000
7 40,000
8 80,000
9 160,000 (Name-level limit)

Anyway, the BaMPC system appears to be a fairly robust resource for creating player classes for your own world.  As always comments or tweaks are welcome.


Friday, December 30, 2016

Mini Review: Two Page Mini Delves

I recently downloaded Roving Band of Misfits free bundle of Two Page Mini Delves.  The pack includes five one-shots suitable for side quests, plot hooks, or when the pesky PCs wander off the map.  RBoF also has a number of $1 two-pagers, as well. But I'm exceptionally cheap.

I've looked at four of the five collected delves (excepting the 'Pale Reaver').  All include a small map (either by Dyson Logos or Matt Jackson) with a maximum of ten rooms or encounter areas, perfect for a single session.  The delves each have one or more suggested setups to help bring the characters into the scene.  The small adventures are all very serviceable and creative, with some elements of mystery and exploration.

As an added bonus for later plotting, or dovetailing the delves into a larger game world, each of the delves has a few end-notes with either suggestions or questions to the DM for future thought or adventure threads.

The delves are set up for D&D 5e (and have call-outs or page references to the associated DM's guide and Players' Handbook).  However, the setups are generic enough for any OSR, and monsters and spells can be easily converted.  Because of the small encounter areas, the amount of translation will take only limited effort.

What the delves each do well, is the third page.  Wait - the label on the box said two pages!  What is this sorcery?  The third page (or Appendix) is a quick and dirty how-to-use guide.  The delves are written with level flexibility in mind.  Therefore - monsters, traps, challenges, and treasures are written in very generic terms (i.e. 'undead', 'sword')  Being 5e - challenges are written with 'DC' terminology in mind, but this is also easily translatable for relative levels.

Additionally, the appendix lays out some guidelines for scaling the adventures to party level and size.  This flexibility is a welcome addition and guidance to any small pre-written adventure - especially when a pick-up game or side quest is needed,  Yes, there is a small amount of preparation, but with the framework, and a reasonably experienced game master could scale on the fly or with only a small amount of prep time (e.g. the 'spider' in Room 3 can quickly become a 1/2 HP large spider or 4HD Giant Fire Hell-Spider).  

So take a look at them, save them in your just-in-case folder, and have fun!