Sunday, November 20, 2016

A question of plate

Thesis:  First level PC fighters really shouldn't start out with the ability to afford plate.  Sure, they've got a massive 8-10 HP, so they need all the help they can get pretending to tank their way at the front of the party.

But that's not what that initial funnel is about, now?  It's about scrabbling through that first dungeon, avoiding the giant frog, learning how to skulk and retreat, and getting out with enough coin to get that coveted equipment upgrade...

So let's take a quick review of where a few version of the game sit with respect to the economy of armor.

For consistency, I'm just looking at the three basic armor types that are persistent through various versions of the game (at least the ones that I have laying about right now) - leather, chain mail, and plate mail.

The Moldvay/Cook books line out leather, chain, and plate at 20, 40, and 60 gp, respectively.

S&W spreads out the cost a bit more - 5, 75, and 100 gp.

Basic Fantasy prices the three types at 20, 60, and 300 gp.

And 1st ed. AD&D puts them at 5, 75, and 400 gp.

In the first case, an average-rolling PC (120-130 gp on a 3d6x10) can afford plate.  S&W can make plate available for strongly-rolling 1st level PCs, unless they skimp on other accouterments and supplies.  And plate is out of reach for 1st level characters in BFRPG and AD&D

(Later on, 3.5/Pathfinder makes most medium and all heavier armors out of reach for 1st level characters, and perhaps even for 2nd or 3rd level depending on their treasure hauls: 10, 150, 600 for 'half-plate'/1,200 for 'field plate'/1,500 for 'full plate'.)

I doubt that many of these values have much grounding in any 'real' economy. There are limited resources on the historical prices of armor.  However, here is one that lists out some example costs for a few common armor types (typically chain mail, a few helmets, partial armor bits like curiasses, as well as some values for custom armor made for nobles.)

Anyway let's move on to starting GP for 1st Level PCs:

Prior to 1st Ed. AD&D, all character classes rolled the same starting gold - 3d6x10 GP.   The OSR clones generally stick with this model.

Of course, we probably can all recall more than once a magic user PC rolling high and buying out the town market's daggers, oil and pack animals.  And a fighter rolling 40 GP and gamely heading out of town in their leather and spear, with a bag over their shoulder.

Then comes AD&D, and the starting gold values get skewed by class.

This skewing is not simply starting GP as buying power, it is also proportional to the types of equipment required/allowed by the classes.

But... perhaps another way to think about these variable starting gold values may actually be as part of the backstory for the individual PC.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Corrupted Potions

Another bit of rumination on Potions and their sensitivity to the environment around them, in contribution to Of Dice and Dragons' October RPG Blog Carnival topic.

Part 1 here.

While there are a number of spell failure tables and mechanics are available, I don't know if there are any for potions (or I'm just lazy and never looked).

I would theorize that, although potions are typically treated as infallible 'magic bullet' items in game-playing, that in 'reality' they may be more unreliable - concoctions brewed by sketchy alchemists, or enchanted by second-rate mage's assistants...

Additionally, if the potion is considered a distillation enchanted with a spell effect, would the fluid be susceptible to magical influences?

So... A consideration of a few things, in no particular order, that may have an effect on a lowly potion, minding its own business in its flask or vial....

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Temperamental Potions

Of Dice and Dragons is sponsoring this month's Carnival topic of potions.

Per Omas Qualor is an itinerant healer and alchemist who somehow glommed onto the party one or two towns back.  His pack clinks with vials, pots and retorts.  No one wants to get too close to him, as he reeks of rancid distillations and esters, but no one has come up with a way to ditch him, quite yet.

He goes on and on about his researches into the 'essential essences' of the various races, and how his potions are attuned to emphasize and amplify the the natural 'humors' of the individual.  Qualor claims to have distilled potions that are attuned to the 'internal chymistry' of the individual races.  "Wait! Don't go away, I have a number of vials here if you would care to sample!"

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Salt Dwarves (and salt golems)

The Salt Dwarves, in contrast with their mountain kin, mine the subterranean salt domes and evaporite basins eschewing their brethren's search for gems and precious ores, instead excavating the "buried ocean."  These mines extend deep into the ground, tapping the halides left by ancient seas and buried under eons of deposits.

Like their hard rock mining cousins, the Salt Dwarves hollow huge caverns beneath the earth, for the mines are both their vocation and homes.  The mines are supported by elaborate timber and rope shoring and cribworks, proof against the slowly settling and flowing salt.  Massive water wheels and pumps evacuate the caverns of brackish water.

Periodically, the dwarves, with their salt-encrusted beards and cracked hands, will come to the surface of their mines, hauling their troves of salt to the surface. Salt dwarves, when encountered, tend to be kitted out in leather armor, with a thick, padded skullcap, and wielding a mining or war-pick. They wear no metallic armor due to the corrosive tendencies of the saline atmosphere within the mines.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Justinian's Demon

Demon - The 'Justinian'

Inspired by:
"And some of those who have been with Justinian at the palace late at night, men who were pure of spirit, have thought they saw a strange demoniac form taking his place. One man said that the Emperor suddenly rose from his throne and walked about, and indeed he was never wont to remain sitting for long, and immediately Justinian's head vanished, while the rest of his body seemed to ebb and flow; whereat the beholder stood aghast and fearful, wondering if his eyes were deceiving him. But presently he perceived the vanished head filling out and joining the body again as strangely as it had left it." - Procopius, The Secret History

Referred to only as a 'Justinian' (its true name unpronounceable, or lost in time) this shape-changer is a possessor and usurper of royalty, and its presence has led to the demise of more than one kingdom or empire.

The demon requires noble blood to posses a soul, albeit one in a weakened state. In its 'natural' state, the demon is relatively weak, but once fortified with a deceased noble, becomes significantly more powerful.  Consequently, the demon is naturally drawn to ailing leaders. The demon lurks along the periphery of plague-bound areas or kingdoms where the leader is known to be sickly or infirm.  Aware that a king or noble will be surrounded by priests, leeches, and wards during times of sickness, the Justinian, in its smoky, ephemeral form, will whisper promises and temptations from the dark until it finds a malleable watcher who may be swayed to let down their guard. With the attendant(s) thus dispatched, and the leader at their weakest, the Justinian will smother the poor soul, consuming the body and replacing it, effecting a "miraculous" cure.

The Justinian, in the guise of the noble, embraces its new, energetic "lease on life." Observers in the court will notice a marked change in their "noble's" behavior.  The leader now appears charged with nervous energy, barely sleeping, if at all.  Their actions become chaotic and often contradictory. These actions are also driven by greed, and the "noble" effects new taxes and decrees to seize properties of the unfortunate rich or perceived political foes.  The funds go to pointless wars and expansions of territory, or the construction of hubris-driven edifices and public works.  More than one kingdom has been bankrupted by this demon's depredations.  However, the demon is prideful, will surround itself with fawning sycophants, and may be influenced by charming speech and flattery.

The demon is likewise fatigued by its efforts to hold the form of the usurped royal, and will, in the dark of night, momentarily relax its form, becoming insubstantial for up to one hour, the illusion wavering to any prying eyes.

(S&W stats):
Incorporeal: HD 6; AC: 2 [18]; Atk suffocate (1d4+1d4/round until save); Move 12; Save 11; AL C; CL/XP 8/1,000; Special: +1 or better weapon to hit, magic resistance (10%)
Corporeal: HD 8; AC: 6 [13]; Atk (2) fists (1d8) or by weapon; Move 12; Save 10; AL C; CL/XP 10/1,400; Special: +1 or better weapon to hit, immune to disease and poison, magic resistance (20%)