Monday, February 4, 2019

Uthur's Tomb, an Interpretation of Jackson's Barrowmound 10

Having a creative burst here, or more likely, finally transcribing a few ideas into a somewhat publishable format.  Really, you don't want to try to read my notes.

Back to Mr. Matt Jackson's contributions to the map ecosystem, his "Barrowmound 10." Per his notes, the tomb side resulted in a case of mummy rot in his home game...  My victims, er, adventures, will be sent to make sure that the tomb is undisturbed, but find something else disturbing in a pair of recently-dug caverns...

Have a look. and find out what lurks in Uthur's Tomb.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Sneaking into Dyson's Sapphire Vault....

Two posts in a day?  What sorcery is this?

Well I have a few things in the pipeline, and its time to translate my scribbled notes to legible text, followed by making that text somewhat coherent.

So today we visit the lovely Sapphire Vault of Mr. Logos, as he described it, "... the Sapphire Vault appears to have been part of some larger structure at one point – the construction of which is significantly beyond the skills of the current inhabitants. Access to the vault is via one of two small caves on the cliff-face – the smaller cave being about 12 feet above the larger and used primarily as a look-out for invaders, looters, and adventurers."  I upgraded his foul goblinoids to degraded lizardfolk and went from there...

Download it here, y'all. 

No Clerics!?!

So here's the thing.  Cleric is my favorite old school class to play.  I like the combination of support spells/miracles, plus being able to thwack things now and then. And occasionally hamming it up like some travelling preacher. 

But then Dan Collins goes and talks about how and why he's eliminated clerics from his house rules.


HERETIC! (goes looking for firewood and an appropriate burning stake...)

Ok, with that out of the way...  I'm actually treading into game design theory here...  careful now....

So yeah.  No clerics.  Per Dan, if the original inspirational literature - Leiber, Tolkien, Vance, etc. - is devoid of the miraculous healer or armored priest. Using our bog-standard faux European medieval trope, that role is shoehorned in from the Christian clergy and mythology, with a bit of Crusader thrown in.  So the cleric is anachronistic with respect to the source material. Depending on the campaign/world-building environment that a group's game explores, there may not be a place for a cleric in a classic fighter/thief/mage trope.

Soooo... reflecting on that and Tim Kask's commentary  - Hit points were not designed or intended as  strictly physical damage, but an ambiguous combination of physical damage, skill, luck, and fatigue that can compound prior to receiving a potentially fatal blow. 

The sparring match referenced by Tim:

Other good examples:  Gotta have some classic Flynn and Rathbone - chewing scenery, taking falls, dodging, wearing one another down...

Or Rob Roy, with superficial damage and exhaustion stacking up prior to Rob Roy getting that critical with only a few HP left?

Therefore, it seems that the cleric's cure light wounds, etc. is inconsistent with the original concept of hit points, since HP aren't directly coupled to physical damage.  Also, if hit points are a combination of the above listed conditions, does it make sense that a PC would only recover, at most, a few hit points with a night's rest?

So then, what do we do without a 'healer' in the party?  How do we figuratively catch our breaths and regain some of those nebulous hit points?

Treading into potentially heretical OSR territory, let's look at 5e for another pair of mechanics, the short and long rests:
Short Rest
A short rest is a period of downtime, at least 1 hour long, during which a character does nothing more strenuous than eating, drinking, reading, and tending to wounds.
A character can spend one or more Hit Dice at the end of a short rest, up to the character’s maximum number of Hit Dice, which is equal to the character’s level. For each Hit Die spent in this way, the player rolls the die and adds the character’s Constitution modifier to it. The character regains Hit Points equal to the total. The player can decide to spend an additional Hit Die after each roll. A character regains some spent Hit Dice upon finishing a long rest, as explained below.
Long Rest
A long rest is a period of extended downtime, at least 8 hours long, during which a character sleeps or performs light activity: reading, talking, eating, or standing watch for no more than 2 hours. If the rest is interrupted by a period of strenuous activity—at least 1 hour of walking, fighting, casting Spells, or similar Adventuring activity—the characters must begin the rest again to gain any benefit from it.
At the end of a long rest, a character regains all lost Hit Points. The character also regains spent Hit Dice, up to a number of dice equal to half of the character’s total number of them (minimum of one die). For example, if a character has eight Hit Dice, he or she can regain four spent Hit Dice upon finishing a long rest.
A character can’t benefit from more than one long rest in a 24-hour period, and a character must have at least 1 hit point at the start of the rest to gain its benefits.
So here goes something totally untested and unproven.  No warranty stated or implied:

OSR Short Rest: Regain one hit point per level (+CON bonus) up to max HP. Mages may attempt to regain spent spells (only ones previously memorized that day) using a successful saving throw vs spells per attempted spell recovered (shoehorning in a bit of an opportunity to help the mages, particularly low level, to be less of a one-hit wonder). 

OSR Long Rest Idea 1: Roll one HD per level (+CON bonus) (up to max HP). Spell selection/memorization as per normal.

OSR Long Rest Idea 2: Roll 1HD plus 1 HP/level (+CON bonus). Spell selection/memorization as per normal.

Even with a long rest, and excepting the use of healing potions or some other mechanic, there should still be the potential for hit point attrition as the adventure continues - fatigue, healing wounds, poor food, etc. add up.

After all, an adventure is analogous to an expedition, and these guys are shedding hit points like nobody's business...

Pardon this ramble - written up Saturday morning after one cup of coffee and a night of ruminating on the above commentaries.  Let me know what you think - is this a workable option for a world without clerics?


Well, maybe there is one classic literature (er, film) 'Cleric' - but he wasn't much of a healer....

And the classic One Hit Point left:

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Book Review: Noblesse Oblige

I originally found Uri Kurlianchik through his DND Kids blog, where I enjoyed his observations and tales of running games/herding adolescents.  So when his announcement of a new book came across my MeWe feed, I couldn't pass it up.  Besides, I had a long plane ride coming up, and paper-based reading fare is my favored travel entertainment.

So here's a synopsis and review:

There's no one to rescue the Princess.

Our adventure takes place in a decadent outpost at the edge of the solar system near the border with the insanity-laced Oort cloud and its threatening, alien occupants (the appropriately-termed horror vacui). The unnamed Princess arrives at the asteroid outpost-mansion of an eccentric outlaw and immediately finds herself to be the center of attention, but not in a way that she is used to, or even remotely comfortable with.... For she is to be auctioned off to the highest bidder among a group of equally eccentric and murderous characters.

So marooned with this rogues gallery, with only a ferret (that turns out to be much more than an emotional support animal) and a rapidly-depleting personal micro-armory, she seeks resources and unreliable allies in her attempts to equal the manipulations and machinations of her 'suitors.'

As her 'suitors' get eliminated, leaving increasingly dangerous and deceitful foes, our Princess resorts to greater subterfuge and methodologies as the stakes rise. Will she triumph?
The book is a fun romp in a dystopian future ruled by capitalist-monarchies. Each chapter is headed by an appropriate Dune-like quote with responses/commentary by the characters. Interspersed flashback chapters have vignettes of the various protagonists, linking them, and creating backstory. The Princess is no Mary Sue, the situation remains tenuous throughout.  But she rises to the occasion from a sheltered young woman to a formidable opponent through her own keen observations, recollections of near-forgotten lessons from family and advisors, and resourcefulness. For those of us who enjoy our futures slightly dark and cynical, with a haughty heroine who can't even believe that she's having to put up with these indignities, grab a copy.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Creeping in Old Cruik Hollow

Knocking out mini-adventure #2, this time a Dyson Logos creation.   Dyson often adds a bit of description or plot seed to each of his maps.  I usually go my own way, but this description was evocative enough for me to run with it...
The limestone caves of Old Cruik Hollow are at the head of a box canyon and show the signs of decades of use by various groups over the ages. Stairs have been cut into the floor of the cave on the left leading into the upper caves. Sections of the caves have been closed off with wooden walls and doorways – and a small tomb was cut into the looping cave and then more recently converted into a storage space. 
These days the upper caves are home to a small group of bandits, exiles and outlaws from the nearby town. Their leader, Ola Zeldade, escaped town when they began growing scales as they are actually at least one quarter naga, and are in the midst of the slow transformation into a more naga-like form.
So I built out this cavern with its leadership "in transition". So to speak. Her merry band was generated, in part, via a few clicks on the Meatshields generator, your one-stop-shop for mooks.
Welcome to the Hollow, we got fun n games - Download
 Happy holidays, ya heathens!