Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Behold the Quest for Prince Charming (Addendum)

While writing my last post I was on a quest for a picture of a good Disney Prince (for the Changeling Class below). I would have gone for funny, but this is what I got then:

"You want to kiss her awake? Save vs. Dragon Breath!
(A mint might give you a bonus...) "

This one was nice, but I couldn't use it (may share it nonetheless):

There were also a lot of frog pictures,
because... er... nerver mind.

One picture wouldn't leave me alone, though:

What did this guy do wrong?

But I missed something. And then it hit me:

Then the DM in my head says: "Yeah, yeah. You mean, when a Changeling gets drained to level zero, he not only looses his Charm Power, he also gets very hairy and a bad attitude. Funny that. Ha Ha." That bastard...

Elves are no mammals, goddarnit! (introducing: Prince Charming)

Elves should be immortal!

So me and my flatmate were discussing the absurd idea of Elves having schlongs to reproduce or to make little Half Elves. My flatmate is kind of a Tolkien connoisseur and starts quoting that Half Elves are very VERY rare and a gift granted only by the gods. And for making it even remotely possible to happen, an Elf has to give up immortality. Because while being immortal, there is no need to reproduce! It should be like this in D&D, too.

But how may I play an immortal being in D&D?

Obviously it's not consistend with the rules and it always bothered me that an level 1 Elf was considerably older than, say, humans but was nearly as weak and inexperienced as those half-sophisticated apes with sticks. Plus, he has level restrictions! WTF?! Without an reasonable explanation well established in an campaign you might get... 3rd Edition and special friends?

Is there an easy solution to make it all work out?

Might be. This is how I propose it in my campaign, anyway. Elves are classic Fairies, etheral and immortal beings with only one foot in reality. With all the magic forests where you might turn the wrong way and end up in Alfheim or Eldamar or something. I have The Wild Hunt with Oberon in the lead. Whatever makes THE GAME interesting. It's like in Poul Andersons novel The Broken Sword. And if a player wants to play an Elf, he may do that. BUT...

Elves as Player Characters? With level restrictions?!

There are two direct ways for the Fae to interact with the world of the living. They might steal a human child and raise it as their own (The Changeling, my substitute for the Half Elf, more on that later in this post).

Or one of them might decide to roam the world as a mortal for some time to protect the way of the Elves (protect natures beauty, you know the drill)*. It's a perfect excuse for an Adventurer. Their time as mortals needs to be restricted (by level, in game terms), because there is always a danger of contamination. After that period they may not make it back. They start so weak because they have to learn to live under those conditions and all former expierence is more in the way than helping (right there is the age difference). If they die, their corpse has to be brought back to an Elven forest or their soul might not find its way back to the Elven Court. They don't need sleep as humans do, but when they dream, they visit their homeland and may communicate with their friends (this is for possible adventure hooks, too). They get very depressive and cranky if they don't have those 4 hours.

Dark Elves, an afterthought.

A group of banished Elves, forced to live under the earth and never to feel the joy and beauty of their realm and immortality again. Made them a little bitter. How do they reproduce? I don't know, maybe they trick happy Elves to the Dark Side (they really hate those guys). They seek immortality (Lolth is one of those who made it, hence the cult, works fine with the Rules Cyclopedia) or revenge. Unpleasant folk to have around.

The Changeling (aka Prince Charming)**

It's Disneys fault!

He's your regular Knight in Shining Armour. Raised by tricky Elves (they stole him, to begin with) he comes around like a Disney incarnation of Prince Charming. Always smiling, always rescuing damsels in distress, always popular at parties. And sooner or later he disappears into the dawn, leaving behind broken hearts and the question "Where oh where did the fascination come from?!". Being a classic hedonist he loves to enjoy life and beauty, fighting evil is just a way for him to become famous (and kick ugly people). He likes Elves and knows what's good for you.

Prime Requisites: Strength and Luck (or Charisma)
Experience Bonus: 5% for STR or LUCK (CHA, respectively) higher than 12, 10% for STR and LUCK higher than 12
Hit Dice: 1d6 per level up to 9th level. Starting with 10th level, +2 hit points per level, and Constitution adjustments no longer apply.

Maximum Level: 36 (and might go for immortality like an Elve or like a god)
Armour: Any, shilds permitted
Weapon: Any
Combat Progression: like Fighter
Weapon Mastery: normal
Saves as: Thief
Special Ablities:
At level 1: Charm Person (as the spell; at will level/3 (round up) per day)
At Level 9: Charm Monster (as the spell; at will (level-7)/3 (round up) per day)
At level 18: Mass Charm (as the spell; at will (level-16)/3 (round up) per day)

Changeling Experience Table

Level         XP   Special Abilities

  1            0    Charm Person (as the spell; at will level/3 (round up) per day)
  2        2.700    
  3        5.400    
  4       10.800      
  5       21.600    
  6       45.000      
  7       90.000    
  8      180.000     
  9      360.000   Charm Monster (as the spell; at will (level-7)/3 (round up) per day)
 10      480.000    
 11      600.000   
 12      720.000   
 13      840.000   
 14      960.000   
 15    1.080.000   
 16    1.200.000   
 17    1.320.000   
 18    1.440.000    Mass Charm (as the spell; at will (level-16)/3 (round up) per day)
 19    1.560.000   
 20    1.680.000   
 21    1.800.000   
 22    1.920.000   
 23    2.040.000   
 24    2.160.000   
 25    2.280.000   
 26    2.400.000   
 27    2.520.000   
 28    2.640.000   
 29    2.760.000   
 30    2.880.000   
 31    3.000.000   
 32    3.120.000   
 33    3.240.000   
 34    3.360.000   
 35    3.480.000   
 36    3.600.000   

*Again the flatmate: Tolkien did this (sort of) with the Maiar.
**Using this.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Another Ranger joke (couldn't help it...)!

Well, long time no posting. You know what they say:

The official OSR Meme (is this still funny?)

At first I was very busy, then I was very ill. Now I'm back in the woods.

Tomorrow I will write INCREDIBLE REVELATIONS ABOUT ELVES and a little something about Armour Class.

All after a good nights sleep...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Choleric Thief meets fat Wizard

As an optional rule my players may roll during character creation (but AFTER choosing a class) on the following table (it's inspired by an Arduin table, but I tinkered a little bit with it):

Character Aspects (1d20)

1-2    Thin (-1 to Strength)
3-4    Choleric (-1 to Wisdom, +1 to Constitution)
5-6    Melancholic (+1 to Intelligence)
7-8    Nimble (+1 to Dexterity)
9-12   Normal
13-14  Serene (+1 to Wisdom)
15-16  Vivid (+1 to Luck/Charisma)
17-18  Brawny (+1 to Strength)
19-20  Fat (+1 Constitution, -1 Dexterity)

If I need some characteristics for NPCs fast, I use this table too. It doesn't change a lot, but it can give a character some depth if the player is willing. Ask the thin dwarf, he'll tell you...

"Initiative!" Part 1 (Basics)

This is a little subsystem for Initiative I cooked up with my players. It introduces Player-Coop and flexible Combat Moves to D&D without being too complex. It's a rather long post with a lot of stuff in it, so for your compensation:

"Roll for initiative, fools!"*

Initiative is trouble

Despite the fact that there are several ways to handle Initiative in D&D, most of them (if not all of them) are derived from the idea of fighting battles with miniatures. That's not bad at all and you can play it very fast and simple by rolling a d6 for every side and be done with it. Or you may have individual Ini, too, all with amour restrictions, weapon speed and whatnot. Regardless how you play it, I always felt something missing. There is no tension and no narrative aspect provided in those rules.

What? It's all right there, man!

True, you have the freedom to play the game (and combat especially) all the way you want. But that's not the point. I would like to have a simple system that considers the rules but gives the players a little something to think outside the box and to cooperate. Not the usual hack-and-getting-hacked-at routine.

Initiative fast and furious?

This is how we do it. Take an ability (we take Luck but you might also take DEX, I have my reasons, though), divide it by 6 (round up) and you have the number of d6 you might use for your Initiative. Add AC (descending AC, I might add), DEX bonus, Level of Weapon Mastery (we play Rules Cyclopedia, after all) and any relevant bonuses from magic.

(Luck/6)d6 + AC + DEX bonus + Level Weapon Mastery + Magic bonuses (if any)

Combat Moves and Player Coop

Every natural 6 and rolled doubles are worth a Combat Move, triplets are worth 2 Combat Moves and so forth. Furthermore you get an extra d6 for any rolled 6. For Coop you may compare you results with another player to get more Combat Moves. Example:

Player 1 (Fighter, Luck 15): 2 5 6 1 (bonus d6)
Player 2 (Magic User, Luck 5**): 5
Player 3 (Thief, Luck 12): 3 6 3 (bonus d6)
Player 4 (Cleric, Luck 9): 2 5
Player 5 (Fighter, Luck 13): 2 5 5

Let's say Fighter and Thief fight together in this combat. They would have 4 Combat Moves to share in this encounter (two doubles and two sixes). The other team (MU, Cleric and the second fighter) would have 4 Combat Moves to share (one quadruplet and one double).

So what is a Combat Move? A player might spend one Combat Move per attack to aid his allies or to put more hurt on his enemies. It's an additional attack roll vs. the enemies AC and success means a +1d4 for any one combat related coefficient that round (it may be the enemies AC, his Fatigue, a damage roll, etc.***). Succeeding with two Combat Moves in a row fixes the result from the first roll for the fight.

The Fighter in the Fighter/Thief combo decides to spent his first Combat Move to reduce the AC of the orc chief (a tough SOB with an AC of 2) they fight against. He succeeds, rolls 3 on his 1d4 and reduces the orcs AC to 5 for this round. Even if his following attack fails, the Thief has a better chance to hit the orc, too! In the second round the fighter again spends his Combat Move on reducing the orcs AC and is, again, successful. So, for the rest of the encounter the orc chiefs AC stays reduced to 5.

Reasons for different Class Combos

This is the icing on the cake. When different Classes work together, it effects the fight:

  • Fighter and Thief: The pro and the sneaky bastard. The number of Combat Moves they achieve is the number of sneak attacks a Thief may bring into the fight.
  • Thief and Thief: They fight dirty. The number of Combat Moves divided by 2 is a bonus to damage rolls.
  • Cleric and any number of Followers: Faith United. The number of achieved Combat Moves divided by the number of coop members is a to hit bonus. They scream their gods name a lot.
  • Any number of Fighters: Professional hacking. Double their Fatigue and their number of Combat Moves.
  • The Wizard: The brain. Add the MUs INT modifier to the achieved Combat Moves.

The enemy

So the players choose their coop, roll for Initiative and count their Combat Moves. But what are they up against? As a DM you only need the HD/level of the Monsters in the encounter. Add 30 to it and compare it to the individual Ini-values of the players. HD/level also indicate the number of Combat Moves a creature has. It may look something like that:

Player 1 (Fighter): 2 5 6 =
14 + AC 0 + 1 DEX + 1 (Basic Weapon Mastery)  vs.  6 HD Orc Chief + 30 = 36

To compare Initiative, just substract the players Ini from 30 + HD of the enemy.
36 - 16 = 20

The whole fight would look like this:

First Coop, 4 Combat Moves, 4 Sneak Attacks for the thief.
Player 1 (Fighter): 2 5 6 1 /
16 vs. 20 (6 HD orc chief)
Player 3 (Thief): 3 6 3 /
19 (AC 3, +3 DEX, Basic Weapon Mastery) vs. 17 (6 HD orc chief)

Second Coop, 4 Combat Moves, +2 to hit for the fighter, +1 for the rest.
Player 2 (Magic User): 5 /
14 (AC 8, +1 DEX, Basic Weapon Mastery) vs. 18 (2 HD orc)
Player 4 (Cleric): 2 5 /
9 (AC 0, Skilled Weapon Mastery) vs. 23 (2 HD orc)
Player 5 (Fighter): 2 5 5 /
19 (AC 3, +2 DEX, Skilled Weapon Mastery) vs. 12 (3 HD orc bodyguard)

Changing Coops or establishing a Coop during fights is -4 to Initiative. A round is 6 seconds and you might either attack, cast or move (which includes standing up, etc.). That's it. For this encounter the Thief and the fighter in the second Coop are the fastest, the orcs are next in line, then the rest of the group. Repeat.

It's actually a pretty fast system and easy to keep track of in a combat. But the nice thing is, my players adapted it instantly and the fights are much more intense due to Combat Moves and Player Coop. Opinions? Questions?

* A clip from A Fistful of Dollars.
** Because he sacrificed 8 points to save his ass in another fight. See here.
*** The players are free to decide on the effect, but it's always 1d4.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I'm no Ranger? What the... !?

Obviously I am a:

Neutral Good Human Druid/Wizard (3rd/2nd Level)

Ability Scores:
Strength- 16
Dexterity- 12
Constitution- 14
Intelligence- 16
Wisdom- 17
Charisma- 16
Neutral Good- A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment when it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Primary Class:
Druids- Druids gain power not by ruling nature but by being at one with it. They hate the unnatural, including aberrations or undead, and destroy them where possible. Druids receive divine spells from nature, not the gods, and can gain an array of powers as they gain experience, including the ability to take the shapes of animals. The weapons and armor of a druid are restricted by their traditional oaths, not simply training. A druid's Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that they can cast.

Secondary Class:
Wizards- Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard's strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

Druid AND Wizard it is? At least I'm disoriented, hehe. I saw this at The Underdark Gazette and Brendan from Untimately did it, too. Take the quiz, it's fun.

Those stats are pretty flattering, but who cares? Would I play this character? I don't know. I really don't...

Kicking it (my take on the Monk class in D&D)

This is an idea I had two years ago (give or take). In my current RC campaign I don't allow the Mystic class. It doesn' fit into the setting. But if I were to do an asia themed setting, I would probably build a new class (or several) for that. Most of all, because everything you need is already in the core rules. You don't need new subsystems to run a new class (at least they shouldn't be the main thing). This post over at the Vaults of Pandius made me realize a simple truth: Wuxia is totally doable with the Magic User spell list!

Every spell in the list might be used to describe a mystic ability displayed as a kung fu move. You put some flavour into spell names and spell descriptions, the spell effects stay as they are. You might just take the MU as written and have your monk right there!

She uses Fly, for sure!
This is how I would do the Monk, though*:

  • casts and progresses like a Magic User
  • movement rate and AC progress like the special abilities for the Mystic suggest
  • Prime Requisite should be Wisdom, not Intelligence
  • 1d6 HP per level
  • saves like the MU
  • may use any weapon, but no armour

The Monk

Prime Requisites: Dexterity and Wisdom
Experience Bonus: 5% for DEX or WIS higher than 12, 10% for DEX and WIS higher than 12
Hit Dice: 1d6 per level up to 9th level. Starting with 10th level, +2 hit points per level, and Constitution adjustments no longer apply.

Maximum Level: 36 (and might go for immortality)
Armour: None, no shilds permitted
Weapon: Any
Combat Progression: like Cleric
Weapon Mastery: normal
Special Ablities: MU spells, AC bonus, increased Movement

Monk Experience Table

Level         XP   AC  Movement     Wuxia/level
                                  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9
  1            0    9     120'    1
  2        2.500    8     130'    2
  3        5.000    7     140'    2   1
  4       10.000    6     150'    2   2  
  5       20.000    5     160'    2   2   1
  6       40.000    4     170'    2   2   2  
  7       80.000    3     180'    3   2   2   1
  8      160.000    2     190'    3   3   2   2  
  9      240.000    1     200'    3   3   3   2   1
 10      390.000    0     210'    3   3   3   3   2
 11      540.000   -1     220'    4   3   3   3   2   1
 12      690.000   -2     240'    4   4   4   3   2   1
 13      840.000   -3     260'    4   4   4   3   2   2
 14      990.000   -4     280'    4   4   4   4   3   2
 15    1.140.000   -5     300'    5   4   4   4   3   2   1
 16    1.290.000   -6     320'    5   5   5   4   3   2   2
 17    1.440.000   -6     320'    6   5   5   4   4   3   2
 18    1.590.000   -6     320'    6   5   5   4   4   3   2   1
 19    1.740.000   -6     320'    6   5   5   5   4   3   2   2
 20    1.890.000   -6     320'    6   5   5   5   4   4   3   2
 21    2.040.000   -6     320'    6   5   5   5   4   4   3   2   1
 22    2.190.000   -6     320'    6   6   5   5   5   4   3   2   2
 23    2.340.000   -6     320'    6   6   6   6   5   4   3   3   2
 24    2.490.000   -6     320'    7   7   6   6   5   5   4   3   2
 25    2.640.000   -6     320'    7   7   6   6   5   5   4   4   3
 26    2.790.000   -6     320'    7   7   7   6   6   5   5   4   3
 27    2.940.000   -6     320'    7   7   7   6   6   5   5   5   4
 28    3.090.000   -6     320'    8   8   7   6   6   6   6   5   4
 29    3.240.000   -6     320'    8   8   7   7   7   6   6   5   5
 30    3.390.000   -6     320'    8   8   8   7   7   7   6   6   5
 31    3.540.000   -6     320'    8   8   8   7   7   7   7   6   6
 32    3.690.000   -6     320'    9   8   8   8   8   7   7   7   6
 33    3.840.000   -6     320'    9   9   9   8   8   8   7   7   7
 34    3.990.000   -6     320'    9   9   9   9   8   8   8   8   7
 35    4.140.000   -6     320'    9   9   9   9   9   9   8   8   8
 36    4.390.000   -6     320'    9   9   9   9   9   9   9   9   9

Known Wuxia is like known spells for MUs.

Add different schools with different wuxia moves (other spell descriptions and/or spell restrictions) and you're good to go!

* For building classes I use this awesome article from Check it out! 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mildly annoying players (Part1)

Every once in a while there are discussions about having christian ideals (or something similar thought provoking, really, just insert xy) in fantasy rpgs. And every time I read about stuff like that I would imagine a scene like the following:

Player (wants to stay anonymous): ...and and my fighter Kronkart The Mighty has to be vegan!

DM: But...?! What? ... eh ... Why would he be vegan?

Right answer: Because then he gets SUPERPOWERS!!

Point in case*

Here my imaginary DM would applaud and say somthing like: Bonus points for using nerdy movie knowledge while creating a character. I wouldn't allow superpowers, though. Well, I could offer you pointy ears and infravision...

Wrong answer (in my head, anyway): I'm vegan in real live and I wouldn't like the idea of having my character eat meat, you know?

And the DM in my brain would say: I wouldn't want to hurt any sensibilities, but it's only a game, goddarnit! It's for playing and having fun, you know.

Then I would smile and think about some rules instead.

*If you haven't seen Scott Pilgrim vs. The World yet, I can only recommend it. This movie is AWESOME!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

3d6 in a row for stats is so harsh!

A little something before the weekend starts. I tried very hard to be old school and force my players to roll 3d6 in a row for stats. There was much whining and threatening, but I stayed undeterred. For a while. When we started a new setting not long ago, new characters were in order and we discussed (again!) how it had to be done.

So here is the compromise: A player might roll six times 3d6, but he notes every single number. This is what he gets, no more, no less. He might combine them how ever he sees fit, though. Three digits make an ability score.

It's still harsh, but now my players have the option to build the characters they want, with the crap they rolled.*

There was less whining and almost no threatening. I'm happy.

*It's scary how bad the results were, no kidding. I had to invent a new class for cases like this, the Pilgrim. But that's  for another post.

Hacking Hackmaster Part 2 (who needs charisma anyway?)

So, a wizard enters a bar...

...and sees this stunningly beautiful woman. The player decides to have some fun with it and tries to seduce her. Normally in D&D this calls for a charisma check. But why, could one ask, doesn't he use his intelligence to impress her? He's an academic, after all. It's his thing. As a DM you could be inclined to let it roll this way. And the next thing you know, is that the barbarian at the table sees the wizard go all intellectual on the hottie, looks at his charisma score and decides to use his impressive strength to even the odds. Well, he might have a point, too. It's hard to imagine Conan display some charme on the ladies, while being all macho and muscular might do the trick just fine. Then comes the thief of the group and wants to whisper her in the ear what his dextrous fingers could do for her...

The point is: no one needs charisma, ever. You shine with what you have. You could say, everybody being famous for his charisma (in the real world, mind you) shines just through an intelligent display of his advantages. Any diplomatic endeavour in politics? You might just as well use your intelligence, wisdom or your strength (if you are a bully and like that sort of thing). Your cleric needs some henchmen?  Why not opt for wisdom? He might have it reasonably high and the kind of people he gets along with tend to like religious stuff. It's much more believable.

But where to go from there?

Some time last year all this buzz about the new Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG hit the OSR and one particular post peaked my interest (Jeff's Gameblog is all awesome, by the way, but you might know that already). It was about the features of the new game and someone in the comments wrote this wonderfull idea:
"Looks like a great houserule:
1. Add a new statistic to any classic D&D: Luck, generated normally.
2. At the beginning of each session role a die on a chart for what it effects. 
You could even include reversing effects. What if your luck will modify damage roles against you for this session?"
 Great! One cigarette on the balcony later Charisma was dumped and instead we had Luck in our game. And to make it all stick, I let the players roll a d6 before every session with the following benefits:

  1.  Luck adjustment to every to hit roll
  2.  Luck adjustment to Armor Class
  3.  Luck adjustment for special actions*
  4.  Luck adjustment for saves
  5.  Luck adjustment to fatigue**
  6.  Luck adjustment to damage rolls

They liked it a lot. And it gave me the opportunity to steal (er.. borrow, really) another idea from Hackmaster. Because in Hackmaster you could sacrifice 90 % of your accumulated honor to avoid certain doom. It was a perfect fit. From then on a player could spend 8 points of his luck to cheat death. It would regenerate as soon as he gets a new level. Until then he had to live with the penalty thereof. His luck had changed!

So what about the woman at the beginning who was lucky enough to be that genetically compatible (spell: beautiful). Well, your answer is right there...

Also read: Part 1

*We use that in fights, but that is a story for another post (sorry).
**Need to write something about fatigue, too.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Critical Countdown (addendum to yesterday's post)

This is like talking to myself, but in an OFFICIAL way. So this is good, right? Right. Well, I talked to myself yesterday (on the balcony, with a cigarette) about how to streamline the whole echo-thingie from yesterdays post a little bit more.

In our game, when you roll a 20 for an attack, you get maximum damage and a reroll. If you hit the 20 again (rolling 1d20 + level this time), you have yourself a critical hit! We use the Arduin critical hit table, which is something between cutting of some toes and cutting of a head for 3d6. It's not very balanced and it's on my to-do-list to make a new one.  Hackmaster has a nice critical hit table, but you have to roll 1d10.000 and there is a severity level for an attack. The higher the severity (it's a separate roll), the higher the gore factor. It's one of those nice but time consuming subsystems in Hackmaster I mentioned before. A light version of this system would suit me just fine.

And then it hit me! When using the echo rules for attacks, it would fit very nicely, I thought. Here it comes:

  • Rolling a 20 for an attack = always a hit, maximum damage and echo
  • Rolling 1 - 11 on 1d12 = straight damage to Endurance
  • Rolling a 12 for echo = a critical hit! and third echo
  • Rolling 1d10 = severity of the attack (as I see it, some severe damage, like a cut artery or internal damage)
  • Every echo after that adds to the severity (if you are that lucky)

Needs testing next saturday!

For severity:

  1. no fatigue left, he keeps fighting exhausted*
  2. blinded, fighting blind for 1d10 rounds
  3. no moral necessary, this one pissed himself and runs 1d6 rounds for his life (or pleads for mercy)
  4. enemy is down in agony for 1d3 rounds (no attacks or anything, just screaming)
  5. badly stunned for 1d10 turns, your mighty hit made him fly 1d3 meters
  6. artery cut, bleeds out in 2d4 rounds, moral check every round, this one is messy
  7. internal bleeding, he doesn't know it, but he's dead in 1d6 rounds (keeps fighting, though)
  8. guts ripped out, 1 in 1d10 chance of tangling feet, dead in 1d10 rounds, won't fight, but may cast spells
  9. groin attack! hacked, clubbed or pierced, it's no nice feeling, this one is down until put out of his misery
  10. severe head trauma, goes down and is dead in 1d3 rounds
  11. clean kill, he's dead alright
  12. man, you're fast! your enemy is not only dead, you get a bonus attack, too
  13. off with his head, bonus attack and every enemy in sight has to check for his morale
  14. describe this fatal blow, get a bonus attack and every enemy in sight has to check for his morale
  15. as 14, but you learned something, get double xp for this kill!
  16. as 15, but there is more: a circumstantial bonus of +4 the next time you encounter an enemy like this
  17. as 16, but you keep the circumstantial bonus against enemies such as the one you killed (and may give yourself a nickname referring to it, like "Zombieslayer" or something)
  18. as 17 plus victory dance, the 1d6 echo roll after that goes to your fame**

That's it for now, folks. It scratched more topics than I imagined. Let's take it to playtesting and see if it rolls...

*We play with fatigue, but this is a subject for another post. In short: you may fight for halve your Con in rounds, after that it's a cumulative -1 on attacks and armor class every round. After a number of rounds equal to his fatigue, he is to exhausted to fight on.
** We play with that, too. More on that later on.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hacking Hackmaster, Part 1 (let the dice explode... not too much)

I just love me some Hackmaster 4th Edition!

And we played the heck out of this game. So here is the thing. Due to the fact that not only all character classes, but also the monsters get a 20 hp kicker from the beginning, fights tend to get a little long. At least in the opinion of some of my players. Me? Nothing wrong with it, that's why it's called Hackmaster, after all. To make things worse: the rules tended to get in the way of gaming. Again, nothing I could not live with, the rules are great and fun to work with. But it slowed the game.

Classic dungeon crawling laziness!

All that changed when we were one day desperate for some dungeon crawling but were to lazy to use Hackmaster. I proposed to give DDA3: Eye of Traldar a try and we started rolling. Mystara, the D&D Rules Cyclopedia (RC) and a few pregenerated characters. It was a blast! And we stayed with it.

But what about all those cool features of Hackmaster?! Follow Through Damage, honor, exploding dice, threshold of pain or Fatigue? I wanted some of that goodness in my game! So let's hack Hackmaster!

Do not let the dice explode!

I tried. Nothing good comes down that road. Well, at least for your players. If dice could be a little bit less exploding, I thought, it would still be a good feature for any D&D game without the hp kicker. It took me a while and some booze to find something similar easy to remember*, but a little less lethal. This is what made the casting:

Echoing dice:

  • Roll the highest value of any dice and you might roll again with the next lower die.
  • If you keep rolling that high, repeat again with the next lower die.
  • There is no die after the d4.
  • Dice in order: 1d20, 1d12, 1d10, 1d8, 1d6, 1d4
  • Not for attacks (but wait! why not?! hm...) or initiative-rolls

It makes combat a little more dangerous, but we play with full hp at first level, so that's fair. And it gives fights just that little something extra both players and Dungeon Master might enjoy.

Part 2 will be about honor, charisma and luck. So stay tuned and roll high!

*Exploding dice: roll the highest value of any dice and you may reroll the dice, subtract 1 and add it to the first roll. If you keep rolling that high, repeat.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rolling high (oh... it's about skills)

Ze Rules

We play an (extremly houseruled) version of the D&D Rules Cyclopedia. As an (original) optional rule one might decide to play with skills. It reads like this:

"All 1st level characters start with four "blank"
skills, often called slots. (When a skill is chosen,
it stops being a slot.)
Characters who have an Intelligence of more
than 12 start with more than four skill slots. If
the character has an Intelligence of 13-15, he
gets 1 additional skill slot; if his Intelligence is
16-17, he gets 2 additional skill slots; and if his
Intelligence is 18, he gets 3 additional skill slots.
Different things determine which skills are
chosen to fill the character's slots. The player
may choose some or all of the skills to fill his
available skill slots. Or the DM may insist that
the player select certain skill choices appropriate
for the character background the player has chosen." (Rules Cyclopedia, p. 81)

So each skill is based on one of the abilities and to succeed  in a given task related to a skill one has to roll under that ability score. When improving skills, a player gets an additional +1 to the ability score every time he chooses to take the skill. And you get every 4 levels a new skill point to distribute. That's it in a nutshell.

What's not to like?

It's one of those things the 3rd Edition DID get right: always roll high. You do it when you attack something, you do it when you have to make a saving throw. Only ability and skill checks have to be low to get it done. I don't like it.

What's to like?

That the skill is nothing else but the actual ability, not based on a bonus. It's not a completely new system but takes the core rules and adds some flavour.

You start with 4 skill slots and get one more every 4 levels after that? That's nice! Because if it doesn't happen too often, it doesn't get to important. The ability scores are able to manage most challenges, after all.

What did we do with it?

  • Every skill check is 1d20 + ability, the aim is 20 or higher for an easy task, 25 or higher for a moderate task  and 30 or higher for something really difficult.
  • If a player doesn't have the right skill, the check is 1d20 + halve the appropriate ability score against the difficulty.
  • Instead of getting a +1 for taking a skill two times, the players get a +5 to the ability (and again +5 for the third time, etc.).
  • A roll of 1 is always a failure, a roll of 20 is always a success. Like it should be, I might add.

It's a simple but flexible solution and it gets the job done.

For Starters

So this is going to be another blog about OD&D and it's iterations (plus some other rpg-stuff I've been thinking about).

I'm late to the party, but I like D&D for a long time now. Didn't like the development of the game, though. To be honest, I was a fanboy of all things 3rd Edition. Alas, when I finally started to play the game, we didn't get along very well. After that I fell in love with Hackmaster 4th Edition and, consequently, with AD&D. We played that a lot and I still have fond memories of the game. When the Old School Renaissance (OSR) hit the imternet. I discovered the possibilities and have been following and tinkering ever since.

There's already a lot of very good stuff out there and I'm not sure if I'll get even close to this kind of awesome. But I will try to contribute and play with a few ideas (more about that in the next post).

I'm a German Gamer and no native speaker, but English seems to be the way to go. My apologies for that...

Next: a little something about skills and how I see it.