Showing posts with label AD&D. Show all posts
Showing posts with label AD&D. Show all posts

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Appendix N+

In the back of the Dungeon Master's Guide is Appendix N. These are a series of books which Mr. Gygax felt everyone should read. There have been endless debates on which is best, but these discussions miss the point. They are educational books, ones that broaden the scope of one's own internal story.

I have created my own Appendix, N+ if you will.

Click the tab above to read it.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

World Building with Worldographer

I'm working on a new map for the Peninsula of Plenty campaign using Inkwell Idea's Worldographer. The software is remarkably easy to use and makes the whole experience of world building a wonder rather than a pain. I went whole hog on this purchase and selected the $99.00 bundle plus Hexographer 1E World Style Icon Set. 

Right now I am tinkering with the different icon sets and have a mishmash of icons. I hope to correct this and work entirely with the 1E World Style set for everything. 

One of the nicest parts of the software is that once you have your geography set, where towns, rivers and road go make more sense. I've blogged about the 'Potamus Bay area before, but didn't realize how much was missing from the region. I detailed just a handful of settlements, but I envisioned an area that was both old and wild. That means more, but smaller settlements. The map now displays six settlements around the lake. A navigable river cause most people to refer to the lake as a bay, it actually is a lake next to a bay. 

The southern most ruins is actually a double ruin. There was massive wooden manor house that had been burned to the ground, but a smaller stone folly remains largely intact. It has been settled by kobolds. They call themselves Tribe of Minwan after their king. Thirty-six miles to the west is the largest settlement in the area ruled by a Gerent. The area is nominally controlled by the Empire, but due to the lack of luxury, the local ruler is permitted to rule as he see's fit. Along the western edge of the lake are two manors, one which supports a town and the other which is a fortified house. On the eastern side, the north-most habitation is a small village which has sprung up around a miller and blacksmith family. The tiny house on the southeast of the lake is an ancient fortified house made of stone. It is tiny but well populated. 




All this information basically wrote it's self as I used the software to make improvements to ideas I had kicking around in my head.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Handy Post - Handling Hands

Ah, we all have that player that wants grab an advantage. The easiest advantage to seize upon is being ambidextrous. Two hands, two attacks. Right?

Well... by the rules, sometimes yes, and sometimes no.

Ok, let's look at a scenario where someone actually needs both hands. A boxer. This is the default ruling that opens up the whole "left hand AND right hand as an advantage" line of thought. It is pretty natural to swing one hand then the other. It's like walking or breathing. My house rule is that left and right punches or kicks have no bearing on the game. There is no penalty if someone kicks left and punches right, even in the same round. The motion lends itself to the practice.

What about a sword fighter? Well, to be honest, fighting men probably bust their wrists a lot, so it would not be implausible for them to train as if ambidextrous. Archers train heavily and off hand shooting would be something they would explore as a gimmick or challenge. Wizards and clerics casting spells probably causes them to do the same.

So, most of your characters should be ambidextrous... to an extent. It might be plausible for a wizard to write with either hand because all of their magic is focused on hand movements, but a fighter isn't going be especially noted for writing, period. Fighting, the focus of most games, should not incur a penalty for using the off hand. Hockey players, baseball players and other athletes typically have the ability to use their off hand, sometimes even with the wrong type of tool because they are professionals. And all RPG characters are professionals, so the logic neatly follows.

However, using your off hand for other, uncommon tasks should incur a -2 penalty. Say, painting a picture with the off hand, especially when your character isn't a professional artist.

What the players are really asking for is a second attack because the character has two hands. The rules are punishing, a significant penalty because this is a gimmicky move. And unfortunately, these rules get abused by both players and DMs. When should it apply?

When the player is demanding a cheap and easy advantage for goofy reasons the negatives should apply.

History is full of cases where people walk into combat with two weapons. The player abuses this fact. A soldier with a sword and dagger will likely use one item to parry and one item to attack, which one depends on the circumstances. And it's fluid, they switch back and forth. For example, a swordsman may make an obvious "attack" with the sword only to swing the dagger in because the sword was blocked. That is one attack, the sword wasn't really swung with the intent to hit, merely to tie up the opponent's attention and weapon. The DM should be aware that this was relatively common, so she or he shouldn't want to invoke this penalty at this time.

How do you simulate this?

Option one: Average weapon damage. If a character has two daggers, then they do (1d4+1d4)/2. If they have a long sword and dagger, they do (1d4+1d8)/2. At first glance this looks odd. How can a dagger do 5 points of damage? We have two weapons and there is a small chance that both land hits, but one of them was far less effective than the other because it wasn't swung with intent. To this end, if a 20 is rolled, both weapons have hit but instead of double damage, the player merely rolls damage once for each weapon and adds them together. It could be great or could be poor.

Option two: Have the player declare which is the parry weapon, forcing them to roll for damage with the other weapon. In this case, the player has the option of either weapon and is technically declaring which hand they are using without saying so much. Damage rolls for a 20 are back to the normal double. Technically, they are handling two weapons, but don't have a chance with one of them. 

If they player insists they can swing both weapons at the same time, this is when you start piling on the off hand penalties. They aren't entitled to two attacks because they aren't skilled enough. So add those penalties up.

Now, what happens if the character IS entitled to two or more attacks? Nothing in the rules says that the player can't swing one mace 3 times in a round, nor does it say they can't kick someone as an attack in lieu of swinging the mace. Let them do it. Options one and two can be combined with this, if the character is so armed.

How do you handle two weapon attacks in your campaign? Let me know in the comments.

52 Weeks of Magic - 15 of 52 - The Shape of Memory

This weeks foray into magic is both a thing and a process.

The Shape of Memory is a ritual used by spell casters to better focus themselves to learn. The ritual invariably creates a small token of magic, "The Shape" but the actual item created is highly personal. This object, when consumed allows a spell caster to recast an orison, cantrip or first level spell as if it was on their memorized list of spells. It can be used immediately or saved for later. The spell must be currently on their list of known and memorized spells. The creation of the item does not cause the caster to lose the spell from their memory. The spell cannot be transferred from a scroll or book to "The Shape", it must be current in their mind.

Consumption is a qualified statement, the object may be eaten, drunk, burned, crushed, etc. The actual appearance of the object can be anything but tends towards care-free or whimsical items. Origami birds, a strange pattern inked on paper, a tint loaf of bread or muffin, a candy, a shaped wax candle, a tincture of herbs to drink, etc. In fact, the item produced will be as far away from the actual effect of the spell as possible, as if the caster was doodling mindlessly during the creation process.

The creation process usually takes all day as the magician makes choices about creation, but is not an all day process. The item has some worth, say a few coppers, but no one would call it art. The life time of such an object is usually 1 week unless special care is taken. Typically, the creator will have no more than 2 or three of these items available for use and sometimes the caster will use one to create a new one.

Any spell effect 1st level or under can put into the object, however most users will imbue the item with a knowledge based spell such a read magic or detect like spell. This is a practical consideration as usage requires an action which is best done while sitting or at least not looking at a target. The spells effect is immediate even if the consumption process takes longer. Usually such spells cannot be used in combat as the user is forced to make a non-combative action to activate it, but in rare instances it can be effective in combat. For example, throwing a paper token into a campfire can allow the user to immediately cast magic missile or light.

These items will NOT allow a different caster or non-spell caster to cast a spell but their use can cause confusion in this process. For example, a cleric who wishes to heal someone via this device may share a bite of a candy or loaf, but the target's action has nothing to do with the process. In fact, some people may find this action too weird to agree to, such as burning a token or eating a bit of candy. Only the caster's desire to do so is required.

This creation process is tied to the idea that there are many days where a caster will not utter a single prayer or spell and can save it for later.

Navigation:
Week 1 of 52 - Magic Lamps
Week 2 of 52 - The Rat Bag
Week 3 of 52 - Emulous Cursed Sword
Week 4 of 52 - The Cloak of Peaceful Repose
Week 5 of 52  - The Cowl of Death
Week 6 of 52 - Scimitar of Smiting
Week 7 of 52 - The Symbol of Sol Invictus
Week 8 of 52 - The Equi Phalera
Week 9 of 52 - Libertatem
Week 10 of 52 - Sorrow
Week 11 of 52 - Aemilla Carna
Week 12 of 52 - The Obice Cardeam
Week 13 of 52 - The Gnollish Rattlebone
Week 14 of 52 - The Bands of Roland
Week 15 of 52 - The Shape of Memory

Now, the commercial. I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG. I am obviously thinking of writing another and Gnolls might be the subject. Please let me know what you think in the comments. 

World Building Vignette #4 - Peninsula of Plenty - New Races

Two weeks ago, I featured a magic weapon called the Rattlebone, a gnollish mace. In the Peninsula of Plenty campaign, there are actually 5 kinds of Hyaenidae. From largest to smallest, they are:
Spotted
Striped
Brown
Aardwolf
and Flind.

There are also Wild Gnolls, who have a copper age culture but otherwise are identical to one of the other four basic kinds. They are viewed with disdain by the civilized gnolls, except Flinds who find them useful. In this campaign, the Flind appears to be an admixture of Aardwolves and one other kind of Hyaenidae.

The Aardwolf is the most civilized of the bunch. They are fixated on food and language of all kinds and tend to be good cooks. In the wilds, they can eat anything but prefer insects. They can be value guides to players.

The Flinds tend to be leader types found in tribes of Spotted, Striped and Brown Hyaenidae or informally, gnolls. Striped gnolls have an affinity for grey wolves which will act as pack mates sometimes. Brown gnolls have a special talent for confusing or driving off Spotted gnolls, which they intensely dislike. Brown gnolls are wary of dogs and Striped gnolls have a shared animosity with foxes of all kinds. Aardwolves live in tiny, family sized pack-clans unlike the others. They rarely mix with Flinds but sometimes will care for an elderly one.

All gnolls believe their own creation myth, which revolves around the sacrifices of two heroic humans and two hyenas which fused them into a single creature in order to survive the ordeals. They believe that it is their destiny to reforge the pack-clan and return to a state of bliss as human and hyenas, again.

Many human and demi-humans doubt this creation myth and instead choose to believe that gnolls were created by a mad worshipper of Yeenoghu. Gnomes and trolls are the exception, they believe in the gnoll creation myth whole-heartedly. Kobolds find this story horrifying and tend to believe the pack-clan myth.

Female gnolls are dominant in the pack-clans. Some of them are given special titles at birth: "Clan Heart" or the more unusually "Heart of Hearts". This second term would be better translated as "King of Kings" or as the gnolls see it, "Queen of Queens". Male pack-clan members may be granted the title "Revered" for special service to the pack. Gnolls do not understand the human title "King of Kings" and would not give an impossible title to a mere male. Male gnolls do not have any concept of siring pups and are called "mate" by the non-dominate female pack-clan members, as in "clanmate" or "packmate". Fighting males receive the first title, while wily and intelligent males receive the second.

World Building Vignette #3 - Peninsula of Plenty - Racial Preference Table

The Peninsula of Plenty is different than most settings. Humans and elves are competing cultures on the Peninsula. The elves are the most powerful colonizers on the continent. They came from over the sea and the human Empire views them as hostile invaders. The elven Kingdom of Nace is vastly outnumbered by humans but is much more powerful than humans as they embrace magic readily.

There is a pecking order to the races, based on their order of arrival on the Peninsula. When humans arrived, gnomes were already well established. The oldest gnomish texts declare that kobolds were actually the first race on the continent, but only recently developed any meaningful culture. Dwarven myths tell of a great migration to the largest mountain on continent and merely note that the kobolds and gnomes were ever present. It is unclear if this was by land or sea, or entirely underground. Half-Orcs arrived just after the humans via a shipwreck, while half-elves appear to have suffered the same fate. Both races have never had a great population and rely on both the elves and dwarves to survive. The last two arrivals were the halflings and gnolls, who are fleeing a great war to the north.

The cause of the war between the humans and elves was slavery. The outcome of that war was that humans will not enslave non-humans... or else. This war occurred 2 centuries in the past and accidentally saved the Empire from economic disaster. What is left of the Empire is struggling to reclaim land depopulated in the war and resist invaders from the north while trying to juggle a rising abolitionist movement. Humans who live in rural areas tend to be very relaxed about other races and sometimes will cede nominal control to invaders rather than resist. There are exceptions, but rural people are pragmatists.

The last two invasions were the halflings and gnolls. Humans view them as a nasty barbarians, if not animals. Since the war with the elves, humans have no intention of taking prisoners or slaves from the halfling or gnollish peoples. This attitude has the Elven and Dwarven Kingdoms readying for war.

Three races are very special on the continent: half-elves, half-orcs and kobolds.

The half-orcs are insular when it comes to breeding and only marry their own kind. However, they are claimed as citizens of both the Elven and Dwarven Kingdoms, as their past actions have saved both from conflict and disaster. They are considered keepers of the peace, justices or knights to each kingdom.

The elves believe that the half-elves might not be half-breds at all, only shipwrecked people who went native. Humans hate half-elves as they believe the mixing of races is deeply unnatural.

Kobolds are special because it seems they come in two kinds, the civilized race and the terrifying stuff of nightmares. Humans have a mythos of small house spirits like the Kobolds and the idea that they could turn evil on them is repugnant. The civilized race has adopted some strange characteristics from humanity. They behave as stylized humans, living in tiny villages and worshiping equines of all kinds. They have a deep misunderstanding of the Empire's equestrian class of citizens. They literally believe that these people are some sort of were-equine and not merely someone who can provide a horse in defense of the Empire. Their odd behaviors and the fact that they are emulating humans vexes others. They tend to view all other races rather positively in the hopes of gaining trade partners. They are someone bothered by the fact that gnolls prey on both kobolds and more importantly, horses. Kobolds have a special love of halflings and their ponies, while halflings view them as savages who might eat the baby or the family dog.

Peninsula of Plenty - Racial Preference Table
Race Dwarves Elves Gnomes Gnolls Half-Elves Halfling Half-Orc Human Kobold
Dwarves Preferred Neutral Neutral Apathy Apathy Goodwill Preferred Hatred Hatred
Elves Neutral Preferred Tolerated Apathy Tolerated Goodwill Preferred Apathy Apathy
Gnomes Goodwill Goodwill Preferred Tolerated Goodwill Preferred Preferred Preferred Goodwill
Gnolls Apathy Apathy Tolerated Tolerated Apathy Tolerated Goodwill Tolerated Goodwill
Half-Elves Goodwill Goodwill Apathy Goodwill Preferred Goodwill Goodwill Apathy Apathy
Halfling Goodwill Preferred Goodwill Goodwill Goodwill Preferred Tolerated Hatred Apathy
Half-Orc Hatred Preferred Goodwill Apathy Apathy Goodwill Preferred Neutral Apathy
Human Apathy Hatred Goodwill Apathy Hatred Neutral Neutral Preferred Apathy
Kobold Tolerated Tolerated Goodwill Neutral Goodwill Preferred Goodwill Preferred Tolerated

Sunday, March 31, 2019

52 Weeks of Magic - 14 of 52 - Bands of Roland

Band of Roland
Price: 30,000 gp
Body Slot: None
Caster Level: 18
Aura: Incredible conjuration
Activation: None
Weight: 1 lbs
The Band of Roland is a strange magic device. The device comes in a leather bag about 18” around and 2” thick. Within the bag is a twisted band of white metal inscribed with the word “Roland”. The band is twisted in such a way that it forms three loops within the bag. When the loops are uncoiled, the band expands to 4 feet and is a permanent gate to a location underground. One side of the band is an entrance to the room underground while the back side turns opaque and impenetrable. The space is clearly carved into the bedrock somewhere on the prime material plane and has a source of clean air. It is 4 feet tall and wide and 12 feet deep.
The interior of the room is heavily warded against magic, especially scrying, so items placed within the room cannot be found by magical means, except when the band is uncoiled.
It is completely safe to enter the space so long as one does not manipulate the ring at the same time. If the band is placed face down the floor or recoiled, characters will be trapped inside the room until someone picks up the band. They will also notice that the opening will pull objects and people “down”, but only if in contact with that surface. If the band is coiled, the opening vanishes, as does all light inside the hole. The most dangerous mistake to make is to enter the room and pull the band in after one’s self. The white band only shows the interior of the room, so if the band is placed in the room no escape is possible without other magic.
If escape is necessary, please see the History section for the possibility of rescue. Escape is possible with any sort of magic similar to teleportation.
Uncoiling the band is a free action as it is spring loaded, closing it takes an action and placing it the bag is a full round action. The band seems to fight being put in the bag. When uncoiled, the band can be used two handed as a makeshift tower shield.
Characters who attempt to use knowledge skill checks or spells to identify the purpose of the band will only discover/remember that Roland was a tyrant who passed away about 50 years ago. No one misses him at all.
Incredible conjuration; CL 17; Craft Wondrous Item, gate, see History and Creation sections for other limitations on creation. Price: 30,000 gps, weight 1 lbs.
The History of Roland and his band:
Tyrant Roland had many sets of bands created. The white band is a “sending band”. These were distributed to his underlings as a means of paying tribute. The underling would place treasure within the space and Roland would collect it from time to time.
Roland installed a black “receiving band” mounted in the wall of his treasury, facing a hole dug into the wall. Black bands are not coil-able like the white bands and are always "open". At predetermined times, Roland’s men would remove the black band from the wall to collect tribute sent via the white band. At first, the black bands were placed on the floor, face down, to prevent his underlings from seeing who retrieved the treasure. Anyone who attempts to step though the band in this position will become “pinned” to the floor by gravity that is inconsistent with his or her local gravity. This is easy to escape by rolling along the surface and would only be harmful if someone ran or charged into it without looking. It is pretty obvious from looking at the opening in the white side band that there is a surface in the way. Probing or touching a surface in this fashion is possible and not remotely dangerous. 
A prince staged a coup by outfitting a squad of crossbow men inside the room to kill whoever took the treasure. This failed and Roland retaliated by having deep shaft dung into the floor of his vault. The black band was placed over the mouth of this shaft as a surprise for anyone attempted to enter the room before or after tribute times. 
Roland’s son was far less bloodthirsty than his father was and after disposing of Roland in the very trap he made, he ignored the bands for many years. On rare occasions, his men rescued people trapped within the rings. The new king used information from the trapped to collect information rather than tribute from his father’s former underlings.
The name of Roland’s son is lost to history, but his child, Roland the Reformer is well known. The Reformer has no interest in taking tribute using the bands, but is somewhat voyeuristic in his use of them. He had his father buried in the hole in the floor of the vault, and there is a large gold and wooden throne upon it, holding the unnamed king's crown as a tribute to family. (The Reformer is unwilling to wear a crown.) The royal vault holds the bodies of two kinds now and Roland the Reformer is known to visit the vault to think. It is more of an office than a tomb or vault.

The Reformer is known for collecting coins and will “steal” from the band vault to add to his personal collection of coins. The Reformer will also rummage through possessions found room, in an effort to discover the whereabouts of the owners. He is more interested in single coins that are rare than coins in quantity. He will read journals, diaries and maps, but always returns them.

He attempts to locate the users using his own knowledge of geography. If he locates someone in harm's way, he will leave trinkets in with their possessions. Such items are under a 100 gps in value and often of dubious usefulness. Bottles of liquor and wine, and sometimes other small tokens of esteem. In the rare instance that two groups are using the space, he will draw a line between each users items and a series of glyphs. The glyphs usually translate to something indicative but odd such as: "Seaside Man" or "Desert Drifters". The users will be baffled by the King's division of property.

In this endeavor, he removes the black ring from the wall and turns it around so he will not become trapped inside or ambushed. The effect of this is, characters have a 1% chance per use of seeing the interior of Roland the Reformer’s vault. Invariably, Roland’s treasure is always bigger and more interesting than the characters treasure. The throne and crown are obviously burial markers and is often easily seen through the white ring. 
On Creation

If a player character attempts to create a Band of Roland and is unaware of the black band, he or she will be tapping into Roland’s collection of black bands and the item will work as described above. If the character is aware of the system, they can create their own pairs of bands for twice the cost. Once created, a pair of bands will link together permanently. Characters will be able to select the destination by the placement of black bands. Remember, the black bands cannot be coiled and when not in use they are an opaque barrier.

Navigation:
Week 1 of 52 - Magic Lamps
Week 2 of 52 - The Rat Bag
Week 3 of 52 - Emulous Cursed Sword
Week 5 of 52  - The Cowl of Death
Week 6 of 52 - Scimitar of Smiting
Week 8 of 52 - The Equi Phalera
Week 9 of 52 - Libertatem
Week 10 of 52 - Sorrow
Week 11 of 52 - Aemilla Carna
Week 12 of 52 - The Obice Cardeam
Week 13 of 52 - The Gnollish Rattlebone
Week 14 of 52 - Bands of Roland

Now, the commercial. I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG. I am obviously thinking of writing another and Gnolls might be the subject. Please let me know what you think in the comments. 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners Update

Updated an image or two.

I have uploaded a new version of Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners which includes more than 50 character professions. The update addresses some issues with the text, many typos and some minor changes to mechanics.

Now included with the download is a very old school character sheet. The sheet is two sided has 8 blocks for character information. The first four blocks are the familiar entries and the back page contains 4 blank lined blocks for notes.


The attribute block has a handy way of recording unavergaed die rolls in each corners of each stat.

Additionally, the sheet is plain black and white to allow for sketches and coloring right on the page. My suggestion is to attack these white spaces with a highlighter so you can quickly determine which character is which.

If you have already download this item, simply check your email for the update or log into RPG Now or DriveThru RPG and click the library tab to get the update.

Thank you again for downloading my book.






House Rules - Combat Tempo - Swinging Two Weapons

Many PLAYERS attempt to gain an advantage by swing two weapons at once. The various sets of rules accommodate this in one of two ways:

1) the character is simply swinging two weapons very fast, like a skill-less boxer.
2) the character is high level and receives extra attacks.

The first has a significant penalty, while the second does not.

My house rules handle these events slightly differently. Unarmed characters, who are not monks, can punch or kick twice per round. They receive no penalty unless they are making a last attack after losing a morale check. Failing a morale check removes any strength bonuses as the character is panicked. They are kicking and punching to get away, not to do damage.

By the way, punches do 1d2 points of damage per hand and kicks do 1d3.

Having established that it is natural to attack with both feet or hands and that panicking is bad, we move to the next scenario: Weapons. If a player has a weapon and a free hand, they can attack with the weapon and punch or kick at the same time. There is no penalty, as being unshielded is a penalty enough.

Characters may use a shield as a weapon, but they operate paradoxically. Bucklers do 1d3 points of damage plus strength bonus, while larger shields are relatively ineffective as weapons and do not do damage. A large shield, although it does no damage, it can disrupt a spell casters ability to cast and can foil a missile attack against another character. To hit someone in this fashion with a shield, one must normally be able to use a shield. Fighters, clerics, assassins, etc.

Now let's add in that second weapon. A character with a long sword and a dagger, 1d8 damage and 1d4 respectively, can use the tempo of combat to strike or threaten with both weapons each round. Only one attack roll is made. The effect is that the damage is shifted to a point between the two weapons: 1d6. Maybe they hit lightly with both weapons or perhaps they used one to force an opponent into dropping their guard for a single attack with the opposite weapon. Which one happened is not important, we are merely empowering players to act out realistic scenarios as they see their characters behaving. If a character is using two equal weapons, say two short swords or a mace and short sword which do 1d6 each, there is no change to the damage. It is simply a 1d6 roll.

In the AD&D rule set, there are significant penalties to swing both weapons at once. These rules should remain in effect when a character is unskilled, panicked or otherwise unwilling to be subtle in their attacks. Given the choice of using combat tempo or taking a big penalty, when would a character desire the penalty? Attacking massive creatures that can't strike back, attacking from behind, attacking creatures where a little damage is worse than no damage.

The last scenario, when a fighter gains multiple attacks can be handled either by the combat tempo rule which reduces damage, OR they pick one weapon to swing OR they can do the crazy "two at once" swing with a penalty. The player should choose based on the needs of the situation.

Did you know I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG? It contains all kinds of rules you can use in your campaign. Give it a try, it's pay what you want.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

52 Weeks of Magic - 6 of 52 - Scimitar of Smiting

The Scimitar of Smiting is a dangerous weapon. It does not have a bonus to either the to hit roll or damage, but it does grant one additional attack. The sword does count as +1 magical weapon for the purposes of striking targets immune to mundane weapons.

On each successful melee strike, the blade begins to crackle with energy, slowly charging. If a natural 6 is rolled for damage, the sword is fully charged. On the very next round, the wielder can unleash a bolt of lightning for 1d6+1 points of damage. The holder will have this information transmitted to them as a vague instinct, no words, just the idea.

The bolt has a maximum range of 50 feet and comes from the sharp edge of the blade. The weapon has the following range modifiers:

Short: 0-15 feet +1
Medium: 16-20 feet 0
Long: 21-30 -1
Very long: 31-50 -2

Lightning blasts are so random, the user cannot add their Dexterity bonus for ranged attacks. The weapon can be used as a melee weapon or as a range weapon while it is charged. The weapon will fire lightning at the same rate as the users normal attacks, plus one. It can alternate between swings and bolts in any chosen pattern.

The weapon will lose its charge if sheathed, touches the ground or if a miss is rolled. This means as long as the wielder strikes a target, they have another chance to strike another target. Swings and bolts can be targeted on the same or different creatures in the same round.

Wiley characters may attempt to charge weapon by deliberately striking objects or the ground. This never works. The weapon will unleash an electrical burst on the holder for 1d6 hp damage if they state they are attempting this. There is no saving throw.

If the holder contrives some situation where they cannot be shocked by this burst of energy, such as a spell, the scimitar will smite them later. The sword will wait until it is good and ready, rather the earliest opportunity. If the sword decides to wait, it will often select a time when the wielder is well away from others or when the strike would most deadly or embarrassing. For example, shocking a swimmer or when entering a church or temple. The delayed damage is 2d6, with no saving throw.

The sword is vaguely intelligent, but does not speak or communicate often. Most communicated information is emotional in nature.

Navigation:
Week 1 of 52 - Magic Lamps
Week 2 of 52 - The Rat Bag
Week 3 of 52 - Emulous Cursed Sword
Week 4 of 52 - The Cloak of Peaceful Repose
Week 5 of 52  - The Cowl of Death
Week 6 of 52 - Scimitar of Smiting
Week 7 of 52 - The Symbol of Sol Invictus
Week 8 of 52 - The Equi Phalera
Week 9 of 52 - Libertatem
Week 10 of 52 - Sorrow
Week 11 of 52 - Aemilla Carna
Week 12 of 52 - The Obice Cardeam
Week 13 of 52 - The Gnollish Rattlebone

Now, the commercial. I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG. I am obviously thinking of writing another and Gnolls might be the subject. Please let me know what you think in the comments. 

Sunday, January 27, 2019

52 Weeks of Magic - 5 of 52 - The Cowl of Death

The Cowl of Death is a magical monk's habit with hood. The cowl is imbued with the spell Feign Death like last week's Cloak of Peaceful Repose. It will immediately affect the wearer under one of two conditions:

1) the wearer is rendered unconscious by any means other than normal or magical sleep,
2) the user pulls up the hood and invokes the words, "memento mori".

If either of these two conditions are met, the wearer will collapse to the ground, seemingly dead as per the spell description.

The cowl has two other features. Over a period of an hour, the wearer will seem to rot while actually regaining one hit point (if any had been lost). Normally, the spell would prevent the recovery of hit points, but this item is designed to protect the wearer. The illusion of rot will prevent all but the most hungry scavengers from attacking the wearer. Intelligent creatures are allowed a saving throw vs. magic to ignore the illusion and the resulting implication that something was horribly wrong with the person before being struck down.

The Cowl of Death normally has 20 charges, but charges are only used when the command word is used. Invocation of the command can be verbal or mental. Being knocked unconscious does not use a charge.

Navigation:
Week 1 of 52 - Magic Lamps
Week 2 of 52 - The Rat Bag
Week 3 of 52 - Emulous Cursed Sword
Week 4 of 52 - The Cloak of Peaceful Repose
Week 5 of 52  - The Cowl of Death
Week 6 of 52 - Scimitar of Smiting
Week 7 of 52 - The Symbol of Sol Invictus
Week 8 of 52 - The Equi Phalera
Week 9 of 52 - Libertatem
Week 10 of 52 - Sorrow
Week 11 of 52 - Aemilla Carna
Week 12 of 52 - The Obice Cardeam
Week 13 of 52 - The Gnollish Rattlebone

Now, the commercial. I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG. I am obviously thinking of writing another and Gnolls might be the subject. Please let me know what you think in the comments. 

Saturday, January 26, 2019

52 Weeks of Magic - 4 of 52 - The Cloak of Peaceful Repose

Last week, we saw an evil weapon. This week, a more pleasant items is available.

The Cloak of Peaceful Repose will cast Feign Death on the wearer under two conditions:

1) the wearer is rendered unconscious by any mechanism except natural or magical sleep,
2) the wearer invokes the command, "Pardon" or "mihi pace".

In the case of being rendered unconscious, this cloak operates differently. The spell lasts 24 hours and the wearer is given the illusion that they've been laid out in a loving fashion. Scavengers will not interpret the wearer as food and intelligent creatures will be loathe to disturb the body. If invoked by the command words, the spell lasts but a single hour. In both cases, the wearer will have one hit point restored.

If the character is moved to a location that would cause actual death, The Cloak of Peaceful Repose sacrifices itself to rouse the wearer. The wearer will be granted all of the hit points they would naturally regain in 24 hours and they will rouse before they are buried, burned, etc. The cloak will disintegrate into a glowing white dust cloud, which will seem miraculous. The risk of death must be eminent, such as being placed in grave or set on on pyre mound.

Being buried at sea or in water provokes a violent response. The wearer will wake immediately and break for the surface with no hesitation. If the wearer loses a hit point to drowning damage, the cloak sacrifices itself by encasing the person in a glowing sphere which pushes them to the surface in a single round while also restoring a number of hit points equal to 48 hours of healing. Any weights, rope or chain wrapped around the character will fall off, undamaged. In this case, the cloak loses all magic but is not destroyed completely. The cloak changes to the color of wet slate and will remain so permanently. It will it will not accept dyes and is not affected by any normal bleaching agents or processes. It is subject to all other forms of damage.

The cloak has 20 charges if invoked by the keywords but functions any number of times unbidden. Obviously, if the cloak turns to dust, it is gone.

Navigation:
Week 1 of 52 - Magic Lamps
Week 2 of 52 - The Rat Bag
Week 3 of 52 - Emulous Cursed Sword
Week 4 of 52 - The Cloak of Peaceful Repose
Week 5 of 52  - The Cowl of Death
Week 6 of 52 - Scimitar of Smiting
Week 7 of 52 - The Symbol of Sol Invictus
Week 8 of 52 - The Equi Phalera
Week 9 of 52 - Libertatem
Week 10 of 52 - Sorrow

Now the commercial. I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG. It is a framework for old school commoner class characters or for adding a little background to Player Characters via professional skills. It's pay what you want, including free so don't hesitate to give it a try.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

World Building Vignette #0

I am working on a new D&D campaign world, largely based on the Romans. This is an interesting scenario as it is so different than the typical D&D setting which is often based in medieval times. This is wildly different than the Greyhawk setting or anything else I have encountered.

I plan on posting a series of vignettes on this process. Next Saturday, I plan to introduce a magic item unique to one town in this world: "The Rat Bag". The town has an interesting name and history, which explains the rational for this item. It is a mass produced magical device, which is strange to say the least. 

My planned schedule for posting is Friday and Saturday nights. The first post will be vignettes of this campaign world and the second will continue my 52 Weeks of Magic Series. As time permits, I may increase my posting rate. 

Please join me this weekend for world building fun.

Click the link to read Vignette #1

Friday, November 23, 2018

Overpowered Spells and Obvious Consequences

Meteor Swarm is one of those that has some very obvious societal consequences, even more than teleport or fly spells. Magic users anywhere nearing the ability to cast this spell should immediately become a "priority" to anyone operating an army in the area.

I've never ran a magic user from 0 to 18, nor had anyone in any of my campaigns done so. I was unfamiliar how effective Meteor Swarm was until I played a game with a pre-generated, 21st level magic user. The DM was an old school wargamer. He loved the Chainmail rules and WRG. He intended to start the game with a prison break, but as a twist, let us play out our capture. Our party encountered what could only be described as hoplite phalanx, a seemingly overwhelming force that would easily capture our tiny party.

As the DM described the situation, I read the description for Meteor Swarm. I asked if they were in bow range. The DM advised that they were not. he smugly informed me it didn't matter because magic users use darts, not bows. As they got closer, the party loosed arrows. A few arrows hardly did anything, there were several hundred guys. At 180 yard... yards(!), I cast Meteor Swarm.

Meteor Swarm vs. Phalanx
The DM consulted the Player's Handbook as I rolled damage. He read that description back and forth, over and over again, as I rolled die after die. The zig-zag of range in yard and area of effect in feet confused him, but not me. The AoE is massive for this spell. The rolls didn't matter, there were only a few hundred guys. The DM ruled that anyone hit by the spell was dead. The overlapping pattern of damage made saving throws moot.

What happened next was even more horrifying. I cast it AGAIN! The DM walked away from the table. Even assuming the phalanx scattered to the winds, I was killing survivors by the dozens. The few that ran towards the party were running into a hail of arrows and in the very next round, I would be casting a fireball.

As it stood, the DM decided to allow this insanity to stand. The second, third and forth phalanx captured the party. Funny how they snuck up on us. My character was put to the sword. I played a 5th level thief for the remainder of the session.

If there is a smart lord or lady of the lands, they would be wise to kill any and all magic users before 18th level.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Be Careful What You Wish For...

My first offering on DriveThruRPG is Zero to Hero. In the past 5 days of sales, there have been 80+ downloads. Thank you so much for your support, but do you know what I really need? Reviews.


I am in the process of coming up with a second title by October. The reviews would certainly help me craft a quality product for you.

Again, thank you for downloading. But please let me know what you think.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

3.5 House Rules - Arrows

I don't like tracking arrows. Treasure Hunters HQ has posted on this very issue. Treasure Hunters HQ has a whole collection of posts to make your game more interesting and flow better than ever before. Everything from shields to magical unguents. Go ahead and follow them, the HQ is full of good ideas.

Ah... back to the point. Arrows. Tracking arrows on character sheets simply burns holes in the sheet. It is annoying and subject to abuse. Many years ago, I realized that player's will cheat on ammo more than any other thing. Why? Because, it is annoying. To avoid it, I tended to have the players encounter lots of arrows, either because the enemy had them, they were working from a fortification, or they had a natural pause to collect up their used arrows. Some players will want to roll a number to see if the arrow broke, but that is as exciting as my other pet peeve, save vs. drowning.

After a while, I decided to impose a rule that if a player rolled a 1 with ranged weapons, they fumbled the quiver and dropped all of their arrows on the ground. Picking one up, pulling one from a target or returning an arrow shot at the player takes time, a single action. If the character doesn't take any other action, they can refill a quiver in a single round. It seemed reasonable, since the standard has been changed from a quantity to have something or don't have something.

My primary issue with running out of arrows as a DM is, the rules don't take "out of ammo" into account. It is assumed the characters have a functional method of attack, and a certain quality of weapons. But if the requisite ammo is missing, they have neither. Suddenly striping the characters of missile weapons isn't really accounted for in the rules. While a good DM will give players and characters time to reprovision, the DM really can't account for 4 character's missile counts on the fly.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A not so #miniaturemonday post - Figures with Flair - January 18th, 2017

I missed #miniaturemonday, but I do have some figures to show off. Please excuse the blur as I haven't had time to get out the nice camera.

First, two D&D figures.

This rogue is one of my favorites. He is based off of Jubal in the Thieves World series of books. He has a bit of grey hair and a multi-colored outfit. He holds a dark colored staff.

I wish I could remember the manufacturer of this figure. This figure is pretty old, and the base shows signs of age. I will likely rebase this figure and give him a new coat of gloss coat.

I especially liked doing the mismatched green and red. for his sleeves. It's a hint of flair for an otherwise normal rogue.

From about the same time period, I have a simple bard with lute. He was my character in several AD&D adventures.

When my friends and I played AD&D, we rotated turns as DM and had a shared world. It was rather interesting as your "main" would become an NPC. One of our rules was to have NPC acquire wealth and experience, but never any magical items.

As a result of this rule, we had many game breaking characters and magic items. The main issue was not power creep as you would expect, but a combination of unique magic items and the courtesy of returning favors. The end result was a bunch of characters with very non-standard gear in large amounts as six DM's doling out goodies was a little too much.

The last item is a cool "unseen" mecha from Battletech. As you can see, he has taken a lot of damage. Before painting this figure, I took a Dremel to the nose and wing. I then washed a propane torch over the entire figure to give it a bubbled and softened look, as if it had walked through fire.

The figure rippled a little too much under the torch, but I still liked the effect.

I would imagine that the pilot was lucky to be alive as the cockpit was very nearly holed. I like figures with character that hint at a little background and story.  








Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Module Review - S2 White Plume Mountain

Title: White Plume Mountain
Code: S2
Author: Lawrence Schick
Rule Set: D&D
Year: 1979
Pages: 16
Number of characters: 4-10
Levels: 5-10
Rating: ★★★★☆

White Plume Mountain is part of the Special series. It is meant for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons and expects a large number of characters at relatively high level. Interestingly enough, the scenario spells out that many adventures into the dungeon will be required and may cause a rotation of adventurers through many sessions. That is a nice touch. I like the long term play and replay-ability.

This style of play is engrossing as early failures and setbacks to the player characters are muted by the ability to retreat to complete safety of the nearby town. This is very different than most dungeon crawls, where characters must horde limited resources. Instead, players find themselves on a quest to obtain 3 magical items: Wave, Blackrazor and Whelm, protected by powerful masters and inventive puzzles and challenges. Backtracking enables inspired progress, resupply and fairly realistic game play. This adventure takes the learning curve for games and makes it a positive. White Plume Mountain is more like The Moonshot than D-Day.

This module also features wonderful artwork. My personal favorite is the fighter on page 6. It isn’t the best, but captures the character's reaction so perfectly. The fighter’s “WTF” look is classic: “Who jumps platform to platform over hellishly hot mud? Everything in fighter school trained me not to do this.” The images for Blackrazor, the Mountain itself and Keraptis are iconic of classic Dungeons and Dragons.

Where to Buy:
DriveThru RPG:
As a part of a set, S1-4. or as a stand alone product. I really must by this. I really need to stop impulse buying. I'm am so gonna buy this.
DriveThru RPG also has Dungeon Tiles and a new version for 3.5 Adventures.

Amazon

Again, Amazon is way too pricey. Take the DriveThruRPG option.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Feelies

I was seriously into gaming, I made feelies.


This was made in 1988 or so. It references the Castle Amber module, The Order of Light from Gemstone III, and Louise Cooper’s the Time Master Series, plus the city of Charn from my home brewed campaign.
The punchline to many of these references was that the characters AND players were aware of all of these references as works of fiction. The characters had copies of the Time Master Series and Averoigne stories. Each character has ring of wishes to enter the stories themselves.
When I was in high school, this seemed like a great hook.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Study in Recreation: Fear Itself

Today’s update is aboutKippers and Jam‘s blog post on recreation. Adrian BK and company has revisited a module called Fear Itself, created back in 1999.
The authors lost the original copy and rewrote it after reconnecting with each other.
The details:
Module: BK1 Fear Itself
Author: Adrian BK
Level: 2-4 (AD&D)
Pages: 18
Price: Free!
You can download a copy from Kippers and Jam. This module features enough leeway to plug into nearly any campaign or play style. Fear Itself features glorious artwork from many artists and professional quality layout and formatting.
Take a look and don’t forget to thank the folks at Kipper and Jam for providing high quality game products.