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 kings 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.

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 24, 2019

.jar files under XFCE, especially for Chromebooks

Good Evening, I recently purchased some wonderful software from Inkwell Ideas and came across a little hiccup. Under XFCE, for some reason, I cannot use the GUI window to flag my .jar as an executable.

It's not a huge deal, but some versions of Linux simply have a checkbox. I like easy. The "hard way" of opening or running a .jar file is to open the terminal and type:

java -jar filename.jar

Not so hard, I guess. But what if I simply want to double click that .jar file and have it open for me? The command is:

chmod +x filename.jar  

Reading the command makes me chuckle. "put the x in the box" is the command. Why not an easy little box. This is handy terminal usage information for all .jar files from Minecraft to Hexographer. One note on HexOgrapher is don't forget the little "o" between x and g. For whatever reason, I say "Hexgrapher" and then want to type it that way. It does not work, don't bother doing that.

I can't wait to review this software. It looks amazing. If you are wondering how you came to be here from MeWe, I am the author at These Old Games. The Unpwnd website is my tech site, which is not typically useful to RPG and OSR gamers. Not much can go wrong with pen and paper, so I like to keep them separated.

52 Weeks of Magic - 13 of 52 - Gnollish Rattlebone

The Gnollish Rattlebone is a +1 neolithic, magical mace. Constructed of wood, bone and slate, the Rattlebone makes an unnerving clattering sound when swung, as if the whole thing will come apart. Much of the magic in this mace is needed to merely hold the thing together. It weighs 10 to 15 lbs. and most non-gnoll characters will need to swing it 2 handed. It does 1d8+1 damage.

The item has additional properties. In the hands of anyone, swinging or shaking the mace will remove the fear caused by undead in a radius of 25". If held by a cleric, it improves their ability to turn undead by one level. In the hands of a gnoll, it will turn undead as if the wielder was a 3rd level cleric.

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. 
Title: Crash on Volturnus
Code: SF-0
Author: Mark Acres, Tom Moldvay with Doug Niles
Rule Set: Star Frontiers: Alpha Dawn
Year: 1982
Pages: 30
Number of characters: 4-8
Levels: 1
Rating: ★★★★★

Crash on Volturnus is one of my favorite modules. The player start of as passengers on the Sierra Dawn, where they first encounter trouble en route to Volturnus. After an epic battle and escape, players move on to phase two, an incredible hex crawl on the planet of Volturnus culminating in a final(?) battle with the pirate forces on the planet. Aided by the local inhabitants of the planet, surely the players will win the day.

This module was released with the Alpha Dawn rules set and to my knowledge, was not released independently of that set. I received my set of Alpha Dawn rules peice meal and ended up with two copies of the module. The whole boxed set includes giant maps and wonderful counters, which makes SF-0 a snap to play.

Crash on Volturnus is the first module in the series and was followed up by SF-1 and SF-2. The other SF series modules are unrelated, but are valuable as they are set up for characters to continue their adventures in new settings. The series was also brought back to life by the Endless Quest book Villains of Volturnus in 1983. It was published in relatively short time frame making the series rock solid in game play and feel.

Having played SF-0 several times, there are few game breakers built in to the scenario. First, when the escape pod crashes, the characters only have time to get the survival packs. Several of my players started out with standard equipment packs and used the coveralls as a makeshift backpack tied across their chests before seating themselves. Since the equipment was attached to them, I couldn't justify taking it. The players also started with 4 medical kits, which made them neigh unstoppable in combat. They kept pulling back to heal. Of course, these were the same players who tied their equipment to their chests. I kept running them against random encounters to try to eat up resources, but that was unfulfilling. Eventually, I figured I'd let them run in god-mode and kill everything and everyone. Many of the challenges they faced were thinking scenarios and not fighting scenarios, so it really didn't change the outcome. 

All and all, I found this one module to be the best of the best for Star Frontiers. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

The whole shebang is available over on DriveThruRPG.

Alpha Dawn with SF-0
SF-1 Volturnus, Planet of Mystery
and SF-2 Starspawn of Volturnus

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.

52 Weeks of Magic - 12 of 52 - The Obice Cardeam

This week's magic item comes in pairs. The Obice Cardeam are a pair of knuckledusters or as the Romans called them, cestus. The name Obice Cardeam means "Cardea's Barrier".

They come in three forms, one for warrior types, one for magic users and one for clerics. All three types count as +1 weapon, however only the warrior's cestus has a +1 bonus to hit or damage. Each one does 1d4 points of damage plus any other bonus.

The clerical version has a divination power, once per day they can identify a cardinal direction (any) or point the direction to the nearest holy site of Cardea. If used inside a shrine to Cardea, they will point to either the closest larger or closest smaller site and the wearer will be aware of which it is. In the picture, the device is shown to have points. These are not blades or sharp edges, so clerics can use them. 

The magic user type has the ability to cast Knock or Wizard Lock a door once per day. Note, wizardly types using these weapons will not be able to cast magic spells as they are iron and they restrict finger movement.

Fighting types can utilize all three kinds, but will not be able to access their magical abilities. They will find the lack of damage odd. If a cleric wears the magic user type or the other way around, the wear will know of the additional abilities, but will not be able to activate them.

All three types have a special power when defending a threshold - they grant the user regeneration at a rate of 1 hp per round. To trigger this effect, the user must be defending some sort of entryway with a clearly delineated threshold and must be within 50 feet of it. The threshold must be an item that has been constructed or refined to qualify. For example, the mouth of a cave would not count but if that opening was decorated or carved to show the difference between inside and outside, it would count. All doorways count, even if the door has been removed or destroyed, as do gates, portcullises, etc. Mere holes in walls do not count. Magical gateways, such as those generated by spells do not count due to the temporary status.

Monks may wear these items, however, they do not increase the damage done over their normal hand to hand damage. They merely convey the ability to strike creatures which require a magical weapon to hit. In the hands of a monk they are equal to a +3 weapon as monks have special knowledge of hand to hand weapons.

1 2 3Emulous Cursed Sword4
5 6 7The Symbol of Sol Invictus8
9 10 11Aemilla Carna12
13 14 15Shape of Memory16
17 18 19Staff of Eyes20
21 22 23Whispering Wings24
25 26
Coming Soon
27Coming Soon28
Coming Soon

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. 

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.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

House Rules: Oh, no you don't!

I've always liked the idea of countermagic. On several occasions, I have thought of implementing it into my campaigns.

For a dirty hack applicable to most game systems, I would use the following system:

1) Magic-user knows the spell being cast at them,
2) Is not prepping a spell themselves,
3) Makes a save vs. magic,
4) Enemy spell is disrupted and fails to function.
5) Enemy spell caster does not lose the spell.

1) Magic-user knows the spell being cast at them,
2) Magic-user has the exact spell memorized,
3) Is not prepping a spell themselves,
4) Makes a save vs. magic,
5) Enemy spell is reflected on to them.
6) Both spell casters lose that spell.

1) Magic-user knows the spell being cast at them,
2) Magic-user has the exact spell memorized,
3) Magic user chooses to prep that spell themselves.
4) Target Magic-user makes a saving throw vs. magic, Spell is reflected back at the enemy caster,
5) Enemy makes a saving throw vs. magic. If passed, the spell is reflected back at the original target.
6) Cycle repeats until the spell strikes either caster.
7) Every cycle adds 1 to damage, this is always applicable meaning a caster could be physically damaged by a light spell or a silence spell in addition to the main spell effect. 
8) Whoever is hit by the spell loses the spell, the other caster does not lose the spell.
9) Magic users hit by a spell will experience subduing damage, meaning that they can't be killed outright in this fashion. 

A couple of other thoughts. The subduing damage is there to encourage players to use this ability. Being a magic user effectively allows you to shield the rest of the party. The magic users, friendly and enemy casters attract spells meant for other targets while countering magic. A magic user struck by a spell with an area of effect is a barrier to that magic. The effect of the spell will not pass a plane defined as a wall 90 degrees to the angle of the spell's path. People standing between dueling magic users can be hit by an area of effect spell, but those standing behind either caster are unaffected as the Magic-user absorbed or threw that power back at an opponent.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

52 Weeks of Magic - 11 of 52 - Armilla Carna

My campaign setting is based off of the Roman Empire. The common tongue is spoken by all cultures and is the true lingua franca of the Peninsula of Plenty. It is rendered as modern English. Demi-humans each have their own language and humans speak Latin.

This week's Magic item is reflective of this. The Armilla Carna is a magic charm carried by followers of the goddess Carna, the embodiment of health and heart. These charms are not magical in and of themselves, but contain a magical concoctions prepared on the feast day of Carna. Most people will call them "heart lockets" or "Carna's Charms" in common. Priest of Carna always refer to them as "Armilla".  

The most common style of charm is a locket containing a tiny amount of beans and pork prepared on the feast day. This small portion of food imbues the charm with the ability to heal the wearer when their hit points are at 1 or less. When a character hits one hit point via any kind of damage, the charm will heal one point per hour to a maximum of 4 hit points. 

If, by some chance, a person dies while wearing one of these charms it will char. Not only won't it work again, it is considered to be very bad omen. Typically, this occurs when someone dies by murder, drowning and poison. The small charm is not able to overcome the damage done by these kinds of incidents. It is a tradition to create a new charm as a burial gift. Taking one of these gifts from a grave is common law crime and the punishment is stoning or exile.  

The discharge of magic from the locket's consumption of the food stuffs will cause the device to warm and glow faintly while working. When the healing is complete, the wearer will find the locket has been completely cleaned and appears new.  

Anyone can create one of these lockets, however it must be blessed by a priest or priestess of Carna. Once blessed, it can be filled by anyone on the feast day of Carna to regain it's power. A priest of Carna can recharge the items if they have preserved foodstuffs from the feast day. Temples to Carna will do this for a small donation, usually an amount necessary to put on a small, simple feast on the holy day. 

The charms tend to be very rustic and primitive in nature, being made of string and large hollowed out beans. Traditionally, family member will make one for their children, cousins, parents, etc. to celebrate their first attendance of the feast. 

These items are very popular with soldiers. Their lockets tend to be more ornate and sometimes very valuable. Manufactured charms tend to be metal copies of the simple string and bean construction of commoners, despite being made of higher quality materials.  

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. 

Disney Panoramas

I love amusement parks. My sense of wonder and adventure is fueled by the novelty of pure fantasy made real. I don't have a great camera, only my Moto x4 phone. When combined with Google Photos, sometimes a phone can create some wonderful images.

Today, I would like to share all of the panorama images I captured at Disney this Christmas time. It was a wonderful trip and these images really captured the magic.

The Leave a Legacy at Epcot

Future World? at Epcot

The pylons for Skyliner at Christmas 2018.

The Magic Kingdom at Christmas

More fun at Magic Kingdom

Outside Be Our Guest

The moat around Be Our Guest.

Reflecting pond at Epcot

Hollywood Studios, I think. Beautiful, in any case.

Epcot again 

Epcot view from the edge of the International Showcase

The paths and gardens in UK, World Showcase

The countdown to New Years in Epcot.

In between Future World and International Showcase

The Bay at Disney Boardwalk, steps from Trattoria al Forno