Monday, September 30, 2019

The Tek - September 2019 Stats

September 2019 Downloads via DriveThruRPG:
AD&D Character Sheet For Use with Unearthed Arcana - 5
Compass Rose Inn Minisetting - 5
Kobold Folly Minisetting - 7
Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners - 4
Swashbucklers Character Class - 17

Google Analytics Pageviews - 1,098
Google Analytics Sessions - 740
Pageviews per Session - 1.48

Ok, this month I am no longer reporting Blogger stats as they are provably wrong. All of my Amazon Stats are 0, so I am giving them one more month before dumping the Amazon ads. I will still carry the "Most Favored Products" as that is possibly drumming up activity for other people.

EDIT - One more stat. I hope to get 750 Pageviews. I really got 1098, which is a 14% increase over last month. I am thrilled with that.

haven't done stats for DrivethruRPG ads, but they totally cover my operating costs for a year. At $186 and change for a year's worth of referrals, it doesn't contribute much to my bottom line. Nor does sales on my products, which is about $23 a year. I've had 551 downloads over the same time period, so that works out to 4.1 cents per download. This is great considering I don't like to host my stuff.

Now, throwing it back on me. Can I come up with a perfect product that I can sell for a specific price? That is my intent by December 2019. If that pans out, I will probably rework many of my prior products, expand on them, and offer them for sale. The originals will still be PWYW, but going forward, I plan to create items of worth (even if lowly worth) and start selling instead of using the tip jar method of PWYW. I will never completely step away from PWYW, but I'd like to have some products with very high production quality. I feel like I am getting there, but still need to refine my work to get there.

Just so the reader is aware, I post on the last day of the month. This means that some stats are low by a few hours. I update them later as the final results are in. For example, in August I said I had 1003 page views. In reality it was 1006. That is too small of a difference to matter, but I updated it. These slight changes are not too offensive to me. The point of this data is so that other bloggers know where they might be in relation to something or other or me. Sometimes, you aren't as small time as you think, which is great to know.

UPDATE Jan. 12, 2020. I've decided to at some images of my Google Analytics to this post.

August 2019

September 2019

October 2019

Sunday, September 29, 2019

AD&D to 3.5 and Beyond. What Alignment to Be When You Can't Decide?

Picking an alignment can be difficult if you game style revolves around roleplay. Many of the alignments have a certain give and take within them which causes ethical dilemmas... except one.

Neutral Evil, by the definitions in the book, doesn't really contemplate ethics. The Neutral Evil character doesn't really debate ethics, they debate outcomes. They want what they want and they know how to get it.

Neutral Evil people are evil because they are selfish and see the world as an evil place. Why not do what you like?

Most well adjusted people look at evil characters with trepidation. Evil for the sake of evil is bad. However, when it comes to party dynamics, the Neutral Evil character seems to be the most stable. They are always up to the same old crap, only the prizes changing. What is interesting about this is they want stuff for themselves, they are not necessarily there to cause problems. Especially when a problem interferes with obtaining an objective.

The classic Neutral Evil move is to cause conflict in others. "Am I really going along with this?" Why, yes. You are.  Neutral Evil characters are somewhat the core of the parties ethics. They see an objective, they get the objective. But by causing these ethical conundrums within the party, they do some arm twisting while also turning their own tactics on their head.

If a Neutral Evil character knew that they could have an amazing, priceless tool they would want to have it. If it meant donating a 100, 1,000 or even 10,000 gold pieces to a lawful good temple, they'd weigh the cost of killing everyone in their way, then fork over the money. Who cares if they just funded an orphanage, they got some great out of the bargain. Neutral Evil characters believe the world is evil, so backing a good cause is a meaningless thing to do because they believe it will end poorly. It's aligned with what they believe. They don't have to try to pay evil unto evil, because they really think everything is evil, all choices are selfish in the long run. 

Neutral Evils are sort of suckers, while they imagine that everyone else is the fool. Within the group, they have a tendency of currying favor to get what they want. They might be the person healing every day or handing out potions of healing to make sure they, themselves, don't die. They might forego some immediate benefit because it serves the cause of getting something better later. And they tend to drag the party with them.

By picking the path of Neutral Evil, you have reduced your character's complexity and dropped that dynamic in someone else's lap. The paladin, ooo, he hates you for being right so often.

Remember, people want to believe things are relative. Sometimes they are not. You don't have to be some axe-crazed killer to be evil. You can be an affable, kind person with some really bad habits and goals. This is the role of Neutral Evil. They think, plot and plan to get the most out of any situation, which is oddly exactly what the rest of the party, regardless of alignment are probably doing.

Artist Shell Presto DiBaggio

If you need a kick of inspriation for you drawing, Shell Presto can deliver. She illustrates the Ascension Epoch series of books and also also a part of dynamic writing duo, with her husband Michael.

I've embedded her most recent video here:

but head on over to youtube and subscribe. Topics range from comic books, to style and layout and also has those much needed newbie pep talks.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

And this is the sound of MY voice!

The title of this post is the funniest line from most recent SAFCOcast.

I really don't have time to add another game, but I can live vicariously through the Super Adventure Friends Co. Podcast. SAFCOcast is on it's 6th episode so now is a great time to jump in and listen.

Of course, I have added them to the sidebar.

This week they talk about Cons and other game related things. What got me was the Space Viking part. I can't wait for the next episode.

The End to War

In my post about the Last Polyandrion, I introduced Magarven, a magic user and explorer. He is a dark elf or Drow. Where do the Drow fit into the Peninsula of Plenty? They are ever present, but have a shadowy purpose based on their first encounters with the denizens of the Peninsula. The Drow who roam about the surface world portray themselves a good and lawful people. For the most part, the citizens know not to trust them because they all have a dark heart, no matter their outward appearances and protestations.

My last post was The Prelude to the End of War. In this post, the story comes to its conclusion. As the Combine forces retreated from the Capital, the Emperor was able to shift forces and bring in fleets with supplies. For a few days, it looked as if the Empire would only have to deal with the economic devastation of losing a third of their slaves. How wrong they were.

The real reason for the withdraw of the Combine forces was new combatant. Just 30 miles away from the Capital, the Combine forces were bottled up by a new invaders, the Drow. Instead of coming through the mountains, they broke through from underneath. The breech was a location called the Web of Lolth, a cave system in the Chalice Mountains. The Combine was now beleaguered by the dark elves, fighting a retreat to their walled cities all across the Peninsula.

The Capital utilized the break in combat with Combine to resupply their coastal cities and rearrange troop deployments. The Drow were a land locked opponent, unlike the Combine. The Empire was able to bring in their fleet to assist with the massive resupply effort. Over the next ten days, the Capital was as strong as it ever been.

Both the Empire and Combine forces found the Drow to be a threat unlike anything met before. Their eldrich powers challenged every dwarf, elf and legion on the field of battle. While they couldn't breech the walls of the peninsula's cities, the Drow trapped every force behind walls, and the world darkened and closed in upon the besieged.

Finding itself hemmed in again, the Capital planned a desperate, possibly suicidal mission. The 3rd and 12th legion launched a rare nighttime attack on the Drow. Shocked and surprised by the human tactics, the Drow lines were shattered and a large contingent of humans broke out of the capital. The Drow closed the breech and sent a 1000 elf force after the escapees.

The Drow pursuers were outnumbered ten to one, but they were expecting to slaughter noncombatants. The thousand found that they pursued not a raft of human refugees, but an rag-tag auxiliary force. Of the 10,000 men, women and even children, there were 400 battle hardened veteran troops supported by over a hundred spell casters of every stripe. After a few brief clashes, the Drow settled in to gather intelligence and dog the auxiliary force until reinforcements arrived.

They discovered two things. First, this rag-tag band was drilling daily, hardly covering just 6-12 miles a day. The Drow laughed as these green troops played soldier. Clearly, aside from the veterans, the average auxiliary had no battlecraft. Even more comical, human prisoners revealed that this force was seeking the Web of Lolth itself. If the humans were going to walk into the Demon Queen's webs on purpose, then the Drow would be happy to let them in.

The Drow shadowed the auxiliary forces for three weeks, gently guiding the humans to the caves where the Drow had emerged on the Peninsula. The humans finally reached the mouth of hell, the opening to the demon Queens realm. The Drow now outnumber the humans 3 to 1, but the foolish humans arrayed themselves as if they were a true legion, not citizen farmers on a mad adventure.

On the morning Last Day of War, the humans deployed, trapped by web of Lolth, the Drow army on their front and the recon force and mountains behind them. Battle was joined in the late afternoon. By dusk, the humans had inflicted negligible losses on the Drow while losing a third of their force. Instead of breaking and routing, the humans lit fires and lamps against the night. The Drow howled in laughter as the humans readied themselves to break into the dark kingdom's web by night.

As twilight faded to dark, the humans began their assault on the Web of Lolth. Truly charmed by this obvious folly, the Drow sent 7000 troops out to flank the humans and keep them moving forward into the Web of Lolth. To their delight, the humans obliged them by pressing forward.

Then the unthinkable happened. The humans snatched victory from the mandibles of Lolth. Brave and women men placed on the edges of the human army uncaged four secret weapons: The Symbols of Sol Invictus. Chaos ensued as the Drow were washed by the light of the Unconquered Sun. Blinded, they withdrew, allowing the humans to reach the mouth of the Web of Lolth to unleash their second secret weapon.

The Empire's archers and slingers were armed with strange ammunition. The Empire had created hundreds of sling bullets and arrows with a tiny, natural resin ball encased in clay. Each of these resin balls had a continual light spell cast upon it. When the missile impacted, the clay broke, allowing the blinding light to saturate the area. The resin balls bounced and caromed around the battlefield, confusing and confounding the Drow.

Smashed back into the caves, the Drow cursed the evil, tricky humans. Dazzling light flashed and swayed in the confines of the cave, denying the Drow their superiority in darkness. Worse, mages unleashed fireballs and lightning within the closed spaces. Not only did this crush the Drow attempting to resist, it had a tendency of driving the glowing resin spheres deeper into the caves, clearing a path to the main vault. The humans were able to seal the entrance to the cave and hold off the 7000 Drow, now trapped outside.

Lolth, if she was there, fled to her supernatural realm, leaving her children blind, burned and dying.

As the Sun rose, the humans turned to finish off the Drow outside. News of the defeat of the Drow at the hands of the Empire terrified the Combine leadership. A new age of peace through fear and terror descended on the Peninsula.

One final tale of the End of War needs to be told. The Combine had a secret weapon of their own, a second sword called Dolorem. The weapon was a prototype to the sword Liberty, and like it's brother, it has a common name: "Sorrow". Rather than unleash this weapon on the Empire, the Combine decided to hide it away. However, the Halfling King made an impassioned plea to be given the weapon. The Combine denied the request only to find out that agents of the Halfling King had stolen it.

The weapon was never brought to bear on the Empire or used to kill humans. Instead, a special tragedy transpired among the Halfling King's own house over the use of Sorrow.

In the next few days, the tragedy of Sorrow and its loss will be told.

Peninsula of Plenty World Building - Prelude to the End of War

The northern border of the Peninsula of Plenty is lined with the Chalice Mountains. The range extends north about 150 miles. The range gets it's name from the cup like shape of the range, which scoops northward on the east and west sides like a Chalice. Far to the north are human habitations which can be reached most easily by Sea. Until contact, that kingdom believed itself to be the most southern extent of civilization. they call themselves "The Kingdom of the Majestic Ranges". In the bowl of the Chalice Mountain are fearsome tribes of orbs, goblins and giants. These creatures block most travel by land north and south from the Peninsula. However, some tribes of monsters raid outside of their area of control.

On the east of the Peninsula are the Elven Colonies, who have an alliance with both the Half-Orcs and the Dwarves of the Caldera located in the central eastern lobe of the Peninsula. The humans called these civilizations "The Combine". 

In the darkest time of the Empire, a series of invasions from the north and a minor war with the Combine nearly extinguished the Empire. From over the Chalice Mountains, news of war in the dark-lands between the Kingdom of the Southern Ranges and the monstrous tribes trickled in with fleeing refugees.

The first groups of refugees were bands of strange little people, somewhat like the fey. They called
themselves halflings. They had the strange ability to pass without a trace and to fade into the environment as if invisible. Hot on their heels were a more frightening threat, gnolls. The little folk stressed the Empire already pushed to the limit by drought, famine and war. The gnolls smashed supply lines to the Capital Region. In these conflicts, the people fled to the coastal cities, including the Capital.

The massive influx of citizens collapsed the Capital's supply of grain. Riots broke out in the city. The poor and worse, the slaves were slaughtered by the rioters. As winter broke, news of the massacre reached the Elven Colony and what had been a border skirmish turned into a full on invasion. By mid-spring elven forces, along with a contingent of dwarves and half orcs, were besieging and blockading the Capital and it's coastal cities. This allowed the halflings in the area to break free to reach the dwarven lands and safety. In the Caldera, the Combine leadership was forging a weapon to destroy the humans. In the common, Latin tongue the sword was called Libertatem or more simply, "liberty".

A random sally from the Capital lead to the loss of this weapon and the humans rallied around it like a relic. It was given over to the Emperor, which may explain some of what transpired next. Back in the Dwarven Caldera, the Combine leadership, egged on by the halfling king forged a darker, more dangerous weapons.   

Days from defeat, the Capital readied two legions and an a massive auxiliary force to go meet the Combine forces. At the last moment, the Emperor opened back channel communications with the Combine and agreed to never again enslave non-humans. And with that promise, the combine forces lifted the siege. Elven and dwarven slaves walked free from the city. The Combine hinted at requiring all slaves be freed, but withdrew with their brethren before the point became an issue.

In the following weeks, the Capital Region was able to resupply and reorganize it's forces for their greatest challenge, an enemy forged in fire in darkness. The Prelude to the End of War closed, and the true threat to not just peace, but civilization on the Peninsula, manifested.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Session Update - Save Vs. Disease

My players, their children have all failed their saving throws vs. disease. Another session will buy it due to cold and flu season.

So this weekend I want to try something different. I want to do an inked action scene on 14"x17". I normally work on images no larger than 8x11. I started laying it out. Excuse the low quality phone images. This doesn't fit in the scanner.

I have 3 characters converging on a central character.

The lightly drawn figure on the right is an archer readying a shot. She is wearing a pallas, a sort of cloth garment worn over a toga.

The figure on the left has been blindslided with a bolt of energy. She is not quiet on the ground. She will be wearing a gown and doesn't appear to be a typical combatant.

The third foreground character is a man with a sword and buckler or target shield.

The woman in the middle is a magic user with some interesting magical items and powers. First, she has a custom spell called "Disruption". It is very much like a magic missile, except it does 1d4 per shot, shots can hit any living or non-living thing with a to hit roll. It never increases in power, but the number available increases every two levels instead of three. She does not wear any "protective" magic, per se. She wears a wolverine pelt, with an intact skull as a stole. It can be commanded to attack, making defense rather moot. I have only hinted this magic item with a snaking line through the middle of the sketch.

I'm not sure if this is the one I will be working with. I think I can find some images which will help me get the proportions correct. Something is very wrong with the bow right now and I should have drawn a horizon line first.

Not bad for a first shot at something I've never tried before.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Magarven's Last Polyandrion

Magarven is a famous treasure hunter in from the Capital Region of the Empire. He was known to find and preserve Antiquities from ages past. A little over a decade ago, a torrential flood followed by landslides revealed a crypt or a tomb just miles from the Capital. Magarven was the first to enter the tomb and as was his habit, mapped it. The scale of his map is 2 yards or six feet per square.

Inside, he found many strange items, the large bed (B) in the main hallway attracted his attention. He felt that it contained secrets. Bypassing it, he entered and diagrammed the two oval lobes and all of the items contained within. He forbid anyone from moving anything. As he progressed down the main hall to the south, he stopped at the four strange works in the center of the hall (M). 

Something about them raised his alarm and he went no further. He ordered his men to begin excavation along the sides of the entry way. He ordered that the tunnels be no larger than the blocks that the tomb was made of. They began the western side and progressed to the western oval vault when he oddly ordered them to stop.

Magarven entered the new tunnel, inspecting the block walls from the outside. The workers heard him casting spells as he went. When he was done, he roped off the entrance behind him and repeated the casting inside the main hallway. Bored and unneeded, his crew left for the day.

In the morning, Magarven was found lying on the bed, with his map. He had marked off odd diagonal lines through the blocks of his diagram.

"It's broken. All is broken," he muttered. "Enter no more, if you value your life."

His command was followed for a few months, until it was obvious that he would not return to complete his work. A local thief and mage were brought in to explore the tomb. Armed with his map, the mage determined that the diagonal lines were paths of magical force. When the thief took a turn at the map, he decided he, too would not venture past the strange works (M) in the middle of the hallway. His rationale was that if the great Magarven would not cross that point, he wouldn't either. Nothing indicates what is wrong with the space.

Unlike other weird tales, Magarven is not accursed, mad or dead. He merely refuses to speak of his Last Polyandrion. He has taken to writing of his adventures that lead him to the Polyandrion, telling his followers and fanatics that the last chapter will explain the mystery.

As yet, items B through N-sub-2 have not been described and the last handful items at the end of the hall are a complete mystery.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The House at the Folly

This misnamed ruins is located in the general vicinity of the Kobold Folly. It could be as old as the Folly itself. The design of this building is typical for the Empire, except in the Capital region, not out on the Great Savanna.

Some of the rooms have a clear purpose such as the kitchen, while others are ambiguous due to the age and state of abandonment. Room 4 could be a Master Suite or perhaps an office space. There is no evidence of softgoods in this room. Room 7 is in a similar state of ruin, however small pieces of paint, stone fragments and other object de art litter the floor. The floor of room 8 is covered in fabric and padding debris, it could have been a bed or other furniture. Room 9 is completely bare while the obvious remains of a bed are in room 11.

The windows are not panes of glass, but stained glass much like the Kobold Folly's stained glass. The windows are two layers, one the interior and a duplicate on the exterior. The subject matter of the stained glass is astronomical, not astrological in nature. The double layered nature of the glass might be the reason why this house's windows are intact while most of the windows in the Folly blew out.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Cell of Rona the Wisewoman

Rona the Wisewoman is one of the NPC in my Peninsula of Plenty campaign. She is a very old woman and is an unlikely adventurer. After her husband passed, she felt a calling and traveled far to the north, into the mountains in search of god. She came to the Kerke of Yondalla the Provider. The Kerke was a typical halfling church, a stave structure. She begged entry and hermitage. The halflings agreed and provided her with a cell suitable for her needs.

The main church is build of the traditional wood staves the halflings are so fond of. The exterior is loosely clad, while the interior walls are more precisely constructed. When Rona requested her cell, the halfling priest had the northern interior door replaced with a double door, so that Rona could see the main altar from her cell.

The expansion of the church was build with non-traditional stone, and allowed the church to add a servant's quarters to the structure. Rona was sealed in her cell, her only access to the outside world was a small window facing into the church and bars facing west into the parlor area where she could recieve guests.

When word of the Emperor's need of adventurers arrived at the Kerke of Yondalla, Rona smashed a hole in the north wall of her cell to respond. The halfings have repaired the hole and removed the bars between the parlor and the cell.

Since the day of her leaving, the candles on her private altar have been burning bright yellow, without being consumed. Many miracles of healing have occurred in and around the cell. The halfling priest has taken this as a sign that that Rona is a Saint. In response to this revelation, the tribe has begun solidifying the church's exterior walls to ensure the structure remains whole for future generations.

The Infirmary of Corellon

Corellon has no temples or churches. However, his followers have created spaces of refuge and contemplation of their maker. The Infirmary of Corellon is one such place. It is located on the eastern edge of the Great Savanna, in a elf made mound. 

The main structure has an eastern door and 10 roughly appointed areas for meditation. Each space ends in a small window that faces into the earth of the mound. The debris in these opening shift with the seasons but are never allowed to breech the side of the mound. Elves staying with in these spaces will find that meditation triples their healing and sometimes, if the need is great, visions will appear in the windows.

At the end of the central shaft is the Great Light, a magical creation that lights and warms the whole structure.

To the south-east of the mound is the caretaker's home. It is also roughly appointed with tables and chairs. The north section of the building houses a kitchen and the south section is a private space for the care takers. These two sections are separated with a green grown lattice of ivy. Stepping into the ivy magically transports the elf to the private area in the southern section and back. Only elves can make this passage function. If another creature attempt to cross this ivy threshold, they will be proportionally repulsed. If a weapon or spell is used on the ivy, the attacker will be teleported 1-3 miles in a random direction. Occasionally, they will arrive with their possessions, but most of the time they will be completely naked.

Between the two halves of the building is a roofed, pleasant area with tables and stools. Two sliding doors can be closed against the weather.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Review - Magic Items by The Raging Barbarian aka Simone Tammetta

Title: Magic Items - 1d100 magic items for (almost) every moment
Author: The Raging Barbarian aka Simone Tammetta
Rule Set: Agnostic
Year: 2019
Pages: 16
Levels: Low level
Rating: ★★★★★

Oh, this is the month of reviews. I am all off kilter and not reviewing my normal fair of historical books and D&D modules. Last week, I reviewed the wonderful Moldy Unicorn by Nate Treme.

Today, we are looking at The Raging Barbarian's Magic Items - 1d100 magic items for (almost) every moment. First, it's PWYW over at DriveThruRPG and second, it is ruleset agnostic. I'm a D&D player and generally like D&D themed items, but this agnostic book is great for little details and brainstorming. As advertised, it has 100 magic items. General attributes are mentioned, such as triggering mechanism and range. Exact effects are left to the DM. All and all, it is a list of great idea starters or weird little things to inject into a game for light-hearted fun.

The book also has a cool, non-distracting series of drawings around the edge. The images are lineart which saves ink and all of them beg to be colored.

All and all, 5 out of five. It's definitely worth dropping some gold and silver in the tip jar.

Pregenerated Characters - Halflings - Level 3

These 3 third level characters are halflings, Razo, Emily and Bernie. Click the link to download the PDF file. These characters are almost ready to go. In generating ability scores, I made sure the range was acceptable in both D&D and AD&D. To convert these characters to straight AD&D, simply add or subtract the racial modifiers and class abilities.

As third level characters, they have a range of equipment which is both magic and mundane. In my campaign, halflings are invaders so they have a lot of strange equipment and are carrying a lot of money. 

This is my last batch of halflings for now. By the time a character reaches 3rd level, they start to have their own quirks and attributes, which limits the ability to use pre-genned characters for players in my mind. 

If there is a call for it in the comments, I will make DOCX and Google Doc file available as I have the PDFs. The reason I have not done this from the get go is that I created every character of a class in one document and print each page as a PDF.

Pregenerated Characters - Halflings - Level 2

These 3 second level characters are halflings, Alberto, Cedrick and Daisy. Click the link to download the PDF file. These characters are almost ready to go. In generating ability scores, I made sure the range was acceptable in both D&D and AD&D. To convert these characters to straight AD&D, simply add or subtract the racial modifiers and class abilities.

In my campaign, halflings are invaders and refugees. These characters have far more than a typical adventurer would have owing to the fact that they are homeless. 

If there is a call for it in the comments, I will make DOCX and Google Doc file available as I have the PDFs. The reason I have not done this from the get go is that I created every character of a class in one document and print each page as a PDF.

Pregenerated Characters - Halflings - Level 1

These 3 first level characters are halflings, Alpais, Jemima, and Toleson. Click the link to download the PDF file. These characters are almost ready to go. In generating ability scores, I made sure the range was acceptable in both D&D and AD&D. To convert these characters to straight AD&D, simply add or subtract the racial modifiers and class abilities.

In my campaign, halflings are invaders and refugees. These characters have far more than a typical adventurer would have owing to the fact that they are homeless. 

If there is a call for it in the comments, I will make DOCX and Google Doc file available as I have the PDFs. The reason I have not done this from the get go is that I created every character of a class in one document and print each page as a PDF.

Fighter, Cleric, Monk, Swashbuckler

I wrote up a character class for D&D and AD&D for Swashbucklers. What the heck is a Swashbuckler?

They are fighting men who have come down from on high to lead the masses of little people in the trenches. They are trained in sword fighting. Swashbucklers name their swords, their daggers and their junk. They like to drink and have high society type parties, even if they are not of that social standing. They might have tattoos of Payton the Runner, Pele the Asskicker, or other famous fighters on their person. They can dance around in combat, picking and poking people left and right, without killing anything. They can't be flanked or backstabbed when dancing about like this, nor can magic users concentrate when in close quarters with them.

In fact, the only way they can kill is by rolling a natural 20, monologuing for bit and if the person doesn't run away or surrender during "The Talk", they will stab them through the heart for double damage. On the off-chance they are forced to use lethal combat, they fight like thieves and clerics, without the backstabbing, heavy armor and magic.

So how does that compare to Clerics, Fighters, and Monks? Let's join the conversation, shall we?

Fighter: All that junk you do?
Swashbuckler: Yeah, pretty great uh?
Fighter: No, it's called sparring.
Swashbuckler: Really? That sounds like fighting words.
Fighter: No. Fighting words are said at the funeral. Better if they can't talk back.
Cleric: Both of you need to come to church.
Swashbuckler: Alleluia, brother!
Cleric: I'm a woman and I follow Kos. So, no on both accounts.
Fighter: Have you ever been on campaign?
Swashbuckler: I think so, was there booze?
Fighter: No, only watery ale and roasted smeerp. The ones with the 9 tentacles, not the ones with funny ears.
Swashbuckler: Sounds dreadful.
Fighter: Have you ever eaten iron rations?
Monk: Yes. I eat food, I just don't enjoy it.
Swashbuckler: So, brutha, what do you think of my moves? Pretty great, right?
Monk: It's all kabuki.
Fighter and cleric: Snort.
Monk: See this thumb? This one, not the other one.
Swashbuckler: Yeah?
Monk: This one goes in your eye and the other goes in your bum. Then I kill you.
Swashbuckler: How uncivilized.
Cleric: It's all relative.
Swashbuckler: You get it sister, we don't draw blood until we have to.
Cleric: Have you ever seen a flail?
Fighter and Monk: Snort.
Swashbuckler: I think the important thing is, we are all different and have our places in the world.
Fighter, Monk and Cleric: Chuckle.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Pregenerated Characters - Fighters Level 3 group 1

These 3 third level characters are fighters, Thomas, Galen and Martin. Click the link to download the PDF file. These characters are almost ready to go. In generating ability scores, I made sure the range was acceptable in both D&D and AD&D. To convert these characters to straight AD&D, simply add or subtract the racial modifiers and class abilities.

As third level characters, they have a range of equipment which is both magic and mundane. Each is envisioned as a traveler in the lands, hence the transportation. 

This is my last batch of fighters for now. By the time a character reaches 3rd level, they start to have their own quirks and attributes, which limits the ability to use pre-genned characters for players in my mind. 

If there is a call for it in the comments, I will make DOCX and Google Doc file available as I have the PDFs. The reason I have not done this from the get go is that I created every character of a class in one document and print each page as a PDF.

Campaign Session 3 - The Party So Far

My embronic idea for the Peninsula of Plenty Map
Alright, I have reached out to all of my players and we decided to skip next week's session, too. Everyone has some sort of ick or children are down due to illness. For the time being, I am taking suggestions from the party by text and email. The whole party is convinced they need to hang out at the villa to get them back up and running again. 

Just to recap, the party arrived at a manor or villa just after a raid. They killed a small patrol of raiders in short order and have two raiders as prisoners. Gurwinder and Rona dislike captives, but have not killed these two fools because of the location. They figure enough law and order exist right now that they can leave them be. 

Our current map of the Peninsula of Plenty.
There have been many changes since first conceived.
I have been instructed that the party is attending to the needs of the villagers until help arrives. We are assuming one day passes for every week of game play at the moment. 

The whole party is good or lawful. Matilda is more neutral good and is a bit punchy. Gurwinder and Rona are grimly practical, despite being good. They hate raiders, with good reason. The entire party is rather cosmopolitan when it comes to race, displaying none of the typical attributes of average citizens of the Empire. In this campaign, the Empire is on the verge of war with the Elves and Dwarves. Halfling Tribes started appearing recently from over the northern mountains, flooding the area of like a barbarian horde. The Empire is actually terrified of the Little People. 

While I am honoring the timeline set out by the players via email and text, I have some rather rude surprises for them. 

Here is a list of the Player Characters: 

Matilda the Knife - Swashbuckler, Human, 1st level
Megen the Ruffian - Swashbuckler, Human, 2nd level
Jaime the Fearsome - Fighter, Human, 2nd Level
Gurwinder A’flumine - Fighter, Human, 2nd Level

In case you are wondering, the swashbuckler character class is one of my own creations. You can grab it at DriveThruRPG. They are Errol Flynn types and are aggressive combatants but bad at killing. 

The party also has a whole band of support characters in tow, whom are the subject of this post. Or is that who is the subject of this post? I don't know.

Rona the wisewoman - Cleric, Human, 1st Level, NPC
Melvin the Wise - Magic User, Halfling, 1st level, NPCFelix  - Human, 1 level commoner NPC
Felice - Human, 1 level commoner NPC
Jim the Scout - Human, 1 level commoner NPC

I have another book about Uncommon Commoners, which is also available at DriveThruRPG. 

You can download the complete party rooster in PDF form here. This list of characters has not been updated with current equipment. It is only a taste of what is happening. 

I am trying to make the NPCs conform to something realistic. Rona and Melvin have classes, so they will engage in combat despite not being very good. Felix and Felice will NOT engage in combat, except to protect each other. They are horrible at combat. Felix and Felice have wandering into this traveling circus by accident and are hoping to make enough cash to retire and start a family. Jim the Scout is foolhardy and brave. The party has him on horseback, hoping the horse will protect him from his desire to get into a fight. He has 2 hp but is well on his way to becoming a fighter or perhaps a ranger.  

The party has buried two other NPCs and has a strong desire not to do that again, so they are conforming to my idea of keeping the NPCs away from danger. Melvin is an avowed coward, but he has good ideas. He is also a halfling, which is a hated race in the Empire, so the party is keep him close for his own good. Rona is very old and dislikes travel by horseback. She views the PCs and their wagons as a godsend. Felix, Gurwinder and Jim all take turns cooking, since the death of the cook. Jim is best at it, while Gurwinder is a survival nut and wants the party well provisioned and fed at all times. 

It's a cool party dynamic. 

While the players are hanging out at the villa, I know they are thinking about taking on more NPC followers. The villa can't support that due to loses and I have planted the suggestion that they not make any attempts here. What would probably happen is, the whole pack of villagers will follow them to Nace then bail on the party in favor of safety. Nace is loaded with adventurer types and is a far better place to find skilled help.  

Friday, September 20, 2019

Pregenerated Characters - Commoners - Level 1 Group 1

These 3 first level characters are commoners, suitable for use as NPCs. Click here to download the PDF for Felice, Felix and Jim. These characters are almost ready to go in any campaign.

In generating these characters, I used the rules found in my book, Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners. It's available as PWYW at DriveThruRPG. In this book, commoners have a class and a level plus special skills. Their stats are generated with average dice and they have a target roll to perform the tricks of the trade. The base roll is 10 or better for level 1. They only roll when under extreme conditions, when rushing, etc. They gain experience via this mechanic, not through combat or treasure. They are limited to 5 levels and very often, would never advance past 2 or 3 levels.

If you do not have this rule set and are playing Basic D&D or a retroclone, these characters are zero level humans. Their stats are too high, but they have no weapon skills, except for Jim who can hunt normal animals with a bow at no penalty. He has a +1 vs. coyotes with his bow. Felice and Arthur's "weapons" are merely tools for travelers, they don't fight. They are a husband and wife team, both working with pack animals. They are adept at riding and training horses, mules and donkeys. Jim has left all his money at home as he doesn't need it when hunting, while the Animal Handlers are carrying enough coins to cover basic costs and to make change.

If you are playing AD&D, the DMG provides information on NPC types of characters. Older versions of D&D don't really account for skiled NPC without a class. They should roll attacks as normal men.

If there is a call for it in the comments, I will make DOCX and Google Doc file available as I have the PDFs. The reason I have not done this from the get go is that I created every character of a class in one document and print each page as a PDF.

Pregenerated Characters - Fighters Level 1 group 2

These 3 first level characters are fighters, Stephano, Trinculo and Rupert the Mad. Click the link to download the PDF file. These characters are almost ready to go. In generating ability scores, I made sure the range was acceptable in both D&D and AD&D. To convert this character to straight AD&D, simply add or subtract the racial modifiers and class abilities.

The equipment and coins are not balanced for a first level character. These three are generic low level raiders in my campaign, hence the odd equipment. Trinculo and Stephano based on the characters in Shakespeare's The Tempest. They are raiders, but not especially smart raiders. Being played as fools, they are more wily than smart. This makes them dangerous.

Trinculo and Stephano
If there is a call for it in the comments, I will make DOCX and Google Doc file available as I have the PDFs. The reason I have not done this from the get go is that I created every character of a class in one document and print each page as a PDF.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

AD&D Druid Spell: Arclight

In the campaign Peninsula of Plenty, the City of Nace is a fair city. As a fair city, travelers from far and wide come to purchase things that otherwise cannot be found. The main products sold are magical plants and herbs for the creation of healing and restorative potions. Some of these plants can also be used to make high quality inks for mundane and magical scrolls.

The garden where these plants grow has been magicked to allow production all year round. Since the gardens are very nearly in the center of the city and have virtually zero physical defenses, the druids, clerics and magic users who tend the garden need special eldritch defenses.

Typically, druids answer the call as frontline defenders, their magic is more subtle than magic users and clerics. However this is a general guideline, not the rule. The druids of Nace have developed a devastating area of effect spell, which does not damage the garden. They do not know the term "upward leader lightning", but they do know how to make lightning jump from the ground, through a target and into the sky. They call this Arclight.


Level: 6                                                                                                    Components: V, S, M
Range: 0                                                                                                   Casting time: 2 segments
Duration: Instant                                                                                      Saving Throw: Special
Area of Effect: 10 yards

Arclight is a powerful spell which will cause a lightning stroke to leap from the ground below a target and into the sky. This spell is an area effect spell which is targeted on the ground below the target and does not move with the target. The spell has two damaging mechanisms, both allows a saving throw.

In the first segment of casting, a powerful electric charge forms below the target. They will sense this by the heating of their body, a corona around metal objects and a crackling sound. All creatures in the area of effect are entitled to a save vs spells. If successful, the target(s) flings themselves out of the target area taking 1d3 points of damage. They are stunned for one round and are prone. If unsuccessful, the target freezes taking no damage.

In the second segment of casting, the lightning discharges. Victims in the area of effect take 6d6 points of damage. A second saving throw halves the damage. If the victim doesn't die, they are stunned for 1d6 rounds.

If a person in the target area is flying, they can escape with no damage if they make the first saving throw. If they are forced to make the second saving throw, they will also fall out of the sky due to being stunned. This is typically a graceful wallowing, not a plunge and inflicts no more damage.

Levitation provides no protection from this spell, in fact, it will disallow ALL saving throws, period.

If a target normally or magically has the ability to leap, bound or stride great distances, they are entitled to a +2 to each save. This is normally limited to haste and jump spells, boots of striding and leaping or other items available in your campaign setting.

Since the boundary of the area is not visible, mechanically speaking, someone sprinting will be unlikely to be in the area of effect, unless they are incredibly unlucky. It is very difficult to target a runner, but it is possible to cast at an empty area and hope someone will run into it. This requires great timing, there is no roll for this. The DM should give the target the benefit of the doubt, either adding a good bonus to a save or declaring that they crossed the area too fast to be caught in the spell. It is possible to measure out the movement, but really is too complex for fast play. It could be described for dramatic purposes.

If a person standing on the edge of the area attempts to push someone back into the area they are escaping, contact with the victim will cause them to suffer the same fate as the person pushed. They are not entitled to any saving throw, they take the exact same damage as the victim. This is the price of being a jerk.

This spell does not damage non-living things, however it will damage undead. It does not cause flammable items to burst into flames, unless the DM rules that it does.

Additionally, if the caster attempts put themselves in the area of effect, the caster receive no saving throws at all and the damage will be a full and flat 36 points.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

AD&D Druid Spell - Bolt from the Blue

In my campaign, the druids of the City of Nace need an offensive spell that does not damage property. Bolt from the Blue is it. The Gardens contain many magical crops used by the Empire. Due to the healing nature of these items and the unique environment required for the plants, the Empire uses them as a both a good will item and a soak for their enemies.

The Empire is often on the edge of war with both the Dwarves and Elves. These products allow the Empire to bribe off their opponents with magic or sell them at a premium to the same to divert funds away from the war machine. The Elves and Dwarves use the price of said items as a means of measuring the Empire's war drive. Low prices tend to indicate the Empire is NOT willing to be aggressive and may be facing some sort of other threat. The Dwarves have no comparable magic, while the Elves do. Cost of shipping from the Elven homeland makes the human Empire's market work.

Bolt from the Blue

Level: 5                                                                                                    Components: V, S, M
Range: 0                                                                                                   Casting time: One segment
Duration: Instant                                                                                      Saving Throw: Special
Area of Effect: One creature

Bolt from the Blue is a precision lightning spell, which only hits one target. It can only be cast outside and requires no visible storm or cloud. A bolt of lightning streaks to the target, almost horizontally from the horizon. The bolt will avoid all other objects and creatures to strike the target. It will not damage non-living items, however, it can be used on the undead.

The bolt does 2d12 and will stun, deafen and blind a creature for 1d6 rounds. If the victim makes a saving throw, they take half damage and are only stunned deafened and blinded for 1d3 rounds. Each one of these effects has a separate duration, so someone could be stunned for a round, deafened for three and blinded for 6 rounds. All durations start at the moment of the strike and run concurrently. There is a chance that someone will be stunned longer than they are blinded, rendering that status moot.

Additionally, if a saving throw is made, the target will have at least one hit point left. It is an excellent and humbling negotiation tactic.

The spell has an odd side effect on other spells and casters. The bolt causes short term memory loss. If a spell caster is struck while preparing a spell, they do not lose the spell. The caster forgets that they ever made the attempt to cast whatever spell they had in mind and can attempt to cast it again. If someone struck is subject to a charm like effect, and they survive the strike, they are immediately allowed a saving throw vs. that charm. If a character is wielding a cursed weapon is struck, there is a 50-50 chance that they will drop it and have the presence of mind NOT to pick it back up. This is a single roll, not two rolls.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Drinking from Pods - Red Dice Diaries

Lately, I have listening to a bunch of different podcasts, new and old stuff. One 'cast that stands out to me is The Red Dice Diaries. John Alan Large has been hosting the show for a while now, and he has many interesting titles. This week I picked four: Potions (new), Magic Items (also new), DMing Rough Spot and Setting Agnostic vs Setting Specific. The first 3 I listened to really made me think of all the games I've played, to extent of not listening (yet) to the last.

Back when AD&D was the big boy game for TSR, we had about 12 regular players but only 3 of us would GM. Mark had an excellent style that was deeply planned out, but he rarely branched out into improvising anything. If it wasn't in the book, it didn't happen. Doug had an excellent game plan, but improv'd his way through everything. The rule book was something for the dice to fall on. My style was someplace between the two, very well planned out but using almost improvisational style comedy to make a point.

Doug was my best friend, so we argued. But it was a strange sort of arguing. If I didn't like something he did, I'd say so, but didn't expect this to change anything at the table. Usually, it didn't matter much. But for one campaign, Doug switched up his style and went entirely by the book. I couldn't get a sense of what he was doing and tried to play characters as smash mouth, in your face sort of people.

It didn't work out at all. My characters would level up the fastest and get the best equipment, but I died six times. My last character was "Reg". That wasn't his name. Doug asked me what kind of character I had rolled up and I answered, "Aw, just one of the regulars." Man, did that make him laugh. And the tag stuck. Reg the Magic User.

As a player, I understood the REASON for the change in style. The issue was Doug wanted to tell a complete story, therefore he needed to drop the goofy, light-hearted improv. My characters kept dying because I didn't know what story they were in.

Reg the Magic User broke out of that by being dangerously wrong genre savvy. He was also help by some incredible luck. I am not much of a magic user type, so I advanced by wit and cunning rather than magic. Usually by the end of the session, I had expended most of my 1st level spells, but nothing higher.

One bit of luck I had was a couple of magical items meant for the party cleric who expired before they could claim them. I could heal. An old man gave all of the characters magic weapons, except me, who received a black rock and a bag of holding. We battle a witch, killed a massive pack of wild animals and generally hunted for loot. We chased a unicorn and bought a ship.

One player found a green ring of regeneration, which I identified for them. At the time, I asked if there were any other magic rings in the treasure.

Doug said, "Yes."
I asked, "What kind is it?"
"What kind do you think it is?" Doug answered.
Doug rolls some dice and says, "It is a yellow ring of flying!"

You totally know where this is going right? For the next year or so, my ring of delusion provided endless humorous to horrifying scenarios.

Doug decided that if my character had time, then he would cast fly on himself while attributing the magic to the ring. Unsurprisingly, my character would discover they forgot to study that third level spell. However, if my character ever tried to fly spontaneously or with no prep time, the ring would fail.

This went on for over a year, the player tagging off the DM to create interesting stories. Suddenly, the campaign ended, as we had completed the story, whatever that was. I had though the whole thing was lost on me due to my style of play. I couldn't figure out what the point was, or what the ending meant, but I did have a lot of fun. That seemed to be the message sent.

Fast forward 25+ years. I was watching a movie with my kids. There was a scene that left me dumbfounded. I picked up the phone and called Doug. "Reg was in Narnia!"


I got it. Being a good DM goes beyond storytelling and being a good player doesn't have to follow expectations.