Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Stop Being Crazy In There!

Chaos Star
As you can tell from the frequency of posts, I have a lot of insanity going on. Where to begin? 

I'm teaching online classes all this week while trying to get my classroom up to NYSED standards. Social distancing for special edu students and all that jazz. Plus there is a ventilation standard, which is wholly dependent on a building inspection that no one at the school has any control of. I don't know what kind of HVAC we have... But that's not all, we have a mandated break starting next Monday which lasts until the first-day summer school could start. So, I might be doing a lot of work for not much benefit. And that's not all... We are taking in new students, who really want to be correctly placed in a quality school by the summer session, which means no one is assured of that mandated break. No pressure! 

In more minor news, the screen door latch fell off my front door and there are no replacements anywhere in the City of Buffalo. WTH? I had to order one online. I'm now checking USPS tracking like an eBay fanatic. In the meantime, we can't use our front door, even to check the mail... 

Anyway, I just want to post a reiteration that if you would like a link, a review, or whatever, go ahead and contact me at phil<zot :)>viverito at gmail<dot>com or leave me a note in the comments or contact me via mewe.com or facebook. I'm always happy to link share. 

At some point last week I had a spammer come in and drop a link. It doesn't happen that often but the person was an total asshat about it. What is really rotten about the whole thing is, he was promoting a product that pertains to my website and looks super cool. This isn't like the guy that tried to link his consignment store to my series called 52 Weeks of Magic, as if the items in his shop were real magic items. This product is actually way better than that and it is linked to another product I am ridiculously happy with. 

The name of the company is 3dMakerWorks.com and like the name implies, they produce 3d printed miniatures. The designs are by Fat Goblin Games, who is a great content producer on DriveThruRPG among other places. I purchased some clipart from them but then found it didn't match my setting, so now it's hanging on my wall as a great D&D themed piece of art. Great stuff. 

Anyway, what about these minis? 3dMakerworks.com has dozens of minis for sale. They look great for any D&D campaign. In perusing the link the spammer left, I thought, "Gee, I haven't ordered figures in a while." $30 later, I have an order for 7 Lizardfolk Warriors, 7 Ranged Skeletons, and 8 Melee Skeletons. 

(Jan 2023 update, all of the links are dead, so I removed them. Sorry.) 

Hmm... Damn it! I fell for the spam!

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Episode 003 - The Tomb of Horrors Sucks and Everybody Should Be a Bard

Welcome Back! What more can I say after that title? 

I have some new music so let's all give thanks to Kevin MacLeod at incompetech.com for the following tracks:

Parting of the Ways - Part 2 Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Parting of the Ways - Part 1 Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

All hail Mr. MacLeod!

In this episode, I wax poetic about AD&D 1e Bards and Rage Against the worst module ever, Tomb of Horrors. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

sketching again

Just quick sketch today to test out the new blogger app and redesign. I also added two older sketches. 

There used to be a 400k limit on pictures, but it looks like that's gone. 


The Tek - May 2020

I had a very good month despite some hectic issues at home. I launched a new product called The Hex Pack. It was the best launch ever. 

May 2020 Downloads via DriveThruRPG:
AD&D Character Sheet For Use with Unearthed Arcana - 6
Compass Rose Inn Minisetting - 6
Kobold Folly Minisetting - 6
Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners - 5
The Hex Pack - 94
Swashbucklers Character Class - 3

I have hit my goal of of 100 downloads for every item, except Swashbucklers. It's more niche than niche, I think. These stats are as of 6/10, so they are higher than expected. 

AD&D Character Sheet For Use with Unearthed Arcana - 106
Compass Rose Inn Minisetting - 146
Kobold Folly Minisetting - 136
Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners - 265
The Hex Pack - 104
Swashbucklers Character Class - 98

Webstats look good, but I have no idea why there was a huge spike on May 5th and May 7th. Nothing weird stands out to me. 

Google Analytics Pageviews - 2198
Google Analytics Sessions - 1869
Pageviews per Session - 1.18

I'm stuck at the second episode (not counting the pilot) of "That's Not New". I'm gonna have to kick this into high or drop it. Not sure which. I need some inspiration. 

Thursday, June 4, 2020

The Jart

Since my game has unusual characters, I want to have unusual monsters. The Jart is just one of many strange beasts they encountered. 


NO. APPEARING : 1-1,000
MOVE: 24"/6"
HIT DICE: 1, 1 hp.
0/0 IN LIAR: 0%
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Not subject to mind control, charm, etc. 
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic evil
SIZE: Small (4" inches)
Attack/ Defense Mades: Nil

These creatures are clearly constructs resembling birds. They have one green eye which glows at night. The beak, tail and tips of the wings appear to be some sort of thin metal, while the rest of the Jart feels like paper. 

Jarts have a peculiar means of flight. They cannot fly higher than 12 feet from the ground and will not come within 5 feet of another Jart or a barrier. The ground must be rock, dirt, mud, etc. They fly between trees rather than over them. They cannot cross water deeper than 10 feet. Individuals fly very fast and are very maneuverable. A swarm of Jarts moves very slowly despite their individual maneuverability. They also avoid smoke, fire, clouds and fog. A Jart struck by any source of fire or heat will burst into flames. Jarts do not get saving throws vs. fire. Hitting an individual Jart with a missile or thrown weapon is a called shot and is done at a -4. 

All encounters start with just one Jart, unless a swarm is already in progress. Jarts always attack last in the round. The initial Jart will attempt to "taste" a target, which requires a to hit roll. This does one point of damage. Once the Jart has a sample of the target, it will leave the area as quick as possible. Sampling or tasting allows the Jart to track that creature for 2 hours without error. Withing 1d6 rounds, the Jart will return with more companions. They will attempt to taste all creatures in the area, ignoring the first creature sampled. The number appearing will be equal to the number of humanoids and animals.   

Once all targets have been sampled, they will again leave for 1d6 rounds. At the end of this period, roll a percentile die.There is a 25% chance that a swarm of Jarts numbering up to 1000 will appear. 

A Jart swarm covers an area of 36" in game scale. Jarts do not like to enter structures do to the tight spaces, but can enter open spaces like barns or other large structures. 

Characters who have been tasted or sampled inside the swarm will be attacked once per round for 1d6 points of damage. Due to their odd swarming pattern, characters may save vs. breath weapon for half damage. 

Characters who have not been sampled will be sampled by the swarm. An attempt to sample a character will only occur once per round and only at the end of the round, which causes a one round pause in attacks. Characters will note that the swarm will cease all attacks in the round after a sampling and the whole swarm will pull back for that round to communicate with itself. There is a 50% chance that the swarm will leave at this point. 

When a character uses a weapon on the swarm, any weapon including fists and missiles, it will do maximum damage every time as they are hitting more than one Jart per round. If a character is completely surrounded, all attacks are at a +4. Lit torches will do 1d6 points of damage per round and prevent the swarm from attacking the wielder. Fireball will destroy three Jarts for every point of damage rolled. A lightning bolt in the swarm will have a globe effect, like being used under water. This also does double damage to the swarm (but not to other creatures). Magic Missiles also have a curious effect on them, they do double damage and will destroy one Jart per point of damage rolled. The Magic Missile will also open a path through the swarm for one round. 

If a swarm takes more than 200 of damage, they will retreat and regroup. There is a 25% chance that they will give up pursuit. If not, they will fly away from the area for 1d6 rounds before returning. If more than 400 points of damage occur, the swarm will attempt to flee.  

Jarts must remain within 12 feet of rock or dirt to fly. However, they cannot get closer than 2 feet to any object. Jarts have no ability to crawl, swim or walk. This may create strange situations where the they cannot pursue creatures up trees or up wooden stairs, ropes or ladders, but can chase people up hills or up stone stairs. Jarts cannot cross water deeper than 10 feet. They have trouble entering windows and partially closed doors. Jarts will avoid nets, ropes, and other structures that could allow them to be captured. They can only be captured by tricky or magical means. This will never occur by accident. 

Should one be captured, it will crumble like dried paper in 24 hours. If Find Familiar is cast on it within this time period, it will fall under the control of the spell caster and will take instructions. Instructions are limited to follow, find a person, or rest. If issued the order "Find", the Jart will search a six mile radius and return, successful or not. It can then lead the caster to the target if it was found. There is a 1 in 20 chance the Jart will run afoul of something that can destroy it while searching. The magic user will be aware of this, but will not know any details of the destruction. The Jart is not actually a familiar and there is no consequence if it is destroyed. 

XP is awarded only if the swarm is driven off or destroyed. The XP value of the swarm is 400 for being driven off and 1000 if the whole swarm is destroyed. If a swarm appears, but leaves instead of attacking, the award is halved to 200. Catching one is worth 100 XP and casting find familiar on one results in 200 XP award. 

First Born, Unicorn

My players have demanded some unusual characters. Based on their options, I believe that AD&D is the way to go. Page 21 of the DMG offers some advice for these unusual characters. 

I started with the Unicorn Stats from Monster Manual. AC: 2, HD: 4+4, Damage: 1d6/1d6/1d12, +2 to hit dice on a charge, charge damage is 2d12. They are immune to poison, surprise on 1-5, detect opponents out to 24", they save vs. magic as an 11th level Magic User. 

The DMG suggest limits. Cool. Limit one: The best unicorns are equal to 11th level magic users. Limit 2: The best unicorns have 4+4 hit dice at max level which equates to 36 hp.

I like those numbers. If I take 36 and divide by 11, that gives me 3.27 which is close the to average of a 1d6. The one issue I have with this is, unicorns are big animals so 1d6 at first level is too small. I'll give them the basic 1d8 for monsters and fighters at level one, but then drop the die to 1d4 for subsequent levels. Without Constitution bonuses, this will max out at 48 hp. This is a third better than the monster version, but since D&D has always had "superior" versions of standard monsters, I can work with this. 

AC is tricky. I could do a scale like monks, but decided against it. Unicorns start with AC 2 and keep that number their whole life. To balance this, I will adjust the amount of damage and attacks by level and not allow them to wear barding. At low levels they can't attack with their horns because they have an aversion to touch. As they age, they learn how to use the horn as a weapon. Also, all attacks improve as they progress through levels. Initially, they start with 1 attack per round, but later on they can get in two kicks per round. Major attacks with the horn and the bucking kick are limited to once per round. 

Since they are magical and sneaky, they will have the ability to move silently like thieves, cast spells as a natural ability and lay hands like paladins. 

I was going to type out everything, but I think a schedule will do. 

Monday, June 1, 2020

So I've Been Told: Game on Wednesday Night

It looks like we'll be playing D&D Wednesday night. Sweet! 

It isn't my Peninsula of Plenty Campaign, it's something else. None of my peeps have played before. They TOLD me what characters they are playing in their campaign. As designated DM, all I have to do is make it work. 

The ruleset is my typical smash-up of D&D and AD&D, but I'll probably be leaning heavily on the AD&D rules. At least based on the character descriptions I have been given. "Alright players, go nuts. But you have to use my character sheet." They agreed. 

You can download my sheet from DriveThruRPG for free. Technically, it's pay what you want, but we're in the middle of a pandemic+, so spend your resources wisely. 

I think the players believe they are throwing me for a loop. They are not. The opening hook wrote itself as the described their characters to me. Ready for storytime? 

Ever have one of those dreams where something is chasing you? It's dark and you don't know where you are. There is something's close behind, you're out of breath and dead tired. You can't see it directly, only hints and glimmers of whatever came out of the night. 

Maybe it's more than one thing. It feels more like a swarm of angry things. And the safety of where ever is far, far away through the night and the forested hills.

But you're not dreaming. The chase has been going on for days. The nights are the worst. The women and children from your village fled while the defenders tried to hold them back. You were fools. It didn't work and now you run, just like the elderly, the women, the children.

The only difference is, you're better supplied. 

A couple of days back, you gave away all of your food and water to some villagers. It terrified you, because they aren't your villagers. The chase is happening to everyone. Even people you don't know. From places you never heard of.

You don't know these runners, but you are getting to know them. Out of the darkness comes the now familiar silver-blue flash and the jingle of bells. The unicorn must have killed something with her horn. Again. Blue, violet and purple after-images blot out your vision. It's a good thing your eyes were closed, other wise you would have been blinded. You eaten so much radiation in the past couple days, what's a little more? 

As you stumble in the dark, the druid with the dagger and the infant steadiest you before pushing ahead. He mutters, "Mind the stream". The guy in the hoodie, armed with a metal pipe splashes into the water. Behind you the one that smells like spent gunpowder, rattles like hot brass as he or she moves in the shadows. 

And then you see it. Salvation. The hill fort.