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

Sunday, September 22, 2019

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.

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.


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.
"Flying!"
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!"

"Yes!"

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

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Dungeons and Dragons TV Show Review on Thac0

Ryan Marsh over on Thac0 has been posting reviews of the old Saturday Morning Cartoon, Dungeons and Dragons.

His first post details the main characters, the NPCs and then covers the ins and outs of the episode. I love reliving these cartoons. Having someone else's take on them is even better. Go check these out before Ryan runs through so many episodes, you'll have to binge read. :)

My out and out favorite character is Eric the Cavalier. According to Wikipedia, he was put in the show at the request of parent's groups, to support the idea that the group is always right and the whiner is always wrong. Yeeeesss. But...

Eric annoying yet another friend, Diana this time. 
Eric is 15 year old boy in the 80's. If you weren't to top dog in your group, you were either the distruptor or the yes man. Oddly, exactly zero of the characters are yes men, not even the girls in the series. Which was wonderfully refreshing. The character dynamics were great. They weren't your typical cookie cutter characters.

Presto can't perform unless provoked and he is never mocked by the gang (Teased, yes. Mocked, no). Billy is just a force of nature that the others try to hold in check as he flies off the handle at every opportunity. Sheila and Diana have their own, consistent and important points of views, which very often are not remotely the same. Sheila is the big sister and is protective. Diana is the mistress of personal safety, despite being very caviler when it comes to risking herself. Hank is not some dumb jock pushing people around. Five of the six are positive types of people.

What makes me favor Eric from the get go is he was so abrupt. Six steps past rude, perhaps even dangerous, when he can manage it. Someplace, way down inside, he knows that he is out of place and overwhelmed.

Clearly, if you know what you are doing, Hank has the best tool: A magic bow with not so delineated powers. It's a magic machine for the plot.

Boring.

Eric, has a shield that can encase his friends within a bubble of protection. He has to get in front. He has to be in the line of fire for it to be useful. And he is afraid of most unknowns. But he does what he has to to protect his friends.

That isn't so special, that's just like being a regular human being. Eric could be anyone, anyone could be Eric. That's why I like him so much.

Its been a while since this show has been on the air. Did you forget about? Hop on over to Thac0 and follow Ryan Marsh's reviews. Relive a bit of the magic of Saturday Mornings again.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Oh, No You Don't! Unfettered Magic

All Magic Users (and only magic users) in my campaign have the inherent talent to read and control magic for their own use. Generally, this is limited to the magic user, his own items and knowledge. However, mages also have a darker, more dangerous power which can be used with great care.


Unfettered Magic

Level: 1                                                         Components: V, S, M
Range: 3" (30 feet/30 yards) +1" per level   Casting Time: Instantaneous
Duration: Instantaneous                                Saving Throw: Special
Area of Effect: One Creature

All magic users have the ability to defend themselves from magical forces, by the nature of their studies in their profession. Unfettered Magic is a dangerous defense against hostile magic users. The danger comes in respect to the possible level disparities of the defender and attacker.

A magic user can only cast this spell when they see another magic user begin casting a spell with a Casting Time of one segment or more. It cannot be cast in preparation - I.E. before the other caster begins.

As soon as the last symbol and word for Unfettered Magic is uttered and woven, the other magic user is entitled to a saving throw. If they are successful, the caster of Unfettered Magic also makes a saving throw. What happens next, depends on these rolls.

If the defender makes their roll saving, the caster of Unfettered Magic must make a saving throw to avoid taking 2 points of damage per level of the defender's spell. If they are unsuccessful AND they do not have enough hit points to survive this damage, they are burned to ash and the extra damage explodes in a 1" (10 feet or yards). People in this area must make a save for half damage. The magic user can't be revived to a corporeal form by any means short of wish. Casting resurrection or reincarnation will summon their ghost.

If the defender loses his saving throw verse Unfettered Magic, they immediately lose the spell they are casting and the caster of Unfettered Magic gains this spell, in all ways. They can cast it before the end of the round. If they survive combat, they can scribe this spell into their spell book. If they do not transcribe the spell within 24, they forget it. The magic user is not required to cast this spell at all, they can merely release the energy.

IF both magic users make their save, no damage is taken, but the caster of Unfettered Magic has his position revealed and is now know to be a hostile spell caster. The other caster has the option of targeting them immediately with their current spell instead of casting at their previously selected target. Range and area of effect may preclude this. 

If there is a level disparity, say a 1st level magic user trying to divert a 5th level spell, the user of Unfettered Magic takes one hit point of damage per level of difference. For example, a 1st level magic user gains Magic Jar, they would take 5-1 points of damage, regardless if they used the spell at all. If this reduces their hit points to zero or less, they die. In this case, they can be revived by normal means and there is no explosion as the energy was directed inwards. Note: even if the caster dies, they may direct this spell before the end of the round.

When a magic user uses the Unfettered Magic spell, there is a cool down period where they may not work other magic. The duration of this is based on the level of the spell they attempted to seize. It is one round per level of spell. Redirecting a 7th level spell will result in a 7 round period where the magic user cannot use magic at all. While magic items will continue to function if they function continuously, like a +1 dagger or ring of protection, the magic user cannot use a wand, staff, rod, potion, or cause a miscellaneous item to activate. This limitation occurs on both success and failure.

Unfettered Magic can only be used on actual spells, cast by a magic user. It does not work on clerical, druidic, or illusionist magic, nor can it be used against spell like abilities or magic items, such as a wand of missiles. Non-magic user casters accidentally targeted by this spell will immediately know the location (even if hidden) of the magic user and have a choice to redirect their current spell on to them.

Since most low level magic users have relatively no chance of forcing a higher level mage to fail a saving throw, this is a desperation move, where death is better than not trying. Oft-times, low level magic users will do this when they are within 30 feet of a higher level caster, in the hopes that the explosion will hurt them. Higher level magic users can use this spell with virtual impunity but generally don't because of the cool down.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The First Game Session for Peninsula of Plenty - Beyond the Pale

Fits and starts. I planned this campaign in the spirit of X1 Isle of Dread. The players were gathered together, given the premise, then selected from a series of pre-generated characters (which are all available in the tab above). The goal was to travel from the Capital on the west coast, to a town on the south coast. The Emperor's Council needs intelligence, and sending a party down there was the best option. Simple.
Here is the party at the start:

Melvin the Wise - Magic User, Halfling, 1st level
Matilda the Knife - Swashbuckler, Human, 1st level
Megen the Ruffian - Swashbuckler, Human, 2nd level
Jaime the Fearsome - Fighter, Human, 2nd Level

Not a cleric to be seen. The party wasn't done provisioning themselves, they hired a cook, a hunter as a scout, and a laborer. Then we got to the part where they were to hire a ship. Or so I thought.

It turns out, that in reflecting on the Council's directions to head south, no one mentioned a ship. Not me, not the characters. So the characters used all of their Council provided funds to buy two wagons, hired some NPCs and a bunch of horses. We've gone from Isle of Dread, to Oregon Trail.

Well, I am nothing but adaptable.

The characters decided to proceed south as quick as they could. I mentioned that an inn at the edge of town would be a great place to rest up, have a few drinks and maybe try to pick up a few more party members or NPCs.

No.

Out the gate they went. 5 miles outside the palisades, they made camp. This is exactly what "beyond the pale" means.

The players are sort of wily. It turns out that the wagons have small stoves, tons of rope and wood,  bedrolls and a supply of fuel. They parked the wagons 30 feet from each other, drove in some posts and corralled the horses between them. Water bags and feed bags were hung off the side of wagons for the horses. And decided to sleep in the wagons. Efficient as heck.

Since they lost the opportunity to hire more people, I decided that two of the other candidates were making the same journey and would catch up shortly. In the morning, the party spotted them on the road, and decided to wait.

That when the evil random encounter started. Uninhabited/Wilderness Table, die roll of 02, brown bears. Two brown bears.

Game on.

Jaime and the scout were making their way back towards town to round up the stragglers, on horseback. Melvin, the cook and the laborer were in one wagon, while Matilda and Megen were harnessing the other horses to the wagons.

The bears bushedwacked the first two horses as Matilda leapt into Melvin's wagon and Megen hopped into the other wagon. Matilda stabbed one in the head. As the first bear mauled both horses to death, the second tried to get Matilda. She stabbed him again, while Melvin missed. The wizard got a good bite for his effort and collapsed, seeming dead. The cook went down, next.

Matilda and the laborer went for the other wagon as the bears milled around. For several rounds, the bears milled about deciding to eat the dead horses rather than chase the characters to the other wagon.
 
Jaime came thundering on his horse and began to accost the bears. Megen jumped on the other horse and joined him. Two rounds later, Jaime's horse was dead and he had taken a good hit. Jaime and Megen took refuge under Matilda's wagon. It was beginning to look like a total party kill was in the works.

Thankfully, Jaime's foresight saved the day. He sent the scout ahead to get the two trailing NPC's: Rona and Gurwinder. He dropped Gurwinder off some distance away and went back for Rona without provoking the bears.

Before Jim the Scout could get back with the cleric, Gurwinder and the rest of the party trapped the bears between long range missile fire and rear attacks. Since the party had the cover of the wagon, Gurwinder could shoot the bears in the back with little chance of hitting friendlies. The repeating flanking attacks melted the bears AC away and they were done in just three rounds. 

Click to enlarge. Blue crossed
swords indicate party position.  
At the end of the day, the party lost 1 laborer, 3 horses, Chef and Melvin. Melvin didn't die, he just wants to go home. His player now wants to play Gurwinder, instead.

Ok, fine by me.

Under Gurwinder's direction, the party took one wagon back to town, sold the bear and horse meat along with their pelts. They paid burial expenses for the cook and laborer. With the additional funds from the kills, they obtained two drovers to drive the wagons and care for the horses. They are a husband and wife team, Felix and Felice. They also bought 2 horses, one for Jaime and one Megen, and four oxen to pull the wagons. Matilda, Rona and Gurwinder don't ride (by choice), so Jim the Scout has the last horse.

The party has now agreed to head to the next town with the intention of picking up a healer or another cleric and missile weaponry for everyone. They also desire either a pair of ponies or smaller horses for the shorter characters (Gurwinder and Melvin), plus more oxen. The next settlement is 18-20 miles away, the next small town is a little more than 30 miles away.

Here is the party as of now:

Melvin the Wise - Magic User, Halfling, 1st level, NPC
Matilda the Knife - Swashbuckler, Human, 1st level
Megen the Ruffian - Swashbuckler, Human, 2nd level
Jaime the Fearsome - Fighter, Human, 2nd Level
Rona the wisewoman - Cleric, Human, 1st Level, NPC
Gurwinder A’flumine - Fighter, Human, 2nd Level
Jim the Scout - Human, 0 level NPC
Felix and Felice - Humans, 0 level NPC

Marching order is:

Jaime and Jim on horses, leading.
Wagon 1 with Felice driving and Melvin and Gurwinder riding.
Wagon 2 with Felix, Matilda and Rona.
Megen trailing Wagon 2.

More next week.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Campaign Kick Off

I am kicking off a new campaign on The Peninsula of Plenty. Before I detail any of the events of play, I want to cover some general background and house rules.

First, Elves, Half-Orcs, and Dwarves are not allowed as character classes at the start. Humans, Elves, Half-Orcs and Dwarves are at war and the players are starting in the Human Empire's Capital. Half-Orcs are clients of the Elves and both are aligned with the Dwarves against the Human Empire. Halflings are a problem in the human realms, as they are fleeing south, over the mountains. They are at best, politically unreliable.

Below is the racial preference table we are using, which is revised from the last posting of this chart.

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

As a consequence, virtually all player characters are human, although that was not the intent. I was expecting some half elves, gnomes, and kobolds. We are playing D&D, with an overlay of AD&D. It is possible to be a generic elf which is the straight D&D class, or to pick a class as per AD&D. Only one character did this, the magic user is a halfling.

Next, we are using my rules for the Swashbuckler character class and Uncommon Commoners.

I have two house rules regarding magic: Clerics get spells at 1st level and every Magic User can cast Read Magic once per day in addition to any other spells.

I have a couple house rules regarding combat: Anyone can use a shield to protect themselves, two handed. They can't cast or attack, except for a rough attempt at knocking someone back with the shield. It isn't a good idea if you are a magic user. This rule appears in Uncommon Commoners.

If a magic user or cleric is has a weapon skill due to a professional background, they can replace one weapons with that profession's weapon. For clerics who are also chefs, they can use knives, but generally don't in combat. If a magic user has a skill that allows for a different weapon, say a hammer because they are a mason, they can use that instead of a staff, dagger or dart. These rules also appear in Uncommon Commoners.

Some rule sets state that once a person has been downed, they can be revived by another player. The mechanism for this in my campaigns are either a prayer to Saint Elam or a vial of Elamium. This is a reference to anesthesiologist, James Elam, who performed experimental mouth to mouth resuscitation here in Buffalo, NY at Roswell Park. It's an anachronism owning to my hometown.

There is the expectation that a lot of combat will do subduing damage, but the players can do as they wish. If NPCs are doing this, I will not announce it, but will describe it. This circles back to the Swashbuckler class which engages in this type of combat all the time. Swashbucklers are very far from fighters or thieves. They tend to kill only by a run-through attack after offering a chance to escape. It doesn't work on animals, because they can't be disarmed. 

The first session was pretty eventful and I will detail that in another post.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

New Product Launch - Swashbuckler Character Class for D&D and AD&D

I rarely create new character classes for my campaigns, but I felt I needed a different sort of character for seaborne adventures. The Swashbuckler character class was born.

This pamphlet was intended to add flavor to any campaign without creating overpowering skills or mechanics. Very often, new classes are game breaking and I have sought to avoid this.

Initially, the plan was to create one section for Basic D&D and another for AD&D. Since the Swashbuckler does not require extraordinary abilities, nor to they have level dependent skills, I was able to combine the two.

It had occurred to me to give the Swashbuckler some of the skills of thieves, paladins, monks and acrobats but these characters are not the type to engage in professional level skills. They are more charismatic enablers, they don’t develop useful professional skills, they capitalize on other people’s skills.

I would encourage DMs and players to play towards the humorous aspects of Errol Flynn shenanigans. Many times, this style of play revolves around the needed belief in success rather than the actual outcome. Swashbuckling success features going to Plan B, then C and D and so on.

This product contains two files, the character class description suitable for D&D and AD&D, plus a set of 6 pre-generated characters. This product would work well with both my AD&D Character Sheet and the book Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners. 

Click here to purchase from DriveThruRPG, for a suggested price of $0.99 or PWYW.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Stealing Monsters

Some of the best monsters are people. And some of the most intriguing people are villains.

Jon Wilson, of Appendix M put the bug in my head to steal a villain with his post on The Rival Party. These characters are decidedly different, with incredibly cool powers and abilities. I love the idea of a rival party as adversaries.

I immediately thought of a character I want to steal for a campaign. He is the Monomach from Stephen R. Donaldson's Mordant's Need series.



The Monomach is the villain's right hand man, the most skilled swordsman in the lands. As a villain, he is totally one dimensional. He's given a target and then the target dies. Or at least that is how he should work.

He is actually simple enough to build an AD&D character class with little adaption. First, he is a fightman so he has all of the abilities of a Fighter. Second, he has the disguise abilities of an Assassin. Third, he has some ability to heal himself like a Paladin. Finally, he will gain the damage bonus of a Monk. His prime requisites are Strength, Constitution and Intelligence. To get a +5% bonus to exp, he must have at least a 12 in each of those skills. To get a 10% bonus, he must have a 15 in each.

In framing the villain as a character with a class, he can scale with the Player Characters. He can start relatively weak with the PCs and grow from there.

Let's assign those abilities by level.

On creation - +1 to Strength or Constitution regardless of race.
Level 1 - Disguise as an equal level Assassin.
Level 3 - Laying has as Paladin of equal level.
Level 5 - Damage adjustment as per Monks +1 per 2 levels.

What is the Monomach characters limitations?

They are limited to two magic items plus one magic weapon and one magical piece of armor. They are limited to only equipment they can carry, even at home. They cannot backstab as Assassins do. They do not fight weaponless as Monks do. They do not have the variety of weapons of a fighter, they tend to stick to one main weapon and one back up. They don't often use bows. They can ride horses, but can not care for them. They work alone and are likely to strike a "friendlies" as they get in the way like a berserker. This berserker tendency is not a special skill or ability, it is just a ruthless and bloody methodology. They are relatively poor in day to day skills, unable to cook, care for animals or hunt making them reliant on their master's staff for self-care.

This lack of people and daily living skills prevents them from having followers, retainers or constructing a keep, tower or other base of operation. When assigned to retainers by their master, they tend to follow the retainer until a target presents itself.

What would make this type of character too overpowered? A crystal ball and a ring of teleportation. Yeah, I would totally give my evil Monomach a ring and crystal ball.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Timely podcast

I love  Aaron Mahnke's Lore podcast. This week, it's about Kobolds. One part history, one part myth, Lore is a wonderful journey to the the darker things. Lore also has wonderful background music by Chad Lawson.

Funny, I just released a little map about kobolds.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Feeling X2 Ch√Ęteau d'Amberville

One of my favorite modules was X2. It was so rich in detail and called back to Poe and Clark Ashton Smith that I immediately wanted to plug it into my AD&D campaign. Well, it didn't work out so well. The theme of Castle Amber was too... "weird" for my normal campaign. It was the one time my players demanded a "redo". Their main characters had crossed the mists and as they explored the castle, they became disenchanted with this setting as their characters were way too out of place in it.

I agreed. We rolled up a new set of characters, restarted the scenario and began playing the module as if the prior events never happened. My players were so good at role playing, they willingly ignored the details they gleaned from the last adventure and let the action replay itself again for their new characters.

We were actually playing two different campaigns, alternating between them as the mood struck us. This must have been 1995 or 1996. We were still using the original AD&D books with Unearthed Arcana. When we switched from our main AD&D campaign to the world of Castle Amber, we took it to the extreme.

I allowed the use of Tome of Magic, I would quietly play Love and Rockets Body and Soul alternating with Glen Danzig's Black Aria.


Being older, I'd place a bottle of wine on the table, which few of us knew how to use properly, and old candle sticks or bottles with candles jammed in them for effect. Incense was burned and dinner or light snacks were had as we gamed. 

On top of that, I produced a set of feelies for the players. They were old maps, journals and letters based on the action of the module.


We never completed the module, because the players found the land of Averoigne to be so enchanting. If I could collect up those players again, we would totally go back to Averoigne.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Unreview - The Gardens of Ynn

When I found this title, I fell in love with the concept of a procedurally produced adventure. I meant to write a review of The Gardens, but I never could capture the core idea. What struck me most was the author's (Emmy Allen) desire to break out of her writer's block. Wow. That was an amazing idea and the end result is spectacular.

Anyway, I have collected up 3 reviews of The Gardens of Ynn and added a bit of commentary on each review.

The Gauntlet Blog, called the book "evocative" and praises the use of all five senses in the area descriptions. The Gauntlet takes the point of view of White Hack players, which is a step removed from typical D&D. This perspective enhances the review as it leaves the typical D&D archetypes out. While I don't play White Hack,  Fraser Simons' review of The Gardens makes me wonder if I should.

Bryce over at Ten Foot Pole, stress the Gothic Horror aspect while digging right into the mechanics of how to use this setting. Bryce is right that this is a setting book as opposed to an adventure, which something that the reader could over look, something that Emmy Allen took a moment to confirm in Ten Foot Pole's comment section.

d4caltrops calls The Garden "elegant". d4 praises the binary aspect of "go deeper/go back" to control where the adventurers go in The Garden. Even better, he suggests easy ways to use this book as a means of transport for your characters. Talk about taking a great idea and making it better.

I was surprised to see that no one commented on the artwork of this piece, which I totally enjoyed. Its Gothic simplicity is wonderful. I love this style of art.

You can pick up The Gardens at DriveThruRPG for just a couple of bucks. You can also go an add the three blogs above for free. Why not do both?

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Latest Update

This has been a hectic week. What should be updated hasn't. What didn't need updating was. Let me take a moment to explain what is happening. 

First and most importantly, my kids are off for the summer at the exact same time the school where I work has kicked off it's summer school program. Work-life balance is out of wack, but in an entirely pleasant and wonderful way. I work with special needs students and we kicked our program into high gear. Not only are teachers getting read to accept new students come the fall, we are doing some of the greatest outings and STEM stuff in and out of the classroom. We do it all, from building roller coasters out of tubing to taking the entire school to an amusement park. And there is even better stuff in the works. 

This is the finest "job" I've had and confirms that if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. 

Speaking of loving what you do, all this makes my kids at home jealous as hell, so my wife and I are stepping up our game. 

To that end, I don't have time to produce new books or maintain 4 websites. From here on out, I will be focusing everything on These Old Games by pulling in everything of value from the other three sites. Much of it will be tabbed along the top of the page, so as to be unobtrusive as possible. I'm sure my readers will understand that I am both a D&D nut and amusement park fiend with a thing for technology. It weird. We're all a little weird. 

And now the third and final use of the word love. I love writing campaign setting information. So what products can you expect from These Old Games? Let's start with what's already available: 

Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners. A set of rules to create both NPC characters with professional skills which can be resused to flesh out D&D and AD&D characters with non-heroic skills. 
Character Sheet for Use with Unearthed Arcana. This is exactly as it says on the tin, its a scan of character sheet created on Mac 512K back in 1987. Why? Because I don't like hosting my own files. 
The Compass Rose Inn Minisetting. A set of maps created in Worldographer of the Compass Rose Inn, the associated shrine and premade characters. The three maps, historical description and characters are ruleset agnostic. 

Coming in the first week of August is the Expanded Compass Rose Inn Setting for D&D and AD&D. This is a set of maps for all 5 floors of the Inn, several outbuildings, and detailed sheets for every character for use in your campaign. This will retail for $4.99. 

My next goal is to release a mini map of the Lake Forge, a mysterious business venture across the lake from the Compass Rose Inn. Like the Inn, it will have multiple levels and buildings visualized in Worldographer, plus new characters and more history of the Peninsula of Plenty game setting. It will be released in the same format as the Inn, first a PWYW ruleset agnostic version with a suggested price of $1.99 and a more complete version tuned to AD&D and D&D which will have fixed price of $4.99. 

Each and every thing I have published should be small potatoes in the grand scheme of gaming, but I cannot tell you how excited I get when I see one more person has taken the time to download one of my products. I hope that they add quality and wonder to your campaigns. 

As I roll through this year, I'll be looking at added two mapsets a month. I am also investigating creating a podcasts and perhaps a Patreon account. 

Sunday, June 30, 2019

52 Weeks of Magic - Week 27 - The Arclight Bag

The Arclight Bag is a magical quiver that imparts magic to otherwise mundane arrows and bolts. The effects are based on the action of the user.

If the user is targeting a foe, firing an arrow from this quiver will cause the struck target and the firer to light up as if they were under the effect of Faerie Fire spell. Additionally, the firer is protected by a shield spell. Only the target of the arrow is entitled to a saving throw. The shooter must hit the target for the effect to start. If he or she misses, no one receives any magical effects. Any number of arrows can be empowered in this way, but striking a single target numerous times provides no additional bonuses.

The quiver will also imbue one arrow per hour with the ability to glow while in flight and "explode" like a flare when fired upwards. The flare will like the area like a Light spell for up to 3 rounds. The firer will also be surrounded with the effects of the Faerie Fire spell. This is a rescue option. In this case, the arrow is completely transformed into light at the apex of it's flight.

This usage cannot cause damage to an enemy. If this is attempted in doors, the "explosion" will light the room for 3 rounds. It does not get brighter for being inside. It cannot be used to blind characters or creatures, unless the Light spell would also cause this effect.

The arrows from the quiver do not have a bonus to hit, but the effects of Faerie Fire can modify an attack roll.

While this is described as a quiver, other objects could have this effect. For example, a Roman shield is meant to hold a handful of darts and could be a source of the Arclight effect, as could a brace of knives or a case for bolts.


Navigation
WeekItemWeekItemWeekItemWeekItem
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 25b 26Shield of Force27
The Arclight Bag



Now, the commercial. I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG. Also on Drivethru is my custom character sheet for AD&D and Unearthed Arcana.

I am obviously thinking of writing another and Gnolls might be the subject. Please let me know what you think in the comments. 

Friday, June 21, 2019

Crossing Thresholds

I cross a threshold, 32 downloads for a 32 year old character sheet for Unearthed Arcana.


One of the things I liked about UA was the addition of the comeliness stat as a distinct item apart from charisma. The ability to revolt or to fascinate based on appearance, modified by charisma. I liked the interplay of stats.

In my campaign, we did alter the rule a bit. First, you recorded your raw comeliness and as a DM I removed points for racial modifiers based on the race they were dealing with. I recall building a table off of the racial preferences table. Let's face it, to a half-orc, half-orcs are hot and humans not.

Having put all of that effort in, the house rule only came into play a couple of times. The problem with comeliness is that we are trying to insert a visual dimension into a format that is nearly only audio.

Every wonder what "Kennedy the DJ looks like?" No idea.

Amusingly,  a local radio station has a slot for their "Kennedy" and over the years "Kennedy" has morphed from man to woman to man again, with zero comment. Strange and slightly funny if you think about "Kennedy, the brand" not "Kennedy the DJ".

However, this is kind of what the rules imply, that your character has or has not Style and Poise, Charm and Looks. Its a great stat for Bards, but its a shame what Bards were back then.

Please let me know what you think in the comments. 

Commercial product placement:
I also 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.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

52 Weeks of Magic - Week 26 - Shield of Force

Today was the last day of school. I am on break until July 8th. In anticipation of actually having a break, I have run ahead by one week. I have also decided that the Token of Infi offered last week is only a gimmick and doesn't exactly count towards my goal of 52 items in a year. You will notice that the navigation links are labeled 25 and 25b.

On to the magic!

The Shield of Force is a six side shield. It appears magical and imparts an bonus of 1 to AC. As soon as the shield is used in combat, the wielder will become aware of a pair of secondary powers. Tapping the bottom of the shield on the ground will leave a glowing mark upon the ground, a line five feet wide. This line marks the boundary of a protection from evil and shield spell. This effect will last up to five combat rounds.

The shield may create up to 6 of these barriers per day. If a creature not subject to the effects of protection from evil attempts to cross the barrier, the barrier will lash out at them for 1d6+1 points of damage, like being hit in the face by a large tree limb. When this happens, the barrier's duration will be shortened by one round for every blocked creature. Multiple creatures can rush the barrier in one round.

If the wielder creates 3 of these barriers side by side, the barrier will be a hemisphere. All six will completely cover the wielder with a sphere of protection. When these two functions are used, the barrier is shorter and curved. It extends underground.

This protection will not stop environmental effects such as smoke, fire or water, but can provide a bonus to saving throws vs magic based on the effects of the shield spell.


Navigation
WeekItemWeekItemWeekItemWeekItem
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 25b 26Shield of Force27
Coming Soon



Now, the commercial. I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG. Also on Drivethru is my custom character sheet for AD&D and Unearthed Arcana.

I am obviously thinking of writing another and Gnolls might be the subject. Please let me know what you think in the comments. 


Thursday, June 13, 2019

Rediscovering the Past - Part 1 - The Mac is not a Paperweight

Back in the day, my friends and I had dozens of character sheets but no copier. What a headache. I had a computer and thought to myself, "Gee, what if I could make this machine spit out sheets on demand?"



It could. This was the standard character sheet for my campaign. It was designed on a Mac plus e using Mac Draw. This evening, I found a copy of one jammed in the back of my Unearthed Arcana book. My friends and I were so proud of it, we put our names on every copy we printed.

Judging by the context of the sheet, I suspect this was done in 1987. I received my Mac in 1986 and probably purchased Unearthed Arcana in '87. I can assure you that I cribbed off of many different versions of the official sheets to create this document, but I have to say, this is the very best sheet I have ever used.

Isn't it amazing how much technology has changed?

But wait, my Mac plus e isn't a paperweight. It has not been lost nor replaced. It's still with me.


I still use it. But not in the expected fashion. For school, I had to do a series of podcasts and videos and I wrote all of the scripts on the good ol' mac. Why? Because I could hide the mouse off to one side and use it like a teleprompter.

This file is now available at DriveThruRPG as an unwatermarked PDF.

This product is a scan of a character sheet from 1987, created on a Mac Plus E. It has been uploaded for nostalgia. It is specifically meant for Unearthed Arcana and includes the six basic abilities, plus comeliness. I have used this sheet for decades. While not entirely error free, nor perfect for every campaign, it is a great design.

This item is offered as PWYW. It is strongly suggested that you download the sheet for $0.00 and if it works for your group, come on back and reorder it at the price point you feel it is worth. Remember, this is a scan of 32 year old sheet from 1987. The value is in the history of the game, not the production quality, so your mileage may vary.

This product is unwatermarked so as not to disrupt the old school feel. Please print as many copies as you need, but do not digitally redistribute.

For more great romps in nostalgia, visit me at These Old Games. I would love to hear how this sheet fared in your AD&D 1e setting.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

52 Weeks of Magic - Week 24 - Monk's Bane

This weapon is a dragonfly shaped dart made from wire and glass. When thrown at a target, it will strike once a round, every round until the target either strikes the dart with a weapon or makes a save vs. magic. No to hit roll is required as the dart can be avoided and neutralized with a saving throw. 

The dart strikes for 1 point of damage per round, but also foils one attack per round by the target. If the target strikes the dart without a weapon or tries to catch or deflect it, they suffer 3 points of damage, lose all attacks for that round, and the dart will still attack next round. This is why the dart is called Monk's Bane.

Any handheld object counts as a weapon, including gauntlets, sticks, brooms, shields, etc. 

If thrown at a magic user and the MU passes their saving throw, the dart will return to the thrower and explode for 1d6 points of damage. There is no saving throw. Illusionists who make a saving throw will take control of the dart. Again, there is no saving throw. All other character types that make a save cause the dart to return to the original thrower, where it will go inert for a day. Note: Characters have two opportunities to negate the dart; First the saving throw and second, an attempt to strike. 

Since the Bane is attempting to strike the target's face, the target suffers no penalty for striking it and can even use a shield to bat it down. However, other people suffer a -4 when striking at a dart pursuing someone else. Missile weapons are right out for this purpose (unless the archer is evil or doesn't care). 

Monk's Bane is usually found in groups of three, sometimes 6. Several of these darts can target one individual, but only the first will attempt to strike them. The rest will circle. If one is defeated, another will take its place in the next round. Most characters will need to make multiple attacks or multiple saves to escape. However magic users and illusionists require only one and this one save will either cause all of them to return home and explode or all fall under the control of the illusionist. 

When an illusionist takes control of the darts, the darts will land in his or her hand. The darts can only be thrown as fast as the character has attacks. Monk's Bane have the normal range of a dart, but once in flight can chase someone for miles. 

When a magic user repels these darts with saving throw, the darts will scream after their former owner and newest target with a vengeance and will usually strike by the end of the round, but can strike like a bolt from the blue after many days. It is a rather ignominious way to die. 

Magic users and illusionists generally understand the problems presented with these magic items and will use them with care.

Navigation
WeekItemWeekItemWeekItemWeekItem
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 25b 26Shield of Force27
Coming Soon



Now, the commercial. I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG. Also on Drivethru is my custom character sheet for AD&D and Unearthed Arcana.

I am obviously thinking of writing another and Gnolls might be the subject. Please let me know what you think in the comments.