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

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. 


52 Weeks of Magic - Week 23 - Whispering Wings

The Whispering Wings is a small amulet or brooch, useful to organized societies, such a clerical orders and thieves guilds. Typically it takes the form of a moth or butterfly, but can be any winged insect such as a scarab. The device will deliver a 15 second verbal (25-35 words) message over a distance of two miles. The travel speed is 1 mile per hour, which is why they are not used by the military.

The device is made of stone and is not subject to any weather conditions but wind. If it is too windy to fly, it will crawl.

On arrival, it will unerringly find the recipient, if within it's range. It can detect invisible and hidden creatures and will approach in a manner that will not reveal their position to others.

It's message will be delivered by whispering in the targets ear. This is difficult to hear when in combat and if it is asked to repeat the message, it will jumble the words. This scrambled message will shift the word position, but can't alter the individual words themselves. Users would be wise not to use both negative and positive intents in the same message. 

Once its mission is complete, the amulet will attach itself to the recipient on any visually appealing and convenient area, such as a collar, button hole or string. It has a limit of two uses per day; the recipient can, but doesn't have to send a return message. In order to return the device, some sort of message must be sent.

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. 


Monday, May 27, 2019

Character Buffs - Zero to Hero

D&D and AD&D had a system of allowing characters to be buffed by adding some sort of skill to one of the regular classes via professional skills. Noticeably short on details, it encouraged DMs and players to think outside of the box. AD&D had the ranger and monk classes which featured two hit dice at first level while clerics were buffed with not just first level spells, but bonus spells based on Wisdom scores.

With the release of Unearthed Arcane, players received a model for having a character start below 1st level in the form of the cavaliers. Magic users received cantrips which hinted at powers before first level. Weapon mastery made fighting classes much stronger while pushing other classes into the non-combat skills.

Obviously, the cavalier and thief acrobat were nods to the cartoon. Clearly TSR wanted to change and update their product long before 2.0.

At the time, 2.0 wasn't available to me and by the time it was, I was already so invested in AD&D and Basically, I was unwilling to change. I had a large group of players, between 5 to 12 players per session, a few of them running 2 character at the same time.

What made this possible was an embryonic idea to codify low-level, non-combat oriented characters. While much of this was roleplay for my players, a bit of it dove into the skills possessed by these secondary characters.

Fast forward 33 years to 2018. That stack of notes, rules of thumb and memories of the fun were transformed into an actual pamphlet so that others could implement these types of secondary characters into their campaigns. Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners was born.

It started with a list of 50 professions from the middle ages. In January, the list increased by 9. The professions are broken into 3 groups: Sedentary, Active and Laboring which determines their hit points. The characters are average people, so they have ability scores generated by average dice, numbers 2-5 weight towards 3 and 4 or collectively as 9 to 12. Combat skills were limited to using the tools of the trade. Each new "class" has its own abilities, which are flexible and sometimes overlapping. The classes feature their own levels, from 1-5.

These rules were meant to flesh out NPC classes and include a table of modifiers for hiring them. But I also wanted to include rules from converting a non-player character to one the main classes in D&D and AD&D.

Once a professional becomes a fully fleshed out player character, I needed to include rules for the tools of the trade. Can a mason turned magic user use a hammer? Sure, why not. Within limits. Stats for mauls, hammers, woodworking axes, zaxes and various other implements were created. These improvised or unusual weapons were define in such a way so as to delineate them from traditional weapons of war. In the right hands, they are powerful tools, in the wrong hands they are poor cousins of their martial variants.

Due to the use of average dice for these characters, a path to "rescuing" a hopeless character was created. All of these rules were designed with the existing D&D and AD&D classes in mind. While not entirely balanced, because the regular classes are not balanced, they are not overpowering. The intent was to flesh out bit part NPC and color player characters with a background.

I hope you will take the time to read Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners and incorporate it into your game. I also have a character sheet for use with characters designed with Unearthed Arcana. Both are available at DriveThruRPG at a suggest price of $0.99 or PWYW.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

52 Weeks of Magic - Week 22 - Drink me and die!

I am so glad I ran ahead a few weeks. I almost didn't make week 22 on time. This one is quick, one off potion. In my campaign, it was found in rack of potions. The rack contained one potion of The Lionheart, two potions of healing, a vial of holy water and two of these unnamed potions.

The potion is in a brown bottle, and is an obviously glowing red liquid. It has blood like consistency and will fizz when shaken or handled roughly. It seems like the cap is ready to blow off.

It contains a substance which will act as the second level stinking cloud spell. Whatever this potion was, it was changed by the ichor of the undead. If a character opens it, the stinking cloud will envelope them immediately, allowing them no saving throw. Other people are entitled to a saving throw.

Most characters will note the red glow and fizziness. They will not open the bottle. There is zero chance that a person could ingest the fluid inside, it vaporizes as soon as the cap comes off. The vial can be thrown for up to 4" like a grenade.

Unlike the spell if the vial strikes a creature directly, the effects will follow them, possibly harming others for 3-5 rounds (not turns as per the spell). Creatures of animal intelligence or higher will flee the area, searching for water to bath in. Unless there is an obvious body of water in the area, the creature will flee directly away from the thrower. Total submersion in water nullifies the effect. Intelligent creatures will drop whatever they are holding and try to strip off helmets, head gear and saturated clothing while running.

Creatures hit by the potion will be smeared with fungus orange stain until they wash with soap and water. Organic, but non-living items which fail a saving throw are permanently stained. Stains, especially on clothing or skin cause a -1 to Charisma and another -1 to reactions until removed. Intelligent creatures will not want to touch the victim, so this shift and penalty cannot start a violent encounter.

If the vial misses a target, it will still burst and envelope an area as per the spell description for third level caster.

Carrying these vials is not especially dangerous, but players should treat them like eggs or hand grenades. There is no way to get "only a drop" out of vial, opening the cap allows the entire contents to vaporize instantly. This is not a joke.

Wiley DM's can roll saving throw for the vial at random times or not inform players that targets flee.

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, April 11, 2019

World Building with Worldographer

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

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

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

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




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

Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Handy Post - Handling Hands

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you simulate this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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