A website dedicate to games of all favors and varieties, from video games to good old D&D.
Thursday, March 2, 2023
Shhhh.... A tiny hint of stuff to come (Update)
Wednesday, January 18, 2023
Thanks and Updates
First, I would like to thank Patrick for following me over on Ko-Fi. Following me over there is completely free and you'll pick up some insight into what I am working on.
This evening, I'm working on a map for my upcoming project. I decided to start big and get smaller. This map of the capital is 50 feet per hex. In this view, you probably can't see the hexes.
|Map made using Worldographertm|
Obviously, the capital is on the coast and is desperately in need of a name. Worldographer has the ability to generate maps via a seed process and some pretty cool tweaks you can select at the beginning. It will happily layout streets, drop in houses and businesses based on population plus a few other things like foliage.
To make the process more manageable, I cut the population to 1000 so the area is sparse. As I work through the city, I'll add buildings in neighborhoods flavored by the underlying terrain.
In this campaign setting, the city has been at peace for decades. They have gotten a bit sloppy with the trees and buildings close to the walls. I plan to remove a lot of the trees as I work, but there needs to be a balance between clearcut areas, the possibility of sloppy care, and being visually pleasing.
This is a fortified city with the majority of people living outside the walls. Inside, there are garrison houses, towers, and a citadel for defense. I am picturing 40-foot tall walls, and 50-60 foot tall towers. The citadel was built first, before the city. It is ill-suited for its location as the citadel walls are only 30 feet tall. The central tower is 50 feet tall, which is not high enough to see over the walls.
But the citadel has a magical defense.
This is a view of the southern gate. Outside the walls is a lonely structure called the Tower of Eyes. This is the citadel's first line of defense. It appears to be a somewhat larger copy of the citadel's central tower. And "copy" is a perfect description. You see, all around the city are several Towers of Eyes which are magical copies. If one stands at the top of the citadel's tower and squints just right, one will see the view from any of the Towers of Eyes around the city.
While this special vision is an illusion, as are the Towers of Eyes, the defenders can reconnoiter the whole area from a place of safety. While it's impossible to interact physically with the Towers of Eyes or the area it views, it is said that magic users can hurl spells down on to anyplace near the Towers.
Strange magic, eh?
Sunday, January 15, 2023
New Project on Ko-Fi
As you have probably noticed, there have been changes to the front page of These Old Games. Gone are some of the ads and they have been replaced by a Support Me on Ko-Fi.
Rather than looking at my blog as a revenue stream, I would like to fund a project that does not yet rise to the level of a Kickstarter while being slightly more developed than These Old Games can support. This project is called:D&D campaign book, but in light of the OGL 1.1 disaster, it has been pared back to a rule system agnostic Campaign Handbook. A fictional travel log for adventurers. I have posted sample maps here plus some background information. I am currently in the process of moving that data over to my Ko-Fi project page.
The benefits of this are two-fold. I have been running ads on These Old Games for years and that has become problematic. First, ads interfere with the reader's enjoyment of the site. Second, ads cannot fund a project of this scale. Most readers are likely to click an ad for DriveThruRPG while ignoring ads for other websites.
To this end, I will be working to eliminate all Non-DTRPG links. This is a big project in and of itself. I wish I could say "this blog is ad-free," but I am not there. In fact, I think that completely removing all ads including the DTRPG ads might not support the gaming community. I like to push people to great products, which is difficult when DTRPG hosts so many great projects.
So, what is up with Ko-Fi?
I guess this is the portion of the blog where I sadly admit that I'm not quitting my day job to produce content. That is not the intent of this project.
I am using Ko-Fi to get this project off the ground by raising a modest amount of support while being accountable to a community. This is not an exchange of funding for specifically targeted content. It is to keep on track to complete a PDF that will eventually be sold. Ideally, if this project is successful, it could become a Kickstarter for physical books. That is my goal, but it all seems very far away. There is so much content creation between now and then that I have a hard time picturing the end. You are not funding a book, you are funding me to write a book. Or three.
To that end, I have five-ish different "levels" over on Ko-Fi. Following me is the first step and level. There is no cost to following me on Ko-Fi. You will not see every post, but I hope you see enough to decide to hit that support button. The next level is a one-time tip or donation. This is where you throw some change in the tip jar. Like a follower, it really confers no Ko-Fi benefits beyond knowing you chipped in to make this happen.
Next are the paid tiers, at $3, $5, and $10. Starting at the bottom, The Southern Tier (yes, a pun), you will be joining my Community and will receive a shout-out here on These Old Games and get Discord access to my little server. In the next level, The Central Tier, you will receive everything The Southern Tier receives plus some behind-the-scenes content. This behind the scene content will be things that probably won't fit in the book, but may be of interest to you as a DM and gamer. The final tier will include everything listed before plus the ability to Direct Message me on Ko-Fi plus a pre-release PDF of sections and chapters that will ultimately end of the book.
In sharing this post, I would hope that some of you would take a moment to join Ko-Fi and click that free follow me button.
There is no TL:DR version of this. This new idea is wildly outside my comfort zone. I am creating a fantasy campaign predicated on a time-traveling Elf stealing a nuclear weapon and a cool pair of Raybans to overthrow a god, only to settle on being a travel blogger. That is nuts enough. But the reality of this project is, simultaneously committing to start a community, raise funds, delete a bunch of completed blog posts AND write as many as 3 books.
That's crazy. The part that makes me most uncomfortable isn't all of the hard work, it's the request for support. I've gotta tell you while getting this project off the ground, I've been hearing this song non-stop.
And I don't mean in my headphones or on Youtube. I hear it when I'm sleeping, too.
Friday, February 5, 2021
Roles without rolls
On Wednesday night, I managed to get in 3 hours+ of an impromptu session of D&D. We went back to the Peninsula of Plenty, my Romanesque campaign.
|Nace is the city below the swords|
There are many groups lurking in the background. The main threat are 3 witches of the Coven of Ash. Click the link for their story and character stats. They are deeply conservative and support the Empire. The Empire is human-centric with all demi-humans being cast as evil-doers. These witches support the Empire in all ways, including slavery. They are magic users who tend to strike from the shadows and they've annihilated the upper echelons of the town's leadership. No one wants to tangle with them. Additionally, they have charmed three of the town guards to be on the look out for the Party if they try to free Ortaire.
Ortaire has four compatriots, other raiders that are skulking around town. The players are only aware of them because the witches took a pot shot at them. The raiders plan on rescuing or killing Ortaire to make sure he doesn't blow them in. They have been presented an third choice as he will be auctioned as a slave and if that happens, no one will listen to him. They are hanging out in the square to see which of these three thing will happen.
There is a Senator hanging out in town, his name is Vitus. He is profoundly troubled by slavery. The witches have engineered this situation so that they can kill him if he acts. He tried to reach out the party but failed.
In Vitus's backpocket are 3 elves. They are doing recon for their Crown. They have a side goal of disrupting anything that looks untoward. They have focused on taking a shot at rescuing Ortaire.
The party has an ace-in-the-hole, a letter from the Emperor granting them 4,000 lbs of silver. This was intended for them to purchase a boat, but they didn't do that. The letter is being waved around at any and all Imperial trouble the party encountered. The player have realized that letter is a problem in a couple of ways and mean to be rid of it. They also want to rescue Ortaire but know that this will trigger another round with the witches. They just don't buy the slavery thing.
So, we are "now", at the being of this session. Click here for information and stats on the Party.
The party came up with something wild. They marched into the square where the planned Mock Triumph was to be held and announced that it was illegal. Only the Emperor can declare a Triumph. Being true, the townies bought it. They also announced their intention to take Ortaire by purchasing him and now it's time to drink on it. This would be fine punishment for the raider, menial work and all that. To hype this up, they met with the town's exchequer and turned in the letter for 4,000 lbs of silver and proceeded to lubricate the disappointed townies with free beer.
|Fighting the witches|
would be unfun
Everything went off without a hitch. The Party purchased Ortaire, yucked it up a bit with the celebrating citizens then left town in pursuit of the four raiders. Outside of town, they were trailed by the 3 charmed guards and the elven party. The raiders only have a vague idea of where they are going, a farmstead east of town. They don't know how far east. There ended up being a couple of encounters between the guards, the elven party and the Player's Party. The guard returned home after seeing the party go off in pursuit of the elves. They reported that the Party are clearly heroes of the Empire, which might not be entirely true. The party is now off to join the elves, catch and grill the raiders and quietly offer Ortaire his freedom for his help.
As a surprise, there were zero combat type rolls this session.
As a bonus, 60-90 minutes were spend discussing the Star Wars campaign I am running.
Tuesday, January 26, 2021
What I Should Be Doing vs. What I Am Doing
Yeah, it's one of those days. I realized that I wrote enough reviews to take a long break, perhaps until March. I've a lot of things downloaded from DriveThruRPG and Amazon to read in order to do even more reviews. But instead, I find myself thinking about maps for my Peninsula of Plenty campaign.
Yes, I'm going to get that back on the table. And I want a better map than this:
Monday, January 25, 2021
The Last Package Arrived Today
One of the snags with series posts is they start strong and either come to an early conclusion or they just peter out due to a lack of inspiration.
I hope to change that this year by having a spring/summer series ready to go. I also have a couple of things in my back pocket. My Star Wars campaign looks good to restart and even more exciting (for me anyway) it looks like my gang is ready to go back to the Peninsula of Plenty campaign, perhaps as a hexcrawl. That's two more series to update for the Blog.
The only problem now is time. I've had my basement flood and defy all attempts to remedy and I recently started a new job which takes up my evenings. My weekend is now Tuesday-Wednesday and I work every holiday for the foreseeable future. I'd know how things will work out, but they will.
At this point, I am thinking of retiring the Podcast. I really can't see how I'll have the time for all of this. Time will tell.
Sunday, September 13, 2020
OSR OCD. Witches Brew.
Back in my campaign on the Peninsula of Plenty, I had a coven of witches. These characters were straight up magic users that operated with a pack like mentality and a specific political goal. In order to give them enough power to stand toe to toe with the party physically, they needed to be overpowered. They are 3rd, 5th and 7th level.
Since the party was 3rd level or less, the witches operated with some serious societal restrictions. The Coven of Ash adhered to "The Old Ways", which was unrestricted authoritarian rule. Most of the Empire is not on board with this, including the Emperor.
Their visible presence invokes terror, so they move at night or invisibly. Most of the tactics involve terrorizing people with non-attacks so as to maintain their invisibility. Say, simply surrounding a target, pinching or poking a victim is enough to scare the target into doing what they want. The Coven of Ash are not your typical witches because they're totally unbalanced. They are supporting an authoritarian regime which doesn't even exist anymore. They are basically the Sheriff of Nottingham with magic.
It worked well enough, but now that I got my hands on Timothy S. Brannan's Witch themed books, I can see how witches can be better than mere magic users with quirks. I just have three of the books in the series: The Basic Witch: The Pumpkin Spice Witch Tradition, Daughters of Darkness: The Mara Witch for Basic Era Games and Cult of Diana: The Amazon Witch for Basic Era Games.
To be super honest, I was attracted to the series by the cover art of Cult of Diana and The Mara Witch but I find the one "joke" book, The Pumpkin Spice Witch to be my favorite. It's all the same author, so I don't know if it's the tone or the generic nature of the Basic Witch which appeals to me.
I've also made the mistake of printing all three books and storing them in one binder. I find myself flipping from one to the other. I play this weirdo mashup of B/X and AD&D, so I don't really notice minor differences in purpose, which I am sure is there.
Anyway, I am getting ready to roll up a couple of witches and introduce them into my B2 campaign. The players hopped right past the hermit and a good witch seems to a suitable, player friendly substitute.
Monday, May 11, 2020
Assassin of the Empire
Assassins will know the roads, the towns and the important places within the town. They are often attached to patrols to act as guides and reporters to civil agencies. They know the important people, and not just the people that think they are important. Assassins know the right scullery maids and court clerks. Rangers know different facts, which are clearly not in the same circle.
Sunday, March 8, 2020
The Skin Wolf Golem
The witches of the Coven of Ash wear these pelts as a stole or cape, which conveys the Skin Wolf's armor class to the wearer. The Coven of Ash tends to use the largest martens as Skin Wolves, which has 9 hit points. Wolves are not common in the area. Theoretically, any fur bearing mundane animal can be used to create a Skin Wolf, such as a weasel, a bear, dog or actual wolf. The witches of the Coven of Ash have tried to make gnoll, elf and human skin golems, but it doesn't work. It also does not work on giant variants of mundane animals like Worgs, Giant Weasels or Elk. The name "Skin Wolf" is colloquial, it isn't actually description of what they are made of. The humans of Empire are aware of these creatures and are terrified by them.
If a victim survives an attack by Skin Wolves, they will notice a particular smell about them which will alert them to future attacks and foils surprise one third of the time. Note: this also applies to the witches themselves if they are wearing one. The number of Skin Wolves appearing is always equal to the number of witches. These golems are only useful to the creator, they are powerless in other people's hands.
Frequency: Very Rare
No. Appearing: 1-3
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: Equal the living creature's hit dice.
% in lair: 100%
Treasure Type: Nil
Number of Attacks: 3
Special Attacks: See Below
Special Defenses: See Below
Magical Resistance: See Below
Intelligence: Non Intelligent
Psionic Ability: Nil
Skin Golems are relatively low level golems, which require a pelt and skull, special incense and the following spells: Friends, Clairaudience, Clairvoyance, and Fly. It requires a minimum of a 6th level caster and a piece of incense valued at ten times the number of hit points the golem will have. The pelt and skull must be pristine. It requires one day to create a skin golem with the materials on hand. Hit Points are determined by the size of the animal, but the living creature must have had at least one hit die.
The creation process requires gluing the pelt to the skull which looks far from natural. Sometimes the ears and eyes don't line up between the pelt and skull. Also, the witch may choose to dye the pelt to either be stylish or fearsome. The Coven of Ash has a tendency to consume the flesh of the animal, however this is an alarming life-style choice and is not a part of the ritual of creation.
The Skin Wolf is a weapon of terror. They fly up to 30 feet from the ground and sound like a bullroarer in motion. They can strike up to 3 different targets, once each along their 24" per round flight path. They target the people closest to the witch first and work outwards. They are very maneuverable, but cannot flip end for end and require momentum to do damage. Therefore they tend to strike 3 different targets in one round, not the same person over and over again. Since they are simply flying pelts, they cannot grab, bite or otherwise manipulate objects. They can knock things over which makes noise and a mess. On a natural 20, they hit so hard that they knock the victim down rather than doing double damage.
The witch can choose to directly order the skin wolf to attack a single target, however, this limits the Skin Wolf to one attack and only allows a strike on a target the witch can actually see. It also precludes the witch from casting spells or making their own attacks. If a witch feels like they are in control of the combat, they will make gestures like they are direct control of the Skin Wolf to terrify victims. If a witch is invisible and wearing a Skin Wolf, issuing it commands counts as an attack and ends the invisibility for both. Skin Wolves cannot be silenced or turned invisible, it defeats their terrifying purpose.
If the Skin Wolf is not engaged in combat, the witch can see and hear (not smell) what the pelt can perceive. Usually, the witch will place the Skin Wolf someplace to watch an area not command it to fly around looking for targets, however that can be done, too.
They have a special defense, bolts and arrows do only 1 point of damage per hit. Also, grenade-like weapons have a -4 to hit and they can dodge splashes. This is not true of thrown daggers, darts and other hefty weapons. They do full damage.
Holy water does 1d3 points of damage. It is often more effective to pour the holy water on one's self than try to make a grenade like attack as this damages the Skin Wolf every time it successfully lands a hit.
Saturday, March 7, 2020
Legion of Assassins
Earlier this week, I posted 3 assassins, which I intend to use as Romanesque Legionaries. Why not fighters? Well, with a theoretical background as Citizen Soldiers, legionaries should have some atypical skills for a soldier because they are citizens first. Right within the AD&D description are examples of soft skills: disguise, poisoning, spying, plus a couple of others. In order to do these things, the assassin needs to have people skills. They also need to have other non-combat skills which support this.
Ideally, assassins should always have some sort of secondary professional skill. AD&D assumes that the assassin will take out the wizard, the lord or the high level cleric, but those people are surrounded by eyes. The ability to pass one's self off as a cook, a herald, a guard is paramount. It doesn't mean the assassin can actually do those tasks, they merely need to make someone else think that they can.
This is one of the reasons I wrote Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners. The players need a host of reasonable skills to get into the head of their characters so it is beneficial to have NPC's which operate in that mundane capacity. Zero to Hero gives mechanical statistics to these characters, which might not always be necessary, but can be helpful to everyone. The players are acting out the adventures of a fantastic person which is hard enough, the addition of relatively common folk gives them a scaffold to get there. Plus all of the classes in Zero to Hero have relatively few combat abilities which doesn't increase the mechanical risk to players, it levels the playing field so a small handful of heroes can deal with a huge ensemble of characters on a basic level.
Assassins aren't all about assassination. They break into the sausage factory to make extra special sausage.
This was the operational method of the Romans. They could hand anyone their butt on the battlefield, but after that, then what? Soft skills to get the defeated to continue to defeat themselves. Assassins as soldiers make a lot of sense. Someone needs to collect information and do dastardly things. If you think about it, a legionary was probably eyeing up his compatriots and leaders as much as the enemy. Sometimes, they were looking homeward for any news about family or politics which often ingratiated them to the very people they were looking to take advantage of or wipe out. Assassins make a lot of sense as fighting men.
Even if you don't want to introduce the complexity of a class of classes like Zero to Hero, I hope this changes how you consider placement of assassins in your world.
Sunday, December 1, 2019
Well... that was different. Campaign update.
The mission was to escort the bodies of the dead to Nace. That part was initially unsuccessful due to a great number of injuries to the party but they got the job done in the end.
The dice went in the party's favor, especially the 6 siders. They were unsurprised by the raider's ambush, which was devastating to the raiders. The party lead on every roll of initiative for the whole combat.
(I was expecting a fun run back to the Villa, with the characters picking off raiders. Nope, didn't happen like that.)
Gurwinder and Cassia let off a volley of natural 20 arrows, which left 3 of 4 of the horse riding bandits dead. One poor guy was super dead as Cassia and Gurwinder rolled 20s and 6s, one time each. The fourth raider on horseback stopped in his tracks.
|Our strategic map. The black marks in the middle are coffee|
or the blood of dead raiders... not sure which.
In the next round, things went nuts. Jaime was taken off his horse by a swipe from a two-handed sword as the two raiders stepped out the treeline. Ortaire, the only surviving thief turned tail and ran off with Jim in pursuit. The oxen were hit by sling stones, which caused the wagons to slam to a stop as the oxen tried to back up.
Into the next round, the raiders tried to get on the wagons. Guilbert hit Rona with a bastard sword, nearly killing her. Flortina and Jim, the zero level humans, fired arrows into everything except the targets. Cassius went hand to hand with one of the raiders, downing him immediately. Gurwinder took another down, while Megan and Matilda got kicked around. Interestingly, all of the action came from the right hand side of the map, but the melee type players were confused and thought the main action was to the left.
|The theater of the trash heap, or when|
you don't have minis for your players.
The fifth round was mop up time. Not much to clean up as two of the raiders made it off the map on horseback.
Megan, Rona, Felix, Gurwinder and Cassius were down to a single hit point each at the end of the fight, so the party returned to the Villa to recuperate. They planned to try again in the morning.
I had an encounter with the 3 elves planned, but everyone was so low on hit points, I replaced it with the surrender of the some of the raiders. It was supposed to be for humor, but it would have turned deadly quickly. The player of Gurwinder took control of Rona, while the other NPCs were divvied up between the other players.
By morning, Guilbert and Ortaire showed up at the Villa to surrender themselves. They traded information on the remaining raiders, and search parties are combing the area to the north of the Villa. The raider's information is not especially helpful. Guilbert doesn't know one raider has gone home and doesn't know any of the raiders made it to Nace. They had thought the information would be enough for a pardon, but Rona nixed that idea with a powerful speech. At least for Guilbert. Ortaire never got a chance to attack anyone, so he might escape with a slap on the wrist.
The second foray to Nace was successful and uneventful. The party attended the funeral but had to leave for the Villa to return the honor guard. On the way, they rounded up most of the raider's horses and did a bit of healing.
Briefly, using the horses, the party joined in the search for the missing raiders. They spotted the lone raider hoofing it home but didn't recognize him as anyone important. He'll probably go back to turnip farming. Ortaire and Gil are on their way north to the Capital, to face whatever justice they find. The Villa is still abuzz with changes and excitement. The party, after returning the honor guard to the Villa, started making their way back to Nace. They arrived by morning on horseback, but the wagons will be a bit behind.
|The Eastern Gate of the City of Nace.|
Saturday, November 30, 2019
The Raider War Band
The Raider War Band is waiting for the PC's party to the Southeast of the Villa. There are 7 fighters and 3 thieves. The 3 thieves are mounted and have been hunting for food. Ortaire has been keeping everyone fed with his bow skills, but is running out of arrows.
Albé and Guilbert are the only mounted fighters. Guilbert is one of the younger raiders, but has risen to be the nominal leader of the war band thanks to his high Charisma. All three thieves have short bows as does Warren. Raglan, Albé, Frédéris and Guilbert have slings.
|One square is 10 yards.|
Click the link for a PDF of the 10 characters.
Saturday, September 28, 2019
The End to War
My last post was The Prelude to the End of War. In this post, the story comes to its conclusion. As the Combine forces retreated from the Capital, the Emperor was able to shift forces and bring in fleets with supplies. For a few days, it looked as if the Empire would only have to deal with the economic devastation of losing a third of their slaves. How wrong they were.
The real reason for the withdraw of the Combine forces was new combatant. Just 30 miles away from the Capital, the Combine forces were bottled up by a new invaders, the Drow. Instead of coming through the mountains, they broke through from underneath. The breech was a location called the Web of Lolth, a cave system in the Chalice Mountains. The Combine was now beleaguered by the dark elves, fighting a retreat to their walled cities all across the Peninsula.
The Capital utilized the break in combat with Combine to resupply their coastal cities and rearrange troop deployments. The Drow were a land locked opponent, unlike the Combine. The Empire was able to bring in their fleet to assist with the massive resupply effort. Over the next ten days, the Capital was as strong as it ever been.
Both the Empire and Combine forces found the Drow to be a threat unlike anything met before. Their eldrich powers challenged every dwarf, elf and legion on the field of battle. While they couldn't breech the walls of the peninsula's cities, the Drow trapped every force behind walls, and the world darkened and closed in upon the besieged.
Finding itself hemmed in again, the Capital planned a desperate, possibly suicidal mission. The 3rd and 12th legion launched a rare nighttime attack on the Drow. Shocked and surprised by the human tactics, the Drow lines were shattered and a large contingent of humans broke out of the capital. The Drow closed the breech and sent a 1000 elf force after the escapees.
The Drow pursuers were outnumbered ten to one, but they were expecting to slaughter noncombatants. The thousand found that they pursued not a raft of human refugees, but an rag-tag auxiliary force. Of the 10,000 men, women and even children, there were 400 battle hardened veteran troops supported by over a hundred spell casters of every stripe. After a few brief clashes, the Drow settled in to gather intelligence and dog the auxiliary force until reinforcements arrived.
They discovered two things. First, this rag-tag band was drilling daily, hardly covering just 6-12 miles a day. The Drow laughed as these green troops played soldier. Clearly, aside from the veterans, the average auxiliary had no battlecraft. Even more comical, human prisoners revealed that this force was seeking the Web of Lolth itself. If the humans were going to walk into the Demon Queen's webs on purpose, then the Drow would be happy to let them in.
The Drow shadowed the auxiliary forces for three weeks, gently guiding the humans to the caves where the Drow had emerged on the Peninsula. The humans finally reached the mouth of hell, the opening to the demon Queens realm. The Drow now outnumber the humans 3 to 1, but the foolish humans arrayed themselves as if they were a true legion, not citizen farmers on a mad adventure.
On the morning Last Day of War, the humans deployed, trapped by web of Lolth, the Drow army on their front and the recon force and mountains behind them. Battle was joined in the late afternoon. By dusk, the humans had inflicted negligible losses on the Drow while losing a third of their force. Instead of breaking and routing, the humans lit fires and lamps against the night. The Drow howled in laughter as the humans readied themselves to break into the dark kingdom's web by night.
As twilight faded to dark, the humans began their assault on the Web of Lolth. Truly charmed by this obvious folly, the Drow sent 7000 troops out to flank the humans and keep them moving forward into the Web of Lolth. To their delight, the humans obliged them by pressing forward.
Then the unthinkable happened. The humans snatched victory from the mandibles of Lolth. Brave and women men placed on the edges of the human army uncaged four secret weapons: The Symbols of Sol Invictus. Chaos ensued as the Drow were washed by the light of the Unconquered Sun. Blinded, they withdrew, allowing the humans to reach the mouth of the Web of Lolth to unleash their second secret weapon.
The Empire's archers and slingers were armed with strange ammunition. The Empire had created hundreds of sling bullets and arrows with a tiny, natural resin ball encased in clay. Each of these resin balls had a continual light spell cast upon it. When the missile impacted, the clay broke, allowing the blinding light to saturate the area. The resin balls bounced and caromed around the battlefield, confusing and confounding the Drow.
Smashed back into the caves, the Drow cursed the evil, tricky humans. Dazzling light flashed and swayed in the confines of the cave, denying the Drow their superiority in darkness. Worse, mages unleashed fireballs and lightning within the closed spaces. Not only did this crush the Drow attempting to resist, it had a tendency of driving the glowing resin spheres deeper into the caves, clearing a path to the main vault. The humans were able to seal the entrance to the cave and hold off the 7000 Drow, now trapped outside.
Lolth, if she was there, fled to her supernatural realm, leaving her children blind, burned and dying.
As the Sun rose, the humans turned to finish off the Drow outside. News of the defeat of the Drow at the hands of the Empire terrified the Combine leadership. A new age of peace through fear and terror descended on the Peninsula.
One final tale of the End of War needs to be told. The Combine had a secret weapon of their own, a second sword called Dolorem. The weapon was a prototype to the sword Liberty, and like it's brother, it has a common name: "Sorrow". Rather than unleash this weapon on the Empire, the Combine decided to hide it away. However, the Halfling King made an impassioned plea to be given the weapon. The Combine denied the request only to find out that agents of the Halfling King had stolen it.
The weapon was never brought to bear on the Empire or used to kill humans. Instead, a special tragedy transpired among the Halfling King's own house over the use of Sorrow.
In the next few days, the tragedy of Sorrow and its loss will be told.
Peninsula of Plenty World Building - Prelude to the End of War
On the east of the Peninsula are the Elven Colonies, who have an alliance with both the Half-Orcs and the Dwarves of the Caldera located in the central eastern lobe of the Peninsula. The humans called these civilizations "The Combine".
In the darkest time of the Empire, a series of invasions from the north and a minor war with the Combine nearly extinguished the Empire. From over the Chalice Mountains, news of war in the dark-lands between the Kingdom of the Southern Ranges and the monstrous tribes trickled in with fleeing refugees.
The first groups of refugees were bands of strange little people, somewhat like the fey. They called
The massive influx of citizens collapsed the Capital's supply of grain. Riots broke out in the city. The poor and worse, the slaves were slaughtered by the rioters. As winter broke, news of the massacre reached the Elven Colony and what had been a border skirmish turned into a full on invasion. By mid-spring elven forces, along with a contingent of dwarves and half orcs, were besieging and blockading the Capital and it's coastal cities. This allowed the halflings in the area to break free to reach the dwarven lands and safety. In the Caldera, the Combine leadership was forging a weapon to destroy the humans. In the common, Latin tongue the sword was called Libertatem or more simply, "liberty".
Days from defeat, the Capital readied two legions and an a massive auxiliary force to go meet the Combine forces. At the last moment, the Emperor opened back channel communications with the Combine and agreed to never again enslave non-humans. And with that promise, the combine forces lifted the siege. Elven and dwarven slaves walked free from the city. The Combine hinted at requiring all slaves be freed, but withdrew with their brethren before the point became an issue.
In the following weeks, the Capital Region was able to resupply and reorganize it's forces for their greatest challenge, an enemy forged in fire in darkness. The Prelude to the End of War closed, and the true threat to not just peace, but civilization on the Peninsula, manifested.
Thursday, September 19, 2019
AD&D Druid Spell: Arclight
The garden where these plants grow has been magicked to allow production all year round. Since the gardens are very nearly in the center of the city and have virtually zero physical defenses, the druids, clerics and magic users who tend the garden need special eldritch defenses.
Typically, druids answer the call as frontline defenders, their magic is more subtle than magic users and clerics. However this is a general guideline, not the rule. The druids of Nace have developed a devastating area of effect spell, which does not damage the garden. They do not know the term "upward leader lightning", but they do know how to make lightning jump from the ground, through a target and into the sky. They call this Arclight.
Level: 6 Components: V, S, M
Range: 0 Casting time: 2 segments
Duration: Instant Saving Throw: Special
Area of Effect: 10 yards
Arclight is a powerful spell which will cause a lightning stroke to leap from the ground below a target and into the sky. This spell is an area effect spell which is targeted on the ground below the target and does not move with the target. The spell has two damaging mechanisms, both allows a saving throw.
In the first segment of casting, a powerful electric charge forms below the target. They will sense this by the heating of their body, a corona around metal objects and a crackling sound. All creatures in the area of effect are entitled to a save vs spells. If successful, the target(s) flings themselves out of the target area taking 1d3 points of damage. They are stunned for one round and are prone. If unsuccessful, the target freezes taking no damage.
In the second segment of casting, the lightning discharges. Victims in the area of effect take 6d6 points of damage. A second saving throw halves the damage. If the victim doesn't die, they are stunned for 1d6 rounds.
If a person in the target area is flying, they can escape with no damage if they make the first saving throw. If they are forced to make the second saving throw, they will also fall out of the sky due to being stunned. This is typically a graceful wallowing, not a plunge and inflicts no more damage.
Levitation provides no protection from this spell, in fact, it will disallow ALL saving throws, period.
If a target normally or magically has the ability to leap, bound or stride great distances, they are entitled to a +2 to each save. This is normally limited to haste and jump spells, boots of striding and leaping or other items available in your campaign setting.
Since the boundary of the area is not visible, mechanically speaking, someone sprinting will be unlikely to be in the area of effect, unless they are incredibly unlucky. It is very difficult to target a runner, but it is possible to cast at an empty area and hope someone will run into it. This requires great timing, there is no roll for this. The DM should give the target the benefit of the doubt, either adding a good bonus to a save or declaring that they crossed the area too fast to be caught in the spell. It is possible to measure out the movement, but really is too complex for fast play. It could be described for dramatic purposes.
If a person standing on the edge of the area attempts to push someone back into the area they are escaping, contact with the victim will cause them to suffer the same fate as the person pushed. They are not entitled to any saving throw, they take the exact same damage as the victim. This is the price of being a jerk.
This spell does not damage non-living things, however it will damage undead. It does not cause flammable items to burst into flames, unless the DM rules that it does.
Additionally, if the caster attempts put themselves in the area of effect, the caster receive no saving throws at all and the damage will be a full and flat 36 points.
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
AD&D Druid Spell - Bolt from the Blue
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.
Monday, September 9, 2019
Assassin's Doom - Worldbuilding for a Campaign
Nace is laid out as a typical Roman city, a north-south road, an east-west road, a forum in the center and walls and towers all the way around. All neighborhoods are inside insulas or regular shaped areas on a grid like map.
So what do you get when you fuse a Roman city with a classic D&D campaign?
First, what do I need for the campaign?
A town or city with a hefty population. 15-20,000 people are in Nace.
Who is in charge? An aedile is in charge of the city proper. At this time, this character is unnamed.
Do they have temples and churches? Yes, in the forum. If there isn't place for a given sect, it is in the planning. These people have no problem with negative/evil sects so long as laws aren't broken.
Do they have guilds? Yes, for all character classes except fighters and assassins. These people would be in the military. The Assassin Guild is defunct, all members were killed. There is also a combination religious and magical guild, necessary for the production of the Empire's magical crops. Production of useful material require both magic and religion. The thieves guild is rather small time, very low level members who usually move on to bigger and better things rather than advance as thieves. The city has a problem with brigand raiding, which puts thieving in perspective.
Is there a town guard? Yes. Made up of legionaries. There used to be a secret police unit, but it was wiped out with the Assassin's Guild.
So, what is the Assassin's Doom? It will be the first City Adventure my players will engage in. In the next couple of posts, I will detail what happened to the Assassin's guild and secret police, and explain why they haven't been replaced.
Monday, August 26, 2019
Peninsula of Plenty Campaign - Background Information
First, The Peninsula of Plenty is based on Roman history and mythology. My game map is still in pro-type mode and has a scale of six miles per hex. It is roughly the same size as Italy.
The capital is located on the west coast of the Peninsula. It extends eastward for approximately 2/3 of the landmass and southwards a good ways. The Empire started off as a small town, expanded to a Republic and then to an Empire just like them Roman. This culture has existed in some form or another for 1,200 years. It has fallen into stagnation.
What is different about this culture? Well, there are elves, dwarves, gnomes, halflings plus a whole cast of monsters. In this setting, the dwarves occupy a couple of hundred miles around an ancient volcano on the eastern lobe of the Peninsula. They represent the various hill tribes that engaged the Romans. Halflings are invaders/refugees from over the northern mountains, gnomes are friendly towards all and the half-elves are trusted by none. On the far east coast is the Capital of the Elves and their clients the half-orcs. The elves arrived from over the sea, and represent Hannibal and the Carthaginians. For a long time, it looked as if Roman would never be free of Hannibal. Just imagine if Hannibal had magic.
Half-elves are the most prevalent race on the Peninsula, They are viewed as monsters or misbegotten children by humans and deformed but still loved creatures by the elves. The elven Kingdom believes that they have magically devolved from true elves, while the humans believe they they are the offspring of evil, horrible elves and the innocent human victims they prey upon. While neither humans or elves will treat with them as a political power, they are free to move throughout the Peninsula. Other races like them just fine.
The human Empire clashed with the elves and dwarves over slavery. The Elves forced the Empire to give up non-human slaves. This was devastating to the human economy. In just one generation, the Emperor realized he couldn't defeat the elves and in an effort to save face, presented the idea that the legendary culture which the empire was founded upon never really endorsed slavery. He was a manumissions, as opposed to an out and out abolitionist. In this way, he prevented the general public from lashing out at non-humans in a way that would create an unwinnable war. For the Emperor, it was not merely lip service, but for general public, the reception of freedom for all was not established. Debates and outright war over slavery has racked the human Empire for centuries, keeping them from dominating the Peninsula.
The human Empire, (which I have not named yet) needs to secure it's southern flank from sea raiders. They would very much like to believe that it is the elves, but it isn't the elves. To this end, they will be deploying the 55th Legion to the area. The Fighting Five-Five, will take the role of sailors, based out of the city of Tabletop*.
Since the loyalist town of Tabletop is outside of the controlled border of the Empire, the Emperor's Council has employed the PC to blaze a trail of exploration to the town. The characters are also charged with checking on the Compass Rose Inn, a former Keep on the southern border. This was done in the spirit of the module X-1 Isle of Dread.
In the very next post, I will detail the PC's adventures so far.
*Why did I name a major city Tabletop? As a child I used to fish and swim off of some submerged, tabletop like slabs of concrete on the shores of Lake Ontario. It became a part of most of my campaigns and neither I, nor my players every made the connection between "Tabletop Games" and "The Town of Tabletop" since all of us have been to this real life location which appears in most of my campaigns.
Saturday, August 24, 2019
Campaign Kick Off
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.
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.
Monday, July 29, 2019
The Kobold Warren Folly
Like the Compass Rose Inn Mini-Setting, this set of maps and descriptions are rule set agnostic.
And now on to the original post from my birthday, Jan. 17th, 2016.
This map is of a folly in the southwest of Potamus Bay. Who built the folly is lost to time. There is a larger ruin closer to the Lake, but it isn't as well preserved or interesting as the folly.
The kobold's had their own underground village, which made them very happy. They stole the best food, killed the prettiest animals and had wild political intrigues that often ended in bloodshed. One day, the ruling clan pushed the wrong buttons and were tossed in prison to await their doom, as soon as the method could be decided.
A chance rainstorm freed the rulers, but washed them deep into the cave system. The village rejoiced at the apparent deaths. They were very kobolds happy, indeed. The ruling clan was washed away into the cavern system under the folly. They were able to squeeze and claw their way into the basement of the structure. The family rejoiced when they discovered the ring of pear and apple trees, the fresh water and rabbits.
|There are no furnishing, no details inside the Folly.|
The kobolds keep the interior bare.
The ring of trees continues, but is obscured by the
upper two levels.
The lowest level is almost all natural, only the eastern side has any finished features. The western side is often flooded with fresh water and sometimes contains fish.
One Square equals 5 feet.
Height: 45 feet.
Depth: 75 feet below ground, as near as anyone can tell.
Population: 17 adults, 33 children.