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 TraditionDaughters 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.  

Current situation: Reading The Cult of Diana

I’m on laundry duty tonight. However, I’ve got a good book to read. I have Timothy S. Brannan’s The Cult of Diana - The Amazon Witch Tradition

I’m posting from my phone, so this is painful and short. 

The book is a shockingly compact 25 pages but has no lacks. It was designed for Blueholme Prentice rules, nice set of retro clone rules. The art is very nice. Ok. I love the style, but don’t want to oversell you. (I have a tendency of doing that with artwork.) Some of the art appears between the columns like newer editions of D&D, while harkening back to the old school style of first Books. Tables are neatly shaded in white and blue for maximum readability. The spells are all new and suitably themed. I was particularly taken with the spell “Surocco”. It reminds me of the Bora, a gale force wind from the Alps, which helped Theodosius' forces defeat his enemies at The Battle of the Frigidus River. It strikes me as something very preternatural something only a witch could brew up. 

Friday, September 11, 2020

Summing It Up - B2 Session 4

The characters came out of session four in good order, but I am regretting a few things. So far the characters have a grand total of 2659 experience between combat, good tactics and treasure. 

In my campaigns, I generally only have silver and gold pieces. B2 assumes that all five coin types will be used which makes experience tabulation a nightmare. Annoying. 

Second, I gave the characters several hundred points of experience for good ideas and role play. The standout events were Solvo playing dead in the ogre's lair, the removal of the ogre's body to a fake campsite, the cleric praying for the ogre and the whole party using the secret door to ambush the orcs. 

In most of these cases, a single player or character came up with the idea and should have reaped the reward. The way I handle this under play conditions is to put a number on an index card and hand it to player. These points can be added to their experience immediately, unmodified by attribute bonuses OR if they wait to the end of the session, they can add in their experience modifier. This didn't happen because we've been playing outside with just the DM's Guide and Player's Handbook as a reference. 

This game isn't following my normal play style. The players are not really thinking about "leveling" or "experience" or gain more power. They are actively attempting to outsmart me by mere survival. I don't play to kill the characters, so I need to push the players into better stats because they don't care. Maybe they will after more success. 

I need to complete this campaign by October, as my son is going into the Air Force and won't be available to play. And I don't really want to play this one without him. 

Anyway, why don't you pick up either B2 Keep on the Borderlands or my character sheets on DriveThruRPG. 

Character Sheet for AD&D
Character Sheet
Character Sheet for AD&D

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Session Updates - The Characters

The Adventure continues in Borderlands. I'll be doing a real session update this weekend. This week has been hectic, with my kids going back to Virtual School and I went back to work, hopping between two really great 6-1-3 classrooms both virtually and in person. It's good to see new and old students again. 

Back to D&D. We have been playing two short sessions a week. It been a lot of fun and I have handed out a lot of experience points. I wanted to share the kids character sheets before they got too messed up. 

I have them in PDF form for download, if you need a low level character in a hurry. Just click the link for the file. 

First up is Aleric the Fighter-Cleric-Magic user. He is the only first level character, but he packs a lot of firepower. He has chain armor and a small shield plus a bow and bastard sword. 

Next is Belaphon the Mage. I use "Wizard" and "Mage" as synonyms for "Magic User". He's an Elf and usually has sleep and magic missile memorized. He's frail, but stands next to Aleric when the fighting starts. 

Helvani and Lauren are next. They are the paladin and ranger duo. Helvani, like Aleric carries a bastard sword and bow while Lauren is using a short sword and bow. Both wear chain and carry a shield. Each has a backup weapon, a hatchet and axe which double as tools. 

Solvo the thief is the idea man of the party. He has a short sword and bow. Solvo wears leather armor which is no where as a good as his Dex modifier. He's a bit too agressive for his hit points and AC, he's been knocked down to 1 HP twice. 

Vandohl is the party's cleric, armed with a mace and sling. She doesn't use a shield, so of all the fighter-types she's a bit more vulnerable. For some reason, she isn't willing to heal the party unless someone asks her. 

These character sheets date back to the 80's, when I first got my hands on a Mac 512K and Unearthed Arcana. One of the main features of this sheet is the comprehensive encumbrance tables on the backside. Back in the day, a lot of my players were in love with spy movies and woodcraft, so they all had tiny first aid kits and gizmos shoved in their pockets. That trait was extended to their characters. 

If you like these sheets, you can download them at DriveThruRPG. 

Character Sheet for AD&D
Character Sheet

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Travel Ship Construction - Devil Fish Warship

I dug out my set of Traveller rules. They seem to be a combination of the Classic Traveller quick start rules and some portion of the original Traveller rules. The person who gave them to me made photo copies of the original rule set, but didn't staple them so it's a mess. 

Instead of creating a characters, I went right to the ship construction rules. I like them. They make ship construction fun and easy. I came up with an idea and was able to spec it out in short order. 

This is an old warship refitted for cargo duties. It's a "Devil Fish" class ship. The rules allowed me to have a really out there design which made sense on a couple of levels AND the whole process lends itself to quick memorization of statistics. 

Tonnage: 400 tons
Crew: 5
Main Compartment: 335 tons, Engineering: 65 tons. 
Bridge: 20 tons
Staterooms: 5
Jump Drive: C
Maneuver Drive: J
Power Planet: J
Computer: 4 (Launch, Target, Jump 1, Maneuver/Evade, Library, Navigation, Generate, ECM.) 
Fuel: 120 tons.

Standard Equipment: Laser Turret (1), Lifeboat, One empty hardpoint. 

Non-standard Equipment: Nuclear Missiles (10) on two hardpoints. 

Even while deviating from the standard rules by adding nuclear missiles, the system works. It even hints at why this ship would survive a couple of wars before being refitted as freighter. 

The ship has just enough fuel to make two jumps and maneuver. It's a hotrod with those J type power plants and engines. However, the fuel load is worrisome. You have one jump to the target, one to return home and a good amount of fuel to maneuver. However, if any thing goes wrong it probably can't complete it's mission. Contaminated fuel, a hit to the fuel tank or a bad jump and the ship doesn't hit the target or doesn't come home. 

This ship is a dream to fly, but not the best warship. Given that it's supposed to bomb the snot out of planets, it's not the first ship selected for a mission. The Devil Fish is a nuclear deterrent ship which could be displayed and flown but not used before it outlived it's usefulness. 

Later, I'll be looking at the civilian freighter version and talk about mechanics. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The Tek - August 2020

 My stats for DriveThruRPG were fine. 

 AD&D Character Sheet For Use with Unearthed Arcana: 4
 Compass Rose Inn Minisetting: 2
 Kobold's Folly: 1
 Swashbuckler Character Class for D&D and AD&D: 5
 These Old Games Presents: The Hex Pack: 5
 Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners: 7

August marked two years since Zero to Hero launched. 

AD&D Character Sheet For Use with Unearthed Arcana  113
Compass Rose Inn Minisetting: 152
Kobold's Folly: 140
Swashbuckler Character Class for D&D and AD&D: 104
These Old Games Presents: The Hex Pack:123
Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners: 279   

Unfortunately, spending was greater than DriveThruRPG income for August. :) I picked up some great books, though. 

In August, I got back up on the horse and brought my webstats back up. 

Google Analytics Pageviews - 1,693
Google Analytics Sessions - 1,034
Pageviews per Session - 1.63

I participated in #RPGADAY2020 which was big help.