3. If they need to flee, there is a hole in the fountain.
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Thursday, December 15, 2022
World Building - The Monster List
3. If they need to flee, there is a hole in the fountain.
Thursday, December 8, 2022
Refined House Rule Armor Class in Old School Essentials
|Facial hair is impressive, |
but does not
contribute to defenses
What I do is slightly different. I offer damage reduction based on how low the AC is, to a practical limit of AC 2 for non-magical armor.
The AC scale is 9 to 2 for damage reduction.
AC 9 - No armor, no damage reduction.
AC 8 - Only a shield, no damage reduction.
AC 7 - Leather armor, -1 to damage.
AC 6 - Leather armor + shield, -1 to damage.
AC 5 - Chainmail, -2 to damage
AC 4 - Chainmail + shield, -2 to damage
AC 3 - Plate armor, -3 to damage
AC 2 - Plate armor + shield, -3 to damage
AC 1 or lower, no further damage reduction except for magical armors which can reduce damage to -4.
The damage reduction is a property and advantage of armor over speed, toughness and/or magic properties. A wolf or dragon does not receive a damage reduction because they probably don't have armor. An orc or horse in armor or barding does receive damage reduction.
|Wearing all of the armor|
helps a lot.
There are two weapons that are unaffected by this reduction - Long Bows and Crossbows. These arrows and bolts have so much mechanical advantage they simply won't bounce. They do skip off angled bits which is represented by a poor damage roll, not the quality of armor.
There are two corollary rules to this.
Each type of armor is made up of the lesser armor types. What this means is, chainmail is made up of a layer of leather armor plus the mail. Plate armor is composed of chainmail and leather. The end result is, your character's investment in an expensive suit of armor means you also have a functional lesser suit of armor in addition to the full set. Plate armor can be worn as plate, chain, or just leather. Also, you can save time by only suiting up to your comfort level. This can also come into play for retainers and followers, giving a soldier an ability to suit up in layers quickly.
There are many stories where the hero only suits up to the first layer and fights to defend his page or squire as they suit up. This injects a bit of drama and heroism.
Harald Hardrada's troops got caught wandering without their mail shirts but were also completely surprised by a massive army bearing down on them with no warning.
Several times gladiators were pressed into service as soldiers in the Empire's legions. It could go either way. In the Year of the Four Emperors, the gladiators had the advantage of the heaviest armor but made a poor showing when thrust into traditional set-piece battles. However, in urban settings, they were dangerous in combat. Later, Marcus Aurelius pressed gladiators into the role of soldiers. The Empire was decimated by a plague so there was no lack of legionnaire standard armor for them. Or they served in a role where armor wasn't a factor.
Numerous times, the legionaries got ambushed while wearing only their tunics but were holding heavy pickaxes and turf cutters. They destroyed heavily armored enemies. If there was one thing legionaries were more practiced in than sword fighting, it was using tools to make camp.
|Even power armor has limits, |
say if your feet leave the ground
Back to the corollary rules for armor. I run with the idea that a person wearing armor is unencumbered in combat or movement until "one more thing" is added. Don't wear a backpack in armor. Don't walk in mud in armor. Don't let peasants jump on your back in armor. Don't get hit with a mancatcher or take a pilum to the shield. All of these will immediately encumber a character in armor in rather disastrous ways.
When reading through those examples of historical battles involving mismatched armors, the side that moved smartly won.
I have tried a couple of rounds of combat first level characters using the Old School Essential rules.. Damage reduction increases the loiter time of first level characters while not eliminating death. This is give combat an epic feel as one Fighter with 8 hp and plate armor can survive 1 good hit (more than 4 or 5 hp damage) or 2 average hits (3 or 4 hit points of damage) and a whole series of weak blows.
When facing heavier damage, say 2d8 hp from a serious bite, the same 8 hp Fighter (or Dwarf) in plate is more likely to survive due to damage reduction but is by no means assured of it. An average roll would be 9 hp of damage reduced by 3 leaving just 2 hp left. On the other hand, reducing 15 points of damage does nothing.
It is an interesting mechanic, if anything it can make your fighting types much tougher. You can try out Old School Essentials Characters, Magic, Monsters, and Treasures on DriveThruRPG.
Wednesday, December 7, 2022
Write What You Know - Zing!
I'm watching Wednesday on Netflix. The second episode leads with the line:
Wednesday then shifts her opinion. To paraphrase, "if the things you know are weird, maybe you should lean into it." I like that. It comes up very often in role-playing games. Here is the odd thing, the DM or game master is trying to offer scenarios that make sense to the players, no matter who they are. Since the players don't know what the referee has in mind, things get weird.
For example, in my last post, I refused to say, "Solo Play". I know how some people will react to that phrase. When I shared the post, someone commented exactly as I expected even though I tried to avoid it. Such is the world of RPGs and social media. I tried to avoid the probable and walked right into it anyway. And this happens at the table, too.
Anyway, Wednesday is right. A game master and a player really don't know what is going to come of the words. Things are bound to get weird, so lean into it.
If you design things from the exclusively top down, you start with big topics and get smaller. The larger and more vague a topic is, the more likely that basic concepts will get skewed by the listener. My next project (recap - part 1, part 2) is being built top-down but the solo adventure I am running is in that world and is very bottom-level. Facts over concepts.
How and why do I link small details to large concepts?
Well, let's look at the basic map in relation to what is happening. There are 3 buildings, a tree, and a fountain. Or more simply, it's a hub with spokes. The center of the hub is the fountain and stuff radiates out. The three buildings and the tree are the edges of the hub and the start of the spokes. It's designed like many cities and towns, and amusement parks. The mini-map is simple, familiar, and hard to get lost in. The reason for this is player and character comfort. They can forget mapping and wander for a bit.
The buildings are much the same way. The general store is very much like a free-standing market stall, the store in Little House on the Prarie, or any number of old buildings in a zillion cities around the world. The image makes itself, which is very player friendly. You don't have to see it to know it. The details build themselves.
Let me press on with the adventure for a moment. The players entered the shop to the east. It's a rug shop. The players checked it out and found nothing of interest. Until they tried to leave. Then a couple of them fell through the floor in front of the door. This is a subverted pit trap.
If I had real players at the table, they probably would have picked up on the slapstick amusement of slowly sinking into a carpet over a hole in the ground. It was hard to get out of but not too hard with friends to help. How many old TV shows and movies have someone sinking into quicksand or Tom Hanks getting trapped in a hole in the Money Pit.
But it isn't just for humor. The characters and the players will discover the why in a bit.
Moving on, they hazard the church or temple. Actually, the structure is neither. It's a mansion. Outside, they find a couple of decaying bodies which presents the first mystery. Entering the building, they realize that it had collapsed first and caught fire at some point, much later than the collapse.
They also solve the minor mystery of the missing tools. They were used to recover the bodies. Each body shows signs of trauma from falling or having things fall on them. They were obviously cared for after being recovered and placed in repose. Unfortunately, burial never occurred. The Clerics and the Magic-User might surmise some sort of magical protection was used on them.
As the players explore, aside from the tools, they find nothing of value except information. A lot of debris has been moved. Strangely, more than what could be done by the shovels and pickaxes they found. They also find several openings leading to a cave system. As they advance in the dark, they are ambushed by giant ants.
They fight a retreating battle in the tunnels of the anthill until they discover a soft squishy cloth covering an exit. Hum... they are back in the pit trap in the carpet shop. Fearing pursuit, they run through the fountain and back to the general store, baring the doors.
You see, these tiny details have been placed not randomly but purposefully to echo the overreaching theme of romanticism. Seeking answers in places and people long gone. The players will see that someone who cared about something lived here.
And then there is the weanie in the middle of it all. The fountain and table are what is called a weanie. It towns and cities, the center of the hub has something significant like a fountain or a town hall. Those things draw your attention, they pull you in. For Walt Disney, the weanie was the Castle. It pulls people in and pushes them out to the edges in a repeating pattern. The Castle as a hub insures that people are always pulled in no matter how many times they move out.
(Walt Disney used to have a dog that he would lead around with a hot dog, which is where the term comes from. I can't imagine he was the first to think of it, but he was known to make the comparison. There I go again, putting amusement parks in my games...)
Saturday, December 3, 2022
OSE, Solitary Playthrough
|Dice can be dirty.|
Since only the Thief and the Dwarf know what actually happened, the rest of the party is mystified by the fire and blood spatter caused by horses.