Sunday, June 6, 2010

Tales of the Blue Knight - June 6

Tenkar peered through the spyglass at the dimly lit  street below.  He kept his body bladed, so that the window curtain would partially obscure his presence from the curious.  The room next to him was filled with the noise of young romance, but that was little if any distraction.

"Male Hobbit" he signed with his right hand.
"Tan leather coat." 
"Right hand". 

Most of the buyers would take the clack with their right hand and hold onto it for dear life.  Others would push it deep in a pocket, possibly ashamed of their addiction.

His message was read by the two uniformed watchmen below.  They casually yet quickly made their way within view of the buyer.  They would follow him for a block or two before making the pinch.  Even at this late hour of night, there was enough foot traffic to make the sight of them fairly common.

That's the sixth buyer we picked of tonight.  Will the Sarge give us the order to grab the dealer, or is this going to be just another exercise in numbers for the Watch Commander to show the City Council?

This precinct in the city had more then its share of crime, much of it driven by the pursuit of illegal narcotics.  Many of the addicts committed petty crimes to fuel their addiction, and the dealers and suppliers frequently turned violent on their rivals.  It took Tenkar some real effort to remember that over 90% of the population, while poor, was law abiding and generally good folk living in a bad situation.  He grew up in this city, but not in a neighborhood like this.

"Ten, give the signal.  Grab the dealer.  We have enough bodies pinched tonight to make this one stick."  Tenkar's hands were still passing the words on as the sergeant went downstairs to oversee the ending of the night's operations.

Hopefully the perps we pinched will allow the Cleric on staff to cure their addiction, but even then more then half will be right back.  Apparently the Gods can only cure the body, not the mind.

Game Rules
(just a tad more harsh then real life)

Clack - Highly addictive narcotic.  Cheap to get started with. 
Save vs Poison with each use until failed save, at which point addiction sets in.  Once addicted, the drug must be used daily.  If unable to pay for the clack, character in question will steal / kill for clack / money for clack.

Within 2 weeks of addiction, CHA and CON drops 1 point.  It drops another point each following week, until a maximum loss of 8 points is reached.  At this point, 1 HP is lost per week permanently.  Upon reaching 1 HP left, save vs. poison each week or death.

Cure disease will cure the physical addiction and restore all lost attribute points / HP at a rate of 1 per day (just one casting is needed, the body needs time to heal).  A save vs spells (WIS bonus applies) must be made to be able to fight of the mental / emotional addiction

(with thanks and blame to scottsz)


  1. If you wanted the player characters to have a temptation for clack you need to have a mechanical benefit.
    If this were a CoC game, I'd give a temporary SAN addition... and then a SAN penalty after addiction. That could be fun.
    But as it is D&D, it depends. As a narcotic, it may numb pain and provide hit points while under the influence. Certainly that could be a temptation, depending on the number and how available Cure Disease is as a spell.

    In the past, I've toyed with a magic system that depended upon a potentially addictive drug.
    The other power source was to be Pacts with Demons. One way or another, magic was a monkey on your back.

  2. Actually, I'd never want the players to have a temptation to use it. It's a narcotic for the down and out. If the PCs hit that level...

    If a PC got hooked on it, he's doing it to fit in with or infiltrate a certain group.

    No worries, there are narcotics for each social strata, and some that would find some uses by PCs ;)

  3. I agree with Red that there should be a realistic 'benefit' (shudder to use the word in this context) that reflects what such a drug could do.

    Temporary hit points is good - perhaps a temporary hit die and temporary stat adjustment? I've never worked in law enforcement or medicine, so I don't know what an angry addict is capable of.

    Regarding the treatment, I like that an additional saving throw for the mental state is necessary. Would clerical spells or magic items that added a Wisdom bonus assist with this?

    Thus, a cleric that was trained in such treatment might carry an Ioun stone (+ to Wisdom) that would be used by the victim to assist in 'fighting the demons of addiction'.

    Does contact and communication with past victims (sponsors in support groups, etc.) give a temporary bonus to the saving throw or perhaps enable another roll with a reduction?

    Addiction in a fantasy setting may seem out of place to the flavor of some campaigns, but all DM's should have some background in the role of Opium in Chinese society of the past...

    Campaign-wise, such a problem brings into it everything from naval shipments, local thieves' guilds, perhaps assassins, or even nobility.

    I like the concept, Tenkar, and with just this post some doors open for characters:

    1. The Blue Knight can be part of a group that is employed by the City to fight the narcotic menace.

    2. The Blue Knight calls upon the help of a group of adventuring friends who execute a paralled investigation 'off the books'.

    3. Either #1 or #2 could present an alignment/ethics challenge of going 'vigilante' which might bring adventurers into direct conflict with the Blue Knight.

    The immediate flavor is, of course, an urban City investigation, but could certainly expand outward or downward into sewers and hideouts.

    In any case, the Knight as an entity of City Law Enforcement presents role playing challenges where information is worth more than killing the criminals outright...

  4. Clack, or Crack is a quick high, then a long downer. Might have a HP bonus or pain bonus while high, but the mind would be numb too, so no real actions taken, thus, no benefit.

    Heroin - Had an addict get hit by an 18 wheeler crossing the street next to my command. Ran out and he was looking for his right shoe. I found it, 20 feet away... with his foot in it. That would lead me to believe there is some pain numbing going on ;)

    Most narcotics have a social status attached to them... it isnt a strict social status... there is some overlap, and the same dealers or gangs may supply more then one drug, but the down and out use a down and out drug.

    There will be more Tales to tell. I'll try and ensure each one includes a game effect / item / person that can be included in any OGL/OSR style game w/o too much work.

    Appreciate the feedback. And yes, I do blame scottsz ;)

  5. I'll take the blame - I think there's a lot of great possibilities and potentials in what you're doing.

    As character or persistent NPC, the Blue Knight will definitely take on a life of his own...

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