Saturday, August 11, 2012

Racially Aligned Magic Items

Post from my phone and in the car, so please forgive the typos ;)

I'm thinking for next week I may write up a magic item that is linked to one of the core Demi-human races. It's magical in anyone's hands but more effective when wielded by the aligned race.

Nothing I've written or plan to write is a game breaker - they are mostly minor. I'm just interested in trying out another twist ;)


Where There's a Whip, There's a Way!

I was in no state to be productive last night. I had planned to work on my project (the "micro beer money' project, not my GAPs project - which is in a semi-holding pattern until I can get a bit further on the paying gig) but my mind was not cooperating. Brain fog would be a mild way of putting it. A busy work week, allergies and the change in air pressure had me in bed early.

Which apparently was good. I got up early and went right to work. Even found time for an early morning blog post (and got the magic item of the week up early too). Then back to work. Just sent some stuff off to be looked at.

See, didn't even need to break out the whip. That being said, i suspect my editor was getting antsy to see some results, so hopefully he likes what he sees and he doesn't need to activate the "red pen" too often.

I didn't even plan to do any writing today as I'll be at my in-laws for the afternoon and running my ACKS campaign tonight. So, this morning made up for last night. So long as tomorrow is productive I'll be back on track. Saweet!

I was tempted to work from the Nexus 7 using the bluetooth keyboard and mouse (which is what i grabbed during lunch as work yesterday) but really, why move from a 27" screen if your don't have to?

Tenkar's Minor Magical Tidbits - Backbiter

BackBiter is a magic short sword made out of a black metal - even it's edge is black. It's edge is keen, however, and imbues a +1 adjustment to the blade's damage in combat (no adjustment "to hit"). The blade's special enhancement comes into play when the PC's opponent exposes their back to him. At this point, the player may opt to attempt a backstab (+4 hit, x2 damage). If successful, the blade may not be used again to attempt a backstab for a full 24 hrs. If unsuccessful, further attempt may be made when the opportunity presents itself, up to and until a successful backstab attempt is made.

In the hands of a thief, Backbiter adds to the damage multiplier for one successful attempt per day. So, if the thief currently has a X2 backstab multiplier, he can attempt to use Backbiter for a X3 backstab multiplier until he succeeds, at which point he'd have to wait 24 hrs to attempt a X3 backstab (obviously he'd still be able to backstab for X2).

As a side effect of the black metal, a thief can hide in shadows with Backbiter in hand without fear that light may reflect off of the blade.

There is more than one Backbiter in existence. There have been at least two daggers made to the exacting magical specifications and one long sword is rumored to exist.

Friday, August 10, 2012

One Trick (a Day) Ponies - or - Finding Common Ground Between Always On Powers and Charges For Rule Breaking Abilities

Damn, that was a long as post title.

Anyway, as the weekend is upon us, and as I am geised to procure a new magic item per week on this blog, I got to thinking about the rules managing magic items in most OSR games. They aren't really written anywhere, but they are there.

Permanent, always on power - +1 sword, rings of protection, magic armor, gauntlets, belts, robes and the like. Generally, the item is worn or wielded.

Charged Items - item usually recreates a certain spell and uses 1 or more charges per use. Upon expenditure of the last charge, item is usually rendered powerless and useless.

One use items - potions and scrolls are the most popular such items

X Times per day items - became fairly popular in the 3X edition of the game. Usually duplicates a spell effect. It is similar to a charged item with less charge, but it regains those charges every new day. In 1e, these types of powers were often attached to intelligent swords and artifacts.

So, here's what I'm thinking - An item that can be used once per day to replicate the ability of another character class. The charge is only used up if the use is successful. Otherwise, the PC can attempt to use it again (I might rule that a roll of a 1 on the attempt uses up the power without gaining any benefit for that day).

So, Cyris the Fighter, who finds himself in possession of St. Bertran's Holy Chalice, may use it to replicate one Paladin type power once per day (the power would be cast at the lowest level the power is available - usually level 1)

Rathman the Ranger finds Backbiter, a magic short sword that allows him to attempt a backstab as a thief (using Rathman's attack bonus  - if successful, the blade's damage is doubled).

Just some thoughts as I think about this weekend's mission :)

Draft Cover for Angels, Daemons and Beings Between

I've made no secret of my love for nearly all things DCC. It's a surprisingly really fun system (I say surprising, as the Beta Rules for DCC never struck a cord with me, but the finished release is one of my favorite systems). So, if you see me harping on different DCC projects, get used to it ;)

The cover mock up (not yet finalized) of Angels, Daemons and Beings Between IS something that would make me stop and take the book of the shelf at my FLGS. This is pretty much what I envisioned summoning a patron in DCC would look like.

I'm still a bit surprised that for such an important aspect of the DCC RPG, patrons kinda got the short stik in the core rulebook. Heck, after my first read through I started brainstorming some patron names and backgrounds of my own. Then I realized how painful and time consuming it would be to actually write up a few. I'm glad someone else is doing the heavy lifting ;)

It's a Cat's Life

Anyone who has played in one of my G+ Hangouts game sessions has seen at least the tail of my feline daughter Ashley. She has a habit of walking along my desk, waving her tail into the vid cam. She also enjoys rolling dice - off the desk and on to the floor.

In any case, folks rarely comprehend when I call her a "large cat". She's not fat, she's not stocky - she's just long ;)

She is also my companion when I write. I think I need to write her into a game session at some point. That's it, I'll make her "gaming fodder" ;)

Hopefully she can help chain me to my desk this weekend, as I have a crapload of writing that needs to be accomplsihed.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Quick Peek at Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea

I figured I need to cleanse myself by looking at a legit, newly released, OSR game. Doesn't hurt that I got the PDF of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea last night by being a supporter of the project when it was running on Kickstarter (I'll be waiting for the boxed set).

What can I say after my quick perusal of the Player's Book but "wow". Sure, we get the 4 core classes, the standard fare. We also get a fairly large selection of human races to choose from (as this is a game where demi-humans need not apply.

But then we get the sub classes. Damn but there's some classes I'd love to play.

Barbarian: an outland warrior possessed of feral instincts
Berserker: a rampaging shock trooper renowned for unbridled battle rage
Cataphract (Knight): a mail-clad horseman and warrior elite
Paladin: a champion who crusades for justice and Law
Ranger: a borderland fighter, frontiersman, and wilderness warrior
Warlock: a spell-weaving fighter who wields steel and sorcery interchangeably

Illusionist: a sorcerer who evokes phantasms and manipulates shadows and light
Necromancer: a sorcerer who practices black magic and communicates with the dead
Pyromancer: a sorcerer who manipulates the elemental power of fire
Witch: a sorceress who brews potions, divines portents, and lays curses

Druid: a mystic sorcerer empowered by ancestral, elemental, and animistic spirits
Monk: a warrior-priest who strives for physical and mental mastery
Priest: a chaplain mystic of prodigious spell casting capacity
Shaman (Witch Doctor): a primal sorcerer who confers with ancestral and totem spirits

Assassin: a thief who specializes in murder and intrigue
Bard (Skald): a warrior, scholar, and weaver of enchanted lyrics and/or music
Legerdemainist: an adept thief who also commands the power of sorcery
Scout: a lightly armed explorer, intelligence gatherer, and stealth master

I think some of these will be making their way as NPC classes in my ACKS game ;)

Heck, I've barely scratched the surface of the Player's Book's 256 pages, and the Referee's Book is about as long. Good reading for the weekend :)

Grumpy Beats a Dead Horse - The Resurrection of Mazes & Perils

Nothing pisses me off so much as thievery. But what's even worse than general thievery is stealing from the dead. Not once. But twice.

There is a version of the Holmes D&D rules that can be found on the internet. Edited and enhanced a bit to be a "What if?" type of rule set, but credited to Dr. Holmes, as it should be.

What's pretty fuckin' amazing is that the original theft (Mazel & Perils 1e) was nearly a word for word, page for page copy of the Holmes 77 rules you could find online. Heck, the charts look like were a copy + paste from the source right into Mazes & Perils. So, not even an original theft, but stealing someone else's reworking of Holmes D&D.

So, now what does Vincent do? Changes a few numbers, moves charts around and repeats his claim as author and copyright holder. He had to do this because the document he used as source material took passages and tables verbatim from the source material - which is why it got pulled last fall.

Why bother changing stuff around? We already know it's basically stolen.

You know what, let me screen shot the 3 tables of contents, then you can decide if Vinnie was doing an original work derived from another, or if he's a straight up thief.

From left to right - Holmes 77, M&P 1e and M&P 2e

Yep, as I thought - he's a straight up fuckin' thief.

Holmes 77 states "This version edited by Eric Holmes, Retro-organized by RC Pinnell

Mazes & Perils states "By Vincent Florio, Contributors: R.C. Pinnell" then at the end "Original System and Rules Authors: Dave Arneson, Gary Gygax and Dr. John E. Holmes". Being that the work was all done by Dr. Holmes and enhanced by RC Pinnell, I fail to see how the fuck Vinnie can claim "he wrote it". Unless he means "I changed some wording and made it mine - just like those term papers I bought in college that I handed in."

Vincent - just because you claim you wrote it doesn't make it so.

Shit, I need to go back to reading the 5e updates. At least there I didn't have to deal with outright thievery.
                                                                                                The Grumpy Dwarf

Playing a Bit More With the Google Nexus 7

The Nexus 7 is the first device I've ever owned that has facial recognition as a security feature that actually works. Every time. Go figure.

I have a laptop with facial recognition and it NEVER has worked - I've always had to key in.

I'm really enjoying reading my RPG PDFs on the Nexus. Having a really sharp screen does help.

I still need to test G+ Hangouts on this. I'll add an update when I get around to it.

Bluetooth keyboard is certainly the way to go. I need to give a bluetooth mouse a try.

Definitely worth $200 if your are looking for a tablet.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mazes & Perils - Round 2 (OSR Clone Claiming Holmes Heritage)

Does everyone remember the first incarnation of the Mazes & Perils fiasco?  Well, it's back. 

Were there changes made? Yep.

Does it really have anything to do with the Holmes set of D&D rules? Not that I can see, or at least no more than other OSR rulesets. To claim such a heritage is inaccurate to say the least. Misleading might be more accurate.

Do we really need another clone?  No.  But this really isn't a clone so much as someone's house rules that previously cribbed a heck of a lot directly from the Holmes Boxed Set.

I was going to do a side by side comparison of the two "editions" (earlier "pulled" edition and current "fixed" edition) but really, why bother?

If you grabbed it the first time around, the major changes are:
reduced expo tables
other tables that went high to low now go low to high, or visa versa, or mixed order
hobbits are now halflings
level titles are gone
OD&D style HD advancement is gone 
movement rates were randomly changed to avoid repeating earlier rates

Listen, if you want a set of really good OD&D style house rules, pick up a free copy of the LOTFP Weird Fantasy RPG. Sure, Mazes & Perils is free too. But your time has value, so why waste it?

RuneQuest 6 Softcover Edition in Hand!

 RuneQuest 6 is in hand.

A bit of  let down if you sk me, but maybe that's because I've had the PDF for a month.

Good news is the book lies open pretty well.

Bad news is the cover is going to take a beating just being on a shelf.

$62 is a bit steep for what you get.

Ah well - at least I can read it in paper format now ;)

Can Mundane and Memorable Magic Coexist?

Yeah, I've got magic on my mind recently - go figure.

So, If mundane magic is the +X type sword and memorable magic is the sword that is not designed around +X but with history and abilities in a unique combination - can the two types of magic items viably coexist in a campaign?

I ask, because ACKS has an Arcane Lore proficiency that allows the Magic-User to attempt a D20 roll to ID a magic item. This makes sense when magic items are unique (or nearly so in nature) as discovering Abigale's Magical Serving Tray and Shield is certainly covered by having a understanding of the history of magical items. I don't see it translating as well to "Generic +3 Long Sword".

The same goes for those systems that include a Bard Class. A knowledge of history and legends could certainly held one identify Azel's Unerring Bow of Hunting, but that suit of +1 Chainmail isn't all that remarkable.

Of course, one could simply give all mundane magic memorable names be item, but I suspect that would go to the wayside fairly quickly with most players. Besides, when an item is defined by something as simple as a number, a name doesn't mean much.

Or generic magic items might not be identifiable with a lore roll, unless they were owned previously by a historical figure.

Eh, that is why I don't have much love for magic items that are defined solely by a number - they lack character and soul. But the other extreme is to design magic items to be unique, and that can be extremely time consuming.

So I mix and match. Which doesn't answer my magical lore problem at all ;)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Lulu 20% Off Code

Lulu has a 20% off code of ASTOUND (all caps)

Time for me to go shopping I think ;)

It's good through August 10th - any suggestions?

Making Magic Memorable - or "How the Hell Can a Bard Identify a +1 Sword?"

Far too often the back of the DMG or some other set of roleplaying rules includes a listing of magic items, usually attached to some random tables. It's almost like looking at a Chinese Take-Out Menu, where players start picking out what they hope they will find later.

I'm certainly guilty of defaulting to the same when running a campaign - heck, I'm guilty of such right now in my ACKS campaign. It certainly is easier to hand out a +1 Longsword, or even a +1 Spear (+2 vs Undead) than it is to have the party find Nyser's Spear of Undead Slaying.

Maybe that is why I'm having a fun time with my weekend magic item write-ups. I get to put together something unique as well as give it a bit of back story.  It is a lot of work to do in addition to the normal campaign prep, so I know why I don't do it on a regular basis.

How do you handle magic items in your campaign. Shopping list? Unique? Combination of the two?

Highlights From Part 2 of The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk (DCC RPG)

I was going to do an in depth session recap of the second part of the Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk, a 0-level Funnel for the DCC RPG, but who really wants that? What you want are the highlights:

At least 7 more PC deaths - of the original 12 0-level PCs, only 2 survived, and they had 1 and 2 HPs respectively.

One very near TPK (so near I was mentally preparing to wrap up the session), but the players had some lucky rolls that turned the tide when needed.

It is dangerous to be holding a 6' long Wand of Fire when it self destructs, as two of the PCs learned. Much hilarity ensued.

Giant acorns can kill, especially when dropped by giant squirrels from a giant tree.

As a GM, I tend to use many voices for the NPCs. As no one tried to throw anything at me through through the computer monitor, I'll assume I wasn't too offensive ;)

A good time was had by all. I've laughed more running sessions of DCC than any other RPG system I can think of. That speaks highly of the system in my opinion.

Monday, August 6, 2012

My Current Desktop - DCC Style

Enough Said ;)

Some OSR Sales at RPGNow - Vornheim and DCC #70

DCC #70 - Jewels of the Carnifax and Vornheim, the Complete City Kit are 20% off with the following code through September 10th, 2012:


Vornheim was not to my taste, but it's very popular in the OSR corner.

I think we already know my love for all things DCC ;)

Another DCC Patron Sneak Peek - Lavarial

Damn but she has a big hand and a big sword!

Angels, Daemons and Beings Between? I'm putting my money on Angelic Daemon ;)

I'm really enjoying the art I've seen so far for this project (and I have a peek at yet another piece, but not sure if I can post it yet, so I'll hold on for now)

Tenkar's Minor Magical Tidbits - Brill's Bashing Mace

Brill's Bashing Mace appears to be a standard footman's mace and in fact, in combat, it acts as such. No more, no less. It's special ability is first noticed when it is used outside of combat to bash a lock or a door.

When used for "bashing", Brill's Bashing Mace add's 3 points to the user's ability modifier for Strength for the purpose of bashing or breaking a lock, door, bars, wood - whatever "bashing" the situation calls for. Brill's Bashing Mace will never break while being used to bash.

Brill himself was a thief with the curse of "Ten Thumbs". He couldn't pick a lock if his life counted on it - and at times it did. He found a footman's mace in a small hoard early on in his adventuring career, and found the mace was extremely effective in dealing with locks and the like. Brill's career game to an explosive end when he used his mace to bash the lock of a trapped chest. All that remained of Brill's belongings from the incident were his mace and his boots. No one in his party claimed his boots.

Bits & Pieces and Groundhogs

Sometimes you feel like you are reliving the movie Groundhog's Day. I'm no longer sure how many reschedules we've had with our DCC session, but hopefully tonight gets things back on pace.

This week is going to be a bit hectic at work and home, but I hope to start putting time aside for my project starting Thursday night (this is the microbrew beer money gig).

I also owe a magic item for this past weekend for my blog readers. Let me see what I can do in rectifying that.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Not a Review - Torture (RPG Minigame)

I find it amusing that as much as I remark (not so much complain) about the frequency of torture popping up in the sessions of ACKS that I run, someone has actually released a torture based RPG mini game aptly named "Torture".

I have no current plans to review it unless I get a few requests. It's not so much that I find the idea of torture in an RPG as repulsive, as it often can further a story line, but I'm not sure how comfortable I am with a game system built around the concept. Torture should make players (or the GM) uncomfortable and turning it into a game mechanic trivializes that in my eyes.

Or maybe I'm wrong - maybe giving it a mechanic keeps it from turning into some weird slasher flick D&D session.

There's an in-depth look at it from one of the reviewers up on RPGNow.

Now, as for the cover image that is used - calling it politically incorrect is probably an understatement (and I really don't care much about "political correctness" in general). As for the torture aspect of the image - I suspect the victim is dead and doesn't know it yet.

More Stars Without Numbers Skill Thoughts - Porting the System to Adventurer Conqueror King System

I'm a big fan of ACKS. Heck, I run a weekly sandboxie campaign using ACKS on a weekly basis. One of the things I really like about ACKS is the list of Proficiencies - they are really useful in bringing some extra dimensions to the characters. What I dislike about the proficiency system in ACKS is how useless it is as written in play.

Most skills succeed on an 18+ roll - 15% of the time, unless you put more points into them. As written, ability scores do not add to the roll.

How much easier would it be to set a proficiency's default to a 10+ on 2d6? Allow adjustment by ability score, and allow proficiencies to be trained - using a proficiency point to lowers the default to 9+.

Did I mention I'm really digging SWN?

If any of my players read this - give me your thoughts.

Quick Thoughts on SWN'ing the OSR Thief Skills

I'm just throwing these out there as random thoughts 15 minutes after waking up - they may no longer make sense to me this afternoon ;)

Start all thief skills at a base difficulty of 8 - except Climb walls, which would start at a difficulty of 5.

Two skill points to distribute at odd levels (including first), one point to distribute at even levels (this is totally just woke up guess work - I suspect that would need tweaking).

This would allow for the DM to actually set difficulties for the different tasks depending on the situation.

Lets see if this still makes sense when I am fully awake ;)
Tenkar's Tavern is supported by various affiliate programs, including Amazon, RPGNow,
and Humble Bundle as well as Patreon. Your patronage is appreciated and helps keep the
lights on and the taps flowing. Your Humble Bartender, Tenkar

Blogs of Inspiration & Erudition