Saturday, March 23, 2013

Thoughts on Designing a Sandbox Setting Piecemeal

You need to start somewhere, right?

I'm seriously toying with the idea of designing my own sandbox setting using Hexographer for the mapping. I think I can grok the software and end up with something that looks decent. I'm not aiming for great, as I doubt my mapping skills hit that height, but decent and serviceable work for me.

I'm kinda immersing myself in hex crawls at the moment - Points of Light, Blackmarsh, Hex Crawl Chronicles from Frog God, NOD, Isle of the Unknown  - you get the idea.

I'm thinking of working in sizes of 5x5 hexes, so 25 hexes at a clip. A sentence or three for those hexes of import.

Now, I want the hexes to be of a size where a 5x5 hex area allows for a decent amount of adventuring, but not so large that the details are lost. 2 miles across? 5? 6 like HCC? Some other number?

What percentage of the hexes should be remarkable? What is considered "remarkable"?

I appreciate any thoughts on this that you feel like sharing :)

Mini Review - Monstrosities (Swords & Wizardry Monster Book)

Out of all the cool loot I got in the Swords & Wizardry Complete Kickstarter, Monstrosities is probably the coolest. I think I like it better than The Tome of Horrors Complete, and that's saying a lot.

See, Monstrosities is for the most part, your usual "D&D" monsters with a fresh coat of paint and a "hook" for each of them. Me, I love the hooks. I loved them in ToHC and I love them here. They are enough to riff off of, and I am, if nothing else, a DM that enjoys the challenge of improvising.

Now, if you have the older S&W Monster Book, much of what you get here was in there. It's just presented in a more enjoyable fashion, with each monster getting it's own page, art and hook.

Here, let me show you an example from both books:

From the S&W Monster Book
From the S&W Monstrosities Book

I really like the second presentation :)

It comes in PDF and Print flavors. PDF at RPGNow, Print with free PDF at Frog God.

Personally, I'd go with the Print and PDF, as the book is fairly massive and nice to hold and a decent value at $50 for the 500+ page hardcover book and the PDF. Still, you can't got wrong if you get it either way. You'll get some good use out of it, especially the hooks if you are anything like me.

Friday, March 22, 2013

More Inspirational Reading for the Swords & Sorcery (C&T) Campaign - Fafhrd & the Grey Mouser Graphic Novel

Snagged on Amazon, it's the Dark Horse Graphic Novel of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.

Need I say more? I'm really looking forward to running some Crypts & Things, but the first session may not happen until early April.

Dwimmermount Update #48: Good News Emerges from the Dungeon

I'm very happy to announce that this afternoon, James Maliszewski transferred to Autarch the Kickstarter funds necessary for us to complete the Dwimmermount project and pay the artists who haven't been compensated for their work.

The next step will be to negotiate a transfer of the rights we'll need to develop and publish James' draft and use the contributions of the artists whose work was done under contract to him. The details of this agreement will take a little while to iron out, but we're confident that a happy arrangement will be reached. James has clearly demonstrated his intent to do the right thing and we've received some invaluable assistance in drafting a proposed contract that we feel is fair to all parties.

This transfer of IP is the last barrier to progress. Once it's lifted we'll begin working out a new estimate of when we can deliver the remaining rewards and bonus goal items. Some of these, like the wilderness mat, are very close to being ready to ship. Others will take longer to finish polishing, but in every case I have no doubt we'll be able to do justice to the vision of Dwimmermount and fulfill the promises of this Kickstarter.

I know backers have waited a long time already, and although we're moving forward again we're still a ways from the finish line. Autarch remains committed to the offer of discount coupons described in the last update as a way of making restitution for our role in the delays; we'll have those ready soon. However, if at any point you feel that you've waited long enough or lost faith in our efforts to deliver on our promises to you, I'm glad that we've now reunited Autarch's responsibility and ability to offer a full refund on the Dwimmermount pledge of any backer who chooses this option.

I hope that you'll continue to stand by your investment in this dream, and even if not that you at least got more out of the experience than if you'd invested your pledge in the stock market instead. Whatever your decision, I want to thank you for having helped get us this far. Game on!



(Holy Crap! Good news indeed)

Let's Talk Spells, Shall We?

The response to yesterday's post on the Sleep spell was great. Thought provoking and some really good feedback. The ideas on how to use the spell against players without causing a TPK were well done. I really wish G+ and Blogger comments were easily shared, as those on one side and not the other missed out.

So, here's the question:

Shall I make such questions / observations / discussions an irregular / regular feature?

There's a nice amount to chew upon, such as:

If a Fireball is cast in a 10' x 10' room, is there blowback (i need to dig up the old Dragon Mag that discussed this).

Create Food and Water - if you don't have proper receptacles waiting, does it just drop on the floor and wash away?

Lightning Bolt - how does the rebound thing work when you aren't using miniatures?

Oh, I've got dozens ;)

So, what say you? Any interest in this?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dungeons of Dread - S1 to S4 for AD&D 1e in Hand

True confessions here.

Although S1 - Tomb of Horrors, was one of the first adventures I ever bought (along with A1 and G1-3), it was years before I owned S2, -White Plume Mountain. I borrowed a copy of S3 years ago because my players wanted me to run it - lasers and robots sounded cool, so they went on an Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.

As far as I know, this is my first time looking at S4 - The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.

Damn, it would kill me to cut out the visuals for S1 from this book ;)

Looks well put together at quick perusal - I need to spend more time with it to say more than that at the moment. Well, there's lots of art. More than I expected. Pretty cool actually.

A Kickstarter That's About to Be a Year Late: Quantum Roleplaying System

Look at that. Another "holy shit it's really late" RPG Kickstarter.

Now, you have to give credit where credit is due, this one tried to go to eleven! Last fall, with Quantum already months late, they tried to fund a city setting book for the as yet still unreleased RPG. Needless to say, that went over like a ton of bricks and didnt fund. Just imagine the fun we'd be having if it had...

Anyhow, last month Josh, the main man behind Quantum decided to address the "elephant in the room" - refunds!

Here's the post from Kickstarter:

A (Not So) Quick Word on Refunds

Update #61 · Feb. 13, 2013 · 36 comments
Hey folks,

I've held off long enough on this topic, time to address it.

I've had two (unfortunately very public) requests for refunds on the Quantum RPG Kickstarter project. I haven't responded yet for two reasons: the requests didn't make sense to me and I needed to read and study the issue to determine an answer.

The Quantum RPG Kickstarter project has 580 backers. Two of those backers want a refund. That's .3% of backers. I only include the math because the two individuals asking for a refund are doing so in a manner that's freaking out some of the other backers in other circles ("People are asking for refunds! Is the project dead!?").

While I appreciate their requests and absolutely understand their frustration, Kickstarter projects are not the same as buying a product in a store. Even Kickstarter themselves said as much recently in a blog post titled Kickstarter is Not a Store.


Additionally, anyone who backs a Kickstarter project should first review the Terms of Service. In the ToS is this line:

Kickstarter does not offer refunds. A Project Creator is not required to grant a Backer’s request for a refund unless the Project Creator is unable or unwilling to fulfill the reward.
I am able and willing to fulfill the reward. The project exceeded it's Estimated Delivery Date and that's all. (by a fucking year, but who's counting?)

I'd also like to point out another blog post recently on the Kickstarter blog titled Is lateness failure?


Specifically, I want to note (from that post) that only 25% of projects are completed on time (again, a year late IS NOT common) and just 3.6% of projects failed to deliver their rewards. Then there's this section in the blog post:

The focus on lateness within Kickstarter brings three problems.

First, it incentivizes creators to take shortcuts to hit their deadlines. As legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto recently said, "A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.”

Second, it ignores what makes Kickstarter so unique: getting to watch a project come to life. The opportunity to see how something is made and to have a hand in its creation is a special thing. If a creator turns the creative process into a story they share with backers, delays don't have to be bad news.

Third, it presumes that Kickstarter is a store. Sure, it's unacceptable for a store to ship something late.
But Kickstarter is not a store. The Estimated Delivery Date is the creator’s best guess at how things will go, and it’s made at a very early stage in the project’s life.

I'm not willing to shortcut the quality of the project in order to push it out. It'll be done once I have all of the art in, once the chapters are fully written, fully edited (twice), and fully laid out. The day I ship the files to the printer is the day I'll be able to announce a release date. Personally, I think Kickstarter makes a huge mistake forcing project creators to put an Estimated Delivery Date on their projects and, now, they're having to post on their blog to address the grumbling about late projects since they didn't make a clear enough point (to backers) that Kickstarter is about watching the creative process on projects you like (and then getting a reward for your backing) and not about shopping in an e-store.

Two final thoughts:

1. I owe you a game and weekly updates about the game as it's being worked on. You'll get what I owe you.
2. If you truly do not want your rewards when the game is finished and being shipped out to backers, I will refund your money then. I'm not a monster. (so, if the game never finishes...)

One more final final thought:

I'm just a guy, okay? It's just me. I'm human, I'm not perfect, I have personal life issues like everyone else, and this project has become something far larger than what was intended. I love this project. I love my backers. If you feel I've been short, angry, quiet, disheartened, or rude, it seriously makes me sad to hear it. It's never been my intent to be any of those things, especially toward my backers, and I would encourage everyone to not infer emotion via the written word. Emotion is impossible to determine sometimes online without dozens of emoticons ;-) :-) :-O :-P.

I'm working. Hugo is working. The project moves closer to completion every day. Let me get it there, let me update you weekly about it, and I believe you'll love the results. Every day I see things in the game that make me excited. My enthusiasm for this project has only grown since the beginning.

I owe this project to you, the backers. I owe it to you in the sense that you are owed your rewards, but also in the sense that without you, I wouldn't have been able to work on it at all at the levels Hugo and I (and Blake and Colleen and Reid and Drew and Kyle) have been able to.

Thank you for backing the project.

Seriously, I love you guys. #Cartman


(the only project I've backed that's running later than this is Far West)

The Sleep Spell - Where There is No "Save or Die" - Just Death

It's funny. "Save or Die" is a big topic in the OSR, with strong opinions on both sides of the fence (mostly on the "pro" side of Save or Die from my experience). Yet, the simple 1st Level Sleep Spell jumps the shark, if you will.

In Swords & Wizardry Complete, a Sleep Spell takes out 2 to 16 creatures of up to 1st level with no save allowed.

Now, this is a powerful spell in the hands of the PCs. Heck, it can take out a 4HD creature, like an Ogre.

It can also decimate a PC party of 3rd level or less if used against them. For a party of 1st or 2nd level PCs, it's a nearly guaranteed TPK. (sure, Elves are immune to magical sleep, but that can't be part of the assumption of the party makeup).

How many DM's have used this against their PCs and ended a campaign before it even started? Hopefully, none, but you never know with the inexperienced DMs.

How is "No Save and Die" an integral part of the game?

Isn't what's good for the PC's good for their adversaries? ;)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Free RPG Product of the Week - TrollZine! #7 (Tunnels & Trolls)

Like Tunnels & Trolls, but can't seem to find an adventure suitable for group play?

Looking for more solo adventures?

Homebrewed rules perhaps?

Look no further than TrollZine #7!

(the earlier 6 issues are good too, just so you know)

Oh, and it's free. As in "not costing you a cent".

Grap a copy. You won't be disappointed.

(on the off chance you are disappointed, remember the pricing above ;)

Inspirational Reading for My Upcoming Crypts & Things Campaign - Sword of Sorcery Issue #1

Once I committed to running Crypts & Things for my lapsed gamers group, I decided I needed some inspirational reading.

Lo and behold I found the 1973 comic book series Sword of Sorcery, starring Fritz Lieber's very own Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser on eBay. The series only lasted 5 issues, and I grabbed issues 1 thru 3 (and 4 was thrown in as a bonus, so just one more to grab).

Denny O'Neil wrote the adaptation and Howard Chaykin did the pencils.

Not bad at all. I vaguely remember reading the original it was based on, but it's been at least 20 years. Yeah, I guess I need to reread the originals at some point.

Do You Have a Preferred Multi-Classing System for Your OSR System of Choice?

When I talk multi-classing, I'm also counting "Dual Classing" as per the AD&D rules under that general heading.

Armor restrictions, weapon restrictions, class combination restrictions, hit point calculations and the like - can all differ slightly depending on the system of choice.

I'm not all that happy with the AD&D method, as it seems too restrictive in some ways (class combinations until UA made that insane) and HP calculations (I run with "fractional HP" when my multiclass party members roll HP).

Forget dual classing in AD&D - the stats required are extremely high, especially if you are coming from or going to a sub class.

So, what's your favorite method? Do you go BTB (anybook ;) or do you have your own set of house rules?

I don't think this is going to come up in Crypts & Things, because EVERYONE is effectively multiclassed as a Rogue (even the Thieves), but ya never know...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Questions (and Answers) as to Why I'm Going to Run Crypts & Things With My "Lapsed Gamers Group"

One of the players in my "Old Gaming Group" and very good friend of mine, sent me an email earlier tonight asking me why i chose Crypts & Things for the "Getting the Band Back Together" Sunday Morning Campaign.

The questions he asked were spot on, so I figured I'd share the questions (and answers)

Tony is asking the questions, and I'm the one providing the answers ;)

I have a soft spot for the 'dark' low magic fantasy worlds since during junior high / high school and college I was always reading novels such as Elric and F. Leiber stories as most of us were back then.

I know you talked about this on your blog a bit and again I think Crypts and Things is a great choice but I am curious why you didn't pick some of the other systems that I have read about on your blog.

Q - OSRIC - Was the main reason it too expensive for Chris and Barry to get into?  Is it a bit too complicated for a new player?   You gave me a copy of rules which I am thankful for but I never read it so I don't know much about the system but I planning on reading soon. 

A - OSRIC is AD&D 1e without Unearthed Arcana and the subsystems that no one really used. It's what i run on Saturday Nights - It's also a beast of a book to read (about 400 pages) - PDF is free, oversized pocket paperback is about 10 bucks ( think) plus shipping, but 400 pages is a lot of reading to expect for lapsed / returning / new gamers - smaller typset too.

Q - Pathfinder - Not old school like Bry wanted?  I don't own this but if I am correct it is based off of D&D 3.5 right?  So definitely not the D&D we grew up with but still D&D 3.5 is a cool system.  agreed?

A - It's a good system but very "crunchy" (heavy rules wise), much more crunchy than i enjoy these days. I would have loved it during my college years. The Beginner Box for Pathfinder is as crunchy as I'd ever go, but I feel more relaxed with the OSR games.

Q - Bry mentioned D&D 4.0.  I know you won't run that game and I don't like it either. Assume we both don't like it since it it too much like an MMO. I never played but with all of those rules a single combat must take forever (very much not like an MMO ironically).  I do own the books and I do like the fact that two players of the same class would be different because you select powers but it was way too 'crunchy' as I have heard you say in your blog. Is that the main reason you don't like 4? 

A - Combat as you have surmised is a horror. The crunch factor is huge, but the way the powers are set up, possibly not as bad as Pathfinder. But you need to use battlemaps and minis (some may say otherwise, but as written and designed, you do), and that's not how I roll. That, and "Healing Surges" still make no sense to me ;) If you want to listen to a podcast of actual 4e gameplay, try Drunks & Dragons - it's entertaining

Q - Adventurer Conqueror King - I don't own this one. why not this system?  Too difficult for a new player? Not enough like D&D for Bry?

A - ACKS is a fine system. I ran it over the spring / summer of last year. We used some classes from the beta version of the Companion, which were slightly broken (too powerful). I'd run it again, but as many of the classes / races seem setting specific, I'm waiting on the setting to flesh things out.

Q - Dungeon Crawl Classics?  - again I don't own.  curious why it didn't make the cut?

A - I love DCC. I had a blast running some session in the summer and fall. The book is HUGE! (nearly 500 pages) and  would have scared folks away. All that being said, I plan on converting some DCC RPG releases to C&T down the line. I think they'll fit really well.

Q - Savage worlds ? - I don't' own this either.  Not enough like D&D?

A - Definitely not like D&D. I don't fully "grok" the system. That being said, I'm dying to run some Soloman Kane ;)

Q - LofP - you gave me the rules and magic book. I have looked it over.  looks cool but a bit over the top horror which is not really the way we played back in the day so I can see why you didn't pick that.  right?

A - LotFP WF was tempting and the rules are available for free in PDF. That being said, I'd have had to have houseruled the shit out of it to get me where I want it, and that kinda defeats the purpose. Also, I think folks would have complained with the "only fighters ever increase in combat ability" part among others.

Q - Dark Dungeons - you gave me this book - I have not read it yet but again wondering why you didn't pick this?  looks cool.

A - No particular reason except it hasn't been on my radar recently. Well, and it suffers from being huge in page count, which is fine for active gamers, not great for lapsed gamers.

Q - Finally - Tunnels and Trolls. I have an 1986 paper back called.  'tunnels and trolls' the complete fantasy game rule book.  I think you gave this to me.  I know you like the system.  why not this one?  not D&D?

A - I love me some T&T. I really do. I want to run the game and I'm looking forward to the new edition releasing this spring. Not D&D, which is what folks wanted. T&T 5e is NOT the clearest set of RPG rules ever written. Not what i wanted to use to entice folks back to the Dark Side after 16 years of not gaming ;)

Petty God: Ratacus Gant, Slayer of Young Delvers and Patron of Giant Rats - Now With ART!

So, until / unless someone decides to do some art up specifically for Ratacus Gant, I remembered the awesome selection of Stock Art that I got from one of Inkwell Ideas Kickstarters.

The eyes are the right color. The fur - it could be a really tarnished copper coin color...

Actually, it does a pretty good job of capturing the look of Ratacus, although my vision did have him being a bit fatter. Maybe this is the Avatar he whips out to scare the kids at night ;)

Ratacus Gant
 Slayer of Young Delvers and Patron of Giant Rats
Art by Ryan Sumo
Used With Permission

Ratacus Gant

Symbol: A Single Copper Piece

Alignment: Chaotic

Movement: 120’

Armor Class: 9

Hit Points (Hit Dice): 2000 hp (1HD + 1992HP)

Attacks: Bite and Special

Damage: 1d30 and Special

Save: M30+

Morale: 10

Hoard Class: 2,000 Coppers, Assorted Jewelry

XP: 2,000

Ratacus Gant, Slayer of Young Delvers and Patron of Giant Rats is worshipped by Giant Rat Cabals. Such Cabals are always in numbers of nine. Nine is the number and the number shall be nine. The Cabals of Nine, as they are known, accumulate copper pieces as part of the worship of their god, and when the coinage reaches 2,000 coppers in number (no more, no less) they begin the Rite of Summoning.

The Rite of Summoning of Ratacus Gant requires the Giant Rats to bury the 2,000 copper coins they have accumulated beneath assorted debris and their own excrement. To complete the ritual requires the blood of a Young Delver, Adventurer or random humanoid. If the Cabal can kill their target within the area of summoning and the sacrifice's blood mixes with the coppers, debris and excrement, there is a 9% chance that Ratacus Gant will be summoned.

Ratacus Gant takes on the appearance of a normal Giant Rat, if normal means fur the color of copper and beady, intelligent, red eyes. Ratacus has no special defenses, but is able to absorb so much damage that he is nearly impossible to kill. He is, however, easily distracted by copper pieces, and if coppers pieces are thrown in his direction, there is a 9% chance per copper thrown (to a maximum of 10 coppers and 90%) for him to be distracted long enough for a party to flee. Ratacus has no normal save against this effect.

As a special attack, Ratacus can cast Flesh to Copper, which in all effects is identical to a Flesh to Stone spell, except that the target is turned to copper. This can be cast at will, once per round.

Stray Thoughts on Herding Stray Cats - or - Thoughts on Returning the MMO Player to the Tabletop RPG

When I ran the Swords & Wizardry session a week and a half ago for my two players, both were lapsed gamers that were coming from MMO's like Everquest and Star Wars.

My Elvin Ranger was the one stuck for the longest in MMO mode.

He wanted to be "DPS" and do damage from afar. I reminded him that with 2 HD at first level, he had twice the HP of the cleric and did better damage in melee too. Besides, with a 2 person party, everyone is on the front line, not to mention the danger of shooting your fellow playing in the back with your stray shots.

He then wanted to lay a snare trap in the dungeon. Sigh

Now, in every MMO I've played with this player, from EQ2 to Warhammer to Star Wars and in between, he's always played an Elvin Ranger (of the closest facsimile) - I just didn't think he would try to carry over the MMO gameplay and tactics to the tabletop. Maybe I should have tried 4e with them ;)

In the end it all worked out - they both had fun and want more, and the ranger in question started to understand the differences in gameplay with the change in the medium.

Of course, for the next session, we're moving to Crypts & Things, which should stir up even more questions and issues, but if you aren't being asked questions, are you truly gaming?

Gothridge Manor is Doing a Huge Giveaway to Celebrate 1,000 Posts

Yep, +Tim Shorts over at the Gothridge Manor Blog has hit one thousand posts, and he's giving away some awesome swag to 4 lucky readers to celebrate. You do read the Gothridge Manor blog, don't you? The Manor fanzine? If not, you've been missing out big time.

So, your mission is to go to Tim's blog and congratulate him. If any confirmed members of the 2,000 Coppers Community are lucky enough to win, I'll toss in a $5 RPGNow credit on top of the phat loot that Tim has rounded up.

So, what the hell are you waiting for? Go!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Another Petty God: Ratacus Gant, Slayer of Young Delvers and Patron of Giant Rats

Name: Ratacus Gant

Symbol: A Single Copper Piece

Alignment: Chaotic

Movement: 120’

It's a Rat
It's Copper
Close Enough
Armor Class: 9

Hit Points (Hit Dice): 2000 hp (1HD + 1992HP)

Attacks: Bite and Special

Damage: 1d30 and Special

Save: M30+

Morale: 10

Hoard Class: 2,000 Coppers, Assorted Jewelry

XP: 2,000

Ratacus Gant, Slayer of Young Delvers and Patron of Giant Rats is worshipped by Giant Rat Cabals. Such Cabals are always in numbers of nine. Nine is the number and the number shall be nine. The Cabals of Nine, as they are known, accumulate copper pieces as part of the worship of their god, and when the coinage reaches 2,000 coppers in number (no more, no less) they begin the Rite of Summoning.

The Rite of Summoning of Ratacus Gant requires the Giant Rats to bury the 2,000 copper coins they have accumulated beneath assorted debris and their own excrement. To complete the ritual requires the blood of a Young Delver, Adventurer or random humanoid. If the Cabal can kill their target within the area of summoning and the sacrifice's blood mixes with the coppers, debris and excrement, there is a 9% chance that Ratacus Gant will be summoned.

Ratacus Gant takes on the appearance of a normal Giant Rat, if normal means fur the color of copper and beady, intelligent, red eyes. Ratacus has no special defenses, but is able to absorb so much damage that he is nearly impossible to kill. He is, however, easily distracted by copper pieces, and if coppers pieces are thrown in his direction, there is a 9% chance per copper thrown (to a maximum of 10 coppers and 90%) for him to be distracted long enough for a party to flee. Ratacus has no normal save against this effect.

As a special attack, Ratacus can cast Flesh to Copper, which in all effects is identical to a Flesh to Stone spell, except that the target is turned to copper. This can be cast at will, once per round.

Petty God - Pandantilus, Lord of the Privy and Patron of Gong Farmers and Muck Rackers

Random Wooden Crescent Moon
Found on the Interwebs
(My first submission to the reborn Petty Gods project)

Name: Pandantilus
Symbol: A Wooden Cresent Moon
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120’
Armor Class: 0
Hit Points (Hit Dice): 122 hp (22 HD)
Attacks: Special
Damage: Special
Save: M22
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: Poop, Incidental Treasure (random coins, rings and such)
XP: 12,000

Pandantilus, Lord of the Privy and Patron of Gong Farmers and Muck Rackers, is worshipped by nearly all, even if most of such worship is unintentional. Pandantilus sees the mere act of using a privy as worship by the user, and any words or sounds that pass in the privy are prayers that reach his ears.

When walking the lands, he appears as a gong farmer, complete with rake and burlap sack. His appearance is nondescript, but his odor is noticeable and hangs about him with effects similar to that of a Stinking Cloud.

Pandantilus is not a combatant, and would sooner leave the area than to lower himself to actively engage opponents.  He can use any sewer, privy, muck pit or the like to travel, much like a  Druid’s Pass Plant spell, but the range is in miles, not feet.

Gong Farmers and Muck Rackers offer prayers to Panadatilus in the hopes of finding some small valuables while shoveling waste material. Privy users say prayers in the hopes of peacefully passing waste material.

Looking For Some Swords & Sorcery Appropriate Adventures

I've approached my group of lapsed gamers about using the Crypts & Things ruleset for their return to gaming, and I've gotten a positive response to the idea.

Swords & Sorcery it is :)

I have two adventures for C&T, one from the rulebook and Blood of the Dragon, a low level C&T adventure. I also think many of the DCC RPG adventures should convert pretty well to C&T.

I am looking for other ideas, so have at it - can you think of any Swords & Sorcery themed adventures that would be suitable for use with C&T? Actually, they would probably also work well with AS&SH, so you might be helping +Dennis Higgins too ;)

Rule set doesn't matter too much, but OGL based would make for an easier conversion...

Thoughts on Mixing DCC RPG Adventures with Crypts & Things

My Don Quixote like quest to houserule Swords & Wizardry into something suitable for my "lapsed gamer group" has taken me to the idea of using Crypts & Things pretty much as is. It's S&W with many of the house rules i was looking to use baked into the system and it seems geared to smaller party play.

Having run a few DCC RPG game sessions, I'm pretty secure in stating that the DCC Adventures have a very strong Swords & Sorcery feel and would fit well in a C&T powered campaign with some tweaking of adversary numbers and of the "sure death" situations that seem to crop up in the DCC RPG.  I have little need for PC attrition beyond the usual OSR amount... heh

My players seem receptive to at least giving C&T a try, and mechanically it should be little different than the previous (and first and thus far only) game session.

Cleric / M-U rolled into one, everyone can attempt most "skills", a lowered reliance on magical healing,  doing away with most mundane magic, no demihumans - that and more should make this an interesting experiment, if nothing else...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Looking At Saving Throw as Task Resolution in Swords & Wizardry (Via Crypts & Things)

As I spend time thinking about skills, especially Thief skills and Ranger skills in Swords & Wizardry, I find myself going in circles. I'm going in circles because I continually return to the dead ass simple solution to such that was presented in Crypts & Things (page 25), a Swords and Sorcery RPG derived from the Swords & Wizardry rules.

Here's a greatly edited down version version:

When attempting a particular task, the player rolls 1d20, applies any relevant attribute modifiers (e.g. a bonus of +1 to +3, a penalty of -1 to -3, or no modifier, depending on the attribute score), and any additional modifiers that the Crypt Keeper judges appropriate.

If the modified roll equals or exceeds the character’s saving throw number, the task is successful.
An unmodified roll of a 20 always indicates success, and an unmodified roll of a 1 always indicates failure.

(edit: classes get bonuses for relevant skills, so a thief would get + 3 on the Saving Rolls associated with traditional thief skills, rangers would get a bonus to tracking, etc)

Now, remember, Swords & Wizardry uses a single Saving Throw for the classes. This used to irk me. Now I'm beginning to like it for sheer simplicity. Using the saving throw for skill and task resolution? That's one of those "smack yourself in the head for not thinking it up yourself" moments.

Is it perfect? No, I'm sure it can be "gamed" by the right, or wrong, players.

But for what is going to be my perpetually short handed group of adventurers, this is exactly what the Referee ordered. I've got some tweaking to work on with this, such as the first time a Natural 20 is rolled in a certain circumstance (picking a lock, finding tracks or swimming a turbulent river and the like) I'm going to give the PC a + 1 to that particular circumstance as a permanent bonus. Well, at least that's the current plan. Who knows where I'll be at the end of the month ;)

Some Thoughts on Houseruling the Swords & Wizardry Core Document

I mentioned last week that we kicked off a Swords & Wizardry Campaign for my "Old Group", consisting of the core of the FtF and later MMO group. It looks like we are going to have a group ranging in side from 2 to 4 (as opposed to my AD&D 1e / OSRIC group on Sat Nights that ranges from 4 to 6).

With a group of such small numbers, I not only have to be ready to tweak the encounters a bit, depending on how many show up (as there is much less margin for error with the smaller group numbers) but I also need to tweak some of the rules a bit, just to balance things out for the characters.

One of the great things about Swords &Wizardry Core (and Whitebox too) is the freely available editable document that you can download and tweak to your heart's content. Edit it, save it, distribute it to my players.

I've already decided I'm bringing over the Ranger clase from S&W Complete, so "bamn!", it it goes to the Tenkar's Tavern Sword & Wizardry House Rules and Tweaks Edition - TTS&WRTE ;) While I'm at it, I'll add in the thief class, and allow demihumans to multiclass.

Granting that bonus spell from high Wisdom at 1st level, when otherwise the Cleric would have none? Slipping that right in. At the same time, I'm going to allow Clerics to swap in a healing spell for any memorized spell of that level or higher. So, he can swap in a CLW for a 1st level spell or higher, allowing the Clerics the flexibility of a varied spell assortment while allowing him to also heal as needed (yeah, it's 3rd edition-ish, but I like it)

A killing blow granting a free attack on an adjacent enemy, much like in ACKS? Yep.

Maybe a skill / feat system like ACKS, SWN or Arrows of Indira - the less players I have, the more hooks I could use to hang things on, and a skill system allows the addition of some thieving abilities without the need of a thief class. I'm up in the air on this one. Or may just steal it from Crypts & Things.

Actually, the Crypts & Things method may be the simplest to implement.

There's more I'm sure that I'll either think up before the game and find the need of during game. We might not have the second session until the end of the month, so I have time to tweak ;)

Do Ogres Get a Strength Bonus When Wielding Weapons in AD&D?

This question hit me as I was waking up this morning (and it applies to Giants too, I guess).

Do Ogres get a strength bonus to hit and to damage when wielding weapons, and if so, how much?

Ogres do 1-10 damage OR by weapon.

In the description section of the Ogre in the Monster Manual, it mentions:

I'm going to assume this is in reference to the variable weapon damage in the Player's Handbook for Damage vs S-M / L and not a poorly written instruction on the strength bonus an Ogre gets when wielding his weapon.

The Dungeon Master's Guide list Gauntlets of Ogre Power granting 18/00 Strength, for an attack bonus of + 3 and a damage bonus of + 6. This can easily lead to the assumption that the average Ogre has a Strength of 18/00 (similar to the way Belts of the variable Giant Strengths bestow hit and damage bonuses).

So, if the Ogre gets a bonus to hit and combat when wielding a weapon, why would he ever use his fists?

Even a tree branch (treated as a Club or a Staff) would do 1d6 + 6 damage for a range of 7 - 12, and he would strike at + 3, basically hitting as often as a 7 HD creature. Better than 1-10 range for the damage and striking at a 4 HD creature.

Truthfully, back in my High School and College years, I always gave Ogres, Giants, Ettins and the like a strength bonus in combat, which made them truly terrifying creatures. I'm not sure if I upped their expo value - I somehow doubt it ;)

What's good for the players is even better for their adversaries ;)

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