Thursday, February 23, 2017

Back at it

Getting educational games going again for my youngest daughter who is homeschooled.

This time I decided to make a new game world that will allow for me to incorporate information from study topics to reinforce them while also setting up scenarios that encourage thinking on your feet, strategic and tactical planning, social skills and more.

You're welcome to take a look at it at http://add1e.bbe-tech.com/index.php?title=My_World:_Uerth


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sword 2 of the 7 Swords

The Frievald Sword


Sir Frievald, a well known vampire hunting Paladin from just over a hundred years ago, saved the life of an Elf Lord from an unusual collaboration of a powerful Necromancer and a very old and powerful vampire.  In gratitude for Sir Frievald's intervention, the Elf Lord commissioned a special sword made to aid the powerful paladin in his life's mission to fight the undead in any form but especially vampires. While no one in his family after his death can properly wield the sword as it is meant for the hands of Good aligned Paladins only, they have kept it in a treasured, special room in his honor.  The sword had been stolen by an evil Necromancer about thirty years ago.  It has never been recovered.

It communicates with the wielder using high empathy and can only be wielded by Good aligned Paladins.
  • It is a +2 sword against most foes but against the Evil aligned it is +4. 
  • It can automatically cast "Detect Evil" while worn and will inform the wielder empathically by causing the wielder to feel a heightened sense of caution. 
  • It casts Dispel Evil when the wielder holds the pommel in hand but does not need to draw it. The wielder must speak the “Command of Banishment” as appropriate to their Order. 
  • It is made of Mithril and imbued with silver and Holy Water was used in it’s forging. 
  • It’s most special ability is that it has the potential to Turn undead.  The sword “Turns” as a level 14 Cleric.


The sword can turn merely by being drawn in the presence of undead but must actually make contact with the enemy in order to have the Destruction effect.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Downfall, part 5

Abbe Micheal turned on the buckboard of the wagon to look at the troops seated in the back of the wagon as the group of holy warriors traveled closer to Aldisburgh and the depravity of the cannibalistic zombie attack that were being sent to dispatch.

The trip from New Edinburgh had been quiet for the most part.  Only the sounds of a rolling, creaking wagon, trodding horses and the shuffling of equipment was heard.  The warriors in the wagon were grim in visage and determined in countenance.  They all knew they were heading toward a new kind of threat in the form of something that had previously been relatively, in their line of work, all too common.  Now they faced a new variation that put their previous experience in question.

"Have any of you seen this image in relation to your previous dealing with zombies?" he asked them as he handed a piece of parchment back with a sketch he had hurriedly made from his brief studies of the questions his friend Jolly had originally brought to his attention when they were first introduced.

They took the picture and looked it over in turns, each reflecting a bit to try to recall if the image had any familiarity.  None of them had claimed any recognition as the image was passed back to Abbe Micheal.  "Show that to me please," Abbe Merrin Lankester said from beside him, holding the reigns of the horses as they pulled the wagon closer to their immediate destiny.

Micheal held the image up and Abbe Merrin glanced over it for a bit then shook his his slowly and took a deep breath, resulting in an even deeper sigh.  "I have seen that image before Micheal"  Abbe Micheal sat up straighter and looked perplexedly at the older abbe next to him.  "You have?" he exclaimed.  "I can find little to nothing about it in the records in the Church library."  "Where then, did you find that image if not in the Church library?"  the senior Abbe asked in return.  Micheal held up the image again, explaining, "This was a drawing made by my friend who sent me the message from Aldisburgh.  He has found this image in various places at the cemetery there and was trying to learn more about them.  When he found nothing in the library, he introduced himself to me hoping that as a member of the Order, I might shed some light on it."

Merrin hung his head low, the memories flooding back to him faster than he would have imagined.  He should have asked for the records when he volunteered to the Monsignor.  He had suspected as much on a deep inner level but at the surface hadn't been able to let it come through.  Now it was in front of him.  All of it.

"Abbe Lankester," the young abbot prodded softly.  "Do you know something of this image?'   A part of him almost hoped that the long time Exorcist and Cleric known commonly among the Order as "Yahweh's Bulldog" didn't have the information he was afraid of hearing.  "Is this something you have seen before Abbe?" he asked anyway.

"Micheal, I have seen and done a great many things in my long lifetime than most clerics have seen in two or even three lifetimes."  Merrin began.  "I began my true career in the Order as an exorcist almost by accident.  In actually, it turned out that I happened to be in the wrong place at the right time."  This conversation had caught the interest of the warriors sitting behind the two abbes.  They at quietly, paying attention to hear every word from the older cleric over the low racket of the horse hooves and wagon wheels.

"To give you the whole story, you need to understand that I am not what I seem to you.  How old do you think I am? " He asked looked up into the younger man's eyes.  "If I had to guess, I would say perhaps about fifty sir." Micheal replied.  The older man smiled, slight wrinkles around his mouth making his face lose and gain ten years simultaneously.  "I can tell you that I came to the calling late in my life Micheal.  I did not become a Cleric in the Church until I was fifty three years old."  Abbe Merrin stated.  "I am now just over one hundred and twelve years old and I expect that Yahweh intends to keep me around much longer in punishment of my good deeds.

The group sitting behind in the wagon looked back and forth between the two abbes and then from one of their own faces to another in quiet disbelief.   "How can that be Abbe?  Not that I disbelieve you but how could it be possible for a human to live so long and look so youthful as you do?"  Micheal had turned fully in the buckboard to face the abbe next to him.

When I was a younger man than I am now but twice as old as you, I was a wandering historian.  I visited the sites of ancient temples and cities long buried beneath the grasses and the sands.  I made a modest living in the trade of artifacts of lesser importance but for the most part, I was passionate for the knowing of history.  I had also become something of a travelling sage to be so bold if I may.  Many people sought me out for the information of long forgotten and archaic ruins of times long gone by.  They paid rather better than trading petty trinkets to be honest."  Merrin paused for a breath, licking his dry lips before carrying on.

"I was always an ardent follower of Yahweh, had been since childhood.  My faith had been nearly unshakable but I hadn't ever seriously considered becoming a Priest or Cleric.  Then I discovered the ruins of a long lost cathedral near a place also long gone to history called Sumeria.  The cathedral had been an incredible find.  It had been awe inspiring.  It was upon seeing it for the first time that I was so moved to even actually consider the Church as a life pursuit."

"However, when we broke through the dust and sand encrusted doors, we learned too late that we had awoken something truly wicked.  Perhaps the greatest Evil to walk this world in physical form.  As punishment for releasing this great Evil, Yahweh saw fit to curse me with long life with which to pursue the great Evil until I can banish it to it's confinement in the Abyss again.  I cannot leave this life until I rid the world of the Evil that I released."

Micheal leaned back again into the backboard, stunned.  He had heard rumors.  Outlandish fairy tales that he had assumed were the legends that naturally came from performing great deeds of heroism in the name of Yahweh.  To hear the story come so plainly, so earnestly spoken from the man himself was like being a small gong struck by a sledgehammer.  It blew him away entirely.

Abbe Merrin Lankester grabbed the flask next on the seat next to him and took a long draught.  Letting the warm liquid trickle down his dry throat before setting the flask down again to resume his tale.

"The image you carry is that of one of Yahweh's greatest foes.  A lord of demons known as the Beast of the Apocalypse.  His number is 440 and is also called the Great Dragon.  He is the lord of fever and plague.  He is known to me as Imdugud  and I shall not rest until I see him gone from this world again."

Everyone in the wagon had sat stunned by the revelation.  The wagon had come to a complete stop and realization dawned on everyone present that they were no longer dealing with something s simple as a secret necromancer amassing a horrible variant of zombies.  They were facing something much older, something much darker and more sinister.  Abbe Merrin Lankester looked around, into the of each face.  When he was sure he had all of their attention once more, he spoke again.

"We are nearly there.  The beast is there and it is waiting for us.  It will bide it's time in hiding no longer.  It has come forward to make a bold play for the very lives of our people.  If they should not be stopped here, now, then the world as we know it will end.  We are enjoined, all of us now, to stop this lord of demons and his undead minions.  It is now upon us to put an end to his evil or give our lives in the effort."  Micheal stared in awe at this now vibrant and emboldened man sitting next to him.  No longer quiet and subdued but sitting straight and with fervor, with passion as he finished his statement.

"When we enter Dem Tode Nahe, we will enter not as investigators or meek priests but as the just and and powerful right hand of Yahweh.  We will destroy the demon if we can and if not destroy the beast, we will put an end to his undead minions and send them back to the peace of their graves!?

Abbe Lankester finished this last nearly as a roar from deep in his chest.  The conviction of his will covering him like a shimmering aura.  He looked at the assembled warriors again, then back at Micheal, his new apprentice, though the young Abbe didn't know it yet. He looked forward again, lifted the reigns high and snapped them, startling the horses into a canter.  He looked directly in front of them the remainder of the ride until they stopped in front of the boarding house of Jolly the Magic User.  He had plans for this spellcaster as well.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Making the game more than the sum of it's parts

I approach AD&D 1E/OSRIC gaming from a storyboard perspective.  It's not just a game, it's a series of stories.  They are stories about villains, heroes and the wild ways of the world that ebbs and flows in between.

I like to say that there are the books and the rules that are the "straight math" of the game and I know a lot of people that play it that way.  That's fine if that's how they prefer to play it.  For me though, I find that approach terribly boring.  I like to think of myself as a fairly creative person and much appreciate the natural randomness built into the game and the many suggestions by the author throughout the books that the rules are secondary, it's the spirit of the game that is most important and the rules not only can be changed or sacrificed for the sake of the spirit of the game, it is encouraged.

I believe that by homebrewing and creating our own campaign worlds and anything else we come up with takes the game somewhere entirely new.  It allows us to make it more uniquely our own and yet be able to share it with others at the same time.

It's a great fantasy adventure of our own making.  People start playing, in my games anyway, with characters they have dreamed of and can live vicariously through.    Like I said, it's a story and these characters are something that players can become attached to.  I will bring in some Ex Deau Machina to preserve the story if need be.  I will fudge the dice to get a better, more exciting and more interesting story if the opportunity exists.

I love this game for the great escape that it is.  It's a high like no other that I have experienced (and honestly, I have experienced some dubious variety of highs over my ifetime).

It's not just guidebooks and dice and paper.  It's imagination and fantasies and dreams made real.  It's taking a game and making it more than the sum of it's parts.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Freedom of the Game

One of the things I love about AD&D and OSRIC in general is that it is such an open platform.  Much like the Pirates Code in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" they are more like guidelines rather than rules.

In the spirit of homebrewing and the social nature of the game, I can share how I interpret the game and customize it to work best for my own creative inklings and to put it together in a way that is a fun and rewarding experience for the players.

The next DM will see, interpret and handle things differently as to what works best for them and their game.  At the same time, there is enough common ground that it is still essentially the same game to each of us.

When I post my homebrewings here, it is only because I am excited and enthusiastic about my game and I'd like to share what I think works great and what I've done to address things I see as not working so well.  I'm not here to tell everyone else that they are "doing it wrong" or that there must be some strict uniformity that everyone must abide by.

That would totally defy the spirit of the game.

I don't argue about the game with others because on one hand, I don't really care how other people run their games.  It's their game, they can run it how they want.  I will play at their table or I won't.  Consequently I am not here to convince anyone of anything in terms of changing or adopting something different from how they already see or do things.

I'm just sharing how I see it, why I see it that way and what I do to address it.  If you like it and want to use it, cool, awesome, great.  Knock yourself out and have fun with it.

Because no matter if the DM at the next table and I agree or see eye to eye on game mechanics or issues or not, the game will go on.  The game is bigger than any one DM or group of DM's.

That my friend's is just awesome.  It's an awesome sundae covered in awesome sauce topped with an awesome cherry.  It's that awesome.

So come and read, share my enthusiasm, borrow what you will freely.  But don't come here to argue with me because I am not here to argue.  I will explain why I see it the way I do but that's more for the sake of discussion.  I don't care if you take it up, agree, ignore it or disagree.

It's a game for everyone and there's room for everyone to make it their own game.  To me, that's what makes it the best game in the world.

Spell-casting: Is it Live or is it Memorex?

I spend a lot of time thinking about spell-casting.  I'm not really the biggest fan of the Vancian magic system that is used in AD&D.  Not to say that I don't understand it's purpose, to limit spell-casters, but it seems rather unwieldy overall.  Or maybe it's not so much unwieldy as the explanation of it is dull and unimaginative.

I allow spell-casters in my games to free-cast and to use memorized spells.  Free-casting takes longer because the whole spell has to be carried out with all of it's requisite components.  Not something done in haste.  Yet by allowing free-casting, it offers the spell caster greater variety and specificity in the spells they do cast when they need or want to cast them.  That makes the game more fun.  I refer to free-casting as the "Live" part.

I also allow for preparing spells ahead of time.  This fits into the Vancian system because it can be described as memorizing spells, especially in the case of Magic Users and Illusionists.  It can also be described, at least I describe it so, as "spell-queuing".  This fits well with Clerics and Druids who don't obtain or cast spells the same way.

Spell-queuing is having the spell-caster go to their place of preparation.  This might be a portable altar, meditation area or something along those lines.  In the case of M-U's They proceed to memorize the spells they anticipate needing to use in the coming day.  For Clerics, They will perform the meditations and prayers to have their pre-selected spells Ready To Use.  I like to describe it as performing the entire prayer or incantation but leaving out the very last word or action to execute the spell out.  Then, when on the spot use is called for, they say that last word or perform that last action, etc... and the spell is executed nearly instantaneously.

If the spell-caster is about to knowingly go into a battle or enter into a building or dungeon, etc... where they think they might need to have certain spells at the ready and no time to go through the whole casting process, then the "Memorex" approach can be very very useful.  Though I will usually judge that spells which are "Memorexed" lose a bit in accuracy and other specificity.  In other words, they sacrifice fine controls for expediency.

During the battle or the exploration they can still go "Live" and carry out the desired spells with full accuracy and fine controls but it costs time in the execution.    Either way, "Live" or "Memorex", the spells count against their daily allotment.

So for Players considering this approach, I suggest you think of the situation the PC is looking forward toward.  If it's going into battle, what kinds of spells would be highly effective but usually not able to be gotten off because they take too much time to execute?  Those are the spells that you "Memorex".

Basically, casting time is a general deciding factor in which spells to "Memorex"  because if it takes more than a few segments to cast, then you aren't likely to get it off in the midst of battle or in an emergency situation.

"Cure Light Wounds" isn't worth "Memorexing", it's low level and relatively quick and easy to cast and it's usefulness in an emergency situation isn't high.  Cure Serious Wounds, Cure Disease, and the like, those are worth "Memorexing because sometimes poisons and rapidly accelerating diseases don't allow for a lot of time, maybe just a round or so, to go through the full process of casting.  Being able to whip out "Slow Poison", "Remove Curse", "Cure Critical Wounds" or spells like those is much more worthwhile.  When you have just a few segments in a matter of life or death, you don't want to have to wait longer if you don't need to.

I do pretty much waive the casting time for "Memorexed" spells because the casting was already done at the preparation.  The execution is instantaneous from the uttering of that last word or action.  Time to take effect is still subject to the spell descriptions.  For "Live" spell-casting though, I enforce casting time limits entirely.

There you have it, another peek into my weird world, deranged and out-of-whack as it may be, it sure is a lot of fun.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

To Level Drain or Not to Level Drain

Just going to come right out and say it.  I think that perhaps the single stupidest mechanic in the entirety of AD&D is Level Drain.  The very premise is absurd as the attack and the consequence are completely and entirely un-related.

A vampire attack leaves you drained of life force within you and you lose experience levels?  I'm sorry, I don't think that one was really thought out all the way and just got chumped to get the book published on time or something.

To lose experience levels, I could see it if the attack or damage was cognitive in effect.  Something stole your memories or you got amnesia or dementia or something along those lines.  Then yes, drain those experience levels and rightly so.

To lose life force though?  Here's how I homebrew it anymore.  Instead of losing an experience level, I remove Hit Points and 1 point of CON instead.  I do use Hit Dice though.  so if say a 6th level fighter were to take a life force draining attack, I will subtract on full HD of HP.  Fighters roll a d10 for HP thus I remove 10 HP for each life force level drained.  Add to that losing 1 point off of their Constitution.  Life is going to be different for that PC forever after.

Sucks to be the victim in that attack but it makes WAY more sense than to lose XL  The PC retains the XP level they have though.  So, 6th level Fighter now has 10 less HP but is still 6th level because the attack didn't suck part of his brain out with the knowledge, learned skills and experience that makes him what he is.  Losing a point of CON starts to reduce their ability to be resurrected or have Raise Dead done for them.  It also kicks them in the HP bonus adjustment as well.

I want the life force drain to be scary.  I want Players to think twice, maybe three times before tangling with something that could very well end it all for them.  So if the 6th level fighter had a max potential of 60 HP but with some lousy dice rolls only had 48 HP to start with, losing one life force level automatically knocks them down to 38 HP.   Bang!  Just like that.  Get another life force level drained?  Lose another 10 HP.

It's an easy mechanic to keep track of, it's relevant to the attack and it makes those creatures causing it something to be carefully considered.  Which is the whole point of having level/life force draining creatures to begin with.

Having said that, I always leave the door open to having HP re-gained by magical or other means as well as finding ways to get CON points back too.  It won't be easy but it is possible.  Those things are already built into the game for exactly those reasons it would seem.

Plus, the endeavoring to regain those HP and CON points can make some really nifty solo and side adventuring for those PC's as well.