Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Examples of Druidic magic or, "Enter The Silvered Woods"

The two companions walked through the Silvered Woods slowly, taking their time.  They had oft heard about these woods as they were growing up and had heard even more once they had begun their quest.

The stories of fairy type and other wildly different and magical creatures were many and often embellished to the point of obvious tall tale.  But they had listened to them all and remembered them just the same.

They could hear the muted sounds of the wood.  A scampering of squirrels up high, The cautious tread of a deer nearby.  The birds were hushed but not entirely silent and it seemed the whole woods was somehow waiting or perhaps holding it's breath as the two strangers passed through.

The taller of the two caught a movement off to his left side and elbowed his friend, directing his attention with a hushed voice, "see there, to the left?  Who is that?"  Both young men could now see a robed man walking among the Oaks and Willows.  He had seemingly come out of thin air, not having seen hide nor hair of him before that moment. Their casual stride came to a halt as they watched the strangely dressed man walking away from them.

"I don't like that at all."  said Hector the taller and more robust of the two to his friend now standing at his right side.  "I know", answered Robert.  "How could a man just appear out of nowhere in the middle of these woods and one of us not know it?"

Hector had been very puzzled by the same thought.  His just completed training as a Ranger, the third in a line of Rangers, should have prepared him to be much more observant than that.  While Robert, also just finishing his training as a Warrior, had not been as thoroughly experienced in the outdoors, certainly had grown up in the outdoors much as Hector himself had.

As the two silently watched the robed man, lost in their thoughts, they also, out of fresh training, began to draw their weapons, almost unconsciously, to be prepared, they thought, just in case.  They scarcely had drawn their weapons though when what they saw next, shocked them so much they almost dropped those weapons now in their hands.

The robed man was mumbling something.  They could just barely make out the drone of sound coming from him when suddenly, the man walked right into a tree.

Now, he didn't walk into a tree and bonk his head to fall to the ground. No, the man walked into the tree and disappeared.  Just the same way you or I might walk into a doorway.  One second he was there, the next, he was gone.  The two young men were stunned! 

Hector began to slowly make his way off of the path and into the woods toward the tree the man had disappeared into.  Robert, seeing his friend's movement, stayed right beside him.  However, no sooner had either of them stepped more than ten feet off of the path than a poke in their backs and a deep voice voice behind them froze them in their tracks.

Slowly they turned around and behind them, holding a menacing looking sort of oaken club, was the very man they had watched walk into a tree just moments before.  "We have very few trespassers into the Silvered Woods anymore." The man told them.  "Of those who do, most seem intent on causing some sort of trouble when they are here."  The man slowly shook his gray tinged but heavily haired head said.  "So, What are two young adventurers such as yourselves doing in my woods?"  He asked.  "And you'll want to choose your answers carefully or my friend here may not be as forgiving as I am."

Around them, a tree seemed to have come up behind them and was threatening menacing branches that moved like arms.  "Uh Oh", thought Hector, " I don't think I like where this is going."  Robert could only stare around him and looked at his Ranger friend for some kind of encouragement.
In the bit above, the Druid spells demonstrated were;  Pass Plant,  The Druidic ability for Wilderness Movement and Call Woodland Beings with a Treant as the answering creature.

I love Druids as they are perhaps my absolute favorite PC class to play.  Let's continue this story for a bit and see how much more of the Druids abilities we can show off as these two wanderers meet their first Druid.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Spoiled Players and Dominating DM's

How many times do you read through various RPG forum posts to see some pillow biting, bedwetting Player crying about how it's "not fair" that a DM/GM imposed a rule in the game which didn't go the way the player wanted?  Now the DM is being talked about as if he or she is a criminal who ruined the game because they wouldn't allow the Player to do something utterly stupid and out of bounds that would throw the game off but it would make the player feel better about themselves?

There are a lot of those out there.

At the same time, there are some dandy posts by DM/GM's who seem to think they are running a gulag instead of a game.

There are quite a few of these too.

First of all, it's a game people.  A fantasy game.  Get over it.

Secondly, It's a game with rules and archtypes.  Play the game and don't make others live or die over the small stuff.

Players, the game takes place in place X, you all came together to have an adventure.  The DM (probably) worked for long hours to either write that game or get to know it in depth if it's a published module.  If he or she says the beginning of the adventure begins by the party arriving in town Y and that they see something at building Z or Tavern A, then that's where you go.  Don't suddenly decide you want to turn around and have your character go in the opposite direction then cry that the DM is "railroading" the game.  Don't be such a pansy

DM, place the setting on the stage and be ready for the Players to go through the setting as they will, as long as they are going through it, all is cool.  If you try to hold their hands and walk them through it of force them into a specific situation, don't be surprised when they all have to leave early to go wash their feet.  That is "railroading" when you don't let them go through the adventure on their own.

Players, you chose a Class that is associated with requiring a connection to a deity of some sort (Cleric, Druid, Paladin, etc...).  Don't be stupid and think that there aren't going to be some added conditions and stipulations for your PC.  if you try to do something that the Deity your PC chose to follow and represent does not allow for, don't cry when that spell doesn't work or there is some repercussion for stepping out of bounds of the Deity's expectations. 

DM's, just because you get to "play god" doesn't mean you get to just invent crap on the spot because you're jealous the player thought of something you didn't expect.  If it's a known deity, both you and the player should have gotten together up front to make sure you both know what kind of deity it is and the expectations of that deity.  If it's a deity you or the player made up, then make sure the both of you sit down and flesh it out before game time so that both of you are on the same page going in.  There really shouldn't be surprises mid game because you want to spice things up out of the blue.

This isn't a game that is supposed to a historical simulation and it isn't a game that must be a duplicate "real" world. 

Hell, even the the game's author tells you at multiple points across several books that if it breaks the game for you and your players, to ditch the book rules and go with something that works better for your group.

Yes, most people expect rules, even if they don't follow "reality", to at least make sense.  If a rule comes up and it doesn't make sense to you as a DM and the Players, then by golly, change that rule.  This is your game, not some nameless twit on the internet who declares that you are evilspawn if you dare wander off the words on the printed page.  That's some nerd with no social skills and no social life.  Ignore them for what they are and play the game that works best for your table.

Players, learn to appreciate what you have.  Chances are, if you're sitting down to play a 2 or 3 hour adventure all you had to do is roll up a PC and bring your imagination and maybe some dice.

For those 2 or 3 hours you play, it is most likely the DM had to spend double that amount of time and likely even longer (especially if they are writing the adventure themselves) just so you would have a game to play. 

Just as you want to be creative and come up with new, imaginative ways to handle situations in game, so must your DM have to be able to make adjudications and rulings on the spot for that new move or new weapon, magic item, etc... on the spot.  Give them a break.  You don't like DM fiat to determine a result?  Then make sure you aren't putting the DM into a corner where they haven't had the time or opportunity to plan ahead and know what to do if that situation should come up.  The game must go on and so the DM has to make a ruling quickly.  Sometimes that means making it up then and there so as to keep things going.  Deal with it.  Move on.

One thing that all of the books agree on and is repeated multiple times throughout is that the game is the DM's game.  They have the last word.  Yes, the book does tell DM's that if they run the game by not taking the players into consideration then they run the risk of not having any players.  So there is the ultimate last word. 

If your DM is being that big of an ass then push back from the table and go do something else.  Hell, start your own game and be the DM yourself.  See how that works out for you.  If that DM wants to DM, he'll change his ways (or hers) if they can't buy a clue even if everyone walks away from them, then they are going to be one seriously lonesome DM.

On the other hand, DM's, if your have a player or more than one player who expects you to hand over everything and cave in to their whining and tantrums, then kick their sorry away from your table.  Most likely, the other players will appreciate you having the intestinal fortitude for owning your game and for making sure that everyone at the table is having fun instead of just some little "that ain't fair" nerds who aren't happy until everyone else is miserable.

Friday, December 27, 2013

About Handling Hirelings and Henchmen

At the beginning of every game, the DM has to answer a question for him or herself, "How do we fill the empty slots?"

The question is important because many published adventure modules require a certain minimum number of characters and frequently, there are fewer Players than required if each Player is to only have one PC each.

Now, If a Player is able to handle multiple PC's appropriately and not treat them like extensions of each other, you can easily let them run multiple PC's and get on with the game.  It's good experience for becoming a DM as well.

If they can't handle multiple PC's then Hirelings and Henchmen are going to be required to fill out the spots.  These are a quasi-NPC that the DM controls their thoughts and reactions but the Players handle the rest.

For me, I boil it down to this.  if a PC goes looking to hire them, they are going to be a Hireling.  Perhaps over time, that Hireling might become a Henchmen if things go favorably and the Players treat the Hirelings right.

If the NPC comes looking to work for the PC, they will be a Henchman from the start.  This usually can happen during random encounter rolls.  I have a bunch of pre-gen characters using an online character generator on hand.  and I almost always have custom random encounter tables with the result of a character looking for work being one of those.

As a matter of fact, when the random encounter roll happens to turn up a person encounter, the first roll is for what type, meaning is the person looking for work, looking for love, looking for directions, etc... there are a lot of possible encounter reasons.  Once it's determined that the person is looking for work,  I roll on a sub-table to see if it's someone in the party specifically they come to or the party in general.  The Henchman negotiation process begins.

Henchmen almost always start out with a higher favor-ability toward the PC and thus require less from them to be made happy.  Hirelings on the other hand almost always suspicious and with a lower favor-ability at first so require more to gain their confidence and participation.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Ranking Druids a la Karate Belts and Tolkien Wizards

I've decided to add a little extra something for druids in my world.

The standard name level advancement applies, but I thought it would be interesting to assign rankings like those you find in a Karate class according to the color of the belt of the person.  Black belt, white belt, blue belt and so on.

Also,  I thought, why not tie in some Tolkienesque into the mix at the same time and make the top levels match those of the Wizards in the books.  so Blue, Brown, Grey and White are the top most ranks among them.

As Druids ascend level groups, they are identified by a corresponding color:

  • level 1-2; Green. Thus Frederick the first level druid is known to other druids as "Frederick the Green" 
  • level 3-5; Orange 
  • level 6-8; Red 
  • level 9-10; Black
  • level 11; Blue
  • level 12; Brown
  • level 13; Grey
  • level 14; White 
 No, it isn't necessary and it doesn't really change anything about progression, but it seems fun to us so I did it.

Of course, the "mark" or signature of each druid a symbol for their name, in the color of their rank.In our case, again in a bit of honor to Tolkien, each druid's "mark" is the foot/paw/hand print of some creature.  Also, it could be a specific type of tree leaf or anything recognizable that the druid can draw or imprint on clothing, armor, or whatever it is they choose to leave their mark on.  

Each Druid, at character creation, chooses their "mark" and it is recorded so that no other druid can use that.  The human hand is yet up for grabs.  There is no Saruman or Gandalf the White in most of these games and in our Middle Earth campaign, those two have long been absent.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A look at Druids and Alignment

I have a particular fondness for playing druids in AD&D 1E.  Though, upon reading the Players Handbook, I must admit that I think Gary goes a bit off track in describing the Class.

On one hand, they are described as being True Neutral because concepts of Good and Evil are secondary, if even considered, matters.  They follow Nature and thus believe in balance of all things.  OK, I can see this,  I am on board so far.

Then he turns around and says that regardless, druids are out to protect, revitalize and strengthen their charges.  Mmm, this is starting to sound just a tad bit Good leaning now.  Though, it obviously isn't exclusive to Good to take care of their own, it's pretty much a hallmark of Good to do so.  Evil is just as likely to allow their own to suffer and be harmed if there is no immediate usefulness to them.

I can definitely see Druids as being Neutral in terms of being lawful or chaotic.  At the same time,  I can see Druids as being Lawful more than I can see them being Chaotic.  I still see the Neutral being more the base of Druids because for druids, it's not all about the group and it's not all about the individual.  For Druids (most of them anyway), It is what it is regardless of what a group of people/creatures think or what any individual thinks.

In the end though,  I think when it comes to PC's, it should be left up to the Player.  If they want to have a CG druid, perhaps it is because there is some sect or order of Druids that have identified something within Nature that shoves them to take on a Good or Evil position.  Or being a part of a Druidic order or sect that demands one to be Lawful.  Or maybe it's just recognition of Human or racial nature to aspire to be Neutral but still struggle with inner conflicts and in their heart they are still a bit Good or Evil or lawful or Chaotic.

So, in the end, I allow Druids to be what the Player desires them to be.  Though  I do require, for Clerics as well as Druids,  a background to be written up for the PC.  Something that gives some insight to their personality and life experience that would motivate them to be anything other than True Neutral.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Raise Dead and Resurrection spells

I really am torn on the two spells an how they are used BtB.  Essentially, they do the same thing at their core, with some differences such as how long the character has been dead, how healthy the character is after the spell, etc...

I envision a 5th level Raise Dead spell as being more along the lines of a spell that makes a dead creature a semblance of life, but not really alive.  You want to talk to a sage or a witness to an event who is dead?  Cast Raise Dead on it.  It's a temporary condition that gives you access to the dead's memories.  Think Jonah Hex when it comes to "Raise Dead.

A target of a Raise Dead spell can communicate, if able to as if they were alive, they can relate everything they ever remembered as it is more like a computer pulling data up instead of a live person "remembering".  They can walk and move as if they were alive, if they are able to, as well.

Want to bring a PC back to true life?  That calls for the Resurrection spell.  At least, that's the way it seems to me.

Having said all that,  I do understand why they put a Raise Dead as it is written in the game, so as to pacify Players who had a favored PC die or get killed.

But to me, this essentially turns a PC into a video game character.  You get x number of lives to get through the game.

Obviously, as a DM it's your choice to allow Raise Dead as you choose.  For me however, all it really seems to do is encourage bad role-playing and poor decision making on the Players part.

I run games that reward skillful play.   I save Resurrection for situations like PC that died doing something heroic or that have been playing skillfully and have the potential to greatly contribute to the mission, etc...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tom Bombadil is a Halfling Druid Demi-God

The kids have been wanting an adventure in our Middle Earth campaign in which they bump into Tom Bombadil.

In trying to stat old Tom, I sat here trying to figure out what he really is.  He is betrothed, if not actually married to a water nymph or sprite or some such.  He exerts a tremendous influence over the living things in the forest and Barrows regardless of their alignment.

He is largely unaffected by other great magics such as the One Ring where even the greatest magic wielders of the times felt it's influence.

For me, he is obviously not only a Druid type, but one exceedingly more powerful than a typical Druid. He is alluded to as being hobbit-like but a very singular being all the same.  This, to me, indicates perhaps not being a "full blown" deity, but more on a demi-god level like a Hercules, etc...

Based on these observations,  I have decided to enter Tom into the game as a Halfling Druid Demi-god.  He is pretty much only accessible to characters by going to him in his woods and he seldom leaves there, if at all anymore.  He is most certainly one to give gifts of magical nature to those, especially Halflings, who show courage in the face of unknown and dangerous paths.

You can see how I statted him out if you follow this link to Wiki-Mage.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Reviewing AD&D Magazines, criteria

I thought I would start reviewing some of the hobbyist magazines and other published printings available to gamers of 1E.

There are a few of them out there and I thought I'd peruse some and see how they stack up.  My reviews aren't using one magazine as a measuring stick though.  I base my reviews on what I think a magazine of this type should be.

One of the areas I look at is presentation. 
  • The text should be clear and easy to read.  
  • The layout should be easy to follow and should match the Index or ToC.
  • Tables, images and special items should be listed somewhere in the ToC or index.
Editing is another important area.
  • Content should be spell and grammar checked as much as possible.
  • References, citations, and quotes should be accurate and listed when and where possible.
  • Fonts, line spacing, etc... should be consistent through the magazine.

In terms of content,  I don't mind that some of the work is less "professional" than others.  A variety of gamers send in content to magazines like these as well they should.  However, it falls back to the editors to make sure that everything all fits together.  The greater the organization of the layout, the easier it is to read and find articles later.

Perhaps one of the most important features of any such magazine is that it is archive-able.  Readers might go through it once or twice as they obtain an issue, the greatest value is remembering something later and being able to find it without too much hunting through use of ToC and/or indices that are clear and specific.

Another area to consider is how well the document prints out.  Most of these, if not all of them, are distributed as digital PDF 's and there is nothing more frustrating than trying to print out an adventure or map that is made available and due to how the pages were implemented into the PDF, it doesn't print out properly or mis-aligned, etc...

Yes, it's true that the application used to open the file can have effect on how things are displayed and printed, but overall, the vast majority of display and printing errors are able to be tracked back to how the content was added and formatted to begin with.

These are the basic criteria I will base my reviews on.  I reserve the right to critique specific articles and works of art within a specific issue of a reviewed magazine as a part of the overall review if I believe that specificity is a general reflection of an aspect of the magazine overall.

Don't worry, I don't plan to be too hard on these reviews.   I realize that these are "fan" driven and not published by trained professionals.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Filling in the empty spaces

I have a map of the U.S. that I modified, somewhat dramatically, to represent "my world" of Terra Ursa.  on that map,  I began to fill in names of countries and lands that occupy the states of the U.S.

For example, Where Nebraska should be, is a country called "Plainsland".  I didn't get too far with the designations, just a few to get things started off with and as gaming has gone on, I have filled in information about the places I did start and have begun to fill in the blank spaces on the map as well.

Just recently, I was in a ponderous mood and began to fill in more details of the country just above Plainsland, called Nishland (this occupies South Dakota's place on the map).

At first,  I only wrote that Nishland was ruled by a group of Clerics and that Paladins served as the law enforcers of the Clerics there (otherwise, I personally see very little use for Paladins).

As my son and I talked about this for awhile, we decided that Nishland is a land of Vikings.  The Norse deities are observed there and the Clerics of those deities are the leaders of the land.  Each of the greater gods has a state in the country that is devoted to that deity and temples to related deities can be found in those as well.

For example, in the state of Thor (named for the Norse god of thunder) you will find that the Clerics of Thor are in charge and the temples and halls to Thor dominate the landscape.  However, you will also find temples and halls dedicated to Sif (Thor's wife) as well as to Magni and Modi (Thor's son's) there also.

There is even a state for Loki there and it is watched cautiously as it is the one state in the country that holds the most potential for trouble.

After having decided to use Nishland for Viking people, we decided it would be fun to have the Frost Giants have been expelled from Nishland to a magically bordered land to the north of it (where North Dakota would otherwise be) referred to by those of Nishland as "Jotunheim" as a tribute to the Jotunheim of the plane of Gladsheim.

The Frost giants therein are descendants of the Jotun giants (as described in the OSRIC Manual of Monsters) and are led by a king and queen who maintain their Jotun characteristics.

Jotunheim above Nishland is an ideal place to find all kinds of cold weather terrain monsters and adventure.

In another area on the map, my son in his DM debut decided to take a place from the module he ran and use it extensively.  so, In the spot for Wyoming, a country called Doragon was founded.  A land of dragons and an ancient line of kings.  The current Ruler is Vladimir Pendragon.  Lots of elves and dwarves live in this region s it is hilly and rocky with small mountains then levels out to a heavily forested land.

We don't have all the details ironed out  but then again, that's by design as much of it we make up on the spot as we need to then add it to WikiMage, my online home for my game.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Damage, is it something you tweak?

Now, as far as I and most 1E folks I know go, pretty much everything in 1E can be tweaked.  Having said that, one of the things I have paid more attention to lately is how damage is dealt out.  It seems that more often than not, damage seems to be left "as-is".

For example, a  "lite" crossbow bolt is able to do 1d4 (1 to 4) damage while a "heavy" bolt is able to deal 1d4+1 (2 to 5) damage.

Now, there are many variables that are taken into consideration on a roll to hit and to damage.  For example, the bolt might hit, but it might have been deflected or minimized somehow by armor, etc.. (low damage roll seems to indicate this).  Perhaps the bolt hit direct and solid with little impedance and really nailed the target. (seemingly indicated by a higher dice roll result).

Now, a question from one of my Players recently made me think a bit on the idea that an arrow does 1d6 damage.  However, it was observed that there are both short bows and long bows and that arrows fired with long bows seem to be longer, thicker, more substantial arrows.  He questioned whether the bigger arrow should do the same damage as the smaller arrow fired from a shortbow would.

I think it's a good question.

Should it be a variation on the lite/heavy crossbow bolt and say the longbow arrow causes 1d6+1 damage?

Should we keep it simple and just call an arrow an arrow regardless of the bow that fires it?

Here's something else we've been talking about.  What about crits and craps?

We have discussed allowing a natural 1 on a d20 roll to be a guaranteed miss, no hit, no damage.  However, on a roll of a natural 20 with that d20 to be a guaranteed hit with full/max damage done.  If we go that way, then we talked that a "To Hit" roll on the d20 that results in the minimum required to hit would automatically result in the minimum damage possible.  Anything in between the minimum required To Hit and a natural 20 would be rolled as normal.

We haven't decided anything yet, but it's interesting to think about.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

To Be Or Not To Be, Is you an avatar or a PC?

I read somewhere recently where someone was lamenting how many people don't want to deal with PC death and rolling up new PC's.  They want to keep the same PC going for s long as possible.

Personally, I think that is a dumb question.  Of course people want to have a PC gain  high levels, it's part of the game, for one.

Secondly, for a great many people, especially new Players, the PC isn't just a chess piece pawn.  The PC is more like an avatar for themselves.  They want to see "Themselves" go as far as they can in the game.  Fighting monsters, hoarding treasure and playing with fire, magic fire.

I've found through my own experiences and talking with those around me who play the game, that the longer they play and the more familiar they become with the game in general, they become more interested in creating other PC's and the "fear" of getting a PC killed in game tends to be less of an issue.

With my kids learning to DM now, they have been choosing published modules to run.The more they read through modules to select from, the more I hear from them about how lethal so many of the 1st level games are.

First Level is a strange place to be for a PC.  It's hard to survive.  Just about anything can kill a first level PC.  Heck, stand too close to a horse that farts and they can get killed.  Try to scale the game down to mini-bites so they can have a better survival rate and they are unhappy because they want some fun and adventure and the mini-bite most surely doesn't offer that.

Open up a full blown game and good luck making it out alive.  If the Player is using the PC as an avatar, it's even more of a bummer to have to struggle to survive so soon.

The DM really has to keep in mind who the Players are and how they play the game.  Are they more avatar players or have they gotten into playing the variety?  Keeping in mind that the whole point of playing the game is for everyone to have fun, you have to tailor your game so that it works out for you and the Players, however they play their PC's.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dagger Diabolic

This dagger is possessed by a demon that exerts its influence empathically.   If in the hands of a Good or Neutral character, it's malevolent influence comes into effect and if held for only up to 4 rounds, it will act as only a +1 dagger.  If longer than 4 rounds, the wielder must save vs magic or begin to become convinced that this dagger rightfully belongs to them and will quarrel with anyone else laying claim to it.  If the save is made, the character will be repulsed by the dagger and cast it away, not wanting to handle it again.

When worn on the body somewhere upon their person, a dagger sheath, etc.. the wielder seems to be in a foul mood, irritable and short tempered. When taken in hand, the wielder feels very aggressive and especially vicious, seeming to be looking for a fight and tending toward unusual violence and cruelty.

If kept and worn for more than 4 hours, it's full effects are felt by the wielder and their personality is affected as described. In the hands of someone who has become affected by it, it operates as a +3 dagger with a chance to do 2d4 damage on a natural 20.

In the hands of an Evil aligned character, it operates as a +3 dagger with a chance to do 2d4 damage on a natural 20 with no other influence on their personality (as they are already Evil).

Casting of the Clerical spell "Dispel Evil" will disrupt the effects of the dagger on the wielder and they will be able to see the dagger for what it really is.
If "Detect Magic" is cast upon the dagger, it will be detected.

Where's the imagination?

It's good to be able to interact with other people involved in AD&D 1E or any other game or hobby.  To be able to find out how others do something or how they understand or carry out something.  It can inspire you.  It can maybe keep you from going the wrong way.

Sometimes though,  I admit to being puzzled as to why someone is even bothering to play a fantasy game at all when everything they present is so lethally boring and unimaginative.

They don't allow much, if any, magic in the game.  They don't like heroic or beyond normal abilities.  Seemingly everything must adhere to reality, despite being a fantasy game.

I admit,  I don't get it.

Speaking for myself,  I let the game be what it is.  It has magic in it, so I let there be magic.  There are fantastic creatures like talking, fire breathing dragons, so I let there be dragons.  There are super human abilities, so,  I let them be super if that's the way the dice roll.

I write game adventures that I think are fun and challenging.  I know who the Players are in my game, so I frequently toss in things I know they will think is fun and challenging.   I am the DM, I know the characters they create, the abilities they have.  I know what the potential for a PC can be if they make new ones up.   I create games around that knowledge.

There are already plenty of limitations just in the game rules , especially if you go specifically by the book. Most DM's  I know, find those limitations "too limiting" and houserule to open things up a bit more, not make them more constrictive.

 I know,  I know,  every DM runs the game in his or her own way.  Sometimes I just don't get the point of playing a game that is as dull, if not more dull, than real life.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Gladiator Games 2.0

Caesar is dead, Long Live Caesar!

In an uprising that sees the death of Caesar Brutus Darkhorse, a new government arises that has no interest in operating Gladiator games for the public.  Knowing how much the public has come to enjoy the games however, it is selling the arenas to private operators.

Instead of the government owning all the arenas, each arena is owned by a different person.  The government is regulating the operation of the games however.

Rules covering a minimum as to how much willing combatants must be paid have been established.  There are also regulations on the treatment of "Monsters" intelligent ones in particular and other aspects as well.

In arena towns, PC's can walk into an arena office and enter a "contest" similar to that of the medieval tournaments by selecting the type of opponent they want to fight and if they want to fight a "death" match which pays higher or a "subdual" match which pays lower, but guarantees that the PC will live.

Arena towns and cities also offer many things not found in other places in their effort to build a local economy based on the games.  There are magic shoppes and weapons and armorers selling their services and items to "Gladiators".  

PC's that want to "hunt" and live capture monsters for the matches have found a lucrative market as well.  Arena owners are paying top dollar for the "best" monsters.

As expected, gambling is big in arena towns as are other related crimes.  Each arena town has a thriving thieves guild.

I've even managed to turn it into a game within a game in that Players can run an arena owner as they would a PC.  They start with x amount of GP to buy an arena (the government is selling off the properties at minimal prices just to shed to weight and encourage business in local markets) and to stock it.  They must pay for things like putting up posters and buying monsters and paying the winners of the combats.  They take in money from the gate and sell vendor licenses and even get a take of the licensed gambling.

Potential Gladiators can sign up to compete up to a week ahead of the regular "Show" and prepare or they can sign up at the last minute and do the best with what they have.

There have even been whole PC parties stop into an arena town on the way to some or from some adventure and have one of or more of the PC's sign up to compete and the rest of the party place bets on their fellow party members.

Arena towns are a great place to offload treasure and pick up supplies and other items.  Gotta watch out for shady NPC's selling "magic" items out of a wagon parked behind a tavern or behind the city walls though.  That +2 DragonSlayer sword may not be what they claim it to be.

As a DM,  I have found adding the arena towns to my game have made my game a whole lot of fun.  So much potential for role-playing and interactions in an urban/suburban setting.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Those Fightin' Uruk'hai Revisited

I added Uruk'hai of Tolkien notoriety to my world some time ago.  I have been generally happy with them, but I made them too powerful so I have been looking them over in general from the book to the movies by Peter Jackson and comparing them to humanoids in general in 1E, Orcs in particular.

Orcs are a one hit dice monster in 1E.  I have little problem with that as in general, men and demi humans are also one hit dice at base as well.  Men typically have 1d6 whereas demi-humans and humanoids use a d8. They are all about the same level in general.

PC's are the exception to the rule.  They are able to accumulate much more hit points than the generic human, demi-human or humanoid as they gain new levels.

However,  Uruk'hai are not your typical humanoid.  They are created magically and with malicious intent for the purpose of killing.  They are made of sterner stuff than your average Orc.  Having said that, it's very tempting to want to overpower Uruk'hai in comparison to Orcs by giving them multiple hit dice.

That throws everything off though. Instead, what I have found that is working better was to downscale the Uruk'hai to being a 1 hd monster.  The guaranteed 3 HP wil lset them up as being tougher than your average Orc, yet still not throwing things completely out of whack.

I gave Uruk'hai leaders 1+3 and commanders are 2+3 HD.  This, to me, shows that the toughest Uruk'hai are the ones who take charge and have beaten most of the others as well as have demonstrated greater toughness on the battlefield.

I think of the scene in the Peter Jackson movie "The Fellowship of the Ring" when Uruk'hai are attacking Boromir and the rest in an effort to kidnap Frodo and recover the ring.  Most of the attacking Uruk'hai seem to go down relatively easily at the hands of Aragorn and the others with the exception of the Uruk'hai commander with the bow.  After shooting Boromir three times then being attacked from behind and stabbed then impaled by Aragorn, that Uruk'hai still has enough fortitude in him to pull himself forward on the sword to get closer to Aragorn.  Clearly this Uruk'hai is not a 1 HD creature.  It took being decapitated to stop him.

Uruk'hai will not stop, they have no fear so no need for a morale check. They will take no prisoners unless the one controlling them tells them to and then, they will just grab and go.  There are no meaningful negotiations to be had with them.

There have been arguments about Orcs in the game and if they are inherently Evil or otherwise.  This question doesn't even exist for Uruk'hai. They are made Evil.  Their purpose is to kill and subdue everything else around them.

I like these monsters.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dendrik's Shields

Dendrik was a dwarven armorer and Magic User of some limited, specific ability. He found a way to imbue a +2 shield with a 10' protection spell.

For every 2 Hit Points of damage taken by the shield/circle of protection, 1 charge is removed from the shield. Each shield had 1d20 charges to it and once the charges are reduced to zero, it operates as a normal +2 shield. The shield can be recharged by a Magic User.

 To use the shield with the prot. power, the command word must be spoken (Dwarven word for "Dendrik Protect Us")when raising the shield. As long as the shield is raised and the words are spoken, the protection will hold. If the shield is removed, or the command to cease protection is spoken ("We are safe" in dwarvish.) the protection will cease.

Anyone within 10' of the shield bearer will be protected from all physical attacks including hand, weapon or missile attacks. Breath weapons such as dragonfire breathing are blocked as well.

Only 1d6 of these shields are rumored to exist.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Faldril's Enchanted Weapons

Faldril was a Blacksmith of superior ability. His weapons were the gleam in any fighting man's eye. One thing that Faldril wanted to make most was magic weapons so that he could take his craft to what he felt was the "next level". His deity, Qrandril The Steel-eyed, took notice one day of Faldril's workmanship when the great smith made a war hammer of such high quality that he held it high over his head and dedicated the weapon to Qrandril himself.

Impressed with the incredible worksmanship and the way that Faldril gave credit for his talent and skill to the deity so readily, Qrandril saw the blacksmith's wish in his heart and beginning with that hammer, granted the ability to enchant every weapon of similar quality with a special enchantment.
The sign of Qrandril's enchantment on one of the weapons was made known by the weapon being illuminated with a dim silvery light emanting from it

Beginning with the first war hammer and subsequent weapons, Faldril's Highest quality weapons carry these abilities.:

Each weapon has a +2 bonus To Hit and To Damage.

On a roll of a natural 20, the weapon releases a concussive blast doing 3d10 damage to the target and pending a save vs magic, 1d10 damage to all foes within 10' of the target.

On a roll of 5 over the minimum required To Hit roll on a d20, the weapon will do typical damage of the War Hammer, with an extra bonus of +2

If a natural 1 on a d20 To Hit roll results, the damage called for (if craps are used) is only half of damage rolled.

Faldril, over his lifetime, made 1d10 enchanted War Hammers, 1d10 enchanted Swords and 1d10 enchanted Battle Axes.

The line between Role-Playing and Play-Calling

When it comes to playing games like AD&D 1E is that being an RPG (Role Playing Game) many, if not most, of the adventures are written so as to be Role-Played out.  Imagine that.

But, Role-Playing has an elasticity of it's own when it comes to defining the term.  To some, it means becoming a Type 1 Shakespearean actor and assuming the identity of the character in question.  To others it means taking a Type 2, "HI, I'm Bob, now I'm Falstaff the Fighter." outlook where the delivery of dialogue and role are more laid back and generalized.

Then, for many, there really isn't any "Role-Playing" happening at all.  These are usually the Play-Callers.  It is more like having a narrator describing the the goings on of the scene.  "My Fighter, Falstaff tells the store owner that he wants to buy a sword and a s quiver of arrows."

As a DM,  I have no real problem with either of these types of Players.  Well, truth be told, the all out actor does get on my nerves after the first five minutes or so.

When it comes to running games though, the DM/GM can face a minor dilemma when setting the stage, so to speak, in an adventure.  There are some published modules out there that one can tell the author really foresaw or intended for there to be a lot of dialogue and one to one interaction between PC's and NPC's.

The Role-Player Will usually get all excited and champ at the bit when these moments come up because this is what the game is all about for them.  Play-Callers get bored in these moments because there's really not much for them to "do" in these situations besides wait out the interaction.

I have been reading "& Magazine" recently, catching up through the past issues and I have noticed that for the most part, the authors and contributors are really into creating interactions for Role-Playing throughout the magazine.  Often using mini stories to present the information.  I get it, that's fine, interesting from a Fantasy reader's POV.

Another thing the magazine does a lot of is to present new spells and enchanted items, etc... for readers to implement into their own games.   More often than not, the presentation is set up so as to make the accumulation or acquiring of said items a mini-adventure in itself.

When I read these articles,  I think to myself, this would be a petty cool solo adventure for a PC to go on in between larger adventures or as part of training to level up.

Then  I also stop to consider how will a Role-Player take to this as opposed to a Play-Caller?  Half of the deal involves me as the DM Role-Playing the NPC part of the interaction.  Personally, as DM and especially as a Player,  I am much more comfortable as a Type 2 Role-Player or as a Play-Caller.  How much do I want to make the interaction drag out?

Let's be honest here, Role-Playing can be quite fun and add a lot to the story and experience of playing the game.  It also can add a lot of time to a game session and if there is a limited bloc of time available, most cuts take out the most elaborate Role-Play interaction segments of the game.  That's just the impact of time management in the game.

I can say from the experience of playing the game as DM with a 12 year old boy and a 14 year old girl that when they allow themselves to relax enough to get into the Role-Playing and interaction things can get very interesting and fun (and funny), yet more often than not, in the interest of keeping the game a bit more fast paced, they tend to do half Type 2 Role-Play and half Play-Call.

Next post, I'll bring up solo adventures and dealing with minutiae and details of acquiring/making specific items.

Bram Stoker would want you to have this

A "Band of Stoker" is an armband worn by an adventurer and when attacked by undead, for each attack that would normally drain life force/level, the band absorbs the evil. Each band starts as gold colored. After the first attack absorbed, it changes to silver color. After the second attack absorbed, it changes to copper color at the third attack it absorbs, it changes to a dull lead grey color and is no longer able to absorb the evil attacks.

The band can be restored to the next highest level it started as. so at first restoration, it can be made silver. at second restore, it can be made copper. After that, no more restoration of that band.

Restoration must be done by a cleric of 7th level or higher. Band must have "Exorcism" spell cast upon it then "Bless" spell once for each level of restoration.

The armband also adds a penalty to hit to the undead attacking of -1 for each of the "Bless" spells cast upon it. so, a new band would have a penalty of -3 at Gold. At Silver, -2. At Copper, -1.

Occurrence: Rare.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Back to the Cleric's role in the party

I was reading an issue of "& Magazine" recently (a good magazine.  you should check it out) and I saw the discussion of how to play a cleric.  It went by the old standby advice of essentially being a healbot because the Cleric isn't a front-line Fighter.

Personally,  I disagree with this notion, but it is prevalent in the game and so  I began to think about the question, "What do you do with a Cleric if you do not use it on the front lines?"

I like to do it this way;

The Cleric makes an excellent bodyguard for non-fighters like Magic Users and Illusionists.  With first level spells like Light, Protection From Evil and Detect Evil, he or she most certainly fits in along the first line or just behind it. 

Like I've said in earlier posts, the Cleric is not merely some churchy parish priest here, he is, a Hero scale "Dog of War" for his deity.  There are "regular" priest types in every temple and church in every village, town and city you go into.  The Cleric is an emissary from that deity itself.  He over-rules any regular priest in a church.

Yes, the Cleric has numerous healing spells.  That doesn't mean he has to be a walking Band Aid though.Healing is for the innocent or those who "earn" it with valor and heroic deeds.  That's a valuable spell slot that could easily be used to defend the party or attack an evil enemy.  Healing has to be warranted, not expected to be handed out like candy on Halloween.

While it's usually frowned upon to charge party members and team mates for healing, or the innocent bystanders, there is every reason to expect that "hey, through me, my deity has just expended some serious energy and maybe a minor miracle to help you out here."  It's not unreasonable to ask for a tribute or small recognition to the deity that helped.  Also, for bigger scale actions like restoration, resurrection, etc...  we're gonna have a chat about conversion here soon.  If not conversion, then maybe going on a quest or some such in the near future.

I have no problem seeing a Cleric leading a group of Paladins dedicated to the same deity into righteous battle (or, conquestive battle if this is an evil deity bent on conquest). 

One of these days, I'm going to have a Cleric PC have some Paladin Henchmen and just go out and whoop the snot out of some wicked evil-doers.  They'd be like the A-Team of that deity.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Potion Pondering

A little something I have been using in my games.  Just thought I'd share.  You might like them, you might not.  Use them as you will.

Potion of Tongues

This potion allows the person who drinks it to read, speak and understand any language.

The potion comes in a heavy crystal vial with 3 notches marked on it dividing the vial into 4ths. If a character drinks 1/4th of a vial, the potion will work for 15 minutes. Each 1/4th of a vial that is taken, is good for 15 minutes with the whole potion good for 1 hour.

However, After the potion wears off, the character will remember nothing of what was said, heard or read. Any witnesses will be able to remember and the character can write things down if possible, but they will have no memory of the communications at all.

The Everfull Option
If any potion is obtained from a trapped location or from a high level source, this option allows for the DM to determine that there is a 1d10 percent chance that the vial in question is an "Everfull" vial.

 This means that once the vial has been emptied, capped and put away for 24 hours, when it is pulled out again, it will have been magically refilled with the same potion.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Watery Dungeon Crawl

by Tony Sandoval
for a party of 4 to 6, levels 2 to 4, PC’s

In the Kingdom of Agua Pescado, the High Priest/ruler of the land has asked for help in finding a lost item.

When the party comes together and arrives in the temple courtroom, Ol-Obsidian, the High Priest explains that a very valuable item has been stolen from the temple that is of the highest value to the kingdom. The Divine Pearl was taken by thieves. An artifact that was a gift to the people of Agua Pescado from the sea god Kra-Kon himself for some of the fishermen of the area finding and rescuing one of his daughters, protecting her from harm. It is by the presence of this pearl that the kingdom by the sea has not suffered sea storms or any trouble from the sea in the past 300 years. in it’s absence, the kingdom has been experiencing storms and attacks from sea creatures which they have been unprepared for due to never having to face them for so long.

The High Priest knows exactly where the pearl is because he asked the sea god Kra-Kon to strike down the thieves and return the pearl to them. While Kra-Kon did indeed punish the thieves in a most unmerciful manner, he was only able to provide a map to the current location of the pearl after the ship it was on sank beneath the waves in the onslaught against the thieves.

The pearl is in a locked chest in the wreck of the ship on the sea floor. Kra-kon has set certain creatures to guard the chest from would be pirates and new thieves, but the creatures find it difficult to tell friend from foe, so the going will not be easy as the sea itself aggressively defends the chest and pearl.

It is the party’s task to retrieve the chest and pearl to the High Priest. Ol Obsidian tells the adventurers that if they do manage to find and retrieve the chest to him, Kra-Kon has vowed that the party will find vast treasures from nearby shipwrecks on the sea floor that have been sunk or wrecked over the centuries in the area. Once the pearl is safe on land, the sea and creatures will allow safe passage to the adventurers to investigate and retrieve the treasure.

The map indicates that the party must strike out from a beach about 3 miles south of the kingdom to a rock island approx. a mile or so offshore near a rock formation. From the rocks, the adventurers will have to get down to the sea floor, some 100 feet down, find the specific sunken ship among that are down there and retrieve the chest with the pearl to the rocks before they will be allowed to bring any treasure up.

The area of sea is renowned for being infested with all manner of dangerous sea creatures such as sharks, octopus and other mysterious creatures that rumors only guess at.

DM Note: The party will have to make their way to the rocks and dive down to the floor and search each of the ships to find which is the correct ship, then searching the ship for the chest with the pearl. This will likely require multiple trips from the surface to the floor as they investigate each of the ships in random order of discovery or in order of DM preference.

More details to come

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

All In all, he did fine

Well, My son and us finished the game he was DMing tonight. Overall, I'd say he handled it pretty well.

He wasn't as familiar with the game as he could/should have been. He was a bit to lenient, in my opinion in the monster encounters as well. Then again, he was just excited to pit the monsters against us without having TPK on his hands.

He gave away way too much treasure in terms of magical items.

In context though, it was a fun game and he seemed happy that he got through it all without asking me to take over (his words). Basically, he dealt with issues all first time DMs's deal with.

He wants to DM again, that's a good sign. I know I and my daughter both said we enjoyed the game and would play with him as DM again. Which made him feel good.

Now, my daughter is looking even more forward to her turn as DM next week. We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

He's at the plate, he swings and he....

Hits a double. First time out, I don't think that's a bad thing at all. Pretty darn good for a kid taking his first crack at DMing an AD&D 1E game.

For those not in the know (Gasp, you haven't been following this page faithfully?!) my 12 year old son is taking up the reigns of DM for the first time.

He started with a simple dungeon crawl last week generated at DonJon random generator and got his toes wet. He did OK. It made him realize that he wasn't nearly as well prepared as he thought he was, despite ole Dad trying to give him some pointers on game prep. Gotta let them walk or fall on their own, can't do it for them.

Then we printed out a first level module from DragonsFoot called "DragonMount". He selected it himself. I figure he would pay more attention and invest himself in it more if it was something that he chose on his own and was interested in personally.

We played for about 3.5 hours yesterday in one long session. We didn't finish the adventure in one sitting, we'll try to do that today if possible. He seems to think we got through most of it yesterday.

I'm not looking over his shoulder or anything like that. I do let him call a "time out" when he feels the need so that I can put on my "DM Hat" and help him to figure out or understand something as he goes along. So far, he feels pretty good about it. Thinks he wants to keep on DMing beyond this. This is a good thing in my opinion.

My 14 year old daughter takes her turn at DMing next week. After watching him do it, she is raring to go.

Here's how I see it. Learning to play AD&D 1E is one thing and it can slip away easily. I have known many, many people who were players at one point in time then got away from the game and never went back.

When they learn to be a DM and run their own games, you have then actually "passed the torch" and they are more likely to play the game much longer going forward. I'm an example of that myself.

Them learning to be a DM is actually giving them the whole game. They no longer "need" you in order to play anymore. They can take their experience and maybe find other kids or people to introduce the game to on their own. Hopefully, though once beginning to DM, they may no longer "need" me in order to play, they will still game with me anyway for a long time to come.

Personally, this is one of my favorite ways to spend time with my kids. Everybody is working together, having fun, laughing and engaging in a little friendly competition. I get to use the game as a teaching tool at the same time. How to think, how to strategize, how to use reasoning skills. How to safely and in a healthy way blow steam off from the "real" world without getting drunk, getting stoned or getting in trouble.

I have also given them a hobby instead of just a game. Once you begin to DM, you can spend all kinds of time with just a pencil and paper inventing new dungeons, planning out encounters and future games.

I can also say I've given them a new appreciation of "story" and reading. They have, since beginning to play, been hitting the public library up almost non-stop for two years now reading some great books like, "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings", The original Robert E Howard books of Conan and so many more. They are reading mythology and folk tales from various cultures. Why? because it all helps them to get a better understanding of what they are up against in the games. It gives them some perspective.

I love this game.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Monster Manual 2

I have been known to say on occasion that the only "true" core books in 1E are the Players Handbook, the Dungeon Masters Guide and the Monster Manual. Everything beyond those three are not "core" and thus are accessorial only, Completely unnecessary.

Having said that. I must admit that I am a fan of the Monster Manual 2 (MM2. not necessarily because of the monsters listed in it. Truth be told, I think at good 50% or more of them are beyond stupid and I will never likely use in a game.


The supplemental information provided at the beginning and after the monster listings is just plain awesome. I love the Wandering Monster tables that are included. The "How To" make your own Wandering Monster table using the commonalities groupings and the subsequent customized tables of monsters provided for DM use in said tables.

Are those tables and information "necessary" to the game? Of course not, but they sure are handy as all get out.Anther great add in to the MM2 is the dice roll table at the beginning of the book. An example is how useful this table is would be that my kids are now beginning to try their hands at DMing games. As they immerse themselves into learning the varied mechanics of the DM, seeing the sometimes "weird" (as said by my 12 year old son who is DMing a game this weekend for us) die rolls called for had him stumped until I showed him this table in the MM2.

When he saw that a giant rat does 1-2 damage in a bite attack, he was wondering how he would roll 1d2? He didn't have one of those. That's when I broke the MM2 table out for him. (for those not in the know, the table says to roll 1d6 with 1-3 being a result of "1" and 4-6 being a result of "2".)

It really is the inclusion of tools such as these that make the MM2 worth the money spent on it. I could live without the monsters it added to the mix.

Educated idiots and foolish geniuses

In the game of AD&D 1E (and OSRIC as well) there are six character ability scores that determines a characters "power" in the game, so to speak.

Intelligence (INT) is one of these scores and Wisdom (WIS) is another. These are what I want to look at today. I don't know about you or other DM/GM's out there, but I find from time to time a need to check against a PC's ability score to determine if they would be likely to know something in particular, would be able to reason a problem out in a certain amount of time, if they were very gullible or not, etc...

In the game, INT is supposed to be a catchall for all things "smart". some people would lump in sensibility along with that, but I don't. WIS already has "street smarts" covered in taking one's life experiences and the ability to draw upon those experiences to inform a decision or even change a decision process entirely.

Essentially, I look at INT as covering education (mostly formal) combined with the ability to "think on one's feet".

WIS on the other hand is the ability to learn from one's experiences (how good their "gut" is) and how gullible or naive one is.

Looking at it this way, you can certainly reflect "real life" situations in PC's by having highly intelligent and educated characters who get conned and buffaloed constantly. You can also have the canny and savvy person who never really went to school for whatever reasons.

Find that character with a high WIS and INT score and there you have someone who will usually get along just fine in the world no matter who or what they are up against. Wait a minute, you have Detective Columbo!!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I Am A: Neutral Good Human Ranger (6th Level)

Ability Scores:







Neutral Good A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment when it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Rangers are skilled stalkers and hunters who make their home in the woods. Their martial skill is nearly the equal of the fighter, but they lack the latter's dedication to the craft of fighting. Instead, the ranger focuses his skills and training on a specific enemy a type of creature he bears a vengeful grudge against and hunts above all others. Rangers often accept the role of protector, aiding those who live in or travel through the woods. His skills allow him to move quietly and stick to the shadows, especially in natural settings, and he also has special knowledge of certain types of creatures. Finally, an experienced ranger has such a tie to nature that he can actually draw on natural power to cast divine spells, much as a druid does, and like a druid he is often accompanied by animal companions. A ranger's Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that he can cast.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Band of Stoker

A "Band of Stoker" is an armband worn by an adventurer and when attacked by undead, for each attack that would normally drain life force/level, the band absorbs the evil. Each band starts as gold colored.

After the first attack absorbed, it changes to silver color. After the second attack absorbed, it changes to copper color at the third attack it absorbs, it changes to a dull lead grey color and is no longer able to absorb the evil attacks.

The band can be restored to the next highest level it started as. so at first restoration, it can be made silver, at second restore, it can be made copper. After that, no more restoration of that band.

Restoration must be done by a cleric of 7th level or higher.  Band must have "Exorcism" spell cast upon it then "Bless" spell once for each level of restoration.

The armband also adds a penalty to hit to the undead attacking of -1 for each of the "Bless" spells cast upon it. so, a new band would have a penalty of -3 at Gold. At silver, -2. At Copper, -1.

How Charming

I've been watching a discussion on a thread in DF regarding the "Charm Person" spell for a couple days now.  I've chipped in a couple times in response to a question but I have been otherwise just reading with interest many of the responses, some of which seem, to me, to take such a first level spell WAAAAY overboard.

I can see how people can abuse such a spell just as I can see how easy it is to get carried away with it.

Here's my take on the spell.

It gives the caster about the same influence over a target that a person the target puts on a pedestal like someone they are a fan of or that they idolize.  They will do just about anything (within certain parameters) to impress the caster as they would their idol.  If that idol should let them down, seriously disappoint them, bring them to harm, etc... the person "opens their eyes" so to speak and just like in the spell, it is over.

It's not meant to be a total mind control spell. it won't let you turn the target into your slave or robot.

Someone brought up the difference between the effect of Charm that a monster such as a vampire casts on victims and the Charm Person spell and I agree, the monster's version is more like that of a cult leaders influence.  It's akin to being brainwashed instead of being "star struck".

There is already a spell that gives more influence to a caster in the third level spell, "Suggestion" which is more like the Jedi mind control Obi Wan uses to cause people to think, "These are not the droids you're looking for."

Does the target "know" they have been placed under a spell while it is occurring?   I think that depends on the situation where the DM has to decide if the circumstances are so contrary or out of normal for the person to question their own "thoughts", otherwise, probably not.

Will the target, if they realize they are actually a spell target, be unhappy about that?  I think that's a stupid question.  The caster in question better have some options at hand just in case such a target snaps out of their control.

How long will the target stay under the spell?  According to the spell, so long as they keep failing anticipated savings throws, indefinitely.  The more intelligent the target, the less likely they will stay "Charmed", again, based on the saving throw schedule.

Can you use the charmed person/monster as a solider/bodyguard?  That depends on the nature of the target to begin with.  If they are not a fighter type to begin with and the request is not phrased just so, then highly doubtful.

If they are a fighter type personality and the caster couches the request in such a way that makes sense to the target, then probably so.  You'd pretty much have to make it seem like it was their idea, seeing as it can directly place the target in danger.

Are said charmed targets the same as a henchman? Do they count against the henchman limits of CHA?  Personally, I'd say no.  It's not a "Create Henchman" spell.  The point of the spell is to make someone friendly to you without having to take the time to build a friendship.  I see this spell more as something to help you get into a restricted access area or to get help finding something or someone, etc...

I see "Charm Person" as part of a Role Players game rather than in a Chess Masters game in that the real use and fun of using such a spell is based on the role playing interaction with the NPC's and other PC's encountered.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Who was that Player Character anyway?

Just thought I'd share something I do in regard to role playing a variety of PC's.  It's not unheard of around here to have Players playing anywhere from about 1 to 4 PC's at one time in a given game session.  Whether that is all PC's or a combination of PC's and NPC's, it happens. (of course, if it's NPC's such as Henchmen, the DM (usually me) takes on more of an active role in determining things and the following is even more helpful I've found.

What I like to do when rolling up new characters is to use the NPC tables in the back of the DMG for NPC creation.  These let you figure out the personality (somewhat) and dispostion of the character.

I like to think I am a pretty creative guy.   I really like to give each character  I create it's own unique back story and/or personality.   I don't want every character to just be a shadow of every other character I have run.

Having said that, sometimes I don't have the luxury, time or ambition to go into all that, especially if I have just rolled up 2 or more characters at once.

So,  I go to the back of the DMG and roll on the random tables to get a unique and random "personality" for the character.  When things come up as to how the PC will react to something in game or what they might do in a certain situation and it is not obvious to me at that moment,  I just look at the notes where I wrote all those down and it essentially tells me what the character would do.

I also keep a list of each monster that individual character has encountered as it goes along on the notes section of it sheet.  That way,  I know if that particular character has faced that particular monster or not and I can roleplay the character's action/reaction to it appropriately.

I do believe in the point of roleplay where the Player may be a 30 year veteran that has seen it all but the PC is a brand new PC and hasn't faced anything yet.  Sometimes though, it's hard to separate one PC from another and that knowledge seems to get passed on anyway.  Some Players give up and figure that it's easier to assume their PC does know what the player knows.

I prefer to keep things fresh per character.  I think of myself as a spectator in those cases where I know what's coming but I can;t act like the character knows.  Like watching a god old monster movie and yelling at the tv to the her o even though you've seen it a hundred times, the hero still isn't going to hear you yelling.  heh heh.

Passing on the torch

My son (12) wants to give a shot at being a DM.  I let him select a published mod from DragonsFoot and printed it out for him to prep for running a game within a week or two.

I started him with a quick and dirty little random dungeoncrawl generated on DonJon then he looked it over and decided he wanted to try to "tweak it",  I figured,  "why not?"  go ahead.  Hasn't even started DM'ing and he 's already a homebrewer, how do  I argue with that?

He did a quick run through of the dungeon crawl last night to get a better idea of how things work DM'ing a game.   I ran 4 PC's through the dungeon with different classes to give him an idea of how things work.

He had fun,  I had fun.  At the end, he realized he got carried away adding stuff and making a 1st level dungeon way too difficult for 1st level PC's, so then he pared back to almost too weak.  You could even tell when he realized things were going off path for his expectations.  I gave him some help  , but wanted to let him get a feel for riding solo, so to speak. 

I think he did pretty good overall.  I think he'll study the "big" module from DF better now as being unfamiliar with the crawl was one of his biggest problems, though he insisted beforehand he was familiar with it.  BUSTED!

The DF module is "DragonMount", a level 1 module.  The dragon focus is interesting to him so he'll be likely to read it over and get better familiar with it  I guess.

I've let him look over both the 1E DMG and the OSRIC guide and after giving him about a week to use both to look things up and to use them both to prepare for the dungeon crawl, I asked him which he prefered.

He said he thinks he would like the DMG more once he got more familiar with where everything is at in the book, but he really prefers the OSRIC guide as he thought it was easier to find what he was looking for and easier to understand.

Gotta give OSRIC major props.

I'll post on how the "big" game goes in about a week or so when we get a chance to play it out.

What's really trippy for me here is that my kids started playing this game about two years ago, after finding the books and getting me to run a game for them.

Now, not only have both of them continued to keep interest and continue to play for almost two years, they both want to try their hand at being DM.

How cool is that?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

new adventures

Holy Moly, it's been a day or two since I've posted here.

I've been kind of busy lately, haven't even had a lot of time for the games this last month.

Things are settling down for the Fall/Winter though so I will be getting back at it again, at least somewhat more.

I have been having a lot of fun with the Monster Hunters campaign and over the past couple of games, i have sort of developed an arch-enemys plot between Herschel, the founder of the Monster Hunters and Farvan Zu'ul, a chaotic-Evil Cleric set on bringing the world to it's knees and has gotten Herschel in his line of sight as his greatest adversary in accomplishing that.

Farvan is now at the point where he will be able to accomplish some really nasty and powerful things as he quests for specific items of power from his deity which will help him achieve his goal.

He is encountering Herschel's teams more frequently and though they come close, they are always a few steps behind him.  As Herschel's team gets closer, Farvan Zu'ul gets more confident.  He is leaving taunting messages for Herschel.

Though Herschel is a tough and talented fighter, his greatest strength is in recruiting and training talented PC's and putting teams together that will complement each member of that team.  He has a real eye for leadership that has gotten him over many a seemingly unstoppable obstacle.  Will his hand picked teams be able to help him stop Farvan Zu'ul before it is too late?

I like to write adventures as DM neutral, meaning that I just try to write a good game and may the best PC/Player win.  The real fun in it for me is to put together a good story in which the Players can piece together evidence and resources and succeed in dangerous places, on dangerous missions against dangerous adversaries.

For the detectives among them, I like to place clues and details that will catch their attention and be put to use.  for the brawlers, I like to pit them against adversaries that challenge not only their fighting abilities, but their tactical skills as well.

As my kids, who are the Players in my games, have become better Players,  I am forced to write better adventures.   I like the challenge.  This is how I have fun, aside from playing with bees that is.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Wands of a type

I am looking at creating wands that can cast from a type of spell.  for example.  Wand of healing.  This wand can cast all the Clerical healing types of spells. Cure Light Wounds, Cure Serious Wounds, Cure Critical Wounds, Cure Blindness, Cure Disease, Heal, Neutralize Poison and Regenerate.

The spells involving the dead are not included.

For Clerics and non-Clerics except Fighters (Fighter classes cannot use the wand), the wand has 50 charges and each spells consumes as many charges as the spell level.  ie a seventh level spell like Regenerate costs 7 charges from the wand.

The wand can only be recharged by a Cleric of sufficient level to cast 7th level spells and prays consistently for 7 days straight for a 75% chance the deity will recharge the wand.  (rolled on the 7th day of prayer)

The cost to re-charge such a wand is 10,000 GP per highest spell level (70,000 GP) and a promise of a quest on behalf of the Cleric and/or Deity who re-charged the wand.

Still working on similar wands. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Wands are powerfully dangerous

A wand is like any other tool that channels energy through it to come to some end result projected through it.  guns, air hammers, elctric drills, etc.. all share a commonality in that ther eis a chance for them to go awry.  misfire, not fire at all, backfire even.

Depending on the nature and quality of the item, those chances are raised or lowered, but are sill present in some way.

I treat wands, rods and staves the same way.  These are a magic users (and sometimes other PC's) "power tools".  Having just one of them can be a total game changer.  It can allow a PC that normally wouldn't stand a chance against a monster to be able to defeat it rather handily.

but, in my world, wands, rods and staves are wielded very carefully because the possessor knows or finds out soon enough sometimes that even wands have a chance to not fire or backfire and cause damage to themselves.

This makes wielding that wand of fireballs a bit of a sticky thing.  yes, the damage it can do to an opponent is great (6d6 to everything in it's area of effect) but, the very idea that the wielder has a chance for it to blow up in his/her hand causing that same damage to themself and any of their teammates nearby, well, that makes them think harder about if the situation is dire enough to call for it's employment.

Also, the chance for it to misfire, meaning not fire at all on that attempt, could seriously hose a plan of attack. Sure, it could be the saving grace of the mission, or it could make it's wielder and the party come out looking like bumbling fools.

I think MU's and other magic using classes need to have wands, rods, staves, rings, etc... available to them, even at lower levels.

As soon as they reach levels enabling to make those items,  I allow for it, BUT the lowest level able to make them leaves the items with the highest risks.  Each level gained above that minimum level reduces the risk of backfire or misfire to a certain minimum.

Of course, they don't have to make the items themselves all the time.   I make these common enough that they can be purchased in most higher end magick shoppes.  Again, with the risk for each item at various levels of risk as determined by a percentage dice roll.

Magic is powerful, but it is dangerous as well.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

There's magic and then there's magic

You may have not realized this, but magic as built in to AD&D 1E.  Yes, I know, you might have missed the concept entirely.  Good thing I pointed that out huh?  This could change the whole game for you now.

Seriously though,  I get to talk with a lot of folks who act like magic in the game is a bad or rare thing.  it's their game, they can run it however they like.   I have no problem with that.   I just don't understand it.

Here you have a fantasy game with magic just oozing out of every crack and crevice in the book, just begging to be put to use.  Some DM's act like the merest mention of magic is a wicked thing.

Not here.  I let the magic flow freely.  It starts with my whole outlook on the game world.  My world i not just some replica of a medieval map guided by historic ideas of medieval life and technology.  Nosirree Bob.

My world is more like an alternate universe in which magic takes the place of "high" technology.  Magic is everywhere and at various scales or levels of influence.

I do divide magic into two types.  There is "Common" magic and then there is "Divine" magic.  Common magic is magic made or done by people.  Common magic is, well, common.  You can find enchanted items and spellcasters in most places.

Divine magic, on the other hand, is rare and doesn't just "happen".  This is the power of the deities.  Most often turning up, if and when they ever turn up, in the form of Artifacts and Cursed items.

You can find enchanted items like weapons, armor, rings, cloaks, etc.. in urban and suitable places everywhere.  the more powerful the enchantment, the less likely you are to find it.  This is usually because most magic users die off before they reach the levels required to make the really potent magics.

If PC's want to find certain enchanted items, again things like weapons, armor, etc.. they really aren't too hard to find.  They get more expensive the more powerful the enchantment on them though, due to that less commonly found powerful magic user surviving long enough.

A party can walk into most towns and find a magic shoppe or magic user in residence who can help them obtain the more common types of things.

Artifacts are rare, exceedingly rare and these usually require a quest or the like to obtain. maybe.  Why?  Because Divine magic is insanely powerful and doesn't become less powerful as though it's batteries ran out or something after so many uses.  Once the item is touched by divine power, it stays that way.

Just a little something about magic in my world I thought I'd share.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Playing a visual game

I see discussion talking about use of miniatures in the game.  They provide a good visual in terms of keeping track of the action.  Miniatures are OK for AD&D if you have the money and the opportunity to actually find ones that pertain to the game.

But for those who aren't interested in miniatures or are not able to buy them, there is still good old fashioned paper and pencil. After all these games, my players finally asked about how to get a better idea of what is going on in a melee situation as I describe it.

I told them make a map, just like they do in a dungeon.  This is part of asking questions of the DM as the party enters areas unexplored, except this map is for the Players rather than the PC's.After having a "melee map" a couple of times now, they are beginning to realize the value of asking detailed and specific questions.

They are also able to ask better questions now that they can "see" what is being described to them and what has not yet been described. 

They have a better idea where opponents are in relation to where their characters are and how they move as the action happens.  It  helps them to strategize better and describe the actions and intentions of their characters.

All in all, even though I have been telling them about doing this for over a year, they are getting a better appreciation for the game and say that the simple "melee maps" make the game even more fun and interesting to them.   I don't really mind that it took them this long to get the idea of this.  Everything happens in it's own time.

Having them draw the action out also helps me as I am also better able to keep track of what I am describing to them.  It is made even more important as I frequently involve a lot of randomness and on-the-spot invention.

So, if anyone out there who, like me, has kids who have pulled them back into the game,  think about having them draw out the action as it happens.  We call it making a melee map but you can just think of it as bringing the action in front of your eyes instead of just being in your mind.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

HMH - Herschel's Monster Hunters

Well, the new campaign is off and running.  The first game is underway.  The PC's have all been trained, armed and prepped as well as they could be.

There is no mercy.  They are going in, looking for trouble hoping to hit huge bounties, treasures and more.  They can expect to die on any given mission.  TPK?  Oh yes, there can be TPK.

As usual,  I do a lot of game creation on the fly.  Make it up as I go along.  They ask questions and they get answers.  (again, I usually make those answers up on the spot)  if they don't ask questions, they are leaving themselves in more danger than they need to be.   That's what you get when you don't take your wits with you on a monster hunt.  No pity, no mercy.

This is a guts and glory kind of game.  Play big, live big, win big, die spectacularly.  In many cases, they will have to pull miracles out of their rear ends.  If they want to win that is.

So far in this first game, they have a team of five.  Four PC's and one henchman, that have been called in to rescue a village from a nightmare.  it seems that a pack of Wargs, evil wolves as big as cattle, have been sent by an unknown spellcaster to prey on the small village.

That's what the party knows so far anyway.  I hate to tell them that's only the half of the situation, but they'll find out soon enough.  The Players had to break actually just before they take on the Wargs, so this should be interesting.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Initiative in my world.

I see a lot of posts in various forums about initiative.  Weapon Speed and starting segments and all the typical stuff.

If anything,  I have tried to keep initiative simple in my game.  There is no use of Weapon speed nor is there a need to worry about segments.

I use group initiative and the winner gets the jump on the loser for the entire first round.  The only worry a Magic user has in regard to spells is if the spell takes longer than 1 round to cast or take effect.  Then there is a chance to be interrupted.  That's it.

Is this realistic?  Of course not.  Is my game a war simulator?  Of course it isn't.  You win initiative or you lose initiative.  Them's the breaks.

If you're into a more realistic combat scene, then I guess using things like weapon speed, etc.. would be important to the process.  I look at combat in my game like a highlight reel from a football game or boxing match.  All the details get looked over and the exciting stuff is what we focus on.

I'm not saying that using the individual initiative or weapon speed and such is bad or wrong.  It depends on who is running a particular game.  That's just not the kind of DM I am.   I don't think my method is bad or wrong either, only different.

I have to admit, it is interesting to see how elaborate and detailed some of the initiative threads can get about the subject.  Holy cow!    You'd think the fate of the world depended on it being done exactly one certain way.

An MHI Inspired Campaign

We've decided to re-create a Monster Hunters oriented campaign inspired by the book series "Monster Hunters International" by Larry Correia.

Now, MHI is based on modern day people using modern day weapons in the "real world".   Sort of.  While I am not one who sees AD&D 1E necessarily as a "medieval" world,  I do see it a an "alternate" world in which technology has taken a different route and"science" has been replaced by "magic".

Given that,  I think I can create a pretty cool Monster Hunters campaign in the spirit of the MHI books.

As a matter of fact,  I already have a "primary" NPC in a previous campaign that never really got off the ground which would be excellent as an AD&D 1E version of an "Earl Harbinger" (the leader of MHI in the books) complete with a compound/base of operations and everything a team of monster hunters might need or want to go off taking down the baddest of the bad.  Though my leader isn't a werewolf.

PC's will be able to collect a "bounty" on targeted monsters though they have to give a percentage to the team.  They have access to all kinds of awesome weapons and tools, for a price.  And like MHI, they have access to NPC's who are specialists who might go along with the team, again, for the right price.

These are bounty hunters who specialize in tracking down and killing monsters.  AD&D 1E is a perfect place for them.  However, the players have been warned that the game is going to be rougher on them. 

It's all "gloves off" since they are knowingly going toe to toe with any monster they get called  for.  Having said that, the rewards are going to be greater as well.  Lots of treasure and XP to go around.  Constant training and preparation for the next mission will keep them hungry.

I'm excited to give this campaign a go.  The Players seem eager to pit themselves against the monsters knowing that it won't be easy going on them.

God,  I love AD&D 1E.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Uruk-hai looking for a wife

I have added Uruk-hai as an NPC race to my game.  One of the aspects of them is that they are created by evil clerics of the god Uruk Khan who gives them life.

At creation, all Uruk-hai are males..  This is primarily for control over their numbers.  However, say the evil cleric who created the Uruk-hai should die before all the Uruk-hai were all dead.

Would the Uruk-hai be able to mate with females of other humanoids to perpetuate the species or not?  This is the question  Iam pondering.

If so, then I am inclined to think they might only be able to breed with orcs or half-orcs. Then again,  I am also inclined to think that they might be able to breed with any "magical" race such as elves as well.

Think of the story possibilities if a band of renegade Uruk-hai, bereft of creator cleric, should take to raiding orc and elf villages and towns to capture females with which to breed more Uruk-hai.

On the other hand, being magically created in such a way, it's highly plausible that they cannot breed at all and would simply die out as their raids and rampages eventually caused them to die off.

This could lead them on a path to hunt down other evil clerics in an effort to compel them to align with Uruk Khan and create more Uruk-hai.

Also, what possibilties exist that one of the created Uruk-hai could develop the ability to become an evil cleric themself and create more after aligning with Uruk Khan?

I'd like to thank Mogo from the DF chatroom for providing some very interesting feedback in a similar discussion.

What are your thoughts on this?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Character Creation, the guts of the game

I am of the opinion that the game of AD&D  1E is itself heavily dependent on what happens during character creation.  I think it is during character creation that the determination is made if the game is going to be a role playing game or a roll playing game.

The parameters set forth by the DM/GM in how to create the PCs sets up everything else.  The more focused on heavy requirements on stats generated for character abilities starts the ball rolling.  Does the Player get to have a more "generous" method of rolling stats or is there a very specific set of parameters that must be met to generate those numbers?

In my thinking, the more specific the parameters, the more the game will be a roll playing game and less role play.

Does the DM encourage or even require  that the "story stats" be filled in during character creation?  "Story Stats" being the information describing family history, where the PC comes from, relations, etc.... on the charter sheet.

To me, having this info provided sets up for a role playing game that takes more than just numbers into consideration.

Also, If character creation is a rushed or simplified process where most of the focus is on the character abilities, saving throws, the number driven stats, then the likelihood that it will e a roll playing game is greatly increased.

Characters created have little to no attachment with the Players who expect to have them die as easily as they were created and replaced just as easily.

Alternatively, PC's created using "Story Stats" as well as the number stats require Players to put more thought and invest more of their imagination into their creation.  Thus seeing them die off easily and being easily replaced is not looked forward to by those who put more into character creation.  All the more leading to Players expecting and anticipating a role playing game more than a roll playing game.

For many Players, I expect, using characters that were created to be easily replaced tends to the Players gaming in more of a "Chessboard General" style" and having little or no real attachment or interest in the characters.

For those with more involvement in the character creation process, they likely look for more "meaning" in the game and are looking for "glory and honor" as their PC takes on each challenge.    More detail and content are expected to justify the major injury or death of such a PC.

I believe the DM/GM is responsible for setting the tone of the game.  I think he or she should run the game the way they feel is best for the game.  It should go without saying that setting the game up ad setting the stage, so to speak, should be done with making the best game possible with everyone at the table in mind.

It all starts with character creation.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Gladiator Games Just Got More Interesting

Friends, Countrymen, the great Caesar, Brutus Darkhorse, has decreed that the Gladiator Games in the country's arenas will take on a new aspect for future games.

Within each arena will be built a variety of mazes, constructed of materials which can be seen through by the spectators but not by the Gladiators.

Gladiators must successfully navigate and exit the maze, defeating any opponents, be they monsters or other Gladiators in order for the Caesar to declare them as the winner.

Each maze, based on it's complexity, will be assigned a value and corresponding Gold Pieces will be awarded. (Gladiators will earn the same # of XP as GP awarded as well as XP for each monster or opponent they defeat in the maze.)

If the Gladiators do not successfully exit the maze, they will not be awarded any Gold Pieces nor will they accrue any Experience Points except those for any monsters/opponents they did successfully defeat up to the point of failing in the maze.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

If you give a Klingon a double bladed battle-axe...

I love to create new stuff for my 1E/OSRIC game. 

Recently I was telling my son, one of my Players about how versatile AD&D 1E is an d the ability to make just about anything you want as long as it fits within the system and doesn't break other things in the game.

To make my point, I am creating a new demi-human based on the Klingons from Star Trek.  My son and I are making a new demi-god based on Marvel Comic's Beta Ray Bill character. We have already created a new fighter sub-class also based on Marvel Comic's Captain America.  In the recent past I have created a new Demon Lord and a Deity.

1E is terrific for creating your own world and everything in it.  it's a Homebrewer's delight.   At least, that's how I roll.

Friday, July 19, 2013

WikiMage is growing again

Being the incessant Homebrewer that I am,  I have decided to translate my handwritten scraps for how to make certain things, like Deities, Monsters, demi-humans, etc... for my games and share them with others who like to homebrew.

In a discussion elsewhere, people asked me why I approach the game the way I do in that I prefer to homebrew more than use published supplemental materials.

The main reason I became a homebrewer is because I was broke.  all of us who played back then were.  Most of our little group (about 6 of us at any given time) only had the PHB if we had anything.  Only one guy, the DM at the time, also had the DMG, thus he was the DM.

That was it.  No other books were involved for us.  WE had one adventure module that we played (The DM had picked it up with an old boxed set that he got at a garage sale).  Everything else that we ever played was made up on the spot using nothing more than the PHB, the DMg and our imagination.

I finally bought the DMG and became the DM in awhile (part of the low price for the book was in keeping the promise to keep DMing).  That's what I did from that point on.  I homebrewed every single game.  I never so much as saw a copy of the D&DG, FF, MM2 or others until I started playing again about a year ago or so with my kids as the Players this time.

The internet is a wonderful thing, isn't it?

I have since had a chance to obtain the MM and the MM2.  i have been able to peruse the other supplemental books thanks to an online version of those books that a certain dedicated gamer has been working on converting the contents of those books into HTML form.

I think they are interesting, but certainly nothing "essential" about them.  They are not necessary to my playing the or designing an adventure.  There is some inspiration that can be found in some of them though.

All the same, at heart,  I am a homebrewer.  I suspect that there are many more homebrewers out there who like me couldn't afford to buy those other supplemental materials or just let their creativity take them away from the get go.

If the things I share in relation to my "How To Homebrew" pages on Wikimage are any help to someone, it's all good to me then.