Thursday, May 30, 2013

OSRIC, yes again

More and more, my game is a mix and match of 1E and OSRIC.

I let the Players use the OSRIC PHB section to create new PC's on their own,  I just have to get final approval but otherwise, It's all there for them to make PC's while I'm not home.  Actually, it's easier for them to use OSRIC than to let them use the 1E PHB to do it.

That's pretty much the bulk of it right there.   I also let them use OSRIC for the "shopping" list when they are considering purchasing something.   Again,  the DMG and I have the last word on it, but it's usually pretty good.

My players are 12 and 14 years old.  They have looked for info and descriptions of things in the 1E PHB and compared them to what is written in OSRIC equivalent.  Both of them find OSRIC easier to understand, more clear and less ambiguous.

I don't really use the monster book section very often at this point.  I stick with the MM1 and my own home brew monsters more often than not.

in terms of the DMG section,  I might use it more if  I were to print it out.  as it is,  I have my 1E DMG constantly open and flipping from section to section.  Same with the PHB so I can remember how to handle spells the PC's or NPC's declare.

Because I do have the DMG and PHB right there at hand and not being snagged by the players (Cuz they have the OSRIC pHB section) I really have no need to print out the other sections. save on ink and paper.

But to be perfectly honest, If I were to be getting back into things now not having my old books at hand, I would be full fledged OSRIC, no doubt in my mind.

Gladiator Games or Enter The Arena Pt. Two

I've got to say, the gladiator style games campaign I wrote about a few days ago is going extremely well.

I keep fine tuning things as we go along.  The Players are good sports about that which is good.

Another thing that  I've decided to add is that combatants can buy magical services like healing from the money they manage to win. 

The money is kind of held for them in account kind of like in a prison.

Of course, the more money they spend on weapons, armor, items and magic, the less they have saved toward buying their freedom.  This is something they have on their minds.

We have been able to play more games in this manner than any since we started playing.

For example, a first level Cleric took on 6 Giant Rats in the arena.  He managed to get a win out of it and get the gold and the XP for it, but at firsts level, those rats were close to sending him packing, really close.  The battle took us about 20 minutes or so. 

Given the setting is a gladiator style situation, they really are more into a faster paced game where each missed roll on the D20 or low damage rolled is almost seen on their faces as if they really did it.

Some people might cry and call it a "railroad" but that's the campaign setting and the Players agreed to it in advance to see how it would work out.  So far, they haven't even asked about going back to one of the other campaigns yet.

To find out what opponents they will take on for the level of PC they are,  I have so far been rolling on the table for level one dungeon encounters.  If the resulting monster is a 1 HD or 1+ then I let them go one to one against them.  If it's less than one HD monster, then I will go with the minimum number listed.

My daughter just lost a fighter she created just for this campaign to an Orc who didn't obey the Caesar to let her PC live even though the Orc won the contest.  He killed her anyway and for that, the Caesar's soldiers shot him full of arrows.

Her fighter could have healed and lived but the orc went for the kill anyway.  That's what happens when the dice rolls wrong.

I always roll at the end of the match to determine if the Caesar gives thumbs up or thumbs down to the victor (to give the win and to determine the fate of the conquered) then  I also roll to determine if the victor follows the Caesar's directions or not.  To disobey Caesar is to have the soldiers kill you instantly.

It's getting very interesting.  Very fast games, lots of fun so far.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Enter The Arena

I've embarked on a new campaign for my kids.  So far they love it.

They created several new PC's and all of them have been captured or sold into slavery to the Caesar and turned into gladiators in the arena.

They can earn money and XP by fighting opponents in the arena.  They must buy their freedom at the hefty price of about half a million Gold Pieces.  They can obtain anything they need in terms of weapons, armor or spell material components from their winnings, though it depletes their stockpile to buy their way out of the gladiator life.

They can also take weapons and materials from defeated opponents and sometimes, the Caesar will gift a favorite with something special, perhaps even enchanted.

I make a point to try to match them up in a fair fight, with opponents of the same level or perhaps multiple opponents of lower levels and even give them other gladiators as a team to match them against higher level opponents.

Today they embarked on the new campaign and really got into it.  This is something I came up with that essentially allows them to do solo adventures and the battles don't have to last a long time.  We can get a quick battle done in 30 minutes or less.

Once they have managed to scrounge enough of their earnings together to buy their freedom, they will enter the world as battle hardened, highly experienced adventurers ready to take on really tough adventures.  If they survive the arena that is.

So far, even making new PC's to enter the arena has been fun for them because each class and the individual stats is something different to see how well they will do.

Tonight, they pitted 2 pc's each in the arena.  One of my kids had a ranger get taken down by 4 kobolds.  She had a fighter win a match against a berserker, but mostly because the berserker rolled two 1's and essentially killed himself.

My other kid entered a cleric that got carried out after fighting 5 giant rats and he had a fighter sub-class called an "avenger" (see an earlier post) also get taken down by an orc.

Only the fighter won the gold and full experience points (losers only get half the XP for the fight) and that was mainly by sheer luck.

If they get to a point where their pc not only wins, but wins keeping most or all of their HP intact, they can call for another challenge to earn more gold and XP.

If they lose a battle and end up unconscious or below 0 HP, Caesar will give a thumbs up or thumbs down to the victor.  There is a 50% chance for either result as determined by dice roll.  If they follow the Caesar's orders, they will be declared the winner of the match.  if they do not such as Caesar declares thumbs down and the victor should kill the loser, and the victor declines to kill the loser, Caesar will have the loser shot to death by guards shooting arrows and the victor will be declared the loser anyway for not following the Caesar's wishes and gain nothing for the battle.

I try to make the battles be as random as possible except where humanoids opponents are concerned (then I roleplay them as a desperate MU, Cleric or fighter, etc... should be roleplayed).

Tonight was the first night of the campaign and like I said, it was a hit.  We'll see how it holds up over time and keep folks up to date.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Open Source Game Master

I've discussed and alluded to the idea in several past posts.   I consider my self a "homebrew" GM/DM, meaning,  I write most all of the adventures in my games.   I rarely, if ever, use "pre-gen" adventures mostly because I don't "feel" them and thus do not run them as comfortably as I do the adventures I put together.

I'm not alone in the notion of sharing for free the things I create with the public.  It's happened in RPG world for decades by those who contribute to magazines, online communities and elsewhere.

I like to pick up ideas as I find them from others as much as I like to share my own creations.  Heck, I get ideas just from reading a discussion thread in a forum that inspires me to create something else.

I think it's important though for people to willingly create and share things they come up with, especially in hobby and gaming communities.  With games like AD&D 1E for example, there isn't exactly an abundance of new stuff being made available commercially, even if I could afford to buy it and was interested in using pre-gen stuff.

This is why I like the idea of OSRIC so much and the Open Gaming License.  Yes, I have the original AD&D 1E books but being such a full time home brewer, OSRIC and the OGL suits me just a bit better because I don't have to worry about some greedy SOB trying to make claims on something I share because they want to make a buck off someone else's work.

I particularly think 1E and OSRIC fit the bill perfectly because they are made for the homebrew GM to create their own stuff.  pre-gen commercial stuff is available too, but the books are written for the GM who creating their own stuff.

From what I hear about later editions it seems that things changed to be more of a players game relying more on commercial pre-gen books and stuff leaving less "open" for the homebrew GM.  Not to say that it couldn't or doesn't happen, but that it seems to come up much less frequently that people are homebrewing in later editions as much as in 1E/OSRIC.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Home-Brewers: What help to create monsters?

One thing I would have appreciated as a home-brew DM/GM would have been something to help outline how to create monsters by level or by type.  Maybe just one more Appendix to sum it all up in one spot.

There are some tools that help in monster creation in the DMG, like the X.P. Value of Monsters table on pg. 85.  If you use the column headings in Appendix E you are well on your way to having a basic foundation of what info you need to create for new monsters.

I am thinking of creating a Create A Monster By Level and Type guide for myself and of course, I will share it freely.  The reason I want something like this is that for every monster I create, if I take any longish amount of time off in between monster creations, I have to try to remember all that I did last time and how I did it.

I start with Type or Class of Monsters.  Deity, Dragon, Giant, Undead, Demon, and then general types such as Humanoid, Fish, Animal, Bird, etc...

Now that I have the type I move on to level, for me, this is trickier.  If I am planning a specific adventure and I want something new to challenge the party at a specific point, I want to make sure they are going to be such a proper challenge and level helps me to do that.

For example, a 1st level demon does not have the same powers and abilities that a 5th level Demon has.  If I want a deity, there are minor deities and there are major deities thus there are differences there as well.What is the difference?  How many HD does a Major Deity tend to have as opposed to a minor one?  This is where my guide will come in.  How many spells does an Arch Duke of Hell get vs a 5th level devil?

These are questions that need answers and they have answers one just needs to look through the MM1 to find them.

I'll put this together because I'm bored enough to do it and because I want it.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Adventure Settings: The Bathhouse

I read the most recent (English translation available) "The Hangman's Daughter" novel not too long ago in which much of the action takes place  in the bathhouse that is operated by the Hangman's sister and her husband.

How often do we find a bathhouse as a part of the setting in an AD&D adventure?  Almost never.    There are usually pubs, bars and taverns galore.    There are stores of various type, Sheriffs offices and blacksmiths abound.

Rarely, if ever, do you see a bathhouse though, even in passing, let alone as a key location to investigate.

What appeal does a bathhouse bring to an adventure?  Just about everyone from all classes would visit bathhouses way back when.  Not only were the bathing tubs and pools used for relaxation, but often were a front for other, often nefarious, activities.

Smuggling, human trafficking, drug dealing, prostitution and more went on behind closed doors in bathhouses.  You could find all the gossip you ever wanted to hear about just about anyone in a town or city at a bathhouse.  Medical services were sometimes to be found in bathhouses.

Bathhouses weren't just a place with a few old fashioned bathtubs in them, though some were.  Many, if not most, offered amenities such as saunas and hot tub-like setups.

Have you ever included a bathhouse in one of your homebrew adventures?  I plan to write one into an upcoming game soon, not too baudy, the players are 12 and 14 so PG-13 is about the most "steamy" (get it, bathhouse-steamy?  didja get it? huh? huh?) they are going to get out of me.

Even toning it down a bit,  I can think of several interesting things that can happen in a bathhouse. 

Tell me about your bathhouse adventures, past or planned.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Random Risk, It's Not Just For Monsters

I've had a few discussions lately about how placement of treasure, pitting PC's against higher level monsters, use of various levels of magic and enchanted items at various PC levels and so on.

Now,  I know there are a lot of DM's and Players out there who like a game where everything is even   or balanced or whatever.  PC parties come across monsters that are the same level and that the treasure found and payments made are thought to be measured for what a PC of that level "should" get.  Perhaps even more so is the idea of making sure that low level PC's don't become "overpowered" by obtaining too powerful of weapons or magically enchanted items.

Not in my game however.  Real life isn't fair and neither is fantasy life, at least not mine.  A level one party of PC's could walk into a vampires tomb,  Uh oh.  You got that right.  It could happen.  It might not seem fair but that's part of taking risks.

A level 2 PC could find a + 3/+6 Dragonslayer sword.  A level 3 PC might steal a girdle of Storm Giant strength.  A level 1 PC inherited a lot of money and was able to go out and buy some +3 armor.  All of these things could happen because odds are what they are.  I will let them happen because life isn't fair.

A 2nd level PC acting as a scout creeps down a tunnel seeing what lies ahead for the group and stumbles upon, accidentally awaking a dragon. Oh Snap!!

Now, according to the odds, there is no guarantee that this dragon will be a young dragon that is going to be on par with a level one PC.  Oh no indeed.  this could be a huge old dragon who just happened to take a nap in between snacks and look what just wandered in and woke her up, another snack.

Yet, for many DM's and Players, they will ensure that the dragon is one that a PC could have a "more fair" chance of surviving if not  actually defeating.

It's only my opinion, but I think the folks looking for such parity or even match-ups are primarily the "hack and slash" types who insist on having to fight their way through every interaction.  The mentality of "kill it first, ask questions later" is prevalent.

In my world,  I encourage the use of strategy.   I have no problem with a full (and hasty) retreat.   I encourage cunning and sly endeavors.  Heck, if Scooby Doo and the gang can take on an entire island full of zombies, a group of trained and armed PC's can take on a dragon or a few wights, right?  Then again, maybe not. Sucks to be them right?

Treasure is not always proportionate to the challenge either.  That dragon might be narrowly defeated by the low level Party but guess what, this wasn't it's home cave, just a place to take a break on the way home.  There's no treasure at all there.  Rats and double rats.

OR maybe it was home, but hadn't really amassed much of a treasure to hoard yet.  All there was to find was a single sword that just happens to be that +3 /+6 dragonslayer that is now in the hands of a 1st or 2nd level PC.  It could happen.

Does allowing fantasy life to not be fair increase the odds of a total Party Kill?   I guess it does.  But, it also means that things that are usually "unlikely" in other games could happen to benefit PC's here as well.

I do like to let the random roll of a dice determine a lot of what goes on in a game because it really introduces an "Are you shittin me?!" atmosphere into the game.  Which, of course, can be a lot of fun regardless of what direction it takes.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Player Training

This came up with a discussion I had with my son after a game session one day recently.  "How does someone "train" to play the game better?"

My answer to him was, "read more books."

Really, that's about the best advice I can give to any Player of AD&D.  Read, read and read some more.  I would suggest to stick more on Fantasy and Science Fiction but even some good mythology and history  are able to help.

Philosophy and world religion are also good subjects to read as well.  Even if they don't fit into your own personal thought and beliefs, knowing about how they work can help you apply them to PC's you create who aren't just avatars of yourself.

We can learn tactics, methods of negotiation, rules of engagement and all kinds of other cool stuff from these kinds of books.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bringing them into the fold

I have talked before about using the world created in the books called "DeathGate" series.  When I talked about it last time,  I thought  I would just create a new land in my world where the Sartan and Patryns existed and have some of the main characters around for parties to interact with.

Since then though,  I have decided that I would instead have the Patryns and Sartan be two races of extremely powerful human magic users that are now pretty much extinct.  All that is left of them are books and enchanted, rune covered items that they left behind.

This places them in the realm of legends and possibly as demi-gods if I still decided to create the "Nexus" where they ere all stranded as a place on the map.  In the meantime though,  I can create new Patryns and Sartan to build legends around.

The enchanted items will all be top shelf, high level stuff.  These two races didn't mess around when they enchanted items.  They meant it.  You'll likely never see anything below a +3 item with at least one or more truly fantastic features built in as well.

The interesting thing about their left behind enchanted items, at least the way I see them, is that they will almost always be too powerful for even the highest level PC's.  Their magic is strong and most often unpredictable.  Anyone of any level might find one of these weapons and, not realizing what they have in their hands, unleash some crazy stuff bringing a new aspect to the adventure.

Because the Patryns and especially Sartan did not intend to have the "normal" people be decimated in their war with each other, A DM/GM will have lots of flexibility as to the lethality of the situation in regard to how much damage these things will really cause the party and those wielding the items.

I have already added a "Blade of the Sartan" to my enchanted items list in the WikiMage and I am now working on adding a ship covered with Patryn runes that causes it to fly and maybe even travel into the various Planes of Existence.

Certain Sages in my world have encountered the books that the Patryns and Sartan have left behind and can be consulted (not many and not cheaply) to try to learn the nature of the items they have picked up.  As a matter of fact, it can turn into a quest or adventure just to find a sage that can provide the desired information while accidentally discovering traits of the items as they go from place to place.

On enchanted items that Patryns and Sartan made for use by normal humanoids, they always engraved the name of the item in each of the main three or four humanoid languages.  This can be a starting point in the road to discovery.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Homebrew Enchanted Items: Blade of the Sartan

This enchanted shortsword has strange runes engraved all over it.  The blade never needs to be sharpened as nothing seems to dull it.  The blade will change to become almost anything that is more powerful than the weapon or opponent attacking the bearer. 

On it's own as a shortsword, it is a +4 weapon to hit and to damage.  When it changes to something else, the duration will last for however long it senses a threat to the bearer.  Each blade has a natural enemy that it was specifically made to oppose.  For example, one blade may be opposed to demons while another was made to oppose elves.  Yet another might be made to oppose giants or dwarves or humans or just about any living/undead creature. While one of those it was made to specifically oppose is in the vicinity of the bearer, the blade will retain it's changed form and attack until all it opposes are destroyed, even if they might happen to be a PC's party member.

Each blade has a special control word that the bearer can say to stop it and return to it's original form, reappearing in the bearer's sheath.

This blade is especially prized by assassins and fighters.

The bearer will know that it is an enchanted blade if discovering it accidentally but unless they can read the runes inscribed on the weapon, they will not be able to learn the control word or know that it can change.  A sage who can read runes of the Sartan must be consulted to gain that information.  the name "Blade of the Sartan" is inscribed on the sheath in each of the humanoid languages.

The Sartan are a race of extremely powerful magic users who are now extinct.  There are no Sartan left, only books that they wrote which sages may study to know of them.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Homebrew Enchanted Items: Cloak of Benevida

The Cloak of Benevida is one several made by the acolytes of Benevida. It is their mission in life to aid those whose life is committed to serving their deity and thus their people as well.

A Cloak of Benevida allows the wearer to up to double the amount of HP healed in conjunction with a cure spell or it can heal up to 8 HP on it's own with the correct benediction spoken.

 The Cloaks can also, with the correct prayer spoken, hasten a person who is covered with it and is mortally wounded into a peaceful, painless state in which they will pass away quietly within 1 to 4 turns.

One of these cloaks can only be obtained at a Temple of Benevida and will only work if given freely by the Temple priestesses who will give the Cleric in question the appropriate benediction and phrase that will will work for that Clerics deity.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A turtle without a shell

While creating the Robes of Sumlaude,  I got to thinking about newly created PC's just starting out.

Are they really meant to be monster bait and die off without a real chance?  Magic Users fall squarely into that category.  No armor to start with, only a d4 to roll for Hit Points.

Now, I'm not completely against new PC's being easy to whack.  That's part of the reasonable risk of just embarking on a new career as an adventurer.  However, I don't think they should just be thrown to the wolves so easily either.

I mean, at least in my game, PC's are the cream of the crop. These are people who have made it through grueling training, met extremely high demands and demonstrated a natural ability that exceeds the average person just to get where they are.

No, I like to give them what I think of as a fair shot just starting out.  I'm not talking about arming them with a nuclear arsenal, but give them something that gives them a little bit better chance of survival than a turtle out of it's shell.

Thinking of it this way, I am coming up with a line of items that newly created PC's can venture out for at the direction of their master as a last demonstration of skill and ability to prove themselves worthy proteges.

Most of these items are defensive in nature, again, mindful of giving the turtle some bit of shell.  That and/or giving them utilities that will aid them on their upcoming adventures in the world out on their own.

These are things that maybe, if the PC's survive long enough and manage to keep hold of, they can pass on to their own apprentices and trainees in the future.

So, I'm starting with the Robes of Sumlaude for beginning MU's.  I'll think of things that can be specific to other classes and perhaps any class in the future.  As I list them here and you happen to find any of them useful or interesting, please feel free to use them.  That's the point of "Open Source Game Mastering".  I know that I personally would find it extremely cool to hear of others out there using the things I come up with in their own games.  Talk about the ultimate compliment.

Homebrew Enchanted Items: Robes of Sumlaude

These are robes that must be earned by a newly graduated MU sent off by their master as one last task to "prove" themselves.

They are sent to find Robes of Sumlaude. Where ever it is the new MU is sent to find the robe, there is a 1 in 6 chance of finding it (or per DM choice).

Ideally, it would only appear to one who passed some test of skill or demonstrated ability.

Robes of Sumlaude will give the wearer a bonus to their AC based on a d6.

Primary feature
1- +1
2- +1
3- +2
4- +3
5- +1
6- +2 bonus plus chance for added feature

added features
1- none
2-invisibilty to wearer
3- +1 to all saving throws
4- Pocket(s) of holding, like bag of holding only smaller. 1d6 # of pockets.
5- Aura of Beguiling (like casting a charm spell on those around him/her (saving throw applies as per spell)
6- any two features