... now with 35% more arrogance!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

A List of Projects Past and Future

Been working on a non-D&D project that actually involves my D&D monsters, so I’ve been looking at some of my old material. I had some pretty interesting ones! And that has reminded me that I really need to get back to work on various unfinished projects here. Seems like a good time to put together a road map of what I need to do.
  1. A rewrite of Our Infernal Neighbors, with added illustrations and better layout.
  2. Complete the undead equivalent of Our Infernal Neighbors, covering undead ranks and advancement as well as new undead types. Thinking of renaming this PDF Our Undying Neighbors, because Ranks of the Undead sounds bland.
  3. Complete the third “Neighbors” book covering Godlings. This will probably also cover a lot of details about astral travel, for various reasons.
  4. Do something more with Clerics Without Spells, since it was my most popular post of all time. May include a lot of material about ethereal travel as well, for various other reasons.
  5. Rewrite and consolidate my wilderness hexcrawl rules, possibly folding the subhex wilderness rules into this as well as a variant.
  6. Expand Let’Em Pick to cover both ability scores and classes, perhaps folding in material about the Talent class and its variants (tinkers, apothecaries, etc.)
  7. Compile and expand all the material derived from Bribe, Craft, Train and the research rules.
  8. Turn Liber Zero into whatever it’s supposed to be.
  9. Possibly redo and expand my geomorphs.
There’s a lot of other material I could work on as well, but these seem to be the most pressing unfinished projects. The above is more or less the priority (work on Our Infernal Neighbors and the rest of the Neighbors PDFs first, then the rest.) But if anyone would rather see something else moved up in priority, let me know.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Making Dwarves Squirm

Ages ago, I gave elves some more distinctive features in my worlds: skin is some exotic color, hair/eyes are another shade of the same color, eyes have no pupil or whites, only unaging while in their enchanted homeland.

I’ve wanted to do something similar with dwarves, but couldn’t think of anything offhand that didn’t feel like it had been done before. More than one person has done the “carve their own children from stone” thing, for example.

But then I remembered that in Norse myth, dwarves are created from maggots or worms. And that reminded me about my backstory for my game world involving a wormpocalypse.

Dwarves are somehow descended from purple worms, or a worm race (like the Wyrmanoids I wrote up.)


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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Just Pick a Class Already!

I previously mention Spwack on the OSR Discord defining the essence of “OSR” as “Just Play The Damn Game” and thought about Let 'Em Pick as a way to apply that approach to chargen. But that’s just for ability scores. What about classes?

Picking your own class is the default. I’m not interested in taking away that choice, or randomizing it. But secondary talents (bonus class abilities) hold some promise. Also, some way for players to defer picking a class until later, allowing them to just start playing and filling in details later.

I previously dabbled in a class construction system, still incomplete, which might be something I want to explore more. But during my class explorations, I came up with a bunch of “Talent” classes – basically, thieves with their thief skills replaced with something else, like the Leech, Apothecary, and Sage. Also explored some classes that focused on reaction rolls, like Charmer and Beastmaster, or magical relatives like the Necromancer, Weather-Worker, and Mesmerist. Many of these classes looked interesting to me, but might be a hard sell for the typical player, who might not see the adventuring potential… unless they were were in addition to a character’s primary class.

So, we could have a table of secondary classes, perhaps two tables, one for Fighter types and one for Magic-User types. Players would have three options:
  1. No Secondary Class. Get the XP adjustment based on prime requisite for their main class.
  2. Pick a Secondary Class. No XP adjustment.
  3. Random Secondary Class. Secondary class would get some kind of bonus (for example, Fighter/Apothecaries might know extra medicinal recipes.)
I’ll have to think more about the tables before I write them up, and also need to work on how deferring class choice until later would work.

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Friday, October 12, 2018

Rolling Unawares, Rolling Alert

I’ve written many times about my simple way of handling both skills and saves vs. natural or mundane situations: roll 5+ on 1d6. Very simple. But sometimes, I’m rolling to prevent something bad, and other times I’m rolling to undo something bad. One is better than the other. So how should the GM decide which to use?
I think I’ve come up with a clearer explanation:
If a character is alert (knows the danger,) the character avoids it unless the player rolls 5+ on 1d6.
If a character is unaware, the character can still escape danger if the player rolls 5+ on 1d6.
Example: Arrow trap. If the character can see a hole and the player says, “I think something’s going to shoot out of that hole. I’m being on my guard,” then there’s only a 5+ on 1d6 chance that the arrow hits the character.
If the character is stumbling around in darkness and has no idea there’s a hole in the wall, when the trap is triggered, there’s a 5+ on 1d6 chance that the character dodges the arrow.
Ability scores affect whether there is a roll or not, of course. My current thinking is this:
Score Unaware Alert
Worst Fail 5+ or Fail
Standard 5+ or Fail Fail on 5+
Best Fail on 5+ Succeed
Worst here means an ability score of 3 and Best means a score of 18 (on 3d6.) Naturally, if a particular score is not rated on the 3 to 18 scale, these numbers would be different. There is no roll on either a simple Fail or simple Succeed result.
Some situations can adjust how either “Worst” or “Best” are interpreted. I would just write “Easy (15+)” to lower the minimum score needed for the Best result, or “Hard (6)” to raise the maximum score that counts as the Worst result. You could note which ability score is being checked, but I would just go with whatever seems right for the situation, because sometimes a player may have a good argument why they should be allowed to use other abilities.
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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Let 'Em Pick, Part II

So, on the OSR Discord one of the members (Spwack) tried to define the essence of “OSR” as “Just Play The Damn Game”, described further as “As few rules as possible, but not as few as to get in the way”.
That is:
  • Exploring a fantasy world and making decisions as if you were in that fantasy world is the essence of the game. Rule Zero, if you will.
  • Players do not need to think about any other rules in order to play the game. Rules that interfere with Rule Zero keep you from playing the damned game and should be discarded.
  • The bulk of the rules are really there for the GM, either as a framework for deciding what happens in the fantasy world or as an aid to fill in details of the fantasy world. These can come and go as needed, and should be ignored by players.
So that discussion got me thinking about Let 'Em Pick , my “Just roll your damn scores or pick them already” approach to chargen. (It also got me thinking about other things… but more on that another day.) Brief recap, since the PDF link seems to come and go:
For each ability, let players choose whether to roll 3d6 or just pick any number they want, within range. . . The catch is that those who pick scores have to roll 3d6, add the highest ability score to the total, and take the result indicated on a background event table. If the character has three or four scores above 13, roll twice. If the character has five or six scores above 13, roll three times.
I might want to redo the the random table at some point, but I’m also thinking of simplifying the process. Maybe roll once, 4d6 + 1d6 per score above 12, but players can opt to split the dice into two or three rolls on the table. So, a player who picks all 18s would have to either roll 10d6 once, or 5d6 twice, or roll 3d6, 3d6, and 4d6 for a total of three rolls. Lower is better, so a roll of 60 would be really bad.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Exodus from Google Plus

As most of you may have heard, Google Plus is planning to shut down in about ten months. As far as anyone can figure out, the only people using it were Google employees and tabletop RPG gamers. The RPG crowd was kind of heavily invested in G+, both for blog promotion and for running games over the Internet. But even though four or five thousand tabletop gamers is quite a lot of people with respect to tabletop gaming, it’s not enough for Google to justify its maintenance.

I mean, they killed off other Google products with more users than that (Google Reader, Google Wave, Orkut.)

People have been planning the exodus over the past week. Two Discord channels have popped up (OSR and DIY RPG, which forced me to give in and start using Discord. But I suppose that had two beneficial side effects:

  1. It might spur me into blogging again. Picked up a few ideas during some chats the other day.
  2. It reminded me that I’m actually part of a community, where some people actually know who I am, and that I should get back into that community.

I do wonder about how the G+ shutdown is going to affect some bloggers. When G+ first appeared, Google was trying to encourage and/or force people to use G+. Several people linked their Blogger accounts to their G+ accounts to allow G+ to handle comments, or to automatically post notifications of new blog posts to G+. Some of those people later tried to unlink their accounts and discovered, to their horror, that there was no way to do this without deleting their entire blog. Does this mean that everyone else who kept their linked Blogger/G+ account is going to lose everything in ten months?

Fortunately, I never linked my account, so that’s not something I have to worry about. But I feel sorry for those that do have to worry now.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Reaction Table Combat

Over on Reddit’s OSR forum, I joked that I should have done a revised combat system based on the reaction roll table. For all I know, I may have done it, but I can’t find any post on that.

I don’t mean a 2d6-based attack roll. I believe I mentioned the idea of 2d6 roll under descending AC as a quick & dirty approach. No, I really do mean using the reaction table. That means that, instead of a binary hit/no hit result, you get five possible results (Very Good, Good, Normal, Bad, Very Bad.)

Here’s a quick reaction table hack:

Roll Result Result Details
2 or less Very Bad Weapon Damaged (Broken, if already damaged)
3-5 Bad Drop Weapon if damage roll > AC, vulnerable to Counterattack
6-8 Normal Attack ineffective unless either Dex > 2 x Move or opponent’s armor is damaged
9-11 Good Success! Attack does standard damage
12 Very Good Max damage, Opponent’s Armor Damaged

Add +1 to the roll if attacker’s level > defender’s level, +2 if it’s twice defender’s level. Optionally, you can give higher bonuses for higher multiples.

Armor subtracts 1, 2, or 3 from the roll (Light/Leather, Medium/Metal, Heavy/Full Plate)

Shield also subtracts 1 from the roll, but only against melee attacks from the front, or ranged attacks from a specific direction. Other attacks must be judged on a case-by-case basis.

Weapon Damaged and Armor Damaged are “tags” that have no mechanical effect except to make weapons and armor vulnerable to future bad results. If attacking barehanded, take 1 point of damage on first Very Bad result, break hand on second, rendering hand unusable.

Drop Weapon results only happen if the weapon’s damage roll exceeds the (descending) AC of the defender. For standard “all weapons do 1d6 damage”, this means that it only happens 1/6th of the time when attacking an opponent in chainmail, 2/3rds of the time when attacking an opponent in plate + shield.

Counterattack is an extra attack by an opponent if their Dex (or 2 x Move) is greater than the attacker’s Dex. The opponent must still roll, however.

Note that a Normal result means the defender takes no damage or other ill effect unless the attacker’s Dex is higher than twice the defender’s Move. It’s a probable “miss”, rather than a definite miss. If the defender’s armor is damaged, they are also vulnerable to Normal attacks.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Q&D Poison and Venom Effects

A quick-and-dirty method of handling poison and venom: Poison and venom do damage based on dungeon level or monster hit dice and have a delay of 1d6 turns for poison, 2d6 turns for venom, adjusted for high Constitution. Damage is halved on a successful save.

More detail, if desired:

Poison is anything artificial (on poison traps and weapons, in poisoned food and drink, etc.) Use dungeon level as poison level. Unless otherwise noted, low-level poisons (dungeon level 1-3) cause damage, high-level poisons (dungeon level 4+) kill.

  • Poison Damage = 2 dice per level.

Venom is anything natural (injected by a sting, bite, or claw, or by ingesting a body part.) Use monster hit dice as venom level, with weak venom (monsters with a -1 or more hit point penalty) causing sickness instead, strong venom (monsters with a +1 or more hit point bonus) causing coma.

  • Venom Damage = 1 die per venom level.
  • Sickness = 1 point per level/hour for 2d6 hours, plus half Move.
  • Coma = 1/2 die per level/day for 2d6 days, unable to move or speak.

Delay until poison or venom takes effect is 1d6 turns, 2d6 if poison/venom level <= Constitution. Constitution also affects duration of sickness or coma: if venom level <= Con, the victim gets a second save midway through the illness to shake off the effects early.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Dopplegangers of M113

I’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek lately. Some of the Original and Animate episodes, plus everything that aired from 1987 through 2005. I wanted to refresh my memory on old episodes, and fill in gaps for the later ones.
This gives me a lot of RPG ideas for future posts. But one thing I noticed while watching the TOS episode “The Man Trap” were similarities of the Salt Vampire to the Doppleganger illustration in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual.

They aren’t exact, but both creatures have a slightly withered or ancient look, circular mouths, and large, soulful eyes. And, of course, both are shapeshifters. Aside from believing the Star Trek monster may have influenced the 1e illustration, it makes me think maybe dopplegangers should be salt vampires, or at least this could be a partial motivation for their invasion of civilized lands.