Friday, March 27, 2020


Not actually a blog post about MotU. Sorry. Talking about the Immortal Rules, the I of BECMI.

I've only gotten a few pages into the book. I've been pretty busy converting my classes from face to face to online. That, and Netflix. But I did get through the first few pages.

So I kind of knew this already, from my previous perusing of my PDF version, and from what others had told me about it. When your PC achieves immortality, their XP total is converted to Power Points at a rate of 1PP per 10k XP. So starting immortals have a few hundred PP, depending on their class/level when they achieved immortality.

When you convert your character, and play as an immortal, these PP are EVERYTHING. They're still the "xp" you collect, or rather XP you continue to collect is converted to PP. But you can also earn them in other ways, by advancing your personal goals and the goals of your Sphere.

PP are your hit points, as well. The only way to truly destroy an immortal is to reduce them to 0 PP.

PP are your spell points. You can cast any spell, and create plenty of other powers, by temporary expenditure of PP. These come back in time.

They are also character build points. You can improve your character, construct your own Outer Plane, create artifacts, and make other permanent changes/improvements through permanent expenditure of PP. In fact, the "advancement table" looks fairly easy to achieve, until you read the rules about needing minimum stats in certain ability scores to advance, which require these permanent expenditures of PP.

So while I have looked at the sections on using ability scores as % chance to perform "godly" tasks (which is pretty loosey-goosey story gamey, or at least it appears to be in the Players Book), and the section on the new saving throws, the main take-away so far is that Power is the metric of the immortals, and it's what drives the game.

Cool. And I'm gonna wait until I get through everything, but I've got an inkling that these PP based character mechanics might possibly work for a Supers game or maybe something like the Ambers in Zelazny's books. Yeah, there's Amber Diceless for Zelazny, but I don't have it and have never seen it.

Monday, March 23, 2020


Back in February I got some of my late cousin's old gaming stuff. This includes his copies of the Mentzer Immortals rule books.

I think I mentioned previously that I have the PDF. In fact, I've had it for a very long time. I bought it online from Paizo back when they were publishing Dragon magazine and selling the old TSR catalog online. It was a different time.

But even though I've had the PDF for what, nearly 15 years? I was in Japan when I bought it and I've been in Korea for 12 now. So at least 13 years. But even though I've had it that long, I've never given it a deep reading.

Now I've got the physical books. I'm gonna start reading them this evening. I don't know that I'll do a "cover to cover" style series of posts, but expect lots of posts about it in the coming days/weeks.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

The Wild Die

Played another session of Star Wars d6 last night. Had four players, including my son Flynn. Dean and Jeremy were there for online gaming as usual, and Denis (a regular in face-to-face West Marches) also joined us, playing a d6 system game for the first time.

We were using Roll20's die roller, and man, that wild die kept coming up 1 all night! And every time, I tried my best to think of complications to throw at the party, and it really made the session a lot more fun. Especially when their total roll was high, so we could say "You succeed, BUT..." 

Another cool thing about it happening so often was that the players all got in on pitching ideas for what could go wrong. Helped take the pressure off of me.

There were some sixes on the wild die as well, of course, but not as many as the ones.

Probably the highlight of the session was just near the end. The party was being harassed by biker scouts, but Simon SBD-4's heavy repeating blaster (Jeremy's sentient battledroid character) was keeping them at range. Nito, Denis' smuggler, decided to head out and "negotiate" with them, with a grenade hidden in his jacket. The negotiation failed, but a 1 on the wild die had me decide that the scout had gotten too close to Nito. Nito used his force point to try and jump on and grapple the scout, and succeeded, then the scout got a 1 on the die again when trying to knock Nito off the bike. We decided that the scout fell off and Nito got control of the speeder bike. A companion scout then raced in to attack the rest of the party, Y'lenic (Dean's Caamasi student of the Force) threw a grenade that caused a big dust cloud. THAT scout got a 1 on his repulsorlift operation check, then Simon shot his bike with the heavy repeater, and he blew up. The remaining two scouts fled (to get reinforcements).

All those 1s on the wild die really made that encounter a lot of fun.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Coronacation Benefits

My university's semester started on Monday, two weeks late. We're teaching online only for the first month, maybe more. It depends on the COVID-19 epidemic. Korea seems to be getting it under control, but there could be more flare-ups. For the last two days, I've been working from home. And since I have this week's online lessons done, that means a bit of planning for next week's lessons, some paperwork, and answering student emails/checking assignments as they come in.

In the meantime, I've been doing some mini painting. I started up again at the end of last year. Since I've been back I've gotten a fair amount done. In fact, on Sunday I finished up the last of the minis I'd primed back in November. So yesterday I primed a bunch more.
These are all 22mm minis from Caesar. It's a mix of three of their sets, Adventurers, Elves, and Dwarves. I've already painted two of them, the fully armored knight and the most Legolas of the elves. Painted both to look more feminine, since I have plenty of females in my West Marches game, and never enough female minis (one of the other packs, of which half the figures were painted in round 1, is Amazons for this reason). I'll probably paint one or two more this evening.

In addition, my son has been doing an online learning program (since before the coronavirus outbreak hit the US) and started in on the high school science program. Learning about space, we've been talking a lot (the Big Bang, the size of the universe, Fermi's Paradox). While discussing Fermi's Paradox, I mentioned the Prime Directive. And that got him...both boys, actually...curious about Star Trek. I sent them to Netflix to start watching TOS.

That also got ME watching TOS again! I've watched three episodes today. It's curious to me how few of the 1st season episodes I remember. When I was in jr. high and high school, one of the local channels syndicated The Next Generation and aired it 10:30 on Saturday nights (and yes, there were often arguments about watching Trek or SNL!), and then the original series after it at 11:30. And for a while, the Friday the 13th The Series after that at 12:30. Unless the syndication system left out some episodes, I'm sure I've seen every one of them. But quite a few just don't jog my memory. I just watched "Miri" and I couldn't remember seeing that one before at all. Maybe I'm just getting old.

And I guess I should be watching some Star Wars, not Star Trek, because I plan to run d6 Star Wars again on Friday. :D

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Should I tinker with Thief skills again?

Thieves. I love them. Love to play them, love to have players play them. It's the whole 'brains over brawn' thing that makes me enjoy them.

But, like many people, I sometimes get annoyed at how they've been presented, and how their skills work. Usually I don't mind the percentage based skills, but the chances of success are pretty low to start. But I've always considered other ways to do it.

In Flying Swordsmen, I copied how they were done in Dragon Fist, which is mostly how they were done in 2E except converted to a d20 roll instead of a percent. The bonuses I gave to the skills were to represent the basic percent chances of a starting thief, and players were allowed to distribute bonuses to the skills when they leveled up like in 2E. That works fairly well, but does lead to some confusion (like the +13 to Climb Sheer Surfaces being thought of as a typo since other starting bonuses are low single digits).

In Chanbara, I use the Ninpo system which is based on 2d6 rolls similar to the Cleric's turn undead chances. I thought it was pretty clever when I came up with it, giving fairly reliable odds of success due to the bell curve, but in practice having to decide the TN for the roll for each situation slows things down at the table unless I've anticipated ninpo being used and included TNs in my adventure notes.

In Treasures, Serpents and Ruins (TSR) I'm currently using the classic d% skills, but using the most favorable progressions.

In TSR-East, however, the ninja was based on the Halfling class in BX/BECMI, so it has hiding 1-9/d10 outdoors, hiding 1-3/d6 indoors (slight variation on the Halfling's 1-2/d6 indoors), 1-3/d6 to move silently (1-2/d6 if wearing brigandine or heavier armor). I also gave them detect traps 1-3/d6 (but not remove traps), detect secret doors/sliding passages 1-2/d6, and hear faint noises 1-2/d6.

The yakuza class can locate traps 1-4/d6 and disarm them 1-2/d6. Also, depending on which mystical yakuza tattoos they select, they could also possibly: detect secret doors 1-3/d6, hide/move silently 1-3/d6, hear noise 1-3/d6, escape shackles or bonds 1-2/d6, climb sheer surfaces 1-9/d10.

Jeff is playing a yakuza in West Marches just to try it out, and it's been going pretty well. He took the spider tattoo so he can climb sheer surfaces, and he's been using it to good advantage. But he's only level 3 so I don't know if dissatisfaction will come into play at higher levels when the scores don't improve.

So now I'm wondering if I should edit my TSR-West rules (the standard D&D classes) to match the x/d6 or x/d10 demi-human class abilities. TSR-East characters start better, but don't improve on their chances as they level, just as demi-humans in BX/BECMI. The whole point of the Thief class is to get that delayed gratification (like with the Magic-User) of surviving to high levels when your skills become more reliable.

So I've got four choices:
1. Leave things as they are and just let the Thief (and subclasses) continue to use d% skills.
2. Flatten the curve, so thieves use d% but start with higher chances but improve more slowly
3. Go with flat x/d6 or x/d10 chances for the character's whole career
4. Go with x/d6 or x/d10 chances that improve at certain stages in the character's career (like when attack bonus and saves improve)

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Daggertooth is Dead!

Finished up running another session of West Marches. The players finally defeated the substitute boss of the Caves of Chaos, Daggertooth the Troll (also a 6th level Cleric). He and his army of thouls are wiped out. The gnoll cave was never explored (or just the first room maybe), but every other cave has been cleared. So I declared the gnolls vacated.

Finally, after I don't know how many sessions spent in the Caves of Chaos, we're done with it. [If I hadn't taken in a lot of new players, and hadn't created Daggertooth to take over after Warduke was slain, they would have moved on long before.]

It's pretty amazing how much use I got out of dropping B2 in the West Marches. Sure, they've explored quite a fair amount of the map near Silverwood, the home town. But multiple iterations of the group have explored the caves, little by little. Sometimes they'd leave it for a while, going to explore other areas. But they kept coming back. And finally, their persistence has paid off.

Daggertooth made for a good villain, too. He never showed up until the final fight, but they kept hearing about him, how he was more powerful than a regular troll, how he carried a sword on his back but never used it (it's an intelligent Lawful sword, that's why...yes, the party got it identified, and the Lawful Fighter was the one to test it out on a poor unsuspecting random encounter baboon so no surprise shock damage...the sword did send a strong dislike emotion regarding the fighter's other magic items).

Oh, and so that's finally a thing in the campaign! They discovered the first intelligent sword! Always fun. Dean's fighter has good intelligence and wisdom, though, so he's likely to retain control except in extreme circumstances.

Anyway, once again thanks to Gary Gygax! The Caves of Chaos have definitely been a hit, and all the players new to them in this campaign will be able to share in a bit of the D&D zeitgeist that I never got to when I was young and new to RPGs.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Why did this never occur to me before?

I'm writing up the magic item section for TSR-East. Realized I'd not put in the note on 10% of magic armors being cursed. Noticed the lower encumbrance values for magic armors.

I'm sure this has occurred to many of you, but since I've never been a real stickler for encumbrance rules (eyeballing it seems to work OK), I never had this idea before in 35 years of gaming. And I don't remember seeing this in any published modules, either.

A cursed magical suit of armor. It has the normal plus value to improve AC. But it has double encumbrance instead of half encumbrance. And like normal for cursed items, once worn you're compelled to always wear it.