Thursday, May 28, 2020

Wacky Races

This image was posted in the D&D in Busan Facebook group and spurred an interesting discussion.
Some comments praised the old-school Tolkienesque humans and human-like demi-humans (elves, dwarves. halflings, gnomes). Others praised the more modern variety of choices. Some pointed out that even in old school games, players sometimes run odd races like frog-men or sleestak (that last would be me, in Justin's old Vaults of Ur game).

But one person made a spot-on comment. In old school games, it was mostly humans because there were drawbacks to playing the demi-humans. Especially in OD&D and Classic, you didn't have much choice (well, disregarding the supplements and home-brew). Even in AD&D, only humans had the freedom to pick any class, and advance as far as you could go in all of those classes.

So yes, I played a Sleestak in Vaults of Ur. But it was based on the Halfling class in Labyrinth Lord, so limited to 8th level. Yes, there are plenty of demi-humans in low to mid level AD&D play, but if you want to play a high level campaign, better be human (or a thief).

In 5E, there's not much incentive to play a human, other than RP considerations. The variety of races get all kinds of cool abilities. The only real saving grace for humans is the variant that lets you pick a feat at character creation. Since feats in 5E can be pretty powerful, it definitely makes up for the lack of racial abilities.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Getting Old?

A week or so ago, I had a bunch of ideas for blog posts. Of course, this was right before bed time, but somehow in the morning I still had them in mind. But I didn't write them down, and since I've been so busy the past few weeks, they've completely slipped my mind now. All I can remember is that I had interesting ideas for things to write about here. Frustrating!

Anyway, things are going well on the gaming front. My West Marches game is coming along well. We had a great session of it over the weekend. The party managed to explore a bunch of hexes on their way to the Ruins of Xak Tsaroth, and scouted it out a bit. No one died, and my younger son got his first taste of D&D (he turns 6 in two months, so he wasn't really paying that much attention, but had fun clicking on the button to roll dice in Roll20 and enjoyed making a character).

The Star Wars d6 game is also going well. But my wife and kids are back in Korea (if you couldn't guess) so my gaming time is going to be much reduced. When it was only me, it was no problem gaming two or three nights a week. Now it's going to be once a week if that. And with West Marches on a regular schedule, Star Wars is going to be much less frequent.

Dean's 4E game is going pretty well. It is fun, despite the drawbacks of the 4E system, and I'm enjoying my quirky character.

Nate, one of my regular players in West Marches, has started a 5E game using the free content WotC has been putting on their website over the past couple of months. I didn't get to play in the first session, but I made a PC -- a human conjurer with a pointy hat as his arcane focus. Named Preston. Any resemblance to 80's cartoon characters is purely coincidental!!! Honest!

Then there are the PbP games I'm involved in on I've joined too many games, I think, but players in games I'm enjoying were starting new games, and I jumped in on them (along with my previous games). I'm running two (Classic D&D megadungeon, and my d6 Star Wars stuff) plus playing a dozen characters in eight different games (in two games I have three characters each).

And then I'm still plugging away at Treasures, Serpents, and Ruins - East. Once I get the main rules set (working on the GM stuff now, which is tedious and going slow) I'll get back to work on the East Marches setting/module idea I've got. But again, with work stuff and my family back with me, don't expect it any time soon.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Reconsidering 4E

Dean switched his games from 5E back to 4E a few months back. At first he was still running the 5E game, too, but now he's gone to only 4E. So while I could resist playing 4E when I still had the option of 5E, now that it's only 4E, Dean got me to join.

I think I mentioned this already in the last post. He almost didn't. The first time I tried to make a character, I started looking through the options (and since my only sources are online, there are WAY too many!). For some reason, a Hengeyokai Monk seemed like the character to play. I started to make the PC. But then the WAY too many options as well as unfamiliar jargon got in the way and after maybe two hours wasted, I gave up.

Then a few weeks later, I tried again. This time with a personal character sheet to model provided by Dean, and knowing what I wanted to play already, I made it through the character creation process and created Xuan Lai, Monkey Hengeyokai Stone Fist Monk. Yeah, that's a mouthful.

The monk in 4E is a "striker" with some "control" ability, meaning that on the tactical battle map, my role is to dish out damage and set up the enemies where we can do the most damage, or else maneuver my way across the battlefield where I can do the most good. And unlike the Ranger or Rogue (or other "strikers") my character is designed to deal damage to multiple opponents more than massive damage on single opponents.

And I have to say, when we get into the tactical battles, it is pretty fun to play around and try to use my powers most effectively. And even when we're not fighting, playing a slightly less Chaotic version of Sun Wukong (the Monkey King) is a lot of fun too.

But then I hit level 2. And I had to go back to the online database to search through it to decide on my Level 2 Utility Power and a feat. And that took a good part of an afternoon. No joke.

We'll see how it goes. Like I said, playing it is fine. Fun even! It's not normal D&D, but I've read plenty of times how it's a good game on its own merits. I see that now. I still have some issues, especially since character creation/leveling takes SO long, and pretty much every level will involve choices like this.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Chanbara Price

I just reduced the price of the Chanbara PDF to $5.00. If you never picked it up because you thought $10 was too much, now's your chance!

The print version is $15, as well.

Get 'em while they're still sorta luke warm!*

*Chanbara has never really been "hot" but I'm happy with it! Hope you all enjoy it, too!

Saturday, April 25, 2020

CoronaBlahs, and a Simple Rule for Black Markets

My coronavirus isolation, plus online teaching, has kept me busy the past month. So not much blogging. I haven't done any more reading of the Immortal Set. Barely worked on my TSR-East project. I did paint a lot of minis, though, and started a play-by-post Star Wars d6 game using the same starting adventure I used with the Busan Gamers. I got some VERY enthusiastic players, and it's going pretty well so far, along with my now long-running but slow posting megadungeon Classic D&D play by post game. And I'm still running West Marches and Star Wars on Hangouts/Roll20. Star Wars tonight! Also, Dean switched back to 4E, his edition of choice, and I think the adventures of our high levle 5E characters, Jack Summerisle and crew, are finished.

Dean finally convinced me to try the 4E game. It took me two attempts to make a character. The first time I gave up in frustration at the overload of options. The second time, I got it done. I now play Xuan Lai, a monkey hengeyokai Monk. Yes, he's the monkey-est monk in Eberron! [Any similarity to Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, is purely coincidental, honestly!]

Anyway, the Star Wars game is heavily involved with Hutts. Both, actually. So I was thinking of ways to simulate black market sales of goods. And I think I have a pretty elegant idea that would work regardless of system, at least for things like odd treasures that don't have a set price. I often do that with treasures, saying it will be worth 1d8 x100 gp, or 2d6 x250gp, or whatever. If players want to shop around for different buyers, they might get a better price than the one first offered (they never do, tending to take the first offer).

For a Black Market, you're selling something illegally gained or illicit, so you want to avoid paperwork/official notice. And you will need to accept a probably lower price for the object to avoid the imperial entanglements or whatever. So roll twice, take the higher roll as the legit sales price, take the lower roll as the black market price.

And for  something with a set value (price in the book, gems/jewelry in D&D with set value, etc.) just decide on a number range and the dice to roll to get that range, with the book value at or near the top. Hey, sometimes something like that might be in demand on the black market, why not give it a chance to be worth slightly more from time to time?

Friday, April 3, 2020

Artifact rules

Starting in on the Immortals Set (no, haven't really read much past the last post, I've been busy) got me thinking about how to implement artifacts into Treasures, Serpents, and Ruins. Since I had just finished up the magic items section for TSR-East, I went on in and started in on the artifact rules.

In BECMI, artifacts are an extension of the Immortals rules, since they're created by immortals. They run on immortal power points. The powers are classified and ranked by power points needed for the effect.

In AD&D, however, they just have certain numbers of powers at certain levels of efficacy determined by the DM. The lists are just by power level.

In both sets, in addition to their powers, artifacts have negative effects on mortals that wield them. They also have a history and a purpose.

So in my rules, I decided to split the difference. Artifacts in TSR won't use power points, and will instead follow AD&D with each power: providing a constant bonus, being usable at will, or being usable a certain number of times per turn, hour, or day. But the powers are classified as Offense, Defense, Knowledge, and Utility, and artifacts are limited in how many of each type they can have by their power level.

And since I hadn't included intelligent swords in the regular magic item rules, I made them the lowest power level of artifact. And I extended the intelligent weapon rules into artifacts, so if the artifact is intelligent (not all are), it has Int and Ego scores, personality, and a desire to enact its purpose or indulge its personality traits if it takes control of its wielder/owner.

I'm currently in the middle of writing up power lists, and will be moving on to the drawbacks/limitations soon.

This is pretty fun.

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.