Monday, October 31, 2011

Oh crap, it's Halloween!

In fact, here in Busan as I write this, Halloween's almost over -- 2 hours to midnight.  And I've only gotten what, three Castlevania monsters statted up this month?  That sucks. 

Oh well, I've been busy with grad school, reading the Wheel of Time books, and general father/husband stuff.

The kindergarten where I teach had its Halloween party last Friday.  I was a werewolf in the morning.  Let my beard grow, put on some face paint and rubber fangs, and wore a ripped up collared shirt over my t-shirt and jeans.  Simple yet effective.  In the afternoon, I was in the haunted house, where it was too dark to see the face paint, so I switched to a skull mask.  Much haunting was had by all.  My son was Superman for the second year in a row.  He loves that Superman outfit.  He'll likely wear it again next year.

Saturday, I spent the majority of the day, and all Sunday morning as well, finishing up The Tower of Midnight, Wheel of Time book 13.  Got it from the local English library, and had to return it Sunday, so I wanted to finish it rather than check it out for another two weeks.  I'm really liking the way Sanderson is writing these last books.  He's just less focused on the insignificant details, and he's doing a good job in wrapping up all these little sub-plots that Jordan should have wrapped up two to five volumes earlier in the series.  It's also cool to see a fantasy world going into Armageddon in a way that really feels like it's the end of the world.  I'm glad now that I finally got around to reading these, and I'm actually looking forward to the final book next spring, now!  What a difference a month makes.

And today I was working and had grad school class.  Got a bit of work done on Flying Swordsmen during my breaks at work.  Probably should have posted something here though, instead of just reading about the demise of YDIS and Vincent Baker vs. Jim Raggi.

Anyway, here's one last Castlevania monster for Halloween!

Skeleton Ape
AC: 7 (13)
HD: 4*
Move: 60 (20)
Attacks: 1 bash
Damage: 2d6
No. Appearing: 1-4 (2-8)
Save As: Fighter 4
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: E
Alignment: Chaotic
XP: 125

Skeleton Apes are animated simians created to cause chaos and destruction.  They are rarely used to guard crypts, instead being used by necromancers, liches, or other evil sorts as shock troops.  Skeleton Apes typically carry a barrel of flammable materials that they toss as an initial attack.  The barrel can be thrown to a range of up to 60', and explodes in a 15' radius, dealing 3d6 damage to all in the blast.  A save vs. breath weapons reduces the damage by half.  After tossing its barrel, the skeleton ape lumbers forward into melee and clubs any opponents that come near it mercilessly until it is destroyed.  Skeleton apes are Turned as ghouls.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I gotta say, I seem to find these Castlevania monsters with erratic movement patterns or just simple annoying ways to avoid Belmont whips to be good fodder for conversion to D&D.  Well, the skeleton/zombie type monsters that just walk forward trying to kill the good vampire hunters aren't that interesting, and plain skeletons and zombies are already in D&D.  So here's another of those monsters that tends to give me (and I'm sure many of you as well) fits, the Hunchback/Igor/Fleaman!

AC: 6 (14)
HD: 1*
Move: 120 (60)
Attacks: 1 weapon
Damage: by weapon
No. Appearing: 2-16 (3-18)
Save As: Thief 1
Morale: 9
Treasure Type: A
Alignment: Chaotic

Hunchbacks, also known to some adventurers as Fleamen, are Halfling-sized humanoids with twisted deformities in their backs and powerful limbs.  Despite their small size and deformities, Hunchbacks can leap great distances, and do so with great acrobatic skill.  On any Round in which the Hunchbacks win initiative, they may leap in, strike, and leap away before their opponents can counterattack.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Poll Closing in a few hours!

Just an update to remind anyone who has a preference on the layout of Flying Swordsmen, the poll closes in a few hours.  Right now, it's a runaway for 2-column portrait.  I doubt enough people are gonna read this blog and vote for another format in the next few hours, but here's your opportunity if you'd prefer another format to let your voice be heard!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Taoist Element Saving Throws

Just a little more thought on the Taoist (Daoist) Motions, commonly called Elements for use as saving throw types for Flying Swordsmen.

Wood (Yang) - Generative: strength, flexibility, cooperation, growth, life

Fire (Yang) - Expansive: dynamism, persistence, heat, agression

Earth (balance) - Stabilizing: stability, conservation, empathy, harmony

Metal (Yin) - Contracting: rigidity, control, materialism, transformation

Water (Yin) - Conserving: stillness, intelligence, softness, fear/calm

So how to best use this in an RPG context, specifically a D&D-based context?  First was deciding which element to replace each traditional save category.  That was fairly easy.

Death/Poison/Paralysis is now Wood.  Your vitality/life force counteracts these negative forces.

Magic Wands is now Water.  This one ended up actually by default, but since there aren't magic wands in the game, there wasn't really anything for this save to do, besides 'unofficial uses' like saves vs. traps and stuff.  And in that context, your stillness/calm can save you from getting decapitated by the spinning blades or from plunging feet first into a pit trap, so it sorta makes sense.

Petrification/Polymorph is now Metal.  Your affinity for Metal prevents you from being transformed to another shape/substance against your will.

Dragon Breath is now Fire.  Your dynamic nature and persistence allow you to avoid or resist area attacks and heat (and come on, despite there being 5 basic types of dragon breath, don't we usually imagine a fiery blast of dragon breath by default?  I know I do.)

Spells is now Earth.  Your stability and harmony with nature, not to mention balance of Yin/Yang, becomes the default save vs. magic without any type, and against many unusual monster attacks.

How they work in play:

First of all, if a spell has an element type listed, use that element to save.  Second, all spells are labeled as Yin, Yang, or Chi.  If there's no element to override Yin/Yang association, use the better Yin or Yang value for your class.  Chi spells only have one save to use, Earth.

Now to tinker with the numbers for the classes.  Traditionally, every class in D&D is best at saving against Death/Poison, and worst against either Spells or Dragon Breath.  That will be changed.  I'm currently thinking about which element to assign as best to each of the 4 classes.  Here's the best I've got so far:

Fighter: strongest in Wood.  High hit points, lots of vitality and strength.

Wizard: strongest in Metal.  Control and transformation being the key points of magic, this seems to fit to me.

Shaman: strongest in Water.  Stillness and conservation seem to fit the image of the Shaman/Cleric.

Thief: strongest in Fire.  The image of the Thief is one of action and motion contrasted with patience and perseverance. 

I may also consider using Earth for the Shaman and then Water for the Wizard, but I kinda like the idea of keeping Earth as the default "everyone sucks at this, and any attack that doesn't fall into another category goes here" save, like traditional Save vs. Spells.  So I'm probably going to go with the above.

Now, the final question I'll have to decide.  Once the 'best' save is set, do I order the other saves by the generative motion (circle in the image above) or the opposition motion (star in the image above)?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Subtle Threat

Here's another Castlevania monster for Halloween.  Sorry this one's a bit late in coming. 

For this monster, I want another threat that is not just a hit point bash then collect the XP.  This monster is a nuisance that will hopefully make for interesting encounters, once the players finally figure out what it's doing to them.

AC: 3 (17)
HD: 1**
Move: 30 (10), Fly 180 (60)
Attacks: 1 touch
Damage: poison
No. Appearing: 3-12 (3-12)
Save As: Fighter 1
Morale: 8
Treasure Type: nil
Alignment: Chaotic

Bitterflies are creatures with skull-shaped bodies with large moth wings sprouting from the side.   They can change their coloration for short times to match their background, surprising on a roll of 1-4 on d6.  Once detected, they may disappear again on a roll of 1 on d6 even while being observed.  They do not usually attack directly, but when they do, their touch is toxic.  Opponents hit must Save vs. Poison or die in 1d4 Turns.  The biggest threat that these creatures pose is an aura of doom that they project.  Creatures within 20' of a bitterfly must Save vs. Spells or be affected as with a blight spell for one hour.  Undead, constructs, elementals, and slimes/oozes are unaffected by this.  The auras of multiple bitterflies are not cumulative in effect, but the area of effect can be increased.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sunday, October 16, 2011

New Poll Up!

I'm doing the preliminary formatting for Flying Swordsmen, just trying to see how easy it is to piece it all together in a way that looks good, and get an idea of how much art and flavor text to include.  I'm shooting for a 128 page book, and it looks like I'll manage that easily with a picture or two or some flavor text on nearly every page, including most monsters.

Still, I'm interested in what you, the potential downloaders and hopefully users of this game would prefer.  Since I'm not planning to put out a physical edition yet (hopefully in the future, if it gets enough positive feedback and enough downloads in electronic format, but that's a discussion for another day), how would you like this presented for reading on your computer?

Only five options, and only one vote allowed.  I have my draft text in single column portrait, and the current formatting test in double column portrait.  But I also like how, frex, Greg Christopher [should I have linked to his G+ account instead?  He seems to have given up the blog for G+] does all his games in landscape because they're meant to be read on the computer. 

Anyway, the poll will be open for a week.  Let me know what you think.  Thanks!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Update on my RPG developments

I've made another small change to Flying Swordsmen from the original D&D based Dragon Fist game.  Instead of the standard D&D style list of saving throw types, I've instead made each save against one of the 5 Taoist elements, Earth, Water, Fire, Metal, Wood.  Each has a Yin/Yang association for effects that are not obviously of an elemental type, with Earth being the Chi save for spells/effects without either an element or Yin/Yang association.  I'm gonna tinker with the numbers a little bit, as well.  I think each of the four classes should be good against one type of save in particular, but I'll need to think a bit to decide which element best fits each class.  Earth (Chi) will be the save that's not so good for everyone (map to Save vs. Spells in D&D), but I don't want everyone to be best against Wood (AD&D's Poison/Paralysis/Death save).

Preliminary formatting is coming along apace.  I'm almost through with the monster section.  After that, it's treasure/rewards, then the Campaign Setting section which still needs a bit of fleshing out.  Finally, the appendices. 

In my other RPG, Presidents of the Apocalypse, Paul and I had another one of those cycles where one of us adds a bunch of stuff that complicates the game (me this time), and the other wisely cut it down again (Paul, obviously).  Paul had some good ideas, riffing off of some of my good ideas from last time, and some new simplifications that will help keep this game as the beer-and-pretzels simple silly fun game we want it to be. 

I'm gonna try to see if any of the Busan gamers are brave enough to get silly roleplaying a cyborg Ben Franklin or mutated John Quincy Adams and give this new slimmed down set a try.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Last Year's Castlevania fun

In case some of you are too lazy to use the search or tags, here are last year's Castlevania monster related posts.

Restless Spirit (Castlevania/Gauntlet style ghost)
Phantom Bat
Robber Bat (not Castlevania, but could work for it)
Medusa Head
Grim Reaper (Classic and 3E stats)

And a map of the CV version of Transylvania for a campaign I never got off the ground.

Monday, October 10, 2011

1st Level Magic-Users Suck?

Did Grognardia stir up this old chestnut again?  I know there's already a ten page or so thread on Dragonsfoot about it just within the last couple days (although it's been semi-hijacked by a debate about whether using hirelings makes you a 'wuss gamer' or not).

How can a 1st level Magic-User survive to 2nd level?  And find ways to be useful while doing so?

And of course, all these people are either stating how there's nothing to do but fire your one spell then run away to rest so you'll be 'effective' again.  Or on the other side, bringing out the old standby of 'prepare lots of flasks of oil, marble bags, 10' poles, Swedish-made penis enlarger pumps, garlic, wolfsbane, catnip, spare socks, iron spikes, reading glasses, and cooking pots to make yourself useful.'  Then of course, the idea of hiring meat-shields to protect your AC 11, 1d4 HD ass which touched off the near derailment of that DF thread. [Sorry, no link today.  Just got back from grad school, and don't feel like hitting DF tonight just to snag a link.  It's in the General Discussion section if you want to track it down yourself.]

Anyway, words of wisdom from old Jack Burton.  Er, um, I mean Lord Gwydion. 


No, your Fighter cannot beat down goblins all day long.  He can take one hit if he's lucky, then he'd better retreat.

No, your Cleric (even if using AD&D where they get spells at 1st level) is not going to be casting spells and turning undead all the time.  He's got better than 50% odds to turn skeletons, but the first time he botches that roll, he's done for that encounter.  And even with an 18 Wis, he's still got a limited number of spells.  And remember, in Classic (my preferred game), he's got no spells.  Just the ability to take one hit if he's lucky and maybe turn some undead.

No, your Thief is not gonna be finding every trap, unlocking every door, and if he gets really lucky and actually manages to sneak up on someone, likely is gonna miss that backstab roll and get his AC 6, 1d4 HD ass handed to him.

They all suck.  That's kinda the point.  And EVERYONE should be getting all that miscellaneous equipment and using it at every opportunity.  First level characters get to become second level characters by being smart, not by acting like 6th level characters.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Another Castlevania Monster for Halloween

One problem of converting CV monsters into D&D is that in a video game, a different sprite and attack pattern makes it a new monster.  Not so in D&D.  There are a ton of skeleton-type monsters in Castlevania, and most of them don't really need new stats for D&D.  Just arm them appropriately, and you've got them.

This one, however, is a fun little variant undead spellcaster.  No where near as powerful as a lich, it's a niche that's been filled before, but I'm doing it in a Castlevania way.

AC: 5 (15)
HD: 4**
Move: 90 (30)
Attacks: 1 weapon or spell
Damage: by weapon, or spell
No. Appearing: 1-8 (2-6)
Save As: Fighter 8
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: B (U)
Alignment: Chaotic

Dhurons are criminals executed by decapitation who have risen as skeletal undead.  They carry their skulls in one hand, and wield weapons in the other.  Dhurons are not mindless, and can be quite crafty.  They will often hide amidst normal skeletons to surprise opponents with their spellcasting ability.  Dhurons cast spells as a 4th level Magic-User in addition to being adept with weapon attacks.  Due to their magical nature, they save as 8th level Fighters.  They are immune to sleep, charm, and hold spells.  Clerics turn Dhurons as Mummies.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A bit of a surprise

When Robert Jordan died a few years ago, I'd read all 11 volumes of The Wheel of Time series at that point.  And I'd really been reading everything since about volume 8 mostly on inertia.  I'd read that much already, I might as well keep reading them, I thought.  Even though the series was obviously being strung along just for the sake of stringing it along, and the bloated descriptions were getting annoyingly bad.  It's kinda like Jordan ran out of descriptive phrases around book 4, and just recycled them over and over and over again.  But, I was working as a public school teacher in Japan, and had plenty of free time on my hands.

And then Jordan died.  And I thought, "I'm done with WoT."  I just didn't care anymore to finish the series, especially when I found out that Sanderson would not be writing one final book, but three. 

But then this past summer, Steve was giving away books before he left for Singapore, and one of them was a copy of The Gathering Storm, WoT book 12.  And I said, "What the hell, it's free." 

I finally started reading it this weekend.  After two days of reading, I'm 200 pages into it and finding I'm liking Sanderson's prose more than Jordan's later prose.  It's that bit of freshness that the series needed.  It's still long, and bloated, and I'm looking at having to trudge through another 3000 or so pages, but I may just finish the series after all.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A New Blog and a Halloween Monster

So there's a new blog that's just come to my attention, BladeSharp.  Fabian is working on a conversion of Oriental Adventures (1E, 2E and 3E stuff mashed together) for Labyrinth Lord.  I'd actually considered doing something like that but decided instead to focus on Dragon Fist.  Since most stuff for the various clones/simulacrums is easily interchangeable, and fits easily with most TSR versions of D&D, I'm looking forward to what he comes up with.

And since it's October, it's time for WaHNtHaC's annual (well, since last year anyway) Castlevania monsters converted to Classic D&D!

And we're starting off with a true classic creature of the CV games.  You really can't call a game Castlevania unless it includes a few of them--the Red Skeleton!

Red Skeleton
Armor Class: 7 (13)
Hit Dice: 1/8* (1 hit point, but see below)
Move: 60 (20)
Attacks: 1 claw
Damage: 1d6
No. Appearing: 1-2 (1-4)
Save As: Fighter 1
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: nil
Alignment: Chaotic
XP: special (see below)

Red Skeletons look like normal animated skeletons, except that they are a deep blood red color.  They are slow, plodding creatures, and appear very weak.  Any hit with a weapon or spell, or a Turn Undead attempt, will seem to destroy them.  But 1d4 Rounds later the red skeleton will reform in the spot where it was 'destroyed.'  Scattered bones will fly back to the spot if nearby.  More distant bones will teleport back to the spot.

While it is possible to knock them down and then flee, adventurers gain no experience points for doing so.  However, if a means can be found to permanently destroy them (at the DM's discretion), the adventurers will gain a special XP award of 1000 XP the first time they discover the process.  Only by discovering a new method to destroy one will grant this special XP award again in the future.

As Undead creatures, red skeletons are immune to sleep, charm and hold effects.