Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sleestak, your life force is running out!

Last Saturday, we again ventured forth in the ruins of Ur, City of the Ten Cataclysms.

Justin DMed a fun little game, which was fairly rough on us.  Jeremy played Noctis the Orc, Alexei was Maya the Elf, Dean was Venerable Carolus, and I was Thidrek the Sleestak.  We had (NPCs) a hired sellsword, Webberan, a tag-along nerdy Orc Magi Mattaki Shiptu, and fussy butlerish shield-bearer Ghomondelay with us as well.

Carolus, learning of ancient Urish technology that might be able to regrow his lost hand the way orcs are grown in vats, was interested in exploring the installation below the harpies' thorn maze.  On the way, when we got to the statue of the vulture-headed death goddess, Karl decided we should "consecrate" it (vandalize, in other words).  So we knocked it down, loaded it up on Thidrek's triceratopsian-cart, and trucked it back to Fort Low and set it up in the rich part of town.  We ignored the locals' talk of "curses."

We also heard of a local official's brother and his party who had gone missing in the ruins.  Altering our plans, we headed to a new homestead north-east of the thorn maze.  They seemed friendly enough, although we did wonder how they kept themselves safe in the middle of the ruins.  They gave us directions to the temple the brother had been exploring.

Under the temple were of course some tunnels, and in them, a new tribe of black masked orcs.  They were none too fond of us, and after a skirmish, we chased them and ended up in a trapped area with lots of rooms with levers to pull and various things to happen.  Thinking he had the puzzle figured out, Thidrek tried a lever that Webberan had pulled several times, with nothing but a few coins lodged in the ceiling dislodged.  One failed saving throw later and the ceiling was caving in on him.  Negative hit point time!

As the party came to Thidrek's aid, the orcs attacked en masse.  It was a pretty good scrum, but we managed to win in the end.  Sorely wounded, however, we retreated and went back to the homestead to rest up.

Turns out, as night fell and we were brought in to see the leader, that the community are actually Ur Ogres (they look human, then shapeshift into monstrous forms, sorta lycanthropish) led by Harrkonn Spiderlegs, an old nemesis of ours.

End of session cliff hanger!  I've updated by backup PC just in case Thidrek finally cashes in the last of his nine lives next session.


  1. Sounds like it was a blast!

    Sorry I'm going to go off-topic now, about Flying Swordsmen.

    So the other day while browsing through my RPG archive, I stumbled across the pdfs of Dragon Fist. I instantly fell in love, and slapped myself for dismissing it or something for so long. Of course this naturally lead me to your Flying Swordsmen game, which I have also fallen in love with. I see it as a more playable game, and I'm pumped to run a game for my mates sometime.
    I've been coming up with rule tweaks already, but so far I've managed to limit myself to some martial arts manuevers and a slight adjustment to the stunt die chart.

    If you ever feel like running a game of it and need another player, I'd be down. My timezone is GMT+12.

    I'm looking forward to seeing your work on Chanbara.


  2. Thanks, Billy! And I'm always happy to chat about Flying Swordsmen (and Dragon Fist).

    Unfortunately, I'm working my way through a Ph.D. so I don't have much time to put together games of Flying Swordsmen, although I really want to. Chanbara's also on a bit of a hold at the moment, also due to my studies.

    I'm still plugging away at Chanbara, and I hope to get it released sometime next year.

  3. Oh, what's your PhD in?

    I have some critiques about Flying Swordsmen. But don't worry, they were there in Dragonfist too.

    Have you considered background talents/non-weapon proficiencies or whatever? Nothing major, just to expand a little on the non-combat side of the game a bit. Like armourer, doctor, caligraphy, etc. I think these could add additional flavor and plot hooks to the game without adding much to the rules.
    Thinking about it, I suppose the reason these weren't in Dragonfist was partially because they were in AD&D; which is technically was.

    I would have liked to have seen some sample martial arts schools, with a few manuevers associated with them. This would serve as inspiration for the DM to design teachers for the PCs, and plot hooks for rival kungfu schools.
    Along the same lines, some sample martial arts mentors would be cool.

    Armour rules were a little disappointing, the guardian is great but I feel it's not quite enough. I simply made a level 2 and a level 4 manuever to help offset this though.
    Defiant Crab [level 2]: While wearing corselet armour, use a level 1 manuever besides a stance. Guardians add +1 AC.
    Rolling Boulder [level 4]: While wearing corselet armour, use a manuever of up to level 3 besides stances. Guardians add +1 AC. If you know Defiant Crab, you may wear suit armour.

    Do shields count as armour or weapons? Though I suppose DM ruling is fine.

    Charm Person; it lasts a full week on a regular person? Isn't that too much for a first level spell? I realise its limitations, but in comparison to the other spells it has a huge duration.

    Class specific XP charts seem rather quaint by today's standards. With the inclusion of martial arts manuevers and stunts, classes are much closer in scope. This is especially true for fighters and thieves, each of whom are better able to fill each other's shoes. Though I suppose only acid testing and play testing will reveal how true my statement is.

    Anyway, those are the main things bugging me. Nothing major and certainly don't detract from the game.

  4. The Ph.D. is in English, with a focus on Education (specifically TESOL).

    Thanks for the feedback. And don't worry, your criticisms are valid and constructive.

    As far as background talents go, I didn't add any because they don't affect combat (usually), and I'm the sort of DM that just allows players to decide stuff like that on their own. Using the AD&D Secondary Skill system, or selecting from OA non-weapon proficiencies, or something like that would help round out characters.

    That's one nice thing about the OSR philosophy. If your rule set is lacking something, you can easily bolt on something that covers it from another game.

    About armor, it was designed that way on purpose. In DF, no PCs wore armor. The kit that became the Guardian profile was for NPCs only. That said, your maneuvers look good, and make the Guardian a bit more versatile.

    I'd count shields as armor, but could be convinced depending on character concept to allow them to count as weapons.

    Charm Person was like that in the original game. And when we played it, Jeremy played a Wizard with Charm Person and used it to devastating effect on some enemies. It does need to be tweaked, especially considering how I changed Wizard spell casting. Make it a slow spell, plus limit duration if used in combat, maybe? If I ever get around to revising FS, it will be modified from the way it is now.

    As far as class specific XP charts go, they may be quaint by your standards, but I'm seeing a whole slew of games coming out of the OSR that still use them. [I'm not offended or trying to be abrasive here, just stating a fact as I see it.]

    The only real benefit of a standardized XP track that I can see is that it makes multiclassing 3E style possible. There are some good arguments as to why different XP tracks in Old School D&D are a good thing.

    If you wanted to, though, you could always key all the classes to one track and see how it plays. If you do, I'd be interested to see what you and your players think of it. It's something to consider in any future revision.

    Again, thanks for the feedback and enjoy the game!

  5. Ah cool, that explains your written mastery.

    Unarmoured fighters are pretty badass, to be sure. It wasn't a critique as much an observation. I look forward to seeing what you do with it in Chanbara.

    About the XP charts, no offense taken. And yeah there are many OSR games coming out, many of which are worse for them than this game too( that's an ambiguous statement, I mean I agree with you). It's a tricky thing really, judging the power of each class, especially with the range of spells and martial manuevers to select from.
    The main benefit I see to using standardised XP charts is to allow every player to experience growth at the same time. Though in thinking about it, non-mechanical benefits can be just as rewarding.

    Looking closer though, they're all fairly close assuming each PC earns equal XP. I think I might try it with fighters on the shaman XP track and wizards on the fighter XP track. Might be a safer test.

    By the way, have you read 3.5e's Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords? It's pretty much DF with the flavouring from an old AD&D module, set up for use with 3.5e. The fan support around it though is pretty amazing, some great homebrew stuff that can be mined for ideas.

    One last thing that's been bugging me. How many martial arts manuevers can be used per turn? The major action description seems to imply only one, but the rest of the book suggests otherwise.


  6. That last is something I'm remedying in Chanbare. Maneuvers are passive or active. Passives are always on, like stance bonuses to AC or initiative bonuses. Active maneuvers require the use of a major action.

    Eventually I'll go through the FS maneuvers and decide which are which. Feel free to make your own decisions on that for your game.