Sunday, September 29, 2013

One day Challenge?

It's the end of the month, so if you're like me and like to read lots of OSR blogs, you've definitely seen this:
I didn't have the time to devote a post a day to these questions.  Hell, a lot of the questions really don't deserve a post all their own.  But hey, if you're curious...

1. How I got started.  I'd been watching the D&D cartoon, reading Endless Quest books, and had seen tempting glimpses of the actual game back in 1983/84.  So for my 11th birthday, my parents got me the Mentzer Basic Set.
2. Favorite playable race.  Humans.  I've played my share of Elves, Half-Elves and Halflings, and rarely Dwarves and Half-Orcs.  I've never played a Gnome.  In 3E, PF, and 4E I've tried a few other races.  But then until recently I've mostly been the DM so I don't get to play a lot.  My current main character is (as you'll know if you read my play reports) a Sleestak, and I'm enjoying that.  But most of my characters tend to be humans.
3. Favorite playable class.  Thieves or Rangers.  I like crafty, sneaky types, where I need to try and use my brain as much or more than my brawn.
4. Favorite game world.  We played a lot of Known World (later known as Mystara).  Lots of good memories of that game.  I don't know if would still interest me now, but I did enjoy it a lot when I was young.  I think all the expansions (Gazeteers, 2E products, etc.) kinda ruined it for me.  I enjoyed the wide open-ness of the setting from just the Expert Set and Isle of Dread.
5. Favorite set of dice/individual die.  The crayon-fillable dice from my Basic, Expert and Star Frontiers box sets.  I use them exclusively for DMing and use other dice when I'm a player.

6. Favorite Deity.  Can't really say I have one.

7. Favorite Edition.  See question 1 above.

8. Favorite character you have played.  Farley the Halfling.  Dex 17, Int 3.  Survived the old Known World campaign, and got up into Companion Set level "attack ranks."

9. Favorite character you haven't played.  Not sure if this means someone else's character, a fictional character I like, or a character I rolled up and love, but never got to run.  So I'll ignore it for being too vague.

10. Craziest thing that's happened to you (blah blah).  So many it's hard to choose only one.  Once, I ran an adventure where the PCs had to break into the castle of Dungeon Master (from the cartoon) and steal his underpants (it was a geas or quest spell I think that made them need to do it). There have been some pretty crazy adventures lately in Ur, but no panty raids yet.

11. Favorite Adventure you have Ran.  Ravenloft.  The original module.  With my old Yamanashi group.
12. Favorite dungeon type/location.  Megadungeon.  Especially the one I'm making.

13. Favorite trap/puzzle.  Can't say I'm partial to a specific one, or even a type.  But if it's clever or interesting, and makes the players think, I like it.  I don't mind gotcha traps, because gotcha traps are more realistic.  But the puzzlers that players (whether I'm one or not) are more gameable.

14. Favorite NPC.  Swarthy the Sailor.  Every time he appeared (in the old Known World game), he was missing another body part or had a change of pirate pet (parrots, monkeys, etc.).

15.  Favorite monster (undead).  I like wights a lot.  Not too tough, but their attack is one of the nastiest in the game.

16. Favorite monster (abberation).  I've always liked the Malfera in the Companion Set, although I suppose that's a planar creature actually.  What are the 3E monster classifications doing in what's supposedly an OSR thing?  Or was this broader than just the OSR?  I only noticed OSR blogs doing it. 

17. Favorite monster (Animal/Vermin).  Giant spiders.  Because spiders.

18.  Favorite monster (immortal/outsider).  Djinn/Efreet.  Lots of fun to use as a DM, because they can be a real help to the party or a big hindrance.  Especially if they're bound by a ring/bottle that summons them.

19. Favorite monster (elemental/plant).  Shriekers.  They don't do anything but summon other monsters or alert monsters that someone's trying to sneak by.  And yet they're worth a fair amount of XP for low level characters.

20. Favorite monster (humanoid/natural/fey).  They're sort of one-trick ponies so I'm not sure why I like them so much, but Red Cap Brownies.

21. Favorite Dragon color/type.  Green dragons.  Mostly because green is my favorite color and it's the traditional dragon color.  Their breath weapon is hard to resist, too.

22. Favorite monster overall.  Orcs.  There are so many interesting ways to use them, but even if you stick to the traditional way, they're still fun opponents to fight.

23. Least favorite monster overall.  Hard to say.  There are a lot of monsters I don't like and will likely never use.  Should I just say flumpf and move along?

24. Favorite energy type.  Well, we got through the silly lists of monster questions, and get this?  Moving on.

25. Favorite magic item.  Now this is a real question.  And a tough one.  The staff of wizardry is pretty sweet.  Until it's out of charges, you can use more spell slots for utility spells and still be able to help the party out in combat in many many ways.

26. Favorite nonmagic item.  Rope.  Samwise Gamgee said it best, it's always a good idea to have a bit of rope.

27. A character you want to play in the future.  A gnome illusionist/assassin.  Because I've never played any of those.

28. A character you will never play again.  Achaz the Elder (Achaz the Younger is still viable).  Achaz the Elder was killed by black dragon breath on his second or third adventure.  His son carried on the family business and had more success.

29. What is the number you always seem to roll on a d20?  One between 1 and 20.  My blue d20 from the Basic Set used to seem to come up 17 quite often.  Could be a flaw in it.  One I'm happy to exploit to my advantage.  But it's probably just all in my head.

30. Best DM you've had.  Justin.  His Vaults of Ur game is tons of fun, and he and I seem to often see eye to eye on what's fun about D&D.

So there you have it, folks.  And while you didn't have to click on my blog 30 times this month to find out all this, I think this way's likely better anyway.  And I don't really care much about my blog traffic anymore.  People that like my stuff read it.  That's good enough for me.  So thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Chanbara - possible change of plans

This one starts a bit longwinded, skip to the bolded text a few paragraphs down if you're just interested in the "what" not the "why" of my new plan for Chanbara.

Well, when I'm putting off doing my grad school readings (and not wasting time on Facebook/G+, playing smartphone games, or reading old comics), I've started tinkering with my Chanbara stuff again.

Only I'm considering revamping the whole thing.  Funny, since I think the rules are done.  I just need to finish fleshing out the campaign world section, edit/proofread, and then format it.  Well, play testing would be a good idea, too, but over the summer I just didn't have the will to get a game of it going.  Having to teach a pretty much entire new system to the players was daunting, along with trying to come up with an interesting scenario for them to play through that would allow me to test the important rules (combat, how magic works, and the skill/stunt system).

Anyway, that failure, along with my current gaming situation, has got me thinking.  I'm currently running a slightly house ruled version of BX/BECMI D&D in the Megadungeon.  Vaults of Ur is a house ruled Labyrinth Lord/Stars Without Number mashup.  And I'm happy with those games.  They're familiar; comfortable.

And I like that comfort.  I think, despite coming up with the rules myself and being happy with them, that the Chanbara stuff just isn't in my comfort zone for running games.  Odd, isn't it?

OK, so here's the meat of the post.

Redo the Chanbara and Flying Swordsmen classes for Labyrinth Lord.  Get rid of the fancy schmancy Chainmail inspired magic system.  Stick with good old fashioned Vancian.  Skip the smorgasbord of special abilities (Maneuvers/Tricks/Secrets) and just assign each class certain special abilities as they level up. 

Race and Class.  Human, Jing Ling (Spirit Folk), Airen (Dwarves/Korobokuru), Yokai (Hengeyokai from OA/my Kappa, Tengu and Kitsune from Chanbara).

12 Classes, each under the Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User or Thief heading (so basically variants of each main LL class). 

Cleric: Shaman (from FS), Sohei (from Chanbara), Yamabushi (from Chanbara)
Fighter: Xia (from FS), Samurai (from Chanbara), Kensei (from both)
Magic-User: Taoist (from FS), Onmyoji (from Chanbara), Elementalist (sorta new)
Thief: Ninja (from Chanbara), Vagabond (from FS), Ghost Hunter (from FS)

Combine monsters from both FS and Chanbara, simplified to LL standards. 

Add in some higher level spells.

Create some actual treasure tables for magical treasures.

Hopefully this would be something roughly compatible with baseline LL or LL/AEC, or playable on its own.  Meaning I'll probably borrow a lot of "running the game" stuff from LL, and make sure all the options like PC hit dice have toned down options for straight LL, or slightly souped up versions for stand-alone or AEC play.

So instead of its own game, it'll be my version of OA for LL.

Good idea? Bad?  Who knows.  But I'm thinking it will be something I can actually get motivated to run, and get players to try out.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Are you experienced? Part 2

A little more detail about my post from yesterday.

First of all, Stables of PCs.  The idea is that each player will have two to five* PCs rolled up before game time starts.  That way, if one PC meets an unfortunate end, a replacement can show up on the spot.  Also, sometimes a "specialist" might be needed for certain missions, so a player might opt to run one of the "backup" PCs instead of their main PC.

The drawback is that players need to spend more time creating characters.  Luckily, with Classic D&D as a base for my house rules, that doesn't take too awfully long.

What I'll do for XP is this - whichever PC a player uses for a session gets full XP for that session.  All other PCs in the Stable will gain 1/3 of that amount.  Imagine that Player A has four characters in their stable and Player B has only two.  Each selects one of their PCs and they delve the megadungeon successfully, earning 900xp each (to keep the math simple for the demonstration).  Player A has three characters in reserve, each of whom will receive 300xp.  Player B only has one reserve character, who also receives 300xp.  Let's call it "downtime XP."  Fairly simple.

Like I said yesterday, I plan to use an XP Bank.  If a PC dies, all the XP that character earned up until death goes into the Bank.  If a PC gets hit by an energy drain attack and loses XP, again it goes into the Bank. 

The main purpose of the Bank is to be able to create replacement PCs that won't be too far behind the other characters in a party.  Also, I feel that players earn XP, they should be entitled to keep it.  When a player adds a new PC to their stable (one with 0XP), they can withdraw as much of their banked XP as they wish to give to the new PC.  Yes, that means a player with a lot of banked XP might be able to create a replacement of a higher level than the one that was lost.  So be it, they earned all that XP previously.

Now, things get a little tricky when factoring in our group's practice of awarding 100xp bonuses for pictures or session reports.  With my Bank idea, doing these things would be the only way to transfer banked XP to an already active character (one with 1xp or more).  Using the above example, Player A draws three pictures of the adventure.  The PC that Player A used earns a 300xp bonus.  Player A could choose to distribute up to 300 banked XP to each of the three reserve PCs.  But let's say Player A only has 500xp in the bank.  Then he can, if he wishes, divide that 500xp among the three reserve PCs as he wishes, or leave it in the bank.

One final note - bonus XP from pictures, and Bank withdrawals, will not gain any Prime Requisite bonuses.  The 1/3 granted to backup PCs from an active PC should be calculated before that PC's Prime Requisite bonus, if any.  If any backup PCs get a PR bonus, they gain the bonus on the "downtime XP."

Hopefully that all makes more sense.  But I have a feeling I went on a ramble.

*Today, I'm feeling maybe 5 is too many.  I may limit it to three or four.  I'm still working out the details of how I want to run this thing.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Are you experienced?

Rethinking how I want to handle XP, stables of characters, and loss from energy drain in my Megadungeon campaign, and maybe other games in the future as well.

First off, I don't want to change the whole way XP is handled in D&D.  I like getting and awarding some XP for monsters defeated and some for treasure acquired.  I've been using the OD&D 100xp per HD for monsters so far, but I am considering going back to BECMI standards for that to encourage more clever approaches to monster encounters.

I originally tried out the 100xp per HD as a way to speed up advancement, since we're all adults, we don't play as often as we used to, and stuff like that.  But it did have the unwanted consequence (to me anyway) that players can benefit a lot just by monster hunting.  I know lots of DMs that complain about the ridiculous amounts of loot PCs get in standard D&D play, but I actually want to encourage that!  I like the whole "build a castle and carve out a dominion" end-game of D&D, and for that PCs need ridiculous amounts of gold and jewels wrested from the bloody remains of eldritch horrors (or stolen when said horrors were looking the other way).

The main thing I'm thinking of modifying, though, is how players deal with their XP.  My idea is to create an XP Bank for each player in the campaign.  If a character dies or gets level drained*, the lost XP goes into the bank.  When they create a new character, they can withdraw as much of the XP as they want from the bank to create a new PC.  So players will never lose earned XP.

I also want to codify how we deal with alternate/backup PCs, FLAILSNAILS PCs dropping in from other realms, and the like.  Right now I don't really have any hard and fast rules for this.

What I will propose is that in the campaign a player can have up to 5 active PCs.  This can include FLAILSNAILS characters from other games.  When a PC in the stable gains XP, one third of the amount is awarded to each alternate. 

In addition, when a player draws a picture, writes up a session report, or something similar, we've been giving 100xp bonuses.  This will go to the PC that participated in the session related to the work.  If the player desires, they can deduct 100xp from the bank for any alternate PCs at this time.  This is the only way a character that has more than 0XP can benefit from the Bank.  Otherwise, Banked XP can only go to new, unplayed, replacement characters.

*My current house rule on Energy Drain is that a drained character loses attack bonuses and saving throws (if they drop below one of the threshold levels), spell casting, and Thief Skills, Turn Undead, or whatever.  HOWEVER, they keep their hit point total, and as they regain levels, they don't roll for new HP until they exceed their old level.  So if your 8th level PC gets hit by a Vampire, they lose XP and act as a 6th level character but with the hit points of an 8th level character.  They don't gain hit points upon regaining 7th and 8th levels but do gain hit points again at 9th level.

And with the new rules, that XP will go to the Bank, meaning a new character can be made using that XP to avoid endless low level play.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Keebler's Journal - Yeffal's Great Dungeon

Last Wednesday I ran a session of my Megadungeon.  Michael, I guy I know from the local board game group, joined the game as Keebler, and Elf of course.  Dean was playing his converted 2E Elf Ranger Copperleafy, and Jeremy was playing Uriah the Mage.  Along for the ride were all the NPCs they know of, plus a new one Uriah charmed after Felix the Cat and Frog the Toad were slain, Gomer Pyle.  He didn't make it back either.

Although they never set foot inside the dungeon, they did find a new entrance to the lair of the Orcs of the Dripping Fang, while pursuing bounties on the leader and witch doctor of said orcish tribe.  Michael wrote up a journal entry from Keebler's perspective.

The diary of Keebler, mystic warrior, purveyor of fine snacks

How the tangles of time twist us on our journey! This day I did make the acquaintance of another of our people. Copperleafy, he calls himself, and an odd elf he is! He is, though solid in all other masculine virtues, untutored in the arts of magic. Mind you, he is an excellent and able tracker, and (despite the unfounded suggestions of the humans in our midst) very, very hetero. What makes these humans think that frolicking with fairies is indicative of a predilection for man-on man action is beyond me!
In any event, there was hunting to do, and the menu was—orc!
This Copperleafy had some information leading us to the hideout of the Dripping Fang clan, which he had acquired from some leprechaun or other. Along with our human companions (a mage of both ability and instability along with some hirelings) we laid in wait for the foul creatures—only to be set upon by many walking skeletons, aberrations of the foulest kind. Only with great effort did we fell the animated corpses, and only at the loss of some of our humans.
At this point, we took some time to return to town to… well, not to put too fine a point on it, to acquire more humans. The young mage seemingly charmed some half-witted yokel and invited him to join us. A plan was hatched to use this sad little farmer and a lovely human female as—I believe the phrase was “rape bait.” Half-orcs indeed!
In any event, the trap was set, and after some time we unleashed our ambush upon an orc foraging party. The mage and I used our power to render the orcs asleep and, as they were few in number, the slaughter was on. The tracker, Copperleafy (whose exploits with women—and women only—are well renowned), followed the tracks of the orcs and animals to the doors of what appeared to be a large redoubt. Clearly, there were more orcs than we had reckoned upon meeting. Feeling that more intelligence was needed, Copperleafy returned to the woodland creatures to gain more knowledge about the orcish host, while the rest of us set about returning to our ambushing.
Sadly, instead of more orcs we were attacked by several rather large frogs, one of which devoured the hapless yokel Gomer. Shame.
In any event, upon Copperleafy’s return, we determined to call it a day for the moment, and see what progress we can make in this quest upon the morrow. What I would not give for a fine oven in which to bake some quality snacks, but for now, it is the open air and battle for this elf.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Needles in haystacks

Way back last year, Noisms of Monsters and Manuals blogged about the contents of wilderness hexes.  He showed through real world examples that even a 1-mile hex can have a lot of adventure opportunity.  And most RPG maps are at the 5 or 6 mile hex scale, or 24 mile scale.

So, imagine you've got one of those wilderness maps with all hexes numbered, and keys with something (or several things as Noisms suggests) interesting in each hex.

How do you determine when something is found?

Wandering monster rolls are of course one way.  If there's a random encounter while in that hex, instead of rolling a random monster, the encounter could be with whatever monster lairs there (although not necessarily in the lair). This is fairly simple and elegant, as the more times the PCs cross the hex or spend actively searching, the likelier they are to encounter what ever is keyed there.

The down side is that you then no longer have wandering or random encounters when in the wilderness.

Also, the probabilities for wandering monster encounters tend to increase with the more wild the terrain is, at least in Classic D&D.  It's been so long since I've looked at AD&D's wilderness encounter charts I don't remember, but I have a feeling it's the same.  Anyway, you're more likely to encounter some monster in a swamp or jungle than you are in open plains or the desert. 

If the keyed encounter is with a monster tribe or the like, well, that makes sense to keep it this way.  But what if the keyed encounter is a location like a ruined temple or some unusual (super)natural feature?  Wouldn't it be harder to find in a forest or the mountains that it would be in open fields?  Perhaps a new chart with inverted chances of encounters would be in order for such things. 

A lost oasis fortress might not be hard to find at all while traveling through a flat rocky desert.  The hidden Elven city of Gondollin would be next to impossible to find.  Should each encounter have its own chance to be randomly found listed? 

That's a lot of checking map keys and rolling dice for each hex that's passed through.  I'm sure a computer program could be created to handle all of that, but I sure don't have the time to make one (or the skill, at the moment, although I'd guess the coding for such wouldn't be too hard to learn).

The easiest way to handle things at the table, I guess, would be to treat it in a manner similar to searching for traps or secret doors.  If the players are passing some potential encounter, and they say something that would likely put them close, allow them to have the encounter.  If not, or they are simply "searching," give them a die roll (would Elves have a bonus to find lost temples or hidden orc cave-lairs?) of some sort.

Or the default method presented in modules, if they pass through the hex they have the encounter, and just don't put stuff in every hex. 

On a related note, I had an idea while thinking of all the above.  Would there be a desire for a "random wilderness stocking system" similar to the simple random dungeon stocking tables in the Basic Sets?  I've been using them with my Megadungeon project, and they're nice for spacing out encounter areas among the rooms, and force me to get creative when there are many traps or specials in certain areas.  Something similar for the wilderness might be handy.  Maybe I'll try to come up with something some day.

Death in the Sky Tombs

Last night, rather than Vaults of Ur, Justin ran a straight up Stars Without Number game.  He had run a session of it months ago.  I'd made my PC, Gawain "Greasebox" Mifune, a technician style Expert, but then wasn't able to play.  Dean's PC Fighterman Jung (a Dr. Who style Cyberman), and Jeremy's PC Killbot5000 (using some android rules from I don't know where) explored a starjammer style ship.

This time, Justin decided to retcon the spelljammer stuff out, and run a more straight up sci-fi game, Panoply Sector.  All of our characters, plus some backups were stranded on Brightside Station, a mining colony in the asteroid sea (there are no planets) around a red giant star, known as "The Beast."  In order to escape near indentured servitude, we'd need to scrounge up 500 credits each without owing our souls to the company store (you know the old song, right?).  Quick way to get rich?  Explore the Sky Tombs of an extinct alien race!

Since we had backup PCs, I should give a roster:
Jeremy -
Killbot5000, combat machine (droids don't get classes, they just have skill sets)
Dr. Atari, super-intelligent science droid on a scraped together junk frame
Dean -
Fighterman Jung the Cyberman, Warrior who will die if not encased in a cybernetic life support suit
Sister Pomepeius Isabella, Psychic Bene Gesserit 9-year old girl
Me -
Gawain "Greasebox" Mifune, Expert technician, crack repairman
Tommy "Six" Gunn, Warrior hotshot space cowboy
Dr. Zoltana, Expert xenologist seeking to study the aliens who left the tombs

After securing slave wage jobs, finding an NPC protector for Sister Pompeius, and getting ripped off by the company outfitting shop, we secured passage to a Sky Tomb on the Leadbelly, piloted by the guy in a wheelchair from Alien 4.  We selected our first away team were Killbot5000, Sister Pompeius, and Greasebox, plus beefy NPC dude whose name I didn't commit to memory.

We explored a bit, and found the place habitable and fully powered.  After opening a locked door, we found some alien artifacts, but apparently tripped an alarm.  Shortly thereafter, we were surrounded by giant black carapaced things which killed Pompeius as she skipped up to a door without checking around a corner, Greasebox as he tried to run back to the airlock to call for help, and then NPC dude and Killbot as they made a stand.


It was a lot of fun, and I can't wait to see if our reserve PCs will fare any better next time!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Next, please

Well, for over a year now I've been occasionally (not too persistently, but from time to time) trying to get the guys around here to try out the D&D Next playtest stuff.  Mostly because I'm curious about what they're doing with it, not so much because I think I'll buy it.  But who knows, I might...

Anyway, I finally am getting the chance.  It may be a while before I can pass judgement, though, as the game will be a play-by-post game on  But it's D&D Next, the Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle module, and the DM started out with BECMI (same as me) and mostly played that back in the day, although from comments he's made he is/was big into 4E. 

So far, character creation wasn't too difficult.  Of course, I was rolling up a Fighter, so that's usually a little simpler than some other classes.  The process was fairly painless.  While every class in Next has a boat-load of special abilities that they gain as they level up, the removal of feats speeds things up quite a bit, and simplification of skills (at least in the most recent packet) into "fields of lore" also speeds things up compared to 3E/Pathfinder/4E.  Still not as simple as BX, but not too time consuming.  Even considering the time I spent debating whether to play Fighter or Rogue didn't take that long.

So, eventually, I may have something more to say about Next.  But due to the slow pace of PbP games, don't hold your breath.

Friday, September 13, 2013

New Blog in Town

You ain't from around here, are ya, boy?

Oh, wait, it's just Tim Knight.  Come on in and have a drink, pardner!

What's this silliness?  Well, Tim Knight of Hero Press has a new location for his blog, Hero Press 2: Rise of the Blog Lords

If you enjoyed his old blog, full of gaming, British SciFi/Fantasy TV, and comics, head over to the new site and follow!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The 4 Year Curse

So, this little oft neglected blog of mine turns 4 years old today.  Huzzah! 

Of course, with an emergency bout of editing that one of my professors needed me to do last night/this morning (she's the influential one who could land me a sweet job in academia with her influence and contacts), then the normal exhaustion that comes from teaching kindergarteners, and then a three-hour evening class (same prof), bedtime stories for my son and some exercise, I'm about worn out.

But apparently you all don't want to hear about that crap, you just want your Joesky Tax.

Well, since I'm too tired to think of anything useful to say about gaming, I'll do what other lazy bloggers do on anniversary posts, and point you in the direction of some of my favorite older posts.

How to Tackle a Megadungeon  The link is to the first of eight linked posts (links to the rest internally) from three years ago, where I tried to examine megadungeon play from a player/character perspective rather than the usual DM perspective.  I'm pretty proud of this post, having recently re-read them all. 

Every Monster Should be Beatable  Not one of my most popular posts, but one in which I spell out what to me is a key facet of game play in RPGs.

Endless Quest Reviews  Grad school put the kibosh on this series (maybe one of these days I'll get around to finishing the two or three more I have to do, and move on to the pair of Super Endless Quest books, and a few Wizards, Warriors and You books on the shelf).  These books, along with the D&D cartoon, shaped a lot of my early gaming ideas about what D&D is supposed to be about.

Johnny Cash Alignment Meme Poster  Because everything's better with a Johnny Cash soundtrack (OK, maybe not everything...)

Flying Swordsmen  The biggest (non picture) post on my blog.  Maybe the biggest period, haven't bothered with Google Analytics for a long time.  I announced the release of the game a year and a half ago.  Was it only a year and a half?  Feels like it's been longer.

And finally, because my blog doesn't get enough Star Frontiers love out there, my reproduction of the list on the back cover of inspirational reading for the game, Star Frontiers Appendix N.

Thanks everyone for continuing to read this here silly little blog about rolling dice and pretending to fight dragons, aliens and David Hasselhoff.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Out of the frying pan, into the George Foreman grill.

Our Ur adventures continued last night.  We had left off last session with our characters retreating to the farmsteads set up in the ruins in order to rest and recharge before taking another stab at the cannibal orc warrens.  But our old friends the ogre mercenaries were running the show there.

The players: DM Justin, Dean playing Venerable Carolus, Jeremy playing Noctis, Alexei playing Maya, and myself as Thidrek.

This session, we began bargaining with the ogres.  They'd just pulled a "bring out the gimp/Deliverance" thing of some sort (off screen) on our NPCs Webberan and Chomondelay and set them free.  Thidrek offered a truce, and offered to assault some enemy of theirs, figuring that nearly every faction in Ur is our enemy as well, and it might just give us a chance to slip back to Fort Low, hire mercenaries, and come back to wipe them out.

The ogres (by the way, if you didn't read the link above, Ur ogres are lycanthropic nightmare machines, appearing like normal humans one minute, grotesque mutant mostrosities the next) were wary of such schenanigans, and planned to send us back to Fort Low to basically lead an insurrection for them.  Roll initiative time.

Karl's spell "repudiation of light" managed to soften up the opponents, but Haarkon the spider-centaur ogre leader escaped since we lost initiative.  Wez the other leader type also managed to escape, but we took out several of their underlings and then fled.  Escape was too easy. 

We were pursued, however Karl used Speak with Animals to call the carnivorous apes (not that they're too fond of us either), who responded and attacked the ogre pursuers, giving us time to flee. 

On the way back to Low, we were ambushed by a group of masked cannibal orcs - or so we thought.  During the battle, we realized that they were humans, which is why they had Fort Low armor (Romanesque) rather than cannibal orc armor (Mad Max-esque).  Luckily, Maya rolled a 1 on one roll, dropping her spear, and forcing her to use the nonlethal damaging Sky Hunter whip.  Not often that you hear someone thinking a natural 1 is lucky, is it?  Well, turns out that the leader of this band was Iago, brother of the Fort Low official who had gone missing.  We ended up taking him and one other prisoner thanks to the whip.

A large body of troops from Fort Low was approaching as we finished the battle.  We hid the bodies, and quickly looted them (a magic war hammer from Iago, two magic swords like Thidrek's, a scroll and a potion).  Karl went out to talk to the troops, Maya joined him.  Thidrek and Noctis skulked off into the ruins, Mattaki Shiptu, nerd orc magi NPC, following us.  Our former hirelings Webberan and Chomondelay were with the army, and were raving about how we'd slaughtered all of the humans at the farmstead (the ogres were actually doing that as we escaped - clever plan by Haarkon). 

Maya, Carolus, Iago and his companion were all taken into custody.  Next session, Dean will have some use for all the "dealing with folks" skills Carolus has taken like Bureaucracy and Diplomacy and Religion.  Noctis and Thidrek (and Mattaki) are hoping to slip past Low to the Hive, rally some allies, hopefully a Great Mind or two who can dispel magic, and expose the ogre treachery. 

Should be a fun session!  (Oh, and Noctis made 5th level last session, Karl made 7th level this session, and Thidrek made 6th level this session!)

Thursday, September 5, 2013


I wrote up my Devil entries today. 

The list contains:

Mephistos: Vice - Pride.  Schtick?  Contracts and ego stroking.
Malebranche*: Vice - Envy.  Schtick?  Secretly buffing one member of a party.
Erinyes: Vice - Wrath.  Schtick?  Pissing people off.
Succubus/Incubus: Vice - Lust.  Schtick?  Seduction.
Belphegan: Vice - Sloth.  Schtick?  Get rich quick schemes.
Mammonite: Vice - Greed.  Schtick?  Telling you exactly where the loot is (nothing more).
Beelzebal: Vice - Gluttony.  Schtick?  Party till you puke.
Pit Fiend:  overlord of the devils.  Schtick?  Kicking your ass.

Hat tip to Collin de Plancy.  Demons, I decided, will just be interspersed throughout the other monsters, rather than as their own "type."  Why?  Because devils are fallen angels, so have a bit of "Law" to their make-up, if no longer their natures.  Demons are just pure Chaos/Entropy.

Now, do I want to do the Choirs of Angels?  Something to think about.

*I couldn't do this without at least one nod to Dante. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Infernal Powers

I finally figured out what to do with demons and devils in D&D Mine.  I've always been mildly disappointed with the handling of demons and devils in AD&D and onwards.  Gygax and various successors to the D&D property were always so keyed to alignment when discussing them, and the whole "Bloodwar" Planescape thing just further cemented in my mind that in (A)D&D, the fiends were just more bags of combat powers and XP with a bit of lower planar fluff.

I'd decided a little while back what to do with devils.  I'll create seven types (or maybe eight to have an over-devil), each keyed to one of the Seven Classical Vices.  I'll mine my various print and online sources to figure out what names, appearances, and powers each devil shall receive.  Devils are tempters of mortals.  Their domain is Sin.  They could care less about unintelligent creatures.  They exist to tempt humans, demi-humans, and other intelligent creatures to do bad things.

For demons, it finally struck me tonight.  Demons are forces of entropy.  Each demon type (not sure how many, and not sure whether they should all be stuck under one demon entry, or just listed by name in the general lists, as powers will likely vary quite a bit) will be about some sort of destructive force.  Rot, pestilence, decay, disease, dementia, discord, anarchy, etc.  They are the force trying to wind down the universe, break things apart.  As such, they would just as happily corrupt any living things (although a few with social/mental domains will of course focus on the humanoids).

So, both types are Chaotic (I come from Classic D&D, so just Law-Neutrality-Chaos for alignments in my game), and both types would be considered "evil," but both have very different flavors.

I'll likely borrow some of the AD&D devils, demons or daemons as inspiration, but refluff them to match the above.