Saturday, April 30, 2011

Weekend stuff

Been busy with grad school stuff, so no blog posts the last couple days.  My wife and I have tickets to see Thor tomorrow, though, so expect a review sometime Sunday night Korea time.

As for gaming stuff, I've got a few things on the back burner, but until I get these papers and presentations finished in a couple weeks, expect posting to be light around here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

V is

No, I'm not suddenly jumping on the A-Z Blogger Challenge.  As Jesse Ventura once said, "I ain't got time to bleed."  Just funny that my blog roll is reading lots of other people's "V" posts, and here I am posting about V.

My wife and I watched the first two episodes of season 1 of the new V series last night.  We both loved the original mini-series as kids, and a few years ago we found both the original and "The Final Battle" DVDs for sale at a local shop in Japan and picked them up and re-watched them.  Good times.

So far, the new version is looking good.  It's just similar enough to be familiar, but different enough to be its own thing.  And I'm liking the 'reptoid masters' conspiracy theory link they seem to be doing with it. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spell Presentation in Rulebooks

Traditionally, D&D had spells for Cleric and Magic-Users (and other classes that used spells in that edition) organized by level, with all spells of first level presented together alphabetically, followed by second level alphabetically, etc.

3E took the encyclopedic approach, with all spells, regardless of level or class, arranged alphabetically in one big list.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

In the old setup, it's easy for players to peruse the spells they can access early on and compare them to each other.  If all the first level spells are on one or two pages, it's easy to get a grip on them (of course when you get up to 30+ spells as in AD&D it takes a bit more space, but they're still all there together).  And as your PC gains levels, you can digest the new spells in manageable chunks.  For learning your character's options, it's very convenient to have it this way.

The newer setup, however, also has its advantages.  If spell X is listed in a monster writeup, magic item description, or a module, you can look it up easily without having to remember if it's an M-U or Cleric spell, and what level of spell it is.  Also, for spells that are on multiple spell lists, they only need to include the text once.

I'm partial to the first way, because that's what I started with, and since I mainly play Classic where there are only 8 or 12 spells per level, it's not that hard to keep track of them all in my head.  Despite having played 3E for seven or eight years I never read through every single spell description in the PHB.  I have done that with all the spells in BECM (multiple times).  I don't remember if I ever did with AD&D but I may have.

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Love/Hate relationship with Safari

Safari the makers of plastic models of animals, not treks through African wilderness (something I've yet to experience).

They've put out another dragon, this one is an Ice Dragon.

So I'll be able to finally add a large white dragon to the minis mix.  As soon as my wife allows me some discretionary funds that is...  She's getting a little annoyed at my constant buying up of dragon figures from Safari, Schleich and Papo, even if I do play with them with our son.

And I'm still waiting for a black dragon mini that doesn't have two heads.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

XP for Outwitting

In my post about XP for HD last night, my buddy Josh makes a good point in the comments.

My goal of increasing XP per HD at the low end of the scale was not to increase the value of fighting (so you only need to kill 20 orcs to level up instead of 400), but to increase the speed of leveling.

My preferred style of play is to encourage creative ways to get the treasure without resorting to combat more than it's necessary.  So why not stick to the original XP values for combat, but institute XP awards for outwitting/outmaneuvering/trapping monsters than killing them?

Of course, in this case, I'd not want to give XP for the combat prowess of the monster, which is what XP per HD (bonuses for special abilities) does.

Taking a look at AD&D's descriptive levels of monster intelligence, it wouldn't be hard to institute something like this:

Nonintelligent--0 xp
Animal Intelligence--25 xp
Semi-Intelligent--50 xp
Low Intelligence--100 xp
Average Intelligence--200 xp
Very Intelligent--500 xp
Highly Intelligent--1000 xp
Exceptionally Intelligent--2000 xp
Genius--3000 xp
Supra-Genius--4000 xp
Godlike Intelligence--5000 xp

Of course, these would be awarded per group, not per individual outwitted.

Other useful side effects would include more XP for using a Sleep spell but not slitting throats immediately after, making me as a DM pay much more attention to the Int. level of all monsters when I roleplay them, allowing more ways for the Thief to shine, and giving more reasons for M-Us to memorize non-combat spells.

The downside?  Big HD but low intelligence creatures.  If you're out for XP, why try to outwit the 20HD T-Rex (other than to avoid its terrible bite and almost guaranteed chance to hit each round) if outsmarting it is only worth 25 xp? 

I'll need to think about this a bit more before implementing it, obviously, but it may be a step in the right direction.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Revising the XP per HD tables

So two years ago, when I started compiling my own version of the Classic D&D monsters to be able to print out and use in my games, I decided to use the original OD&D version of XP per hit die, 100 per.  For special ability bonuses, I used a straight +50.  This is nice and simple, and allows low to mid-level characters to rise in power faster.  For me, playing as rarely as I do anymore, that's a good thing.  Yes, it makes combat more lucrative, but that's a price I'm willing to pay.

The unfortunate side effect of this is that high level monsters can get devalued.  Monsters without special abilities aren't much different after 9 hit dice, but those special ability bonuses get big fast.

So in order to increase the value of powerful monsters with special abilities a bit, I'm considering the following:

Less than 1 hit die: 50xp, bonus 25xp
1 full hit die or more: 100xp per hit die base
1 to 5 hit dice: bonus +50xp
6-10 hit dice: bonus +100xp
11-15 hit dice: bonus +250xp
16+hit dice: bonus +500xp

Bonuses are counted for any asterisk after hit dice or the monster's name (only hit by magic weapons), and for any bonus hit points on top of hit dice.  So a hobgoblin, 1+1 hit dice, is worth 150xp. 

It's still a lot lower than the normal tables, though.  I may increase it further after I think about it a bit more.

I'd rather not have monsters more valuable to fight when PCs are most vulnerable, and less valuable to fight when they actually may stand a chance (or can more easily bring those fallen back).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I never knew them in their prime

But I've gotten to know them in the past few years.

Here's my Megadungeon Level 3 NPC party, based on the stats given for the two Fighters in Moldvay Basic, then extrapolated for the party members mentioned in the examples of game play and combat later in the books.

Borg, Lawful Fighter 3
Str 17, Int 8, Wis 10, Dex 7, Con 15, Cha 6; AC 3/17, HP 18
Sword, 2 Daggers, Shortbow, Platemail, Shield, 20 arrows, 50' rope, backpack, 11 arrows +1, Potion of Clairvoyance
Personality: Plodding and rude

Morgan Ironwolf, Neutral Fighter 3
Str 16, Int 7, Wis 9, Dex 13, Con 14, Cha 8; AC 1/19, HP 26
Maul of Aias* (2-handed warhammer +1), Shortbow, 20 arrows, 6 silver arrows, 2 vials of holy water, Brynhild's Mail* (chainmail +3), Elven Boots
Personality: Seductive yet cutthroat

Silverleaf, Neutral Elf 3
Str 14, Int 14, Wis 11, Dex 9, Con 12, Cha 12; AC 2/18, HP 15
Spells: Sleep, Hold Portal, Mirror Image
Herculean Club* (club +2), Sling, 30 stones, 6 sling stones of dispelling, Platemail, Shield, Potion of Flying
Personality: Picky but courageous

Fredrik, Lawful Dwarf 3
Str 15, Int 9, Wis 8, Dex 12, Con 12, Cha 10; AC 2/18, HP 15
Chain Whip* (flail +1), 3 Hand Axes, Potion of Giant Strength, Platemail, Shield, 1 sprig Wolvesbane, 4 flasks of oil
Personality: Efficient and remorseless

Sister Rebecca, Lawful Cleric 3
Str 13, Int 6, Wis 16, Dex 15, Con 15, Cha 14; AC 1/19, HP 16
Spells: Cure Light Wounds, Protection from Evil
Mace, Sling, 30 stones, Holy Symbol, Platemail, Shield, 2 vials of Holy Water, Potion of Growth, Scroll: Cure Light Wounds
Personality: Friendly and devout

Black Dougal, Chaotic Thief 3
Str 11, Int 11, Wis 10, Dex 14, Con 10, Cha 8; AC 6/14, HP 11
The Golden Bow* (Longbow +1, Translating), 40 arrows, Sword, Thieves' Tools, Leather Armor, Potion of Treasure Finding, Mirror
Personality: Brash and sly

*all magical weapons and armor are from my Unique Magic Items documents, downloadable over there on the right sidebar.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Oriental Accents: In which I strap on some armor

Last Sunday we took another little family outing.  This time, we went to the Bokcheon Museum, which is located next to some 4th-5th century tumuli (barrow wights encountered, luckily).  The museum houses lots of artifacts from the graves and other similar grave sites around the Busan area, and explain a lot of the Gaya Kingdoms culture in the early to mid-1st Millennium AD (or CE if you're one of those pompous PC types).

Lamellar armor and barding
The Gaya Kingdoms had Iron Age tech (some apparently borrowed from the neighboring and more advanced Silla kingdom to the north, some possibly inspiring elements of Yayoi culture in Japan). 

rusty breastplates

Me wearing plate armor made for someone much slimmer than I am.

Interesting for me was the armor found in the sites.  Cavalry wore lamellar armor (what you normally think of as Chinese/Korean armor, with lots of little rectangular plates woven to a leather or cloth backing).  But there were several examples of iron breastplates worn by infantry, which were solid in the back, hinged on the sides, and laced vertically up the middle in the front (seems like not the smartest way to do it to me, but I guess it worked for them).
the solid back plate

I think both OA books eliminate Platemail (or the 3E equivalents), but there were armors like that outside of Japan.  I'm fond of the tropes of chanbara, but at the same time I hate to limit my OA games to just samurai stuff.  So the next time I run a game of OA, I'll be sure to include plate as an option.
Wearing lamellar

The museum is right next to the reconstructed walls of the Dongnae Eupsong (the location I used for my Chainmail game last year), so I'll post some more about that later.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Endless Quest #13: Dragon of Doom

"The evil magic-user Zed has used a powerful, forbidden spell to summon forth the mighty Shen, the dreaded black Dragon of Doom!  Unless you can do something to stop him, Zed will turn Shen loose on the world to spread death and destruction wherever he goes."  --from the back cover

In yet another EQ book by Rose Estes, we get a mixed experience.  The story told in the book is fairly interesting, and has a few novel differences from other EQ books, but the 'game play' of the choices is limited.

In the book, you play Morgan, a young Magic-User sent to bring your imprisoned uncle home to the Council of Nine, but quickly learn, as the blurb above says, that he went mad in his Astral prison, and summoned the Dragon of Doom, who's more of an apocalyptic force of nature than a standard D&D dragon.  So of course, you've gotta stop him.  Your only help are your pseudo-dragon friend Hinoki* and your uncle's Ring of Wishes.

The book is novel in that at three or four places, you're taken out of second person narrative, to get a look at what Shen is up to as he answers the summons of Zed.  He's none to happy about it.  And the story over all is interesting.  You have some interesting encounters along the way to the confrontation with Zed and Shen, and while young, your character doesn't do too much whining and is relatively competent.

The big downside of the book for me was that the first choice pretty much divides the book into two paths, one of which is extremely linear (and I had the bad fortune to read that one first), and the other, while slightly less linear, isn't exactly full of interesting branches until you get toward the end.

On one branch, you just head off on your own through the wilderness, get some help, and track down Zed at the end of the world.  This one has lots of choices that don't really matter.  Either way, you end up at the same place.  Or there's a 3- or 4-way choice, where one leads to a bad ending, two lead to the continuing adventure, and the fourth, if there is one, leads back to choose again.  There's some really cool imagery along this story branch, though, especially at the end of the world.

The other branch involves Hinoki leading you to the secret Valley of Dragons, where you can get killed in a few interesting ways, or end up meeting the Great Dragon in one of two good endings just before Zed and Shen show up.  There are a couple of ways to get to one of these good endings, so it's not completely linear.

The cover is by Clyde Caldwell, and the interiors are by Harry Quinn.  Caldwell's Shen is way too small, from the way the book describes him (like 747 size!), but otherwise is a good evocative piece.  Quinn's interiors are good, but not quite as immersive as the ones he did for Pillars of Pentagarn.

Overall, this is not a bad EQ book, but I wouldn't rate it up at the top, either.  Worth a read, though, for some interesting ideas and imagery.

Protagonist: a young hot-shot M-U
Sidekick(s): a not-too annoying pseudo-dragon, possibly also a girl Saffron, and her cat Grundoon
Adventure: evocative if less than stellar in its choices
Artwork: Good, gets the job done
Endings: 3 good, 10 bad--somehow, Dungeon of Dread does a lot more with 3 fewer endings
Overall: a decent read

*Hinoki is the Japanese name for the Japanese Cypress tree.  Not sure if the pseudo-dragon's supposed to be an Oriental dragon, though.  We use a cream made of hinoki extract for our son's skin.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

400th Post!

And to celebrate my 400th post, here's a new header image.  Enjoy!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Oriental Accents: Pi Hsi (Turtle-Dragon)

As I mentioned the other day, we found statues of this monster at a Buddhist convent last Sunday, and I have conveniently statted up the monster for my Flying Swordsmen RPG project.  Here it is:

Pi Hsi (Turtle-Dragon)
AC: 22
HD: 8
Move: 90 swim 180
Att: 2 claws, 1 bite (+3)
Dmg: 1d8/1d8/2d8
NA: 1d6
Save: F8
Mle: 9
Int: 14
Stunts: M 1d12, F 1d8
Pi Hsi are large (15' long) dragon-like creatures with turtle shells over their bodies, and dragon heads, feet, and tails. They live in rivers and lakes, which they protect. The take orders from Shui Long (Water Dragons), and sometimes serve as guardians to them. In addition, Pi Hsi are scholars, and collect ancient chronicles, poetry, or volumes of lore in their lairs. They have no special supernatural powers, but are known for their great strength.

For simple conversion to D&D, just ignore the Stunts line.  In Dragon Fist/Flying Swordmen, you don't get automatic stat bonuses for high ability scores.  Instead, you get a stunt die, and have to select which one you will use each round.  The Pi Hsi above has an extra d12 that it can use as a Strength bonus, or a d8 Constitution bonus.  In other words, each round it can choose to get either a +d12 to hit and damage rolls, or d8 temporary hit points.

So to do a more complicated conversion that fits its actual abilities in DF/FS, I'd suggest adding a few hit dice and doubling its claw and bite damage.  

Greg Christopher mentioned training my son to ride turtles.  I was thinking more along the lines of dragon riding.  You never know when you might run into one of these:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Term Papers Suck

Actually, writing the papers themselves isn't so bad.  It's just that they suck up a lot of time.  I'll eventually get around to posting those pi-hsi stats.  I also read the next Endless Quest book, so I'll review that soon (remember when I was doing one of those every week?  Yeah, I nearly forgot as well...).  I also wrote up Morgan Ironwolf and company from the Moldvay Basic book as my next Megadungeon NPC party.  I'll post them later as well.

So some gaming content is coming soon.  Hang in there, folks, and don't let the vampires bite.

Monday, April 11, 2011

At the temple last Sunday

Last weekend, the family and I went to a Buddhist convent in one of the satellite cities of Busan.  Not much of interest to report, but I took several pictures of these statues at the foot of a bridge right in front of the temple.

My son straddles the beast!
It's a Pi-Hsi, a Chinese mythical dragon-turtle.  Likely the inspiration for the D&D monster.  You can read more about it here, at Monstropedia, a pretty useful little website (even if a lot of the text does seem to be culled from Wikipedia).

I've got a write-up of this monster for Flying Swordsmen RPG, but it's on my netbook and I don't feel like powering it up right now.  Maybe tomorrow I'll edit in the stats.  They'll work well enough with your favorite flavor of the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game (except maybe not if your favorite's 4E).

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Shinobi Sunday: Ninja 外伝

After a brief absence, Shinobi Sunday returns to WaHNtHaC (and as an aside, I think I need to name a PC or NPC Wahnthac in the future).

Today, I'm talking about one of the best games ever released for the NES, Ninja Gaiden!  I also wax pedantic.  You've been warned.

It was also one of the hardest games of its era, and the NES was well known for having tough games.

The blue guy in the screenshot above, for those who don't know, is Ryu Hayabusa, the ninja protagonist of this game series.  He's on a mission to take out some evil cultists who want to summon a demon and end the world.  Pretty standard fare for a ninja in the 1980's, apparently.

Back then, I had no idea I'd ever learn Japanese, let alone live there for a decade.  Looking back now, I can only smile at the way we mangled the Japanese in the game.

We called the game, writing it phonetically the way we pronounced it, "Ninja Gay-dun"  The actual pronunciation is phonetically "Ninja Guy-den"  The poor protagonist we mispronounced (not knowing any better, of course) as Rye-you Hay-a-byoo-sa.  Ryu is pronounced r'you, but with a sort of rolling 'r' that's sort of between an r, l, and d.  Takes some getting used to when learning Japanese.  Hayabusa is 'ha-ya-boo-sa.'

More interesting to the rest of you than my mispronunciations and feeble attempts to teach the proper way over a written blog, would likely be my assumption that the Ryu Hayabusa of Ninja Gaiden (whose father is Ken Hayabusa) was somehow related to the Ryu and Ken of the Street Fighter games.

No, there's no connection.  Ninja Gaiden games are from Tecmo, Street Fighter is from Capcom.  Ryu just means dragon, so it's a popular name for video game characters.  Hayabusa means falcon, if anyone's wondering.

I haven't had a chance to play the new 3D versions of the games for the X-Box and PS3.  Maybe some day.  I hear they're also pretty difficult, which is refreshing.  So many of the recent 'revival' games of classic NES games really make them too easy (Castlevania, Metal Gear, I'm looking at you).

The old NES games were tough, sorta like Old School D&D.  You had lots of lives and continues in those games, because you NEEDED them.  Now you just get save points all over the place so you can pretend that you never had to die as you played through the game.

I don't mind dying, as long as I'm having fun.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

More on the 4E D&D Essentials Rules Compendium

Reading bits and pieces of the Rules Compendium in my spare time (I have a hard time abbreviating it as RC, as to me that's the 1991 Rules Cyclopedia for Classic D&D so I'll call it the 4RC from now on).  I blogged about it earlier, here.

I finally got through Chapter 2: Adventurers and Monsters.  Here are some thoughts about it.

Monsters do not need the same sorts of stats as PCs.  This was a mistake that 3E made (although it seemed like a novel feature in 2000, it didn't really work so well).  However, monsters are basically only designed for combat, nothing else. 

Monster types from 3E have been retained, but further streamlined, although they're broken down into 'origin' and 'type' which can be combined.  This could be useful, as some 3E monsters didn't fit well into only one type (or would 'lose' a type when a certain template was added, or whatever).  Initial impression looks to be a simplification of the 3E way, and that's always a good thing.

Monsters also get a 'role' that they play in battle.  Maybe the Monster books give more than what I've heard they do, but it looks like there aren't many things for the creatures to do outside of battle.  The rules keep talking about all the non-combat stuff you can do, but then these not so subtle design choices scream "This is just one big combat game!"

Ability score bonuses work just like in 3E.  They modify slightly different things, but more or less match what earlier editions had done.  Later in the chapter, talking about generating ability scores, though, I just had to laugh.  They give 3 options: Take the default array, point buy, or roll randomly 4d6-L.  But then it says DMs should modify any random rolls back into the proper range.  [Message between the lines--your DM is a douche if he makes you do this because chances are your character will suck, and if you get lucky and roll well, he'll smack you down to normal levels so just use the default array already.]

The sample scripts suck.  Take a look at Spanish.  It has extra letters beyond the 26 in English.  Cyrillic, Greek, and other alphabetical languages don't have the exact same letters as English.  Runic languages have a lot fewer letters.  Yes, I'm a bit of a language geek, so this bothers me that the sample scripts are just different symbols for the English alphabet.  What, are we supposed to use them to pass notes in class that the teacher can't read? 

Alignments.  Why did it have to be snakes... I mean alignments?  OK, this is a hot button topic in any edition.  But the LG-G-U-C-CE breakdown seems a bit weird.  The descriptions of Good and Evil read more or less like the classic depictions of Chaotic Good and Lawful Evil, but the naming conventions made me think they would follow the Neutral Good and Neutral Evil ideas more.  They didn't.  Oh well, if they had, then it might have been more like sticking 'super-Lawful' and 'super-Chaotic' alignments onto the Classic Law-Neutrality-Chaos system.

Next we get a general rundown of character creation.  I already mentioned the ability score generation.  The rest is fairly boring, pick your feats, pick your powers, fill in the numbers, blah blah blah.

Then we get to the 'Other Character Details' part.  Gets a bit interesting here.  First a relatively useless side bar on p. 81 about adding minor details to your character to make them distinct.  Nobody's really gonna remember that you've got a birthmark like a pixie on your left cheek or that you wear outrageous clothing unless you're always mentioning it at the table the way Robert Jordan always uses his stock phrases to describe minor characters ("he rode his saddle like sack of suet" many times do I need to read this about the fat horse thief guy?).  Note to those playing at home--don't do this, it'll get annoying.

The rest of the advice for adding personality to your PC, on pages 81-84 aren't bad, though.  Some decent advice, especially in telling the reader that it's okay to not have a fully fleshed out 3-page background for your 1st level PC.  As Gary once said (or at least someone quoted him as saying this on the internet), "The first five levels are your back story."

Finally, we round out the chapter with some notes on how to level up your character.  Characters tend to get feats on even levels (and increases in their 1/2 level bonus), while Powers are usually gained at odd levels.  So you get something at almost every level.  For this type of game, I guess that's important.

The only other real observation I had was that leveling up in this version of the game loses quite a bit of excitement.  You're encouraged to be 'planning ahead' to what powers and feats you'd like, so there's more of a sense of accomplishment than a sense of gaining something new and different.  Also, characters gain set numbers of hit points per level, so you lose that excitement of rolling the dice when you level.  Sure, it sucks to roll a 1 on that hit point roll, but isn't it great to roll the max number for your class?  I think I'd miss that thrill if I were to play a long campaign under 4E.

Still, while I've got my criticisms of the game, there's less to hate than I expected, and some useful sections as well.  Next chapter is Powers. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Should I run a game set here?

Check out his website for other funny pop culture charts.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Why Use a Gold Standard?

There have been a few posts lately where people talk about using silver standards in their games rather than the default gold standard for coinage/prices.  I'm too lazy to look them up right now (too many other links below).  They're not rare, hard to find things, though, so I'm sure most of my readers have at least come across one or two before in the past.

Now, first off, there's nothing wrong with doing this in my opinion.  You just switch a few notations, and decide which items on the equipment list will still be priced as-is in gold (usually armor, mounts, ships, castle construction costs), and everything else gets the same number but read as silver, rather than gold. 

It's more 'historical' because most historical coinage was silver, not gold (although most historical transactions were barter/trade/credit affairs, from what I understand--this is all beside the point, however). 

So what are some reasons to stick with the game's default assumption of a gold standard currency?

I've been thinking about this from two lenses.  One is the recent posts by ckutalik and Trollsmyth about here and here.  They discuss the inherent anachronism of the 'standard D&D setting.'  The game is set up to purposely distort the historical influences, as it seems.

Second is the old idea of trying to figure out interesting setting details from oddities or curiosities found within the game text, inspired by this old post on The Forge by Rich Forest (Superhero Necromancer) and Ben Lehman, which I've blogged about before

So, what does the way D&D is written, with gold coins being the default currency, tell us?  What other game assumptions influence this?

First off, the basic premise of the game is that there are monsters living in the wilderness or in dungeons, and those monsters have amassed treasure.  This is an influence that comes from old Norse myths and legends, where kings would be buried with treasure hoards*, and then legends would spring up of monsters protecting these hoards.  See the dragon episode of Beowulf, or the Volsung Saga/Nibelungenlied for two classic examples of this.  Tolkien popularized this in The Hobbit (not so much in Lord of the Rings).

How the monsters get the treasure in D&D is not explained, though.

Next, adventurers go out to take that treasure from the monsters.  This is an influence of the Pulps, primarily.  Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser adventure because it's in their blood to do so, but their objectives are usually treasure.  Again, The Hobbit also gives us a good reference for this aspect of the game.

Now, the final assumption of the rules is that because monsters have all this gold, and adventurers are out there killing monsters and taking that gold, that gold is the standard coin of most realms.  Gold flows into civilized areas not from mining operations, but from adventurers looting it from the monsters (who aren't given any source for the gold, leaving it for each group to make up as they like).

And so we have a gold standard in D&D.  And while it isn't realistic in a historical Earth sense, it does make sense within the premise of the game.

So what insights can be drawn from this? 

First, gold is probably much more common in a D&D world than it is in the real world.  There's more gold out there, so it's not as much of a stretch to see gold as the default coin metal.  Or if it's not more common of a metal geologically, it's at least easier to get at, because of all the subterranean races carving out dungeons and lairs and cities beneath the surface of the world.

Second, do rulers bother to mint their own coins?  With the massive influx of old specie coming up from the dungeons, why bother with making their own?  I'd guess that yes, they do still have mints, where they melt down old coins and re-stamp them.  This would be done for the same reasons it's done in the real world--to assure people using the coins that they are of the value the government says they are, and to prevent counterfeiting.  There's likely a lot less gold mining going on, though.  Why take all the effort to mine or pan for gold 49er style, when you could just send a team of experts to kill a basilisk instead?

Third, could gold have once been plentiful in the world, but is now disappearing?  Creatures like the rarely used aurumvorax, portable hole+bag of holding disasters, wizards building planar strongholds...there are likely a lot of ways that coins and gems and stuff are disappearing from the world.  Could that make gold more valuable again?  If you want a good verisimilitudinous fantasy reason for a silver standard, why not consider something like this?  Adventurers go for the gold because everyone else is running out? 

In conclusion, I'd argue that there's nothing wrong with using the game's assumed gold standard in your game.  If you want to switch to a silver standard, that's fine, but historical precedent is not necessarily relevant to some of the game's base assumptions, while the gold standard it presents does seem to have a logical basis within the game world.

* Other cultures have buried kings or other important people with grave goods/treasure, but I've come across few legends of monsters then coming to claim that loot as their own, and heroes then coming to slay the monsters in other mythologies.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I guess I know my polearms

WotC's Pole Arm Quiz

You selected 15 of 22 polearms correctly.

I should probably thank Mr. Frank Mentzer for the rundown in his Master Set, and my old elementary school librarian for stocking this old pictorial book on knights, their weapons, and armor in our school library when I was a kid.

Dungeon Factions

In a dungeon, it can be tough to keep track of different factions, assuming your players plan to do more than just kick in the door, slaughter everything that moves, and loot the corpses.

I know for my Megadungeon project, I've already got lots of different groups, but limited space in my notebook to jot everything down.  So I wrote up these little reference sheets to keep things a little easier to manage.  Each faction gets space to write down who they are, where they are, who their leaders are (up to 3), what the faction wants, what they need, their rivals, then some extra space for any other notes you need to write about them.

Letter Size or

A4 Size