Sunday, November 29, 2020

I think I've got it

The past couple of nights, I've tried to do some tinkering with my Treasures, Serpents and Ruins house rules after the boys were in bed, but I've just been too exhausted to do much. Well, luckily, this afternoon they were playing some computer games then sword-fighting/sumo wrestling in the bedroom. I had some time, so I got on the computer and thought about the various half-formed ideas of the past couple unproductive evenings. And I got something sorted out (I think). 

This is still in the works, and subject to change, but if any of my current players (like Dean or Justin) are reading this, I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

I modified the idea I discussed several months ago and a couple weeks ago, and came up with lists of alternate classes for the Big Four character classes. I'd had some of these ideas already as ideas for backgrounds or alternate classes, but I rearranged them, added some more, added in classes/races from TSR-East (to have an all-in-one game document), and then did some more rearranging. In the end, it's very similar to the ideas in the first link above (from August).

Many of the alternates have both a human and a demi-human version. The big perk I give to humans in my game is "advantage" on hit die rolls, so they're more likely to get higher hit points. If the character chooses the human alternate, they get to keep that. If they don't, they get whatever demi-human perks. Or at least that's my thinking for now. I did consider earlier this evening to only allow the Survival ability (HD advantage) for the four standard options. Like I said, still mulling things over. 

As they stand right now, it works like this. Roll for ability scores. Choose one of the four classes: Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User, Thief. If you meet the prerequisites and want a specific alternate class ability set, you can choose it. Or, if you like, you let fate play a hand and roll for a possible alternate class ability set. The Cleric, MU and Thief each have six alternates (well, technically a few more with human/demi-human options), so roll a 1d12. On a 1-6, you get the standard class abilities. On a 7-12, you get one of the alternate classes. The Fighter has ten alternates, so roll 1d20, with 1-10 being the standard Fighter and 11-20 each a variant option. If a character rolls, they have to take what they get, but they can have the alternate class even if they don't meet the prerequisites.   

I haven't written up all of the alternates yet, but I have ideas for most of them in my head. Here are the lists: 

Alternate Clerics: If the requirements are met, a player may select one of the alternate cleric types. Players may roll randomly to determine the type of cleric, which allows them to ignore the requirements. Roll 1d12:

1-6: Standard Cleric

7: Druid or Half-Elf Cleric

8: Exorcist/Onmyoji or Spirit Born Onmyoji

9: Paladin or Dwarf Cleric-Fighter

10: Shaman or Dokkaebi Shaman

11: Sohei or Tengu Sohei

12: Vampire Hunter or Half-Orc Cleric-Thief


Alternate Fighters: If the requirements are met, a player may select one of the alternate fighter types. Players may roll randomly to determine the type of fighter, which allows them to ignore the requirements. Roll 1d20:

1-10: Standard Fighter

11: Archer or Elf Fighter

12: Barbarian or Half-Orc/Koropokkuru Fighter

13: Dwarf Fighter or Gnome Fighter

14: Halfling Fighter-Thief

15: Knight/Hwarang or Dokkaebi Fighter

16: Martial Artist or Vanara Fighter

17: Ranger or Halfling Fighter

18: Samurai/Ronin or Tengu

19: Swashbuckler or Spirit Born Fighter

20: Weapon Master/Kensei



Alternate Magic-Users: If the requirements are met, a player may select one of the alternate magic-user types. Players may roll randomly to determine the type of magic-user, which allows them to ignore the requirements. Roll 1d12:

1-6: Standard Magic-User

7: Bard or Elf/Half-Elf Fighter-Mage

8: Enchanter or Faerie Mage

9: Geomancer/Wushi or Spirit Born Wushi

10: Illusionist or Gnome Illusionist

11: Witch/Warlock

12: Xia or Vanara Xia


Alternate Thieves: If the requirements are met, a player may select one of the alternate thief types. Players may roll randomly to determine the type of thief, which allows them to ignore the requirements. Roll 1d12:

1-6: Standard Thief

7: Acrobat or Elf/Half-Elf Thief

8: Assassin or Half-Orc Assassin

9: Guildsman/Yakuza or Koropokkuru Thief

10: Halfling Thief or Gnome Thief

11: Ninja or Vanara Shinobi

12: Treasure Hunter or Dwarf Thief



Wednesday, November 25, 2020

More Chainmail Musings

 I was working on my Chainmail Arena idea over the summer, but then it stalled out. I was making troop type cards, and it was fairly tedious. Now I have realized my mistake. I was making individual cards for each individual troop. But since I'm no longer planning to use the man-to-man combat tables, I can make cards for groups of troops. I can then give them a bit of flavor (Cimmerian skirmishers, Orcish Brute Squad, Dwarves of the Crystal Caverns, etc.) and have a set number of 'figures' for each one that will determine the cost and combat power of each type. I may have posted about this idea already, it's been on my mind for a while, but even after coming to the realization, I never got back to work on the project.

Also, following some of the ideas people have put out for using Chainmail combat in OD&D, I'll be giving stats for all fantastic troop types so there's a chance that troopers can hurt and kill them. It makes sense to me that a big mass of archers or pikemen or whatever should be able to eventually take down giants, rocs, and dragons (assuming the latter two come to ground in the case of pikemen). 

Even though the troop types will be in groups, I plan to just use one token/icon for the unit. Realistically, I'll only be playing this online (except maybe some play tests with the boys) so no need to clutter up the map with dozens of figures. Yes, I realize in the actual rules 1 figure represents 20 men. I'm just saying that for a force of hundreds, 1 figure is still enough for this game. That 1 figure will just take more hits and suffer reductions in combat value for those hits before it's eliminated. 

I'm also tempted to try and meld Chainmail/Dungeon! board game style combat into the new revision of my house rules for D&D, but that's probably too much of a switch for my players.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Silly, silly Google

Yesterday I ran my West Marches game. Luckily I logged on a little early to sort a few things out. When I clicked on Hangouts to start the video chat, I found out that that wasn't an option anymore. Clicking around, I found out that the new system is Google Meet. And it wasn't really obvious how to start a Meet video conference at first. I see it on the Google quick menu thing this morning, but since every Google service now has the 4-color treatment, I missed it yesterday because it looks like everything else. 

Anyway, we used Meet yesterday for the game. We had a few technical issues with sound, and some people were delayed entering the game, because unlike Hangouts, I needed to grant permission to people to enter the Meet instance, and it didn't always make a chiming sound when someone wanted permission. Since we mostly are looking at Roll20 while gaming, that was an issue. 

Basically, if you have used Zoom (which I use to teach classes these days), you will see exactly what Google is trying to do with Meet. Even though Hangouts was working fine, and I didn't see any big advantages of using Meet over Hangouts. Just inconveniences. 

Like all tech, I'll get used to it pretty quickly, I know, but it's still eye-roll inducing whenever some tech company decides they need to "innovate" just because a competing service is doing well.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Star Destroyer Megadungeon?

 Just a random idea I had this morning -- make a ruined/abandoned star destroyer into a megadungeon for Star Wars d6. This was partly inspired by the most recent episode of The Mandalorian, but also Rey's scavenging the crashed star destroyer in Episode 7, and the thought of the ruined ship/dungeon in Metamorphosis Alpha.

Actually, I don't think dungeon crawling really fits the WEG rules so well, at least not as they're presented in SWd6. And I'd rather not get the game bogged down in one location like that, especially now that the party has their ship back and can go nearly anywhere. But if I did...

The ship would be a derelict in space, not crashed on a planet. It would need to be somewhere in the Outer Rim, most likely, or the Imperials would reclaim it. But it would need to be near enough to a space lane or trading hub world that lots of factions would have contingents in it. And there would need to be something of value scattered across the ship to keep the players interested in exploring it. 

Actually, instead of an Imperial star destroyer, maybe one of the similar capital ships from the Clone Wars? Or something older than that even?

On the down side, I don't think I've got the time and patience to map out the interior of a star destroyer, let alone key areas of interest. Even if most of it is left blank, it would be a monster of a task. 

Anyway, still an interesting idea, I think.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Outed Myself

 In an AD&D 1E play-by-post game I've been in for years now, the DM started up an Oriental Adventures game section, and I joined in. He also (knowing I was the author) decided to use some elements of Flying Swordsmen in his game. Mostly he's using martial arts maneuvers and monsters. 

Anyway, it had been our secret all along that one of the players in the game was the author of the supplemental rules to the game we're playing (it's still 1E OA, just we get a few extra martial arts powers bolted onto our classes -- I've got a kensai PC in the game). 

Some people have commented on how much they like the martial arts maneuvers, but I'd never let them know it was my work until today. Not sure why, but a new player had joined the game and had no idea what Flying Swordsmen was. Another fairly new player was complementing the game, so I fessed up and gave the new player the link to download the rules. 

And immediately, I got questions about interpreting the rules. I deferred to the DM, of course, since it's his game and his place to decide how to mesh the base OA rules with FS. 

It's been a little while since I've done much with either Flying Swordsmen or with Chanbara. I think I should probably promote them a bit more. My sons have both tried their hands at YouTubing (yes, even my 6-year-old) so tonight my wife suggested I make some videos to promote my games. 

I think I will. Expect a link to a video on the blog some time in the near future.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Pushing the Envelope

 I've been thinking lately about ways that I could streamline my Treasures, Serpents, & Ruins (TSR) house rules for BX/BECMI style play. Right now, the rule set is as close to AD&D 1E as I think I can take it without adding too much additional complexity. But the TSR-East rules add just a small amount of complexity and variation that I currently think I should get rid of. 

One thing is that the TSR Thief (and related classes) use % Skills as normal for BX/BECMI, but the TSR-East Yakuza and Ninja use x/d6 for their skills. I like the x/d6 rules, as they streamline with the racial ability skills in Classic, but part of me wants the Thief to still be the Thief -- even with the super low chances of success at early levels. 

But that's not the main thing I want to discuss here. I think anyone who's downloaded Flying Swordsmen or purchased Chanbara knows that I like the 2E AD&D conceit of the character kit. 5E D&D also does something sorta similar with their Backgrounds, but also with their class archetypes/specializations. And now I wonder if I could make a version of Classic D&D that looks something like this: 

3 classes, as in OD&D: fighty-type, casty-type, hybrid-type

Kits/Backgrounds that can modify the special abilities and restrictions of the class, while the main core (hit die, XP progression, to hit and save progression, saving throws) remain unchanged [for the most part]. 

Demi-human races would actually be listed among the kits/backgrounds. This would allow me to mimic the original rules for the demi-humans, and expand them when desired, but leave players with reasons to play human PCs as many of the kits/backgrounds are for humans only. 

Some of the kits/backgrounds would be for one class only, while others might be options for more than one class. Of course, the danger is going overboard with kits/backgrounds. But it would allow for easy modding to different cultural milieux like TSR-East. All you need to do is provide an alternate set of kits/backgrounds. 

Looking at Classic D&D's seven classes, in this version they'd look like this: 

Warrior Class 





Caster Class


Hybrid Class



For TSR-East, you'd get something like this (not considering the optional demi-humans for the moment):

Warrior Class 





Caster Class



Hybrid Class



With AD&D 1E, it would be much more complex with race/class combos, but stripping out the demi-humans for the moment:

Warrior Class 





Caster Class




Hybrid Class





If we add in demi-humans, even with some restrictions that play to the key tropes of each race, it gets pretty complex: 

Warrior Class 





*Dwarf Fighter

*Halfling Thief

*Halfling Fighter/Thief

*Half-Orc Assassin

*Half-Orc Fighter

 Caster Class




*Elf Magic-User

*Gnome Illusionist

*Half-Elf Druid

Hybrid Class





*Dwarf Cleric/Fighter

*Elf Fighter/Magic-User

*Half-Elf Cleric/Magic-User

*Half-Elf Ranger

*Gnome Fighter/Illusionist

So, definitely not perfect when it comes to streamlining, unless each kit/background is really just a small number of changes. 

Still, something to think about.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Comment Moderation is On

 A while back I put moderation on comments on posts older than a week old to cut down on the spam, but recently the spam from porn sites has been getting through that, so I decided to just moderate all comments. I did not turn on the Captcha, because those are annoying. 

Sorry for the inconvenience.