Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Non-combat fumbles

Over on his blog, Jeff has a post about marching tightly, and he muses that there should be a table for non-combat fumbles.

Here is such a 3d6 table for the DM to use when such a situation occurs. Slightly more humorous that I would normally do, which can be fun.

To use this chart, when the group is in a clumsy situation, roll every x turns [modified by various factors like terrain, lighting], and on a successful roll, consult chart for a complication.  If a complication does not make sense, roll again.

3 Iggy's itchy bow fingers Accidental ranged weapon release (normal damage)
4 So sleepy… Reduced oxygen in this area makes d4 characters tired, all rolls -1 for d4 turns
5 Oh Nose!  Trips and falls flat on face, resulting in a broken nose, -1hp, -1CHA until healed (d6 weeks)
6 Shiny Shiny!  Someone in the march order stops abruptly, resulting in a pileup
7 You fool of a Took! One Character kicks over a pile of something very very loud
8 Dung you watch where you walk? Slips in something unmentionable on the ground, spills out all gear
9 Watch your step! Hole in the ground results in twisted ankle, reduced movement for d4 turns
10 It sure is drafty in this place One Light source is snuffed out, and needs to be relit
11 Slippery slope One character trips and drops hand carried gear
12 Watch where you point that thing!  Someone gets an eye full of torch/lamp, -1 to ranged combat for d6 turns
13 How much did you eat again?  Belt breaks, drops attached gear to the ground with a loud clatter
14 Watch your head dummy!  Cracks head on low point in ceiling/branch etc., character drops to ground, -1hp if not wearing helmet
15 Wallow wallow piggy! Falls into a mud hole, -2CHA until cleaned off
16 Who ate beans last night? a concentration of Methane gas ignites if there is open flame, resulting in a puff of light,
and d4 damage to the person carrying the flame
17 If you were a horse, we would shoot you Hole in the ground results in broken ankle, -2hp, reduced movement until healed (d10 weeks)
18 Chuck was a little too ready with the sword Someone stabs someone else (damage -1)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


My wife has a program on her smart phone that will monitor Craigslist for you, and then let you know when certain keywords have been posted.  She uses this to watch out for items we want for our house (brick, plants etc.).  On a lark, I added "warmaster" as one of the keywords, because I had once seen a posting about warmaster there.

Just the other day she said that the program never gets any returns for "warmaster".  This morning she emailed me the link to a post for something over 120 blisters, spanning eight armies. The guy wants $300.  Retail price for that would be over $1,800, and Warmaster blisters go for pretty close to retail on ebay...

That is some serious temptation.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Map Test

Last week, Ckutalik had an interesting blog post about using point maps instead of a traditional hex map as a DM tool for exploratory games.  In essence, the point map catalogs those areas of interest, and details only the distance between them. 

It occurred to me that this sort of map would also work as a DM overlay onto a traditional hex map as well.  If you presume that an area is "safe", that is that it has no real exploring potential, then it can be reduced to just a blank hex.  A blank hex is fairly meaningless, and therefore can be further reduced down to just a travel point to indicate the amount of time needed to get from A to B.  However, the hexes are still maintained, in the event that they are needed for something later (domain level play, say)

Here is a quick map that I drew up using Google Draw, a handy little tool if you have not used it yet.

It uses the conventions mentioned by Ckutailk in the original post, but leaves the "interesting" areas as hexes, ready to be explored.  As an additional bit of usefulness, the node sort of map is how someone from City A might actually think about the geography, that is in terms of marches from point A to point C, rather than in terms of cardinal directions and miles.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

AD&D Reprints

You may already know this, but Wizards of the Coast is reprinting all three books of the first edition of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (PG, MM, and DMG)with a special covers in order to raise money for the Gary Gygax memorial in Lake Geneva, WI.  Obviously, it is pretty great of Wizards to reprint these books, and giving some money from the sales to the memorial fund (what percentage has not been announced) is great too... but you could also buy these books used for as little as $10 on Amazon, so if you just want the books, it is probably not the best of deals.  That said, I am eager to see what they look like, and if they have "old school" art or not.

Obviously I am interested in getting a copy, since I do not have the originals, and would like to own the DMG at least.  Pity that my birthday is so far away...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Magic Item: Sunswords

Forged in the mythical antediluvian age by the elves of that time, Sunswords are a magic weapon without equal in the known world.  They are each known to collectors by name, the history of each over the long thousands of years chronicled in the City by sages, great battles at which they appeared known to dreaming squires all over the world.

Finding an unknown Sunsword is correspondingly very rare.  The majority of those known are in the hands of the Paladins of Red Bella, the Elvish God of War, and even then they rarely leave the Grand Armory-Cathedral in the City.  News of finding a new sword in the human lands would mean that armies would march, and assassins, thieves and worse would be unleashed to recover the prize, for so great is their prestige that they are coveted by the kings of man... or those who would to become kings.

Yet, the Sunsword is not a mortal blade. They are made neither from bronze nor iron, rather their blade glows slightly, like unto the new dawning sun, white over the horizon. It is this three cubit blade from which their power comes, for the hilt is unremarkable, being nothing more than a cylinder etched for grip.  There is no guard, no ornamentation, no gems, nothing besides the blade and the hilt.  Nothing there is, besides the box. 

Given time, the Sunsword cuts all things, and suffers no scabbard or belt, cutting easily through either. Instead, each is stored in a special white ceramic box, which grips the hilt tightly, letting the blade remain untouched. This box also blocks the unending light and faint hum generated by the blade, allowing its bearer to rest, and to carry the sword unremarked.  The hilt does have a flat bottom, which can be used to rest the blade during a respite in combat, but many have died on their own blades, trying to regain them in a moment of panic, and the wise ignore this feature.

Sunsword, 1lb, d12+4 damage
Sunsword case, 5lbs

Friday, January 13, 2012

A letter from a PC

I told my players that they could get an experience bonus for writing an in character letter recapping the adventure, which the magic user decided to make use of.  The intent was to collect a bit more detail, have the players create some color, and hopefully, give me some devious hooks to us on them later.
Lord Oraculi,

I have recently come across magic that I cannot explain through my own studies, and I write this to you seeking answers as to what the magic is and guidance as to what should be done with the remnants of what I have found. Because my knowledge of the matter is so incomplete, it may help you to know under what circumstances the magic came into my possession.

While having a feast with the Baron, a human from a small town burst in and cried for help. His village had been attacked by the Thin Men. One of my party, I cannot tell you which due to mild intoxication, volunteered us to investigate the matter. After a cautious journey to the town we found that the vast majority of it had been burnt to the ground, save for the structures that were made of stone and therefore could not be burned and the palisade on the far side. Brief investigations of the remaining structures revealed that the people inside had been killed.

We managed to gain entrance into the palisade by climbing in and began investigating by looking in a small hole in the center. Our orc, Orgoyle, brash as she was (and still is, luckily) rushed to the bottom while the druid Aaganess' faery fire revealed three animated skeletons! Orgoyle was quickly defeated, her injuries life threatening. Another spell from the druid entangled the abominations and allowed us to retrieve the fallen orc. Our young woods people, Nyma and Ummm managed to gather herbs that kept the orc alive, as our demonstrative priest, Solamante, neglected to prepare his spells of healing. We searched the area, hoping to find a healing potion or some other way of keeping the orc alive, but we only found a giant spider and a ghoul (and some treasure) for our troubles. It was shortly after defeating the ghoul that I came across the first bit of that magic that has confounded me so. Once again, I cannot explain its nature other than to say that it filled me with a sense of contrariness, or even wrongness. My only deduction is that the magic is of a necromantic sort, as we had, at that point, come across two types of the undead.

We climbed a tower and saw that there was a quarry near to the village. The remaining party, Nyma stayed with the fallen orc, travelled there seeking more answers. What we found was the remaing villagers, slain and piled high like debris. Fearing what foe might have that kind of power, we retreated out of the village to try and restore the orc into usefulness. After a good deal of rest, the priest's magic revived Orgoyle, and in an effort to be at full strength when found our foe, we rested some more.

The following day we returned to the quarry and ventured into the hillside via a small fissure. Upon entrance we were accosted by a cave crawler. Fortunately, none were seriously injured, though the reinvigorated Orgoyle, with much to prove after her incapacitation, chased the poor creature as it tried to flee and slew it. What followed was a strange network of small tunnels and ancient rooms that was difficult to follow. I have done my best to recreate our journey in the underground after this letter, and have labeled everything as best I could. Of particular note, are the ancient elven tombs and the ancient underground cathedral.

We came across more skeletons as we entered the cathedral, and thanks to some creative tactics and some rather impressive slinging from Orgoyle's minion Bantha, they were easily dispatched. What we found at the far end of the cathedral is the most pertinent of all: we stumbled across a woman just before she sacrificed two humans, and surrounding her were zombies! The wicked wench charmed my own hireling, Sir Willy, and caused him to attack Orgoyle. That distraction would have been enough to fracture our party and end us if it hadn't been for Aaganess' quick thinking. Another spell of entangling brought Nature's fury of inconvenience on the necromancer and her minions, holding them fast where they stood. Orgoyle, having learned from her last bout of blade induced near-death, luckily wore a spare shield on her back. That shield likely saved her from Willy's wrath, and after trading blows, Sir Willy was felled by one of our rogues. Meanwhile, Umm and Aaganess had their dogs viciously attacking the Necromancer, and though she protected herself with the same magical shield you yourself taught me, the dogs brought her down.

The zombies were easily dispatched after the wicked woman was down. Most of it had been taken care of by the time I returned with a long spear to keep me out of reach. Solamante spoke to the woman as she lay dying, and when she mentioned having minions come to her aid, he smashed her skull with his mace.

Here are a few more points that require your guidance. The sacrificial area was lined with some kind dark magical script, likely to have the dead return to life after being slain. The Necromancer wore a necklace of human finger bones that named men and had the number 1. The Necromancer's spell book, while containing some benign spells, which I have already copied, also contained more of those that seemed to twist my sense of the natural order, which I have not copied. All of this took place in a cathedral that was likely used by elves ages ago, and contained small areas for each of the ten gods as well as others that we did not, and I suppose still do not, know about. One of the shrines was dedicated to Triton, who I know to be a banned god.

So there you have it, Oraculi. The entire experience unsettles me more than most. Who were the other gods? Why don't people know about them anymore? Where did this Necromancer receive her power and what could that mean for the future? I pray that you will give me the guidance I require to make the proper decisions regarding this tainted magic.

Ever Your Student,

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thoughts on the Session

As you no doubt read in great detail, the first Deepest Sea session ultimately went well.  Here are a few thoughts from my point of view:

  • I had a player interested in playing a Druid and a havling cleric, so I had to come up with information on both.  Druids are based on the Advanced companion rules, and havling clerics are worshipers of the elvish pantheon. Both players did quite well with their choices.
  • Players were confused about the "lines" thing with equipment and encumbrance. They were also somewhat confused about how to generate the various bonuses based on stats.  Both need to be better explained in the players guide, possibly with examples.
  • Buying equipment takes some time, and may need to be simplified for beginners with a "kit".
  • I rolled the motivations of the retainers using the NPC motivation table created by Rolang, but the results were not as random as expected.  Drop tables may have a bias due to methodology [I was dropping with my left hand, and most results went to dull and torpid].  As it happened, they only hired two retainers and a dog, so it did not matter much.
  • The players did not go quickly to the village, which meant that they missed out on seeing the zombies and skeletons burn down the village, and also meant that the necromancer was encountered only at the end, and not as a reoccurring villain.
  • The players never searched the ruins of the church, missing a large part of the potential loot.
  • The first combat went pretty poorly, and the orc fighter went down as quickly as would be expected in a 3:1 situation.  I was willing to let the character die, but the other players pointed out that having the character of the guy who flew 3000 miles to be in the game (not wholly for the game) die might not be the most fun.  So apparently now we need to get to -10 to actually die. Ah, house rules!
  • Instead of attacking the skeletons in the well, the players looked around for "healing potions".
  • Spider and ghoul in the tower died very easily, showing the combat power of such a large party.
  • The players never looked through the stables or the workers huts, instead hurrying off to the quarry.
  • Once they recovered spells, they did not go back to the well, or to the previously found hole in the ground, but instead went to the cave with the slime trail (!).  Might have to use that against them next time as a chance to introduce a TPK, or as I like to think about it "a life lesson".
  • Cavern Crawler was weaker than I thought, and got spanked in one round by the massed firepower of the group, and then slain as it tried to flee.
  • Entangle was very very powerful... when the DM forgets to roll a magic resistance for those hit by it.  
  • Players put down the necromancer very quickly, ending combat in three rounds.  She also failed her blood sustenance spell because she missed her attack on the dog ripping her apart. This was disappointing, since I had hoped that this combat would be sort of the capstone of the session.  Another instance of misjudging the power level of the party.
  • Players are now going to carouse to ensure that they all make it to level 2... which gives me evil glee.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Deepest Sea Session Recap

I finally ran a game for my friends this past couple of weekends, over two sessions.  Here is an exhaustive recap after the break.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Review of 2011

2011 will stand as a banner year in the history of this blog, should such a boring work ever be compiled.  This is due to its refocusing on a slightly broader hobby in the area of roleplaying, and my participation in the A-Z challenge, which increased my posting from occasional to regular, and really brought in blog followers and hits.

In this post last year, I discussed goals for 2011, based on the failed goals of 2010.

Here they are, with a few thoughts about their completion (or lack there of)
1. Get in a Game or two: Failure with regards to miniatures games, success for board games.
2. Paint More Figures: Success! 
3. Figure out Figure Storage: Partial success, thanks to my wife buying the Diebold Safe-T-Stack
4. Get Hobby Room Finished and Set Up: Failure, although I expect something basic to be done this year, as the in-laws are finally out of our house.
5. Use airbrush again: Failure.  Waiting on completion of the Baneblade, which is actually not that far off, although I have been caught in the trap of detailing for a while now.

2012 has already started off better in the gaming, since I have already played Settlers (and won), Clue [Cluedo for UK readers] twice (won once), Cathedral, as well as ran my very first D&D game over two sessions (much more on that later).

Anyway, for goals this year, I want to accomplish all of the above, plus start following blogs that I already read anyway. I will have more on this later, but intend to highlight and review the blogs as I add them.  I also intend to paint my new box of Dreadfleet, and run a couple more D&D games.  We will see how it goes! 

Welcome to new blog follower Simon Forester, who has a very interesting blog called "... and the sky full of dust".

Type V

Well, if you are reading this blog, you probably have already read about this, but Wizards has officially announced that they are playtesting for Fifth Edition D&D.  Apparently they are planning to do an open playtest, and as many had speculated previously, they are intending to capture players of previous editions (meaning mostly 3/3.5 I assume).

I do not think that this edition will capture my gaming dollars, or mental attention, but I did sign up to get the notifications of material.  Maybe something will be worth cribbing at least.