Friday, February 24, 2012

Utimately 20 Questions

Brendan, author of the blog Untimately, has created this questionnaire in a effort to create a list of rules which might change from campaign to campaign.  Since it actually addresses somethings I am trying to work out, here are the answers for the Deepest Sea campaign at least.

  1. Ability scores generation method? Six rolls of 3d6 in order
  2. How are death and dying handled? Death at -10 HP, at 0 or below, the player bleeds out unless wounds are bound, and loses a further 1 HP per hour until they die even if bound.
  3. What about raising the dead? Yes, but rare, and very very costly.
  4. How are replacement PCs handled? Either taking over a  hireling, or expedient discovery of a new character around the corner, in the cell, etc.
  5. Initiative: individual, group, or something else? Group
  6. Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work? Critical hits are essentially double damage, modified by DM fiat.  Fumbles range from dropping weapons to causing damage on self/ally, dependent on circumstances.
  7. Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet? Yes, protection from falling objects etc.
  8. Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly? Sure can!
  9. Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything? You will sure as heck need to run from some things, although I tend to roll low on monster hit dice.
  10. Level-draining monsters: yes or no? Yes, but recovered in one level per week, as per Beedo's house rules.
  11. Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death? yes of course.  Poison in particular.
  12. How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked? Tracked roughly.  If you do not have any food, you will starve, you have to have enough light generating objects etc.  Encumbrance is tracked on the player's character sheet.
  13. What's required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time? You do not need training, unless you intend to switch classes (to a prestige class).  Magic User new spells need to be found, but you will have new spell slots. Downtime is when the leveling happens.
  14. What do I get experience for? Killing things, treasure, some minor role-play bonuses. Oh, and carousing.
  15. How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination? Description of your actions.
  16. Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work? Yes, highly encouraged, and morale works in the normal fashion, when you are losing a fight, they may run, or if you give them the chance to steal, they may steal. 
  17. How do I identify magic items? Some will be obvious (glowing, other unnatural aspects), but specific functionality will need to be researched.  Some magic items are likewise non-obvious, and need to be researched as well.  Sages and high-level wizards will research for you... and for a price.
  18. Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions? There are no "magic stores" that have racks of magic items, they are far to rare for that.  You may be able to buy magic items from NPCs that own them, but only for exorbitant prices.
  19. Can I create magic items? When and how? Sure, at the levels indicated in the LL rule book.
  20. What about splitting the party? Yes, sure, but there will be risk in doing so.
I am currently slowly reading through the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Masters guide, so some ideas come from there, and the rest of them I blame on you fellow OSR bloggers.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Monster Manual, 4th Edition

No, not Type IV 4th edition, 4th edition of the original Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual, published when I was but a year old.  Thanks to the miracles of intra-library loans, I have been looking through it this week. I was pretty excited to get it, since I have never read any of the original AD&D material, instead having first come into the hobby with 2nd Edition, and mostly with modern retro-clones like Labyrinth Lord.

The presentation in this book is fairly standard, in that it has a stat block, description of the creature and its abilities, any special notes about occurrence etc, and occasionally a picture.  Surprising to me at least, was that the stat block does not have any XP information.  Some groups of like monsters are grouped together, so that "devils", "dinos", and "demons" can have their general rules explained up front.  (although this is not true for "undead" or "pre-historic" for example).  Another interesting aspect is that monster damage is not mentioned in terms of dice types (d4-d20), but rather as damage ranges.  This is probably due to the lack of polyhedral dice at the time, but it does make for a bit of extra work to convert 2-8 to 2d4 say, and some of the damage ranges do not convert nicely in to dice types.

The art in the book is... variable.  The pieces by D.A. Trampier are generally good to excellent (in particular the Were-rats and Rakshasa), where as the majority of pieces by D.C. Sutherland III are... poor (dragons in particular).  They do generally convey the idea of the creature though, and fit the sort of pseudo-late medieval milieu that Gygax seems to have run his games in, and they have a sort of enthusiastic nature that makes some of them charming.

An interesting aspect is that the last couple pages of the book are a catalog of all TSR Fantasy and Science Fiction games available at the time, which reminds you that there were briefly at least, THREE versions of D&D in print at the same time. (AD&D, Basic, and Original).  There is also an advertisement for GenCon, then owned by TSR.

Compared to modern works, the 1979 book is hardly state of the art.  If someone published this now, you would consider it "amateur" and probably would not pay more than $5 for a PDF copy.  Desktop publishing has advanced significantly in the last 10 years, never mind in the last 30. Yet, it is pretty easy to see how this would have been revolutionary at the time it was first published, in particular as an advancement on small stapled booklets.  If you have not checked it out, you should, just to see how far things have come.

Yesterday I got the original AD&D DM's guide, also from intra-library loan, so I am pretty excited to read that next.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Space Ship Interiors

Due the popularity of Space Hulk, and Alien/Aliens (one may be more popular than the other), space ship corridor systems are quite popular.  People want to take the flat tiles from space hulk similar games, and translate them into three dimensions to add even more color to their games.  (and probably because they want their little dolls to have better displays).

A new entry into the space corridor system market is GameCraft, which by all appearances is exploding into the scenery scene lately.  They have recently released a system of Space Ship Interiors, which have all of the usual hallways, intersections, and small rooms you might expect, plus some detailing tiles, improved doors, and some exterior details which give a nice look to the walls.  Also available in a smaller size too, for 15mm figures.

The genius part though, is this, they have a micro sized planning kit, which has multiples of all the various pieces, and allows you to plan your layout in advance, and all the pieces are numbered, which match numbers on the normal corridor pieces.  And it is to scale.  Very smart.

Someone put some serious thought into this system, and were I to buy a set of space corridors, this is the one I would go for. Obviously the price adds up, but it looks great... and I do already have all those stormtroopers...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Santa Delivers!

Sort of.  Rolang, of Rolang's Creeping Doom, asked his readers to challenge him to create tables for them, as a way to jump start some of his own creativity, and get back into blogging.  And he donated $1 to charity for each request.  How cool is that?

Today, my turn came up, and I got the 3d6 table of hireling motivations of my dreams.  Perfect for a traditional fantasy game (no gonzo entries), and this will work quite well next time my players are hiring anyone.

You can view the rest of his creations Here.