Wednesday, October 08, 2008

my latest method/madness

Regular readers can probably tell that sometimes I just blog about whatever fool thing pops into my head when I'm sitting in front of the computer. But sometimes crazy ideas come to me when I'm not near one of these new-fangled electric calculation devices. It used to be I would scrawl these flashes of dumbspiration onto whatever paper was handy. But recently, in an attempt to keep better track of this stuff, I've started carrying a little notebook, a pocket-sized Moleskine cahier. I get mine at one of the local big box bookstores. You can get blank pages, line rules, or graph paper. Of course I go for the latter so I can make dungeon maps.

Here's the latest thing I did in my notebook. I got it into my head that maybe it would be neat to make OD&D monsters that were scaleable by level, like the way T&T monsters are sometimes expressed as X number of Monster Rating points times the level they're encountered on. This idea came to me at work, so over my lunch break I got out my copy of Rat On A Stick (What? You don't keep yours in your briefcase?) and wrote down the critters on the wandering monster chart. I then attempted to make scaleable stats for them. Here's what I ended up with:


Under this scheme most monsters simply gain Hit Dice. Some monsters gain increased damage, such as a 9th and 10th level Rats biting for 2d6 or the ogre's ever-biggening club attack. Some critters gain additional numbers, listed as a simple "+d6" or "+2d6", while others gain friends (basically an additional wandering monster teams up with them). So a 10th level Orc encounter consists of 3d6 big, burly 2 hit dice orcs being bossed around by some other 10th level monster, while a 4th level Harpy encounter consists of a normal group of harpies plus d6 (presumably charmed) friends.

12 comments:

  1. That's awesome!

    You have an entire dungeon's worth of wandering monsters right there.

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  2. CROM ... that's a HUGE rat! (in best Arnie accent)

    I like it!!

    JM.

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  3. Okay, considering that I wrote this before reading this post, I'm kind of spooked out by the synchronicity factor here.

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  4. Mr.Castle7:25 AM

    That`s a great idea. A thought about it a little bit. I wouldn`t use a table for all the Levels.
    Instead, I`m thinking of using something like

    Monster Lvl+1=Hd+1, Thaco+1, +x(special abilities,...)

    Maybe this is too general. One could make one of these Rules for each "class" of monsters, for example:
    Goblinoids:
    Lvl+1=Hd+1/2, Thaco+1,...

    Giants:
    Lvl+1=Hd+1 1/2, Thaco+ 1 1/2,...

    and so on.

    Maybe I`ll add rules like this for size variations.

    With this, it would be easy to create encounters, mini-dungeons/mini-modules and so on that could be used for every party level.

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  5. This is cool from a mechanics point of view but it makes character levels pointless. Save yourself a ton of work and never level up the characters. I know I am approaching this from a completely different philosophy. There seem to be two- 3 orcs eventually become no concern, or everything is dangerous all the time. But in this second case you might as well just choose the level of magic you want the players to have and then just play at a fixed level. I have considered playing a version of 3e where everyone starts at level 5, but starts with only the spells and equipment of level 1 (this would make clerics follow the spell rules from the archivist class, I never figured out what to do with sorcerers).

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  6. Mr.Castle8:52 AM

    "This is cool from a mechanics point of view but it makes character levels pointless."

    I know what you mean.
    I want to have levels, and I want to have cool, fast mechanics. So I stick with the levels, and use these mechanics just for random encounters, sidequests, and so on, whenever I need to improvise because my players do something unexpected (and then one could use just a different name+appereance +above mechanics to make out of a 1st level encounter something challenging and different), or whenever I want to surprise them a bit and keep them on their toes (oh, just a bunch of Orcs...hehe).

    I also think that when the world levels up with you and everything is the same challenge, it gets a little bit boring and the level system gets pointless, as you said.

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  7. Neat though it is as a thought exercise, this is the path that leads to 4e. I will respectfully take a pass.

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  8. Mr.Castle4:27 PM

    "this is the path that leads to 4e"

    Can you tell me why?

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  9. This is cool from a mechanics point of view but it makes character levels pointless.

    That's only true if A) all monsters level up in the same smooth progression, which under my scheme they don't and B) you only encounter X level wandering monsters on level X, which is not true with either OD&D or AD&D 1st edition.

    Neat though it is as a thought exercise, this is the path that leads to 4e.

    I had no idea that adapting a mechanic from T&T would so imperil my immortal soul!

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  10. Can you tell me why?

    Jeff has since corrected me on this point, but it initially appeared as if his mechanic was intended to create a smooth progression for "leveling up" monsters. That sort of progression is key to the famous math behind 4e that preserves the so-called "sweet spot" WotC's designers decided was the key to keeping D&D fun.

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  11. Neat though it is as a thought exercise, this is the path that leads to 4e. I will respectfully take a pass.

    I can't agree with this at all. Parallels to this were happening in very early issues of Alarums & Excursions, which (containing frequent actual play reports) are the closest to at-the-time transcripts I know of. Jeff designed an awesome chart of monster variations, entirely compatible with old school styles of play.

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  12. I had no idea that adapting a mechanic from T&T would so imperil my immortal soul!

    Seek out a 9th-level or higher cleric immediately.

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