Thursday, December 24, 2020
So yesterday was my first real day off since the Fall semester began and I decided to spend some of it playing some solo adventures.
This time I rolled well on the three 3d6 throws for character generation. Dubbing my new PC Hawkins the Bold, I fought and defeated giant rats, an orc, a goblin, and a vampiress. I won and lost several cool treasures, only to ultimately succumb to poisonous gas.
The Solo Dungeon by Richard A. Bartle dates from 1978. You can bring up to six newly created D&D characters on this adventure. It doesn't specify if it was designed for OD&D, Holmes Basic D&D, or then-new AD&D. I decided to make a half dozen OD&D characters, using just the first three books. Here was my party:
- Cliffbert the Clumsy (a human fighter with a low Dex)
- Egelar the Elf (who I ran as a magic-user)
- Umberto the Unbearable (a cleric with a low Cha)
- Dimwald the Dim (a cleric with a low Int)
- Frodric the Foolish (a dwarf with a low Wis)
- Mortimer the Mediocre (a magic-user whose stats were all 8-12)
Both fighters were slain by wights (yikes!). Umberto was eliminated by a trap. Egelar touched a magic sword of opposite alignment and dropped dead. My biggest victory was when Mortimer charmed a Theurgist, who later slept an ogre. After the adventure Mortimer and Dimwald ditched the Theurgist (who I named Theobald) and then parted ways, as lawful Dimwald couldn't brook neutral Mortimer's cutthroat shenanigans. Still, both came out of the dungeon alive, with a few hundred GP, some nice XP, and a magic-item each. I may take one or both to Dragon's Hall, a D&D solo module from Judge's Guild.
My last solo adventure was for Tunnels & Trolls, well known for its solo suitability and large range of solo adventures. I used the 5th edition rules to make a dwarf fghter named Doin the Unlikeable. Armed with a bigass flail and a sturdy shield, Doin set off for legendary Buffalo Castle, the first T&T solo adventure. Thanks to my low charisma, I ended up annoying an orc and we had to fight to the death. Doin went berserk (one of the more interesting T&T rules is that anyone with an Int less than 16 can go berserk in combat) and beat the orc into a fine red paste. This led to enough treasure that I wanted to escape to buy some dang armor before trying any more adventures. But a giant jellyfish blocked the castle exit. Thanks to multiple rounds of berserking earlier, Doin was too weak to effectively wield his flail. So he had to crush the jellyfish with his crowbar, which he could barely lift. That was rad. I never saw anything like that in a D&D game.
Monday, December 21, 2020
Monday, December 07, 2020
Rules for Converting Encounter Critical PCs to Tunnels & Trolls
- Strength, Dexterity, and Luck remain the same.
- Intellect becomes your Intelligence score.
- Leadership becomes your Charisma
- You get the choice of either using your Dex score or rolling 3d6 for your Speed, but you must pick before you roll the dice.
- Either your Adaptation or your Robot Nature score become your Constitution, whichever is higher.
- Either your ESP or Magic Power score become your Wizardry, whichever is higher.
- Psi Witches become Rogues, unless they qualify to be a Paragon (f.k.a. Warrior-Wizard), in which case they can be one of those.
- Doxies, Criminals, Pioneers, and Encountresses can become their choice of either a Rogue or a Specialist.
- Warlocks become Wizards.
- Warriors remain Warriors (duh).
Levels Past One
- Add the bonus number to Strength.
- Add the bonus number to Constitution.
- Add half the bonus number to Strength and half to Constitution.
- Add half the bonus number to any other stat.
- Newly converted Wizards get access to all the spells available up to their level, even if they cannot qualify due to low Int or Dex. Exception: If the referee is allowing the Wizard to keep their old Warlock spells, they only get access to the first level list.
- Newly converted Rogues get one first level spell per every character level they possess.
- Any item on both the EC and T&T lists may be retained.
- If the item in question is a weapon or armor that the PC can no longer use due to new Str or Dex minima, they may take a free downgrade to a lesser but equivalent item.
- Any items not in both the EC and T&T rules are subject to the Dave Arneson City of the Gods spot rule*: each PC may pick three items to retain. The nature and extent to which they continue to function in the new setting are the sole discretion of the referee.
Thursday, November 26, 2020
One of the weird thing about playing dungeony dragony computer games from the 80's is the existence of a whole network of games by disparate designers and publishers that allowed you to import characters from other games. My original attempt to map out this phenomenon included 10 different games. But based on the comments to that post and further research, I've added a few more games:
So what the point of all of this? Heck if I know. I just like contemplating how, if you played your cards right, a character you made in 1981 for Wizardry could end up spending 1985 and 1986 in the worlds of Bard's Tale I and II. Maybe along the way they team up with your four PCs from Ultima III. Will they all go on to Faerghail? Will some of them go fight the Dragon Wars? Just thinking about those possibilities gives me good time feelings.
But I do think there's a seed of an idea here that could be used in tabletop RPG gaming. Each rectangle on my chart above represents a constellation of places and events. You could build a lifepath system for experienced PCs using a flowchart made in a similar fashion. Each stop on the flowchart would then come with some sort of die chart that would tell you what happened to the PC.
Sunday, November 22, 2020
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
It is however true of campaigning, as of so many other things, that the amount of enjoyment to be obtained from it is pro rata to the amount of effort that is put into it This will vary from person to person and group to group according to how much time and interest people have to spare, but the main ingredient necessary is enthusiasm for the project and a sense of responsibility toward the other players.
The other two things I wanted to share are game mechanicy. The first is his card-based system for fleshing out character traits for rulers, generals, etc., in his Hyborian campaign.
So, for each person's character you deal out seven cards. The first card dealt will decide upon his or her's most outstanding characteristic: a Heart will indicate Good Nature, a Diamond Love of Wealth, a Spade Ambition, and a Club Lave of War in a man, Patriotism in a woman. The value of the card will determine the depth of this passion, a high card being very strong, a low card relatively weak. The rest of the cards are used individually, and each hasa value of its own, as given below:
- Ace: Spade or Club, a disloyal intriguer. Diamond, loyal intriguer. Heart, exceptional good nature.
- King: Spade or Club, Energy: Heart or Diamond, Courage ·
- Queen: Great lover
- Knave: Spade/Club, Unreliability, oath-breaker, liar. Heart/Diamond, Merciless, revenge-prone.
- Ten: Loyalty, absolute in Diamonds, grading down through Hearts, Clubs, Spades.
- Nine: Physical beauty, except for Spade, which is Ugliness.
- Eight: Spade/Club, Cruelty Heart/Diamond, Generosity.
- Seven: Spade/Club, Personality Heart/Diamond, Jealous of Family Honour
- Six: Spade/Club, Lazyness Heart/Diamond, Charm
- Five: Spade/Club, Wisdom Heart/Diamond, Cunning
- Four: Spade/Club, Stupidity Heart/Diamond, Cowardice
- Three: Spade Club, Bad Temper Heart/Diamond, Good Temper
- Two: Spade/Club, Arrogance, Pride. Heart/Diamond, Merciful.
Bath also notes than an upside down Ace indicates some sort of physical abnormality or defect, such as a hunchback. I immediately thought of Peter Dinklage's character on Game of Thrones and Emperor Claudius' stutter in I, Claudius. Anyway, here's how Tony puts these card draws all together:
So, you deal out your seven cards and proceed to evaluate the character. In most cases. this will be straightforward enough, but on some occasions conflicting cards will show up. lf, for instance, you tum up a Nine of Hearts and a Nine of Spades, then physical beauty obvlously cancels out physical ugliness and you discard both cards. An example of a character reading might be a deal of Knave, King, Ten and Nine of Hearts, Nine of Spades, Nine and Two of clubs. This would give you, assuming a male, a very good natured fellow, brave, handsome, very loyal, but a touch arrogant. Of your three nines, two are beauty and one ugliness, so the three finish up as one beauty card.
The final thing I wanted to share was Tony's ingenious method for hidden movement on the campaign map when only two people can play in a campaign:
Where only two people are engaged in a campaign they will have to make do without the services of an umpire, and problems therefore increase. Obviously they cannot both just move pins or counters around a single map; even though the opposing player may not be sure exactly what the pins or counters represent, it will still give him far more information than he is entitled to. Some method of concealment must therefore be devised, and one of the best is the matchbox method. For this, you need a matchbox for every reference point - either hexagon or hexagon face - on your map. It may take you a while to collect this number of matchboxes, but if you appeal to friends, neighbours etc. to collect for you things will go quicker. You then glue these matchboxes together in a square or oblong as shown on the diagram, and number both sides of each box with the map reference it represents.
Your two players then sit at a table with the matchbox collection placed between them. Each has his own map in front of him, but far enough away to be illegible to his opponent. Each has made his opening dispositions on his own map and provided himself wlth a numbered counter to represent every separate force he is using. Moving alternately, the players now place their counters in the matchboxes and, as the troops move, move them from box to box. In the course of this, if they traverse several hexagons, the player is of course entitled to look in the requisite matchboxes representing the spaces he has moved through. It will probably be best for the player not moving to tum his back while the other does so, otherwise by looking at the reverse of the matchboxes he could possibly gain some unfair indication of where his opponent is moving. [Following this Tony briefly discusses not playing with cheaters.]
Up till the time that a player finds one of his opponent's counters in a matchbox that he is entering or passing through, no disclosure is of course made of strengths, dispositions etc. When two counters reach the same box, however, some information has to be given... A commander who discovered that he was faced by greatly superior numbers was able ta refuse battle and withdraw; unless, of course, his opponent had managed to cut off his retreat by some method, either by placing a second force across it or by interposing some obstacle. This led to quite a bit of jockeying for position, and encouraged both sides to push out small forces in advance · to feel out the enemy and try to gain a picture of his overall dispositions.
This matchbox map approach is an absolute delight. In addition to the hidden movement element, it would also allow a campaign map full of counters to be easily stored on a shelf in between play sessions.
I love it when I read old gaming texts and find great ideas ready for revival.
Saturday, November 14, 2020
She took the photos, by the way.
Wednesday, November 04, 2020
Here's an old illo from Debis Loubet, one of the greats of game illustration in my opinion. You may recognize his style from the Ultima series of games. He also did work for Metagaming and was the illustrator for Steve Jackson's Cardboard Heroes, the first paper minis I ever encountered.
Anyhoo, I wanted to share this particular pic because it shows some members of this dungeon party carrying two-handed torches. You can find historical depictions of these bigass, long-burning torches in late medieval and early modern art, but I think this is the first instance I've found of them making their way into a D&D-type illo. Here's one of my favorite historical depictions:
How might these bad boys be statted up for our games? To be worth devoting both hands (and thus making it one party member's whole deal for the expedition - another good reason to have some NPC lackeys in the crew) the gain in burn time should be substantial, possibly also with a small gain in the amount of light it throws. Maybe 5 times the burn time, with +10' to the radius illuminated? For that, it should cost more than 5 times the price of a standard torch, maybe ten times. The thing to watch out for when pricing for your campaign would be to find a sweet spot between the low cost of a regular torch and the longer burn and better control of a lantern and oil.
PS: Also, note that several people in Loubet's illo are carrying torches. A dungeon crew with just one light source is begging the DM to find a way to extinguish it.
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
|The Krimaxian fleet just priot to the Battle of Aremis IV.|
Outside observers are often astonished to learn that there is no prerequisite that the Krimaxian forces win the battle. It is a tenet of the insouciant Krimaxian warrior code that no battle is won or lost except in historical perspective.
Rules for Voting
Ballots are secret and no discussion is allowed.
Each Captain submits one ballot.
The ballot records a vote for Greater Blorrp and a separate vote for Lesser Blorrp.
You may not vote for the same Captain for both Blorrps.
You are allowed to vote for yourself for Greater Blorrp and there is no cultural stigma attached to doing so.
You are not allowed to vote for yourself for Lesser Blorrp. In Krimaxian culture that is considered an act of false humility.
Any Captain who is dead, captured, or otherwise unavailable for the vote is assumed to vote for themselves for Lesser Blorrp (this supersedes the above rules).
Whoever gets the most votes wins the Blorrp..
- In the event of a tie for Greater Blorrp, the winner of the Lesser Blorrp voting actually receives the Greater Blorrp and then awards the Lesser Blorrp to their choice among the tied parties
- If the Greater Blorrp is awarded but there is a tie on Lesser Blorrp voting, no Lesser Blorrp is awarded.
- If both Blorrp ballots tie, the Captain with seniority awards each to separate recipients. It is typical for the senior Captain to give himself the Greater Blorrp. Again, it would be considered an act of false humility to give oneself the Lesser Blorrp.
Traditionally, a Captain receiving their first Blorrp sponsors an elaborate feast for their crew at the next opportunity. If the Captain is dead or missing but the crew survives, the other Captains who took part in the ballot split the costs. If the whole ship was lost the money normally spent on the feast is forwarded to the kinship groups from which the crew were drawn.
The Blorrps themselves are handmade by Krimaxian artisans on the homeworld, so no two are identical. Most known examples are made of a rough pinkish-purplish stone or a polymer designed to resemble such stone, but some are carved from a darkish wood. They typically stand somewhere between six and twelve inches tall. Greater Blorrps tend to resemble the Greek letter Phi with the inner bar missing, while Lesser Blorrps resemble triangles or chevrons pointing down. Both varieties of Blorrp features an opening through the center and either a wide, flat integral base or a tripod structure at the bottom.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
That little red blob labeled Charted Space? That's the map above shown in scale to the Milky Way. Thanks to Joshua Bell and his great resource travellermap.com for that view.
|This chart proves that I'm|
right and the F&E designers
are wrong. Honest.
Star Fleet Battles is a fork of the Star Trek universe, incorporating the Original Series, the Animated Series, and the Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual by Franz Joseph. The latter is one of the truly great examples of fandom lore. One of the things that Franz Joseph does is define what the heck a Warp Factor is. Turns out that if you cube the number of the Warp Factor, that gives you the speed in terms of units of C, e.g. Warp Factor 6 (the safe cruising speed of the original USS Enterprise) is 6 x 6 x 6 C, or 216 times the speed of light. That means, according to this source at least and my own limited arithmetical skill, it would take Captain Kirk's Funtime Pals over seven years to cross a single Federation & Empire hex. Seeing as how each turn is six months, my guess is that the F&E designers ignore Franz Joseph on this point.
Since Federation & Empire first came out in the 1980's, the lovely folks at Amarillo Design Bureau (who make SFB and F&E) have expanded their universe even more. There's now an adjacent area of space, the ominously titled Omega Sector, with 20+ new polities and hundreds of more spaceships you can blow up. They've also mapped out at least one Magellanic Cloud. But my favorite expansion to Amarillo Design Bureau's expansion of the Star Trek universe is this one:
*Seriously, you may think modern D&D is complicated, but full-blown all-the-bells-and-whistles SFB blows it out of the ding dang water. The only comparable non-computerized game I know is Advanced Squad Leader.
Monday, October 26, 2020
|Click to embiggen.|
That's the rules for the Waverider (i.e. surfer) class from Teddy C. Ryan III's Exotic Characters & Worlds (1983). Other classes represented include the Ninja, Ryan's version of the Techno from Arduin, and a Time Traveller class. Speaking of Arduin, page 32 of Exotic Characters & Worlds includes a crit chart derived from the glorious Arduin chart, but with a few tweaks, such as a "BODY/split in twain" result. In true Arduin style, this both kills you instantly and does 20-50 hit points of damage. Sadly, my two favorite results, buttocks torn off, and tripping over your own spilt entrails, have been removed from this version.
Sunday, October 25, 2020
Some OD&D house rules make use of "roll 2d6, take the lower result" and "roll 2d6, take the higher result." Obviously that would skew the chances of each possible result away from the flat 16.66% chance of each number coming up with a typical roll. But I wanted to see how much that skew would be, so I did the math real quickfast.
Friday, October 23, 2020
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
|Imperial Starfire dares ask the question,|
"What if Dejah Thoris was
a birdwoman from Ophiuchi?
|A humble beginning for a|
Wednesday, July 15, 2020
As I type this there are about seven copies of my new short work, The Octo-Planetary Blade of Somnambulistic Beneficence, available through the Lamentations of the Flame Princess European storefront. However, you can't buy this crazy pamphlet anywhere. It's a bonus item you receive if and only if you order all four of the other new releases that came out on Monday: Adventure Anthology: Blood, Big Puppet, Fermentvm Nigrvm Dei Sepvlti, and Deck of Weird Things. Personally, I'm super intrigued by the premise of the adventure Big Puppet. And Fermentum yada yada seems to be using a premise I nearly pitched to Mr. Raggi several years ago, so I'm glad someone finally got around to it. And the Deck of Weird Things is exactly what you think it is: a Deck of Many Things analog for LotFP style weird fantasy play.
More details of this big sales event can be found here. Shipping from the dark lair of LotFP in the frozen realm of Finland is usually costly, but if you order the Deck of Weird Thing and use the promo code WEIRD (in all caps) shipping on your entire order is free. Admittedly, the Deck itself is the priciest of the new releases, but there's a lot of good stuff you could also get free shipping on. (Including one of the last copies of Broodmother Skyfortress in stock, for example. Or another copy of the excellent LotFP Rules & Magic book.)
By the way, I called my little book a 'crazy pamphlet' because the production on this item is super wild. Each individual leaf was printed front and back with a reflective silver ink, then the text and illos were printed on top of that. As far as I know, no other roleplaying book has ever been done that way. That's why it looks so weird in the photo.
Anyhoo, buy some Lamentations stuff. It's the only game company that I try to get every release from. The stuff is that good.
Saturday, January 25, 2020
Friday, January 24, 2020
Here's one idea how to represent that:
The black part represents the yawning void where the east wall should be. There's got to be other ways of depicting this sort of thing, so that adventurers can better interact with the 3-D dungeon environment. How do I show, for example, that there's more dungeon down there?
(BTW, these tile images were made with the Flagstones font. S. John Ross made it many years ago. It's a pretty great way to crank out a lot of paper tiles quickly. I don't see it currently listed at his store on drivethru, but he has lots of other cool stuff there for sale.)
*Special recognition for Professor Dungeon Master who, in addition to great crafting videos, has some really sound DM advice videos.
Thursday, January 23, 2020
Thursday, January 16, 2020
Nearly every other kind of monster in the official BX rules is fully capable of exhibiting other behaviors at the beginning of an encounter besides attacking. Even berserkers don't mindlessly attack until they make an informed decision to mindlessly attack.
Additionally, unlike AD&D and its successors, the stat block in BX does not have a field for monster intelligence. Some entries specify the intelligence of a creature in the text, but many do not. There are a lot of monsters in the BX rules that I usually tend to assume are unintelligent only because I know their Monster Manual entry. The DM would be completely within the bounds of the rules as written to decide, for example, that an ochre jelly is smart enough to parley with. The text doesn't say anything either way. Even normal animals could talk in your campaign, if you wanted to give it a more fairy tale field.
Now, consider the existence of the Monster Reactions table (page B24). Lots of monster encounters, especially wandering monsters, can be concluded without risking violence if the monster can be communicated with. Furthermore, a roll of 12 on 2d6 gives the result of "Enthusiastic friendship", giving the party a big incentive for talking to a lot of monsters. If you are going to explore a hellish, trap-laden underworld, having some sort of big, scary monster as your friend sounds great to me.
A 12 on 2d6 occurs only 1 throw in 36, but high charisma modifies the die roll. A Charisma of 13-17 gives a +1 on the roll, upping the odds of friendship to 1 in 12. Furthermore, the worst result on the chart, "Immediate attack", is no longer possible. An 18 Charisma allows for new monster buddies 1 in 6 encounters.
So the next time you spot a carrion crawler, try asking it how its day is going.