My blog's evilness ==

This site is certified 38% EVIL by the Gematriculator

Saturday, February 28, 2009

D&D combat vs Time

Time wins again!

Actually, no. This particular conflict is yet unresolved, and I think that I may have figured out where the D&D abstract combat/time system started to break down. I could be (and probably am!) wrong - but here is a point where the long round feels wonky.

Touch attacks.
In D&D there's the assumption that foes spar, that the 'to-hit' roll represents the one chance in that time to 'land a telling blow' or somesuch. OK. So in walks a cleric who was clever enough to reverse his cure spell, and all he needs to do it touch the target - not to land a telling blow. In the D&D combat round there's a lot of implied action, and many of these imply contact. Touching a target - surely - is an easier task than drawing blood...
So - not a big deal as far as I am concerned, but it is very easy for me to imagine a player (probably would have been me if I ever played!) crying foul. "You want to give coup to the hobgoblin who is swinging a you...ok..."
Maybe I'm laying the blame in the wrong camp. Perhaps the apocryphal moment was spurred by a carrion-crawlin' a-hole DM (OK. That almost certainly would have been me)

I dunno - I don't feel like I'm doing a good job of elucidating this idea. It's just turning into an anti-player screed...

-------------And while I'm at it!

Called shots.
I've always had players want to do this. Really, from as long as I can remember running games - at least one player wants to poke an eye out, hamstring, disarm, etc...I've realized that this has NOTHING to do with D&D combat and time. Sorry. One reason why I liked T&T early on was because it supplied a method to resolve such things...and the D&D long round really gives them ammunition - "with that much time I can't aim for the neck, huh?" - I wonder how many variations there are on called shot house rules out there...

I don't really hate players - can't blame them for looking for/thinking of advantages, seeing as how I'm pelting them with blood bats and poisoned darts and whatnot...

nuisance door

This door, when the weighted latch is touched, turns into a
forceful burst of wind blowing toward the door opener.
Unshielded flame may be extinguished. There is no passage on
the other side.

(the item a day thing is kinda tough for me on the weekends - and kinda tough in general, really - I'm not an exceptionally disciplined person - hopefully not exceptionally undisciplined either...)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Disappearing Ring

When put on it shrinks down to an imaginary center point and
disappears, removing the ring finger, take 1 hp.

horrible - i know - i'm tired...
maybe I'll come back and re-edit this someday.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Online play 1

Well! We started off with a bang - kinda. The online game has covered something like a few hours (by my estimate) and already the party is split (!) (in the general safety of the town of Dachau...)
and one of us being taken to court...and there is another character that is supposed to be joining us soon.
Oh buddy!
The experience is strange - pretty compelling. We all seem able to hit the blog pretty early (except me for the next five days), so we've been pretty active - and the last two days have run into the late afternoon...
And we're really just flailing around trying to figure out what the fuck to do!

Reliquary of Naks

A fragile pentagonal reliquary with a brass handle/hanging hoop at the top, and a brass base. One panel has three small brass hinges and a knob to open it. All of the panels have three small holes
just above the lip of the base.
The interior contains wool batting and a some finger bone fragments. When the reliquary is jostled, dust falls from the holes. This dust will fall 3'/10 seconds.
If the dust meets a solid surface, it hisses and sublimes into a light olive-green gas which is considerably lighter than air (one such 'dusting' fills a 10'R the round after it starts). The reliquary can be shaken more vigorously to release more dust. If not influenced otherwise, the gas will remain in place and potent for 3-6 minutes. This gas induces fear - anything with a nervous sytem that is capable of emotional reaction can resist.
If the dust meets a liquid surface, it hisses and sublimes into a thin bright yellow gas. Anyone within 5' can spend that round inhaling the gas. Those who inhale this gain a magical boon - any spells cast for the next hour will have x2 duration .
If there is a scrying device beneath the reliquary, all of the dust will glom to it - bypassing any of the effects listed above. It will instead double the duration/effectiveness of the spell/device/item's scrying and will grant the viewer invisiblity to scrying/protection from scrying/etc.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

double dump

RPG dumping ground is a really great site, and I've decided to do something similar - reactive posts, certainly not as well-thought out as those at the Dump - in the spirit of appreciation for that site and to experiment.

I think I'm approaching a general system for the labels of blog posts.
Isn't that exciting!


Blessing of Sustenance
The blessed target will not find need of food, drink or sleep for 1 day/caster level
Blessing of Aversion
The blessed target will be unable to touch cursed items and may have an improved 'sense traps' (if such a quantity exists...) for 1 day/caster level
Blessing of the War Spirit
Blessed target ignores the first source of successful physical damage dealt by weapon, animal or creature - that hit becomes a miss. This is applied to the first such attack in every 'encounter' for 1 day/caster level

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Baffling Scroll

A sheet of paper/parchment. clay tablet, etc suitable as a vehicle for writing a spell on. It operates as a standard 'scroll', but after a spell/rune has been inscribed - the next time it is looked at the spell may have changed.

1-2 no change, the spell sticks
3 the spell is reversed if applicable, or sticks
4-5 the spell is replaced with random spell of same
level/school/realm/etc (cannot be the same spell)
6 the spell is gone, the scroll can be inscribed again

Saturday, February 21, 2009

10 fav TSR monsters

I remember sitting in the back of my mom's car when I was a kid. It was a warm day, she had some appointment or something...but I had a copy of the the Monster was the first time I REALLY looked at them all from cover to cover. This list was not developed through play (mostly) - it's just the ones I thought were the coolest.

1. Spectre: Brutal. 2 level drain (if I remember correctly), incorporeal. I always imagined the spectre to be some sort of undead nobility.
2. Demigorgon: I liked DCSIII and this was one of my favorite images in the whole book.
3. Catoblepas: Shit. I mean, who could really stand a CHANCE against this if they weren't expecting it? And who would EXPECT it?
4. The Giant Crayfish in Village of Hommlet. That dude knocked off so many characters before their adventures could even really start.
5. Rust Monster: Recent victim of editionitis apparently. Too bad.
6. Displacer Beast: Just weird. Tentacles on the back...
7. Brownie: My personal gateway into the Unseelie...not that I've ever met one.
8. Umber Hulk: Beetle-men are cool, and this one was a beefy monster.
9. Pit Fiend UGLY. Barbed Whips! Flames! Bat-wings! Those beady little eyes...
10. The Green Dragon: Seems like this was the red-headed stepchild of the dragon family, kinda puny compared to the rest, but always seemed somehow more practical, down to earth - I could imagine this guy's day-to-day, whereas I never could identify with the Reds, Bronzes, etc...(maybe it's weird to 'identify' with a pretend dragon - I've given up making excuses for such things long ago...)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I game!

It looks like I've got myself into a game being run on the web. Alexis has a subtle and AMAZING setting (Earth! Quasi-Historical Earth at that) and I'm psyched. Never tried a game on the net - curious to see how this is going to work.

So with the degree of detail and versimilitude Alexis has put into his side, I will admit to being a touch daunted. Really - if you haven't read his blog from the start, you should. I would like to have a character that "fits in" (that is, is historically plausible), but it is 1e AD&D, so obviously, there is some liscence...

I'm going with a Silesian cleric, a pagan pantheist. While the Catholic and Lutheran Princes marched armies against each-other, my character worshipped the old gods, the four-faced, the dragon at at the root of the World Tree, the Winter Sun, the unknowable and chimeral forces that govern men's lives, that watch as the men of Christ to kill one-another.

I've not played AD&D for many many years. Nevertheless, cracking open the PHB today felt like second nature.

Wish me luck!

Slavic Paganism (notes)

Perun Thunder, victory in war
Veles Underworld, earth, water
Hors Winter sun, healing, survival
Dazbog Fire of the Sky, the sun
Mokosh Female Goddess, home, weaving, spinning, domestic arts/crafts
Stribog Winds, Sky, Air, Father of the Eight Directions
Simargl Fertility, dog w/wings
Svarog Sun God, spirit of Fire
Jarilo Vegetation, fertility, spring, war, harvest
Svarozic Fire of the earth, forge
Chernobog God of Woe, Black God
Ziva Fertility, Love Goddess
Svantevit God of War, divination
Rugievit Seven Headed God , seven swords in belt, one in hand
Marzanna Goddess of Witchcraft, winter

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A list of interesting links

The Book of the Damned
Panspermia, Red Rain, Etc...
which came from HERE
All of which came from searching ALL at Cambridge Journals

Theres a journal here called The Lichenologist! That's a character class waiting to be crunched...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The "System" (heh heh heh)

I say I'm running Tunnels and Trolls as a simplification. The truth is that I'm running a Frankenstein monster hybrid-game. The books I keep on or near the table during play: Tunnels and Trolls (5.5), Character Law, Spell Law, Player's Handbook (1e). I will try to explain what's what here. The fact is that during the last session, we never opened any of them...

First off, character sheets look mostly like T&T, but there are a few more stats, 6(!) to be exact.
The stats are Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intellect, Wit, Will, Power, Luck, and Soul. Characters have three 'aspects' (this for conceptual organization - not a mechanic/bug/feature):
Physical (Str.Dex,Con)
Mental (Int,Wit,Will)
Meta (Pow,Lk,Soul)

Then there are 3 derived stats
Charisma (average Str/Int/Pow),
Perception (average Dex/Wit/Luck), and
Discipline (average Con/Will/Soul).

Discipline is the odd man out. I have no idea what to do with this stat. I'm considering changing it into Health, or Determination or something. I dunno what yet. Characters with low Will are easily charmed/commanded. Characters with low Soul are easily possessed.

Stats are rolled with 2d6 + d12, in order.

Races DO NOT multiply stats. As of now race has no impact on stat scores, but I am considering different approaches here. I'm not using an 5.5 triples add-reroll stuff. At first I had plotted out stat scores giving bonuses/subtractions, but have decided not to do so anymore. Any, I'm not using Combat or Missile Adds. Or Speed. Or T&T combat. I'll explain more about that in a bit.

The race and class (along with 'social class' determine what 'categories' a character may choose skills from. There's a total of 13 'skill points' for a starting character: 3 from social class,
4 from race and 6 from class, and these 13 points are distributed among 9 'skill categories'. These categories are Combat, Magic, Stealth, Physical, Mental, Awareness, Social, Outdoor, and Technical. Here's a few lines from my table:

Hillmen 1 1 1 1
Half-Elves 1 1 1 1

Fighter 5 1
Thief 1 3 1 1
Priest 4 2
Warlock 3 1 1 1

Outcaste 1 1 1
Middle Class 1 1* 1 1*

Where there is an asterisk, the player chooses which category the skill point is used in.

Skills are varied. Some skills give constant bonuses. Examples:
Physical-Body Development - gives d6 or 3.5 Hit Points
Combat-Dodge - improves 'Armor Class'

Other skills apply bonuses to specific situations as a 1 rank:+1 on SR (Physical-Climb as an example)

Combat and Magic skills are a little more varied, and in fact, I think most skills could follow this same approach. A skill point can give a bonus (Combat-Blades: +1 to hit/rank) OR to allow
the character to perform an action faster (this gets into the time-frame of rounds which is a different subject, resembling Rolemaster FRP rounds (10 seconds, no phases, but each action takes up some minimum time of that round). Magic Skill points can be used to learn spells, to improve some parameter of a known spell (like decreasing the casting time, etc)...

I've tried to keep these things vague, hoping that players will come up with variations and improvements. I made a short list of skills by these categories, but stressed that these lists are by no means exhaustive.

Characters have hit points. These are initally the same as the character's CON score, but can be increased with skill points.

I use 'armor class' in the sense of how easy/difficult something is to hit. Rolls to hit are made on 2d10, trying to roll the target's AC or better. I'm trying the bell curve in combat. So far, I like it. Base armor class is determined by size.

Tiny creatures AC 15 (fairy)
Small creatures AC 13 (halfling, dwarf, goblin)
Medium creatures AC 10 (human, elf, hobgoblin)
Large creatures AC 7 (say, ogres, bugbears)
Huge creatures AC 5 (say, giants)

I am using T&T weapons and armor, so there's Hits Taken. Which is good. Since there's no comparison between combat totals, weapons do A LOT of damage. For the unfamiliar, a broadsword
is listed as doing 3d6+4 damage. In standard T&T, the combatants roll damage, the lower roll is
subtracted from the larger roll and the difference is applied to the loser of the round. This is not the way combat is working here. There is initiative, attacks are sequential. Being stuck with a spear means taking 4-19 points of damage...

Friday, February 13, 2009

odd74 thread (GyNat Extempore huh?)

I'll tell you briefly about my dream game.
And then I will prattle on

You have been warned

Dream Game:
A couple of friends come over and one says "I want to make a
UIY))ASD LSHDHA &* SKJHD for my character" and the other wants
to be a SD&*& SJH D() &* (SD". They aren't certain what that
gibberish means, but they have a few more ideas about that than
I do (they've both been thinking about it for a while I guess).
They both contain some identical sequences: parenthesis (sp?), &*
and at least SD...and the players really seem to think that what
they've said is meanigful, in the sense that it conveys
comprehensible information...

So we start to puzzle it out.

The dream probably ends there, but I wake happy.


Race as Class discussion thread derailed briefly into meta-game idea - a pretty abstract sociological one perhaps, the differences in the experience of playing RPGs now vs then. There's some 'differences' in 'play attitude' or 'player/DM expectations' in this newschool/oldschool's really pretty hard to pin down what the fuck we're talking about EXACTLY, or even close for me. Been cooped up with no internet for a few weeks. Do forgive.

It makes me want to analyze this strange ill-defined concept in terms of Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions. I don't own a copy of it these days, but it is a pretty remarkable book.

RPG as an science/art with a system underpinning it. The particulars of that system can be changed to the point that they break. If it is a spartan frame (simple) it can be embellished. It seems this is easier to do than removing parts from a complex assembly - assuming that it is important that the system maintain enough consistency/integrity to remain playable (no rules that say "Roll d20. If you roll 8377..." or "Roll on Table X.4" but that table isn't in the book...
(Anybody actually play any Tri-Tac? Tried Fringeworthy at a Con once...)

Instead of rolling dice and hanging-out at a table, we could all get up and try to do it in real life? Since playing a game is not a life and death experience, we must agree on WHAT SYSTEM ARE RESULTS JUDGED BY (i.e. reality is not doing that for us).

So what are the fundamentals of a game then? There is a world and there are things in it, and these things interact with each-other. Players of the game have some degree of control over some number of the things and interactions in the game. One player has some degree of control over the world in addition to some (usually very many more) quantity of things in the game. I'm trying to be very simple because, well, because.

Every player hands over some degree of autonomy to chance, usually die rolls.
Very many of the interactions in the game 'world' are rule based. Consider the term 'elf' the imposition of order on chaos. It means something (exactly what is debatable). Take the term 'race'. It does to, in the set of relations between 'objects in game world' and 'game world' and 'other objects in game world'. This is tangential (at best).

So theres a world and the things in it and the 'rule' that they interact.
How do these things interact?

What can these things do to each-other?
(World can kill characters/characters cannot kill world)
How can the results of interactions be measured?
(the introduction of scores/stats/points)

Fundamentally 4e is as maleable as 0e - it is up to the players/referee to change things. add things, ignore things, modify, tweak with, etc. This can be done with ANY game - you can add cardplay to chess - play without bishops - change pawns into rooks - etc. The point here is that
no game system cannot be changed.

So D&D or RPG-in-general as revolutionary process, a different paradigm in the intellectual environment - not really a whole-cloth NEW idea: games have existed for as long as we have (?).
And it was certainly not a brand new idea to apply rules to play/pretend, to introduce random chance into such a system of EXPERIENCE.

It synthesized several 'modes of thought/creation/play' into a revolution?

One somewhat cynical observation that we would seem to be in an 'aftershock' period - where the immediate results of the paradigm shift/introduction are disseminating and the each of the participants are demanding more fine-resolution, more detail, more control. Or at least enough (players) to 'hog-tie' a DM if they feel like it. (yes, I prefer benevolent despotism...but I still roll dice to see if the giant snake bites you or not...)

Only add things to system
Only ignore parts of system
Add parts to system and ignore parts of system

I'm going to stop now.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Divine Railroad -Toot! Toot!

I am afraid of railroading characters. I don't like to have it done to me - I don't like to do it to others. Simple (non-denominational) Golden Rule style.

That said, when I am running a game and there is a 'cleric-type' character (a character whose rationale is service to a deity) that character may sometimes recieve hints or insights. In my defense, I'll sometimes tell the player of an atheist or agnostic character what they dreamed of - and this dream may or may not have some bearing on the game situation - but more often in the case of the 'cleric' these dreams/intuitions/etc ARE relevant to play.

There have not yet been any visitation dreams, nor overt informational or instructional dreams - no
commandments or orders delivered. The player is always open to interpret (or not) as they see fit.

So I am wondering - am I a closet conductor using the divine conduit as an excuse to steer the player? And why is it that in this one instance (character is dedicated deist) more than any other I feel more inclined/justified to 'meta-play'?

Internet vs. Cataclysm...

Cataclysm wins again!
Kentucky ice storms have kept me off the internet for a few weeks.

Fortunately, my last game session took place a day or two before.

The characters were holed up in a secret room. They'd just fought and defeated a few of the Ancipitals (5'-6' tall, weirdly double-jointed ram-men with yellow blood) and freed a human they kept as a slave. During the fight, Allen the Halfling was mauled to the edge of death, as
was an NPC.

The freed slave offered them rewards should they escort him to his home, which was further into the depths. They agreed that they would, but first needed to return to the surface to heal, and Allen wanted some armor, having grown weary of being stuck with spears.

Slowly, sneakily, they went back the way they came, and spent a few days healing back on the surface, restocking and (in Allen's case) armoring - and returned again. One of the guardsmen who operated the winch that lowers a basket down to the entry cavern offered them a deal they declined first time - a runestone of safe returning, cheaper than they are sold in the Academy's
shop. This time they took it.

From the entry cavern, there are many miles of a featureless tunnel with no turns or intersections. The first location off the tunnel is an abandoned 'habitat' (there are underworld cultures that have lived/still live in such locales). It was in this habitat that the first session took place. Its entry is marked with a symbol that Allen has been told marks a way to his goal.

They kept walking. Slow and sneaky. The tunnel continues, sloping slightly down, for a long time. Three days at their pace. A couple of encounters avoided, some 'Tuckerish' kobalds with better darkvision than them, a sleeping ogre quickly dispatched (and not looted!(?)), and also a trio of hobgoblins that killed the freed slave they were ostensibly 'escorting'. They left him to lie where he fell.

Eventually (they were bored and so was I, but I kept to hourly wandering monsters and did not roll very many at all) - eventually they came to "The Common Way" - the cavernous underworld that extends for many miles.

Near their entry point is the habitat of the Hator-Yaqui, the undermen-kin of the slave they rescued. They stayed for a day among them, never trying to interact with them at all, until the next day, when the inquired where they would find the habitat marked with the symbol that Allen had been instructed to look for. Once told, they left for it and found it easily, and we ended with them standing at the entrance to this old habitat, which is supposed to lead to a desecrated temple that must be restored.

They were bored, and as a consequence, so was I. Maybe that was the other way around.
Whoever 'started-it' doesn't matter. The searching for secret door issue came up again, to the point that one of the players apologized and just totally lost interest in the game. They didn't interact in any meaningful way with the slave (before he was killed). They asked the Hator-Yaqui what they knew about the habitat that they were heading to and were told 'There is evil there,' and then blithely left to meet it.

I was bummed out at the end of this session, and I know that one of the players was too.

This post is long and has led me to a question. I will post that question separately.