Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Random Thoughts and Links

Random Thought #1: Players of newer editions complain that the AD&D charts and THAC0 aren't intuitive. How is 3rd and 4th edition AC starting 10 intuitive? Why isn't "no armor" AC 0? I'll leave the lack of a universal mechanic in these editions for another post :)

Random Thought #2: I saw a thread somewhere worried about the impact of Border's Books closing on D&D. Sadder than that is the fretting over the "death" of the local gaming store is some mixture of stupidity and nostalgia. Gaming stores are selling you the same products you can buy online, with a higher price and less selection. If you're lucky, you'll get better service, though I suspect that's the exception rather than the norm. The only true benefit they provide is impulse buys, assuming they have the impulse item in stock.

There are some smart gaming shop owners and a lot of not-so-business-smart shop owners. In a niche market, you need to be smart. What are they selling us? The same products we can get elsewhere for a better price or something else? You've lost the player-finding, game-advertising community bulliten board to forums, blogs, and craigslist. You're offering a place to play games and hangout? Run a business designed to make money off of this, not guilt/loyalty to buy product at higher prices. Rent your tables - you're already paying by the square foot of space to your landlord. A number of places offer drinks and snacks. Take it a step further: I want a gaming bar. Give me some Irish/English pub indoor, big enough tables to play, baskets of snacks, burgers, and pizza, and pitchers of ale.

Some Links:
Tao of D&D's charts are awesome: Equipment.

A Swords & Sorcery version of Traveler.

A different sort of end game

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cantraps, not Cantrips

'Cantrap' is an accepted spelling and the form that Jack Vance used. I've decided on this form since Tactical Simulation Ruleset uses a slightly different system than AD&D. And I like taunting spell-check. These minor magical effects do not require spell learning checks, memorization, preparation, or inhabit spell books. They are the basics that each caster learns during training and apprenticeship. Purists may argue that they ease the "tough love" survival of low level magic-users, but I feel they're more in character for how a wizardly type "should act" than constant hurling of molotov cocktails. My goal is to add a little flavour to these characters and give the player an imaginative tool to use, not up the ante in the race/class arms race.

Cantraps can be used, without fatigue or ill effect, by Magic-Users and Illusionists with the following conditions:

1) No cantrap can directly interupt anothers concentration.
2) When influencing another or anothers possessions then that person is entitled to a save vs. spells.
3) Cantraps will not harm any magical item
4) No cantrap can be used more than 3 consecutive rounds in row.

I've stolen these ideas from elsewhere, with some modifications in effect and form. More of these to follow, when work interfere less with my blogging quest. Additions and ideas are welcome.

Ghostlight (Conjuration)
Level: 0 (Cantrap)
Range: 0
Duration: Concentration
Area of Effect: 1' diam. sphere
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 1 segment

This cantrap conjures a small sphere pale green light in the palm of the caster's hand. Only a wave of the hand and a command word are needed for this incantation. The light can not be see behind 50 feet, and only illuminates an area of 5' around itself. The ghostlight does not produce heat, shadow, or affects infravision.

Specter's Voice (Illusion)
Level: 0 (Cantrap)
Range: 30'
Duration: 1 segment
Components: V
Casting Time: 1 Segment

The caster creates a brief phrase, of whisper or howling volume that can be heard up to 30 feet away.

Thorn of Vril (Evocation)
Level: 0 (Cantrap)
Range: 25'
Duration: Instantaneous
Components: V,S,M
Casting Time: 1 Segment
Saving Throw: Saves negates all damage

A bolt of energy flies from caster towards a single target, hitting automatically for 1 hp of damage. The target can make a save vs spells, which completely negates damage. Note: even if damage occurs, the thorn will not disrupt the concentration of the target's spell casting.

Material Component: An item of power (a consececrated wizard's staff, for example) bound to the caster. It is not consumed by casting.

Base Dweomercraft (Alteration,Illusion)
Level: 0 (Cantrap)
Range: 10'
Casting Time: 1 Segment

This cantrap can perform a variety minor magical effects:

Create a small illusion for 5 minutes.
Clean or change the appearance of a cubic foot of material for an hour.
Extinguish or light a candle.
Change the flavour or temperature of a cubic foot of food or other item for an hour.
Write or scrawl a single letter or sign for one hour.
Create a puff of smoke.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Weapon vs Armor, Revised

[Note: My intention is to use Ascending Armor Class with Tactical Simulation Ruleset. For this post, I've used Descending AC to clarify the difference between AD&D weapon vs armor types and the method in Tactical Simulation Ruleset.]

Weapon vs Armor Class/Type modifiers are probably the most omitted section of AD&D rules. In my unscientific survey of fellow players and forum/blog discussion, most people liked the idea, but found the execution awkward or lacking. We also played a year or so of AD&D (more or less by the book), using the table with the same experience. Here are some of the common complaints:

1. The annoyance of referencing a table
2. The shield question
3. How to handle monsters
4. The modifiers are not realistic

I'm not going to touch #4. If anyone has a good source on weapon types versions mail, plate, etc, I'm happy to take a close look. For now I'll be sticking closely to the AD&D numbers.

The existing PHB tables takes up a whole page. That's largely a function of the variety of weapons, but it also makes for a wall of numbers. Character sheet layout with room for the modifiers can go along way. Let's take the next step by breaking the armors into types with similar construction. Padded armor isn't used enough to warrant it's own column. We could probably condense them further, but for now we have six types of armor and "no armor". To prevent confusion the armor types are indicated by a letter:

Armor Types:

A: Plate armor
B: Splint armor, Banded Armor
C: Mail hauberk, Elfin (chain) Mail
D: Scale Armor, Lamellar Armor
E: Ring Armor, Studded Armor
F: Leather Armor, Hide Armor, Padded Armor
G: No armor

How to handle the shield? Ignore it. Perhaps this is the wrong answer for a pure simulation, but it throws the types off, adds additional calculation, and confuses players. Xerberon the Fighter is Armor Type 'C' whether or not he uses a shield with his chainmail. On the character sheet (ignoring dexterity modifiers) his player would note "AC: 4C" if he was using chain and shield, but "AC: 5C" if he was not.

Monsters: Gygax's suggestion in the Dungeon Master's Guide should be used across the board where the foes are not wearing actual armor. This will take some work, but TSR would be modifying some monster statistics already. I would probably do this off the cuff as I use monsters or plan encounters. The AC should be recorded similarly, so a Black Dragon might be "AC: 3A" and a Red Dragon "AC: -1A".

I'll post a review armor and shield list, the weapon vs armor table, as well as some sample monsters in a forthcoming post.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tactical Simulation Ruleset: Core Races and Classes

Fret not good reader - I have not forsaken you. Work overload and family obligations devoured my opportunity for formulate beautiful ideas for you.

Here are the core races and classes for Tactical Simulation Rules. The typical names are listed, along with the alternate names used for some of my fantasy settings. For the core classes, some details may change to fit the Tactical Simulation Ruleset difference, but they should be recognizable in spirit to players of Gary Gygax's works:

  • Dwarf (Dvegar)
  • Elf (Alfar)
  • Hobbit (Dwarrow)
  • Half-orc (Mongrel)
  • Menfolk
  • Cleric (Priest)
  • Fighter (Warrior)
  • Paladin
  • Ranger
  • Thief (Burglar)
  • Wizard (Magician)
  • Illusionist

Multi-classing: The follow multiclasses are available to Menfolk and any race that can qualify for both classes: cleric/fighter, fighter/thief, fighter/wizard, wizard/thief.

I'll reserve this feature for an additional supplement, but I also plan on including some branching of classes into sub-classes or variants, akin to The Magestics Wilderlands, the spirit (but not the execution) of the AD&D 2nd edition kits, or the multi-class feats of Wizards of the Coasts current ruleset. Not a feat system, per se, but a small add-on that allows some feature of another class.