Friday, November 2, 2012

Houses of the Gygax

If you're familiar with some of the ancient history of D&D, you know that some of the regions of Blackmoor and Greyhawk were laid out through wargames, where original wargamers named, led leaders of, and fought over the lands that were later codified into maps of settings used in various supplements and books.

The combination of my current nonavailability for actual regular D&D sessions, a fondness for "domain/resource building" games, and those stories of the old days drive me to do something similar.  Here's my first brainstorm for a setting-build email game that becomes a setting for a D&D campaign, primarily using the structure of Houses of the Blooded, though I expect to steal liberally from Game of Thrones, Aria, Warhammer, and other sources as it rounds into form.

1.  Start with a copy of these for reference:

2.  Create a character with the following in mind:
A.  Pick a house, noting that Bear/Fox are non-human:

  • Bear (Strength) = Dwarf
  • Elk (Cunning) = Human
  • Falcon (Courage) = Human
  • Fox (Beauty) = Elf
  • Serpent (Wisdom) = Human
  • Wolf (Prowess) = Human
B.  Start in the Spring Season
C.  Don't worry about Aspects, just count how many you have.
D.  Skip Step 4 (Devotions)
E.  I'm making this up as I go along, so don't spend your bonus points yet.
F.  Give everyone and everyplace names.

3.  Send out a character summary  (Name, House, Province, any special) to the list so people can have you as a contact/enemy/frenemy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

D&D Combat on TV

Has anyone seen the last two weeks of The Walking Dead (Season Three) ?  I'm talking about the fights in the prison and the surrounding grounds.  People attempting some sort of close formation, covering each other, blocking with shields, attacking in ranks, and guys with missile weapons waiting for a clean line of fire. *THAT* is what I imagine D&D combat to be (particular in dungeons).  None of that chessboard, taking turns crap.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Six Demon Bag

Six Demon Bag
GP Value: 3,000
XP Value: 20,000

The bag is the size of a large belt pouch, and is constructed of heavy black velvet with runes stitched in red.  When found, the Dungeon Master rolls 1d6 (in secret), representing the number of demons left in the Six Demon Bag.

If the the command word is utter and one reaches into the bag, a slimy fist-size blob is felt.  Upon pulling it out, it takes shape 10' away from the summoner.  The Dungeon Master rolls 1d6, representing the type (Type I through Type V, with a roll of "6" indicating a simple Manes demon) of demon summoned.  The demon will remain for 2 turns, otherwise acting as if summoned by Monster Summoning I.

Once summoned, a demon can not be returned to the Six Demon Bag.  Once all of the remaining demons have been summoned from the bag, the velvet fades to a dark gray and becomes inert.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Black Blood of the Earth

Jack Burton: That is not water. 
Egg Shen: Black blood of the earth. 
Jack Burton: Do you mean oil? 
Egg Shen: I mean black blood of the earth. 

Stay Tuned!  I'm mapping my house and detecting traps in each room.

Friday, August 17, 2012

New Thief Ability - Skim off the Top

Skim off the Top
New Class Ability of Thieves and Burglars

Members of the underworld can't keep their hands off loot.  Characters of the thief (and burglar) class automatically get %1 per level of coin and non-precious stones loot collected by the party before any shares or divisions are calculated.  This represents their penchant for being the first with their hands in the sack, lifting of small amounts of coins during sorting, and intentional miscalculations during the actual division of shares ("one for you, two for me").

Thieves and burglars gain experience points for any of the above skimming activity as they would for any other treasure.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

d4 as a d12 Relinked for the Awesome.

I need to buy a handful.

Stay tuned for posts of actual content.   I may have found a purpose for 4th Edition!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Clerics, Prophets, Priests, and Wackos.

The post on clerics at Untimately reminded me of Prophets Not Clerics, which had made my mind go crazy a few weeks back. Anything with schools of the mysteries and lodges floats my boat.

PCs are "magic power-wielding" members of a church/religion and most NPC Clerics are "magic non-power-wielding" members of a church/religion. Spellcasting divine NPCs are either clerics or prophets. Priests are 0-Level guys with no spells. Maybe some bless rituals for fertility, but that's it.

The PCs aren't the Isiahs of established churches, they're the Jesus' - forming offshoot sects and being disparaged by the authorities. Even better - they're the David Koreshes, which is why you get a stronghold at 9th level. Watch out before the King's Inquisition comes after you for hoarding too many magics maces.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Demihuman Ability Adjustments

Inspired by my Alfar rules, here's a different way to handle demihuman ability score adjustments in "roll in order" rulesets:

  • Dwarfs:  can swap any score with Constitution.
  • Elves:  can swap any score with Dexterity.
  • Gnomes:  have big noses.
  • Hobbits, etc: can swap any score with Charisma.
  • Half-orcs:  can swap any score with Strength.
  • Humans: can swap any two scores.
Any swapping of scores must result in the ability listed become higher than initially (i.e, a Dwarf could not swap an Intelligence of 10 with a Constitution of 12).

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

An old character background

The day of the graveyard battle. I (Dewglass) came to Eastgate after years of tutelage under the Omnithrox of Aphasia.  My master told me that if I were to retrieve three of the Ioun stones, he could show me how to create a philter that would grant me immortality. Of course, I have already discovered (through auguries to Tiamat), that the Omnithrox's heartblood *is* the secret ingredient, but the Ioun stones will get me a more private audience.  I'll still need to find an enchanted dagger to remove all of his hearts.  An airship from the Lakbunish Protectorate was reported missing in this area a century ago, so Eastgate is a good place to start.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Rumors from Yrem

  1. Xagnus the Animated still roams Yrem as a ghost.
  2. Frog people to the south know a secret way into the city crypts
  3. The Statue at the City centre holds a magic sword
  4. Gebelt the Merchant Price will pay handsomely for certain styles of art
  5. The Temple of Sig is unapproachable by Demons and still has most of its loot
  6. At midnight, captured slaves from the surrounding villages are sacrificed in Executioner's Square
  7. Avoid the pit.  I don't know why, but everyone says so.
  8. A dragon sleeps trapped beneath the library, having forgotten hold to change to human form.
  9. Many have entered the dungeons beneath the Count's Palace.  No-one ever comes back.
  10. A Sphere of Eyes has blasted a cave beneath the Gardens.  He will trade secrets for good books.
  11. The Eastern Warlords are hiring.
  12. The drunken priest over at the cutthroat camp will cast blessings if you pay his tab.
  13. The Countess' troops hold the river gate. They shoot questionable folk on sight.
  14. The Black Pit isn't pleasant or cheap, but you can sleep safely there.  That cutthroat camp...
  15. A refugee family wanders the rich quarter.  They were born before the demons came.
  16. "I saw a smithy with fine swords and axes north of the market square.  Flying things came before I could pick the lock"
  17. The wizard in camp has been in the clock tower.  He says there are riches, but refuses to go back.
  18. "I saw black skinned folk beneath the cemetary.  I mean *black*. They asked about shiny glowing  rocks.  They seemed nice."
  19. One of the Eastern Warlords has brought in a renowned sage from his homeland.  On the sage's a direction, the warlord's forces are making a push to reach and stabilize the area around the Great Library.
  20. A wizard in the Black Pit encampment sells Potions of Healing
  21. Watch out for the area around the Clock Tower.  A group of explorers were found there, turned to stone, one of them clutching a crown in his hand.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fixing the Elf: The Alfar

Somewhere in my list of projects if a heavily/horribly tweaked D&D set of rules.  I dump classes that aren't really needed (Paladin, Assassin) and make it a little weirder and darker like my Uod setting.  The core stuff is there - dwarfs, spell-castings, hit points, levels, AC, etc, but I drop any idea of meeting expectations of players used to AD&D or BECMI.

So here's my bullet point notes on the Alfar rules, my replacements for Elves.  Once I finalize things, I'll post a pdf.


  • -1 to Constitution (NO bonus to dexterity)
  • Ephemeral: Alfar can not be Raised from Dead or Resurrected through any spell or item short of divine intervention.
  • Immune to Charm, MORE susceptible to Sleep (not sure how to work that yet)
  • Natural Archers: Characters proficient with a long or short bow, alfar characters gain a bonus of + 1 on their die rolls "to hit" with those weapons.
  • Infravision 60'
  • Taller - 5'6" to 6'6"
  • Crazy eye and hair colors.
  • Secret Doors: double chances of finding, but only when searching.

You'll see I've dropped the dexterity bonus, which I think is a big attraction for a lot of players.  With these rules, I'd feel better about dropping Racial Level Limits, which are a bad solution to a legitimate issue.

I'm also thinking about replacing ability score bonuses with a free "swap", in the event you're rolling ability scores in order.  In this case, Elves would be able to swap any rolled ability score with Dexterity.

Friday, June 15, 2012

5E and Life Chaos

I haven't abandoned this blog.  I shifted primarily from rules work to campaign work in hopes of using my Tactical Simulation Ruleset (ridiculously rebuilt/house ruled AD&D) with a new Sandbox campaign over Skype.

Life - work, home, and toddler intervened for myself and more than one player, so we're slowing starting to regroup   I'm slowly pulling teeth.  In the midst the 5E playtest was released and one of my players has jumped on the opportunity to run a live DCC game.  I haven't run a game that lasted more than a month or two in a couple of years, so I'm dying to really DM again.

1.  I'm still looking for players for a weekly/biweekly Skype game, using something akin to AD&D (whether my house rules or not) - or 5E...

2.  I'm not sure where I stand on 5E.  It's definitely an improvement (so far) on 4th edition and many things about 3rd.  If all my friends wanted to play it, I wouldn't fuss too much.  Based on the comments and griping of the superhero-balance-Pokechess contingent, I suspect it will get worse, not better.  I can deal with Hit Dice (better than Surges, worse than my healing), but the individual initiative, stonecunning, and long rests are garbage.

Unrelated, but here's the best Orcus ever:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Wanted: Google+ Players

I'm looking for players for a Google+ game.  The schedule would be a game every week or two from around 7-10 PM Eastern US time.  One of my existing players strongly prefers Sunday evenings, but I'm flexible if the demand is there.

I like to run a variety of rpg's, but right now I'm focusing on something AD&D-based.  Email if interested.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Cleric - The Tactical Simulation Ruleset Way


  • Required Attributes:  None
  • Alignment Requirement: Only at 5th level of higher (See Alignment) 
  • Initial Armor Proficiency: Any
  • Allowed Weapons: club, flail, hammer, mace, oil, staff
  • Melee Attack Bonus: 1/2 Level
  • Ranged Attack Bonus: 1/3 Level
  • Thrown Attack Bonus: 1/3 Level
  • Defenses: Normal
  • Saving Throws: +3 vs Death Magic
  • Initial Hit Point Roll: D8
  • Initial Combat Proficiencies:  2
  • Class Skills:    Religion, First aid, and choice of Education or Diplomacy
  • Hit Points Gained: Levels 2-10: d8
  • Levels 11+: 2
  • Combat Proficiencies Gained: Levels 4,8,12,16,20
  • Attacks: 1
  • Class Abilities: Turn Undead, Create Scrolls, Resistance to Negative Energy, Rituals, Spell Casting, Stronghold Creation: Temple

Turn Undead: Three times per day, a cleric can attempt to Turn Undead.  They may also sacrifice an unused spell to make an additional attempt.  See Chapter XX: Combat for details on Turning Undead.

Create Scrolls: Upon reaching 4th level, the Cleric can create scrolls.  The process requires proficiency in the spell to be scribes, 100 gp pieces of materials (quills, vellum or parchment, or handcraft inks) per level of spell, as well as a full day for each level of spell.

Resistance to Negative Energy: Clerics get +3 to saving throws versus Death Magic and other negative energy attacks due to their link with the higher and lower planes.
Rituals: Clerics can learn and perform Rituals, as described in Chapter XX: Magic.

Spell Casting: Clerics are trained in the casting magic spells, the methods and restrictions of which are described in Chapter XX: Magic. Clerics gain bonus spells for wisdom scores.

Stronghold Creation: Temple:  At 9th level or higher, a cleric may establish a fortified religious structure, containing temple, church, or monastery, on land donated by a potentate allied with the cleric’s religious order.  At least 2500 square feet must be devoted to furthering the order’s aims.  While the land clearing and fortification must be funded as normal, religious aid and donations will compensate for the costs of the religious facilities.  Provided he keeps the surrounding area cleared, in order and peace, the cleric will receive 5 silver from each inhabitant per month as tithe from the fief’s tribute.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Dwarvish Fungal Ale

Item: Dwarvish Fungal Ale

This special dwarvish brew is both invigorating and intoxicating. The fungal additives that add a special taste can restore vigor to the drinker but also increase the effects of the alcohol in the beverage. A single serving will restore 0-3 HP (d4-1). Depending on the drinker's physiology, multiple services can induce drunkenness to the point of delirium:

Dwarves: Two servings in 8 hours, drunkenness. Three servings in 24 hours, incapicitation.
Elves: Two servings in 24 hours, drunkenness. Three servings in 12 hours, incapicitation.
Other races: Two servings in 12 hours, drunkenness. Three servings in 24 hours, incapicitation.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

4chan is Awesome

Apologies to my current game projects, but this inspires me to some Rifts-style gonzo-ism:

We started out in the ruins of some bar(Turns out we wrecked it in our alcohol/cocaine stupor.) with a massively bloated Plague Marine named Fatarse holding a shotgun at us. We had to go wreck a huge Nightclub named "Intense" a few blocks over so Fatarse had no competition when he would rebuild. And we had explosive slave collars so we had to follow his demands.

What followed was perhaps the strangest three sessions of my life, it involved Terminator Bouncers, "Cavity Inspection", Noise Marine bands, cocaine and cocaine accessories.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Combat Order and Initiative

Here's the current version of my initiative rules, largely inspired by AD&D and discussions thereof.

Combat Order and Initiative

  1. Determine Distance, if unknown, between the parties.
  2. Each side declares actions.
  3. Determine Initiative for the round by rolling a d6 for each side.
  4. Actions begin:
    1. Movement (charges, closing, attempts to flee) begins
    2. Attempts to Parley
    3. Winners: Missiles, Magical Devices, and Casting Time 1 Spells Discharge
    4. Losers: Missiles, Magical Devices and Casting Time 1 Spells Discharge
    5. Charges and closing actions complete – resolve charge attacks in the order of longest weapon
    6. Fighters with multiple attacks resolve their initial melee and hard combat attacks.
    7. Winners: Melee and hand attacks occurs
    8. Losers: Melee and hand attacks occurs
    9. Grapples and unarmed combat occurs.
    10. Remaining missile and melee attacks (for those with multiple attacks) occur.
  5. Morale is checked.
  6. Return to Step #2.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bless - Revised

Being an excerpt from Supplement U: Investigations in Uod, and suitable for the Tactical Simulation Ruleset.

Bless (Invocation)

Level: 1
Range: 6"
Duration: 6 turns
Area of Effect: 5" radius
Components: V, S, M (vial of holy water)
Casting Time: 1 round
Saving Throw: None

Explanation/Description: Upon invoking the blessing, all within the target radius are bless, gaining a +1 morale checks. In addition, the casters chooses one of three forms at the time of casting:

1. Blessing of Benificance - grants a +4 to all saving throws for the duration of the spell
2. Blessing of Wrath - grants +2 to hit and damage to all hand-to-hand attacks for the duration of the spell
3. Blessing of Fortitude - grants a +2 to armor class and defences for the duration of the spell

Monday, February 13, 2012

Racial Level Limits - A different way.

A friend mentioned racial versions of classes in Adventurer Conqueror King. Seeing some blog posts about racial level limits got me to think of that as a work around.

The consensus seems to be that the AD&D racial limits are the wrong solution to an acknowledged problem. Otherwise there's little reason that Elves won't be the majority PC race in campaigns.

Imagine the normal AD&D Magic-User spell progression chart. Elves are limited in AD&D to 9-11th level, limiting them off to 5th level spells. The "Elven Mage" continues to gain levels at 10 and above, but the spell progression differs, giving them more 1-5th level spells rather than 6th-9th.

I can imagine dwarf fighters than gain HP beyond their "normal" fighter level limit, but not increased chances to hit.

This is just a step beyond live brainstorming. Thoughts?

Monday, January 2, 2012

D&D Quote of the Day

When "Lord" means "somebody who has been granted a fief of land by a noble and has knights in vassalage under him," a 9th level fighting-man looks DRASTICALLY different.

-- Old Geezer