Sunday, January 3, 2021

Salutations of the Land Squid 20 Rule Questions


As a reference to the Jungle Hexcrawl Rules and Rulings page. In between character creation at campaign start and the first 3 or 4 sessions, we effectively switched from B/X Dungeons & Dragons (Moldvay edition) to Lamentations of the Flame Princess. I suggestedthe specialist skill handling, and the class was more appealing upon player review.  We used summon for a standing in the Chlendi spirit magic, and switched over completely to eliminate confusion (and because Shawn was tried of fumbling through the layout of BX booklets).

  1. Ability scores generation method? 3d6 in order.  Either classic (SIWDCCh) or LotFP (ChCDISW) order.
  2. How are death and dying handled? We're not using the LotFP rule, but we should.  So far it's mostly been henchment and hirelings, who have died going below 0.
  3. What about raising the dead? It is possilbe, as are most things with powerful enough magic.  Researching the ritual or finding someone who knows are a differen question. 
  4. How are replacement PCs handled? Come in at 1st level or promoting of a henchman.
  5. Initiative: individual, group, or something else? Group, players win on even ties, foes win on odd ties. Actions must be declare in advance of roll. 
  6. Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work? No fumbles.  On natural 20, decide if you want to roll double the damage dice or double the results of a normal roll.  Foes do the latter.
  7. Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet? Lack of malicious targeting by the Dungeon Master.  Some helmets will give specific bonuses.  Still not happy with the rules, but most rules prevent the likelihood of characters having awesome mohawks.
  8. Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly? Yes, more or less per the rules.  Line of sight and outnumbering are the primary factors.
  9. Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything? Yes, flee.
  10. Level-draining monsters: yes or no? Yes, but still torn on method: probably drain XP (but not levels) or maximum hit points (but not levels).
  11. Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death? Yes, Still trying to find a reasonable mitigation of poison risk beyond luck.
  12. How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked? Pretty strictly per the rules for this campaign. Shields do not count as encumbering unless they are tower shields (or similarly large). Buckler, Small, and Normal Shields still count as one item. 5 torches count as one item. 5 days of rations count as one item. 
  13. What’s required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time? New spells but be transcribed at no cost.  No training for this campaign, but you must secure the necessary treasure which usual means an informal downtime checkpoint.
  14. What do I get experience for? Primary recovering treasue, which some granted for identified magic items.  Some for defeating foes.  Bonuses for supplementing the game experience through record keeping or work as quartermaster.
  15. How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination? Either and both.  Per rules, but good description will provide bonus or eliminate roll.
  16. Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work?  Yes, highly.  Checks largely by rules - losses in combat, mistreatment or undue risk, failing to provide timely recompense or rest.
  17. How do I identify magic items? Magic items must be used (typical for weapons and armor), tested (often for potions, charged items), or otherwise identified (by reading scroll, use of Identify spell, sage, etc) 
  18. Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions? Basic healing potions are sometimes (availability roll) available from apothecaries, alchemists and the like, along with out strange drugs and substances.  Scrolls can also be similarly purchased  Other magic items are very rarely available for sale and even then may be forgeries or have functions in inaccurately described.
  19. Can I create magic items? When and how? Yes, per LotFP rules.
  20. What about splitting the party? Fuck around and find out.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Initiative as Tables

Anyone who has played or discussed Dungeons & Dragons-based or OSR games with me knows I have strong opinions on the handling of initiative (and many half finished blog posts regarding them).  When I've been subjected attempted to play more recent editions I've posited that things like "attacks of opportunity" and parts of combat movement have clearly been stolen inspired by the game of kings, Blood Bowl.

During our recent Uod campaign, I've even joked about making an OSR style game from the Blood Bowl rules, pointing out where mechanics like block dice roll calculations would be great improvments to combat. Thinking about how the passing/interception rules could streamline shooting missile weapons into a melee. Unseriously commented about using the Kickoff Table for initiative.

But I couldn't let go of the initiative ideal.  I'm a fan of phased initiative (movement, missile, etc) in some form.  Other games have made the mechanics for player oriented.  Rolling to see if players were acting before or after the opponents rather than rolling for the opponents themselves.  It occured to me that if putting the rolls all on the player side, why even compare numbers.  OSR style games use random tables for all sort of things, why not initiative and why not more than order of actions.

The goal isn't to recreate Blood Bowl as D&D.  I'll start with the Blood Bowl items and slowly replace them with cooler or more combat orientated craziness. I could crowd-source a cool list of events, but we still need to determine the order of events in a round. I'll probably edit this table 4 or 5 times to make D&D-friendlier as a decide which makes more sense, "crazy things that happen during combat" or "variations on 'who goes first'". Ultimately I'll need to come back to address what happens on subsequent rounds.  The results assume side-based initiative that is normally random from round to round.

Initiative Table v0.1 - roll 2d6

2 - Get the Ref:
"The fans exact gruesome revenge on the referee for some of the dubious decisions he has made, either during this match or in the past. His replacement is so intimidated that he can be more easily persuaded to look the other way. Each team receives one Bribe that can be used once during this game to attempt to ignore one call by the referee on a D6 roll of 2+."
- Adapted: Is this divine intervention?  Not sure yet how this should manifest in the game fiction.The BB intent is allow "characters" break the rules.  Mechanically maybe allow each side to ignore a single hit or failed save.  That's not fun enough.  We'll come back to this.

3 - Riot:
"The trash talk between two opposing players explodes and rapidly degenerates, involving the rest of the players. If the receiving team’s turn marker is on turn 7 for the half, both teams move their turn marker back one space as the referee resets the clock back to before the fight started. If the receiving team has not yet taken a turn this half the referee lets the clock run on during the fight and both teams’ turn markers are moved forward one space. Otherwise roll a D6: 1-3 both teams’ turn markers are moved forward one space. 4-6 both teams’ turn markers are moved back one space." 
Adapted:  Melee occurs without hesitation as someone's trigger finger gets itchy.  On a d6 roll of 1-3 both sides can have combatants move into melee before spells or missiles go off.  On a roll of 4-6 a single opponent for each side must (or maybe a round of missile fire wihout melee?) Still not as fun.

4 - Perfect Defence:
"The kicking team’s coach may reorganize his players – in other words he can set them up again into another legal defence. The receiving team must remain in the set-up chosen by their coach." 
Adapted: The PCs side can change into melee if desired before any reaction from the other side. They take all normal activity first like normally winning initiave. Maybe everyone on that side can take a "move" action before normal round phases of a round.

5 - High Kick:
"The ball is kicked very high, allowing a player on the receiving team time to move into the perfect position to catch it. Any one player on the receiving team who is not in an opposing player’s tackle zone may be moved into the square where the ball will land no matter what their MA may be, as long is the square is unoccupied."
Adapted: One PC can charge into melee or take other action before everyone else.  The player's side wins initiative.

6 - Cheering Fans:
"Each coach rolls a D3 and adds their team’s FAME and the number of cheerleaders on their team to the score. The team with the highest score is inspired by their fans’ cheering and gets an extra ReRoll this half. If both teams have the same score, then both teams get a Re-Roll."
Adapted: This will be a pretty common result on 2d6 so it may need to be swapped. Roll d3 + the number of combatants (? hirelings/minions? just non-fighter types, but what about monsters) and that team gets initiative.  Re-rolls would be cool for a single combat event, but for round by round this makes sense.  Still trying to find the spirit of the result.

7 - Changing Weather:
"Make a new roll on the Weather table. Apply the new Weather roll. If the new Weather roll was a ‘Nice’ result, then a gentle gust of wind makes the ball scatter one extra square in a random direction before landing."
Adapted: Outside?  Weather event?  Indoors/dungeon?  Gust of window blows out torches?  Some other random event?  That's in spirit, but as a practically use of the most common result, both side act simultaneously.  Rolled on the first round of combat?  Hell yeah, change the weather, have a bunch of bats flying through the space, whatever - in addition to simultaneous action.

8 - Brilliant Coaching:
"Each coach rolls a D3 and adds their FAME and the number of assistant coaches on their team to the score. The team with the highest total gets an extra team Re-Roll this half thanks to the brilliant instruction provided by the coaching staff. In case of a tie both teams get an extra team Re-Roll." 
Adapted: Like the number "6" result above, not sure how to make the calculation. Maybe casters can get a spell off, then round proceeds?

9 - Quick Snap!
"The offence start their drive a fraction before the defence is ready, catching the kicking team flat-footed. All of the players on the receiving team are allowed to move one square. This is a free move and may be made into any adjacent empty square, ignoring tackle zones. It may be used to enter the opposing half of the pitch."
Adapted: One of the PC's opponents can charge into melee or take other action before everyone else.  The opponent's side wins initiative.

10 - Blitz!
"The defence start their drive a fraction before the offence is ready, catching the receiving team flat-footed. The kicking team receives a free ‘bonus’ turn: however, players that are in an enemy tackle zone at the beginning of this free turn may not perform an Action. The kicking team may use team Re-Rolls during a Blitz. If any player suffers a turnover then the bonus turn ends immediately." 
Adapted: The PC's opponents side can change into melee if desired before any reaction from the other side. They take all normal activity first like normally winning initiave. Maybe everyone on that side can take a "move" action before normal round phases of a round.

11 - Throw a Rock:
"An enraged fan hurls a large rock at one of the players on the opposing team. Each coach rolls a D6 and adds their FAME to the roll. The fans of the team that rolls higher are the ones that threw the rock. In the case of a tie a rock is thrown at each team! Decide randomly which player in the other team was hit (only players on the pitch are eligible) and roll for the effects of the injury straight away. No Armour roll is required."
Adapted: A block or stone or rock, tree branch or whatever represents something above falls on someone.  Each side rolls 1d6 + and add the highest HD on their side to see who is hits.  Ties mean both.  They take some damage TBD.  Still need to find the random malice in spirit of the original.

12 - Pitch Invasion:
"Both coaches roll a D6 for each opposing player on the pitch and add their FAME to the roll. If a roll is 6 or more after modification then the player is Stunned (players with the Ball & Chain skill are KO’d). A roll of 1 before adding FAME will always have no effect." 
Adapted: Wandering monster / animal / herd / flock of signat seagulls flies through.  Roll d6 + HD for everyone.  Those rolling over 6  get knocked down and take no action that round. If this is a one-time event, maybe they take damage.  Then roll d6 like normal to see who goes first. Coming back to this one.

Go Bay Of Ice Buccaneers!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Oriental Adventures and the Domain Game

Maybe OA is not all bad.

The AD&D Oriental Adventures book is now generally viewed a well intentioned rules exercise that people say they wanted to like at the time. I see most current discussions semi-nostalgic about some flawed rules and at best an awkward feeling about some the cultural presentation. I dabbled with it shortly after the release, wished the ninjas were a more straightforward class, and pretty quickly returned to the comforting arms of the Player's Handbook and Unearthed Arcana. It came out now and then for inspiration, but it was rarely used aside from someone's attempt to play the samurai class.

I still skim parts now a days and see the potential of some of the systems, but jump to other systems or more recent OSR supplements. I pulled it out again this morning looks for ideas to flesh out my own house rules for Fighters and Thieves. Under the Bushi class rules I found the parallel passage to the Fighter freehold rules with some distinct differences:

When the bushi reaches 9th level, he can establish himself as a warlord.  To do so he must capture or clear an estate and mark its boundaries… All bushi followers remain only so long as they are paid the character’s cause is not doomed… Upon reaching 12th level, 1d6 1st-level samurai will apply for positions.  This is an extremely important event, since it legitimizes the bushi’s position…
Those distinctions reinforce the bushi's rise from poverty and initial social standing, especially in contrast to the samurai's:

At 7th level the samurai is offered jito (stewardship) over one of the properties of his daimyo... At 8th level the daimyo offers the samurai the position of shugo (constable of a province).
This is closer to the Player Handbook style, but more clearly acknowledges feudal responsibilities.  It really makes me want to run a game where land holdings and the "starting position" of Houses of the Blooded becomes the mid-campaign goal.  I've done some "least establish a home base" and the shift to defense and diplomacy.  It is a different sort of game - elements of the game and some mechanics shift to the background.  But "establishing yourself as a warlord" and capturing your land?  That's some next-level murderhobo action.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Conan Rule

(With apologies Robert E. Howard for indulging Conan stereotypes)

1.  Roll 3d6
2.  Pick 1 or 2 dice of your choice, and add them.  This is your starting hit points.
3.  Take the remaining 1 or 2 dice.  Add them if there is more than one, then multiply by 10.  This is your starting gold.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

2d6 Religions of Uod for your Doomed Adventurer or Agent

Roll 2d6 to determine your character's belief system:

2. The Mindat Old Gods

3. The Maetah Old Gods

4. Roll on the Cults sub-table below

5. The Chlendi Spirit Host

6. Heteri Gods of Blood, Coal, and Horses

7. That of your lineage - roll again if you’re not sure what that is.

8. Heteri Gods of Blood, Coal, and Horses

9. The Mindat Path of the White Book

10. Thedine, the dutiful lord of the North Sea folk.

11. A heresy of an established religion - roll again to determine the source

12. One of your (character's) own creation.

Cults Sub-table (Roll d8)

  1. You make offerings to the large squid in the cave by the port, like all sane sailors.

  2. He has no name, but when you snort the orange powder you know his truth.

  3. Member of the Sarpha Cult.

  4. Mindat Vibrationalist

  5. The Way of Flesh

  6. Eschlatli Pleasure Cult

  7. Local spirit of town, river or forest

  8. The Supreme Being, a (1-3 old man, 4-6 old woman, 7 indeterminate gender, 8 childlike neuter) in the hills beyond town

  • Some notes to be found here:
  • There is a 5% chance that your patron god, saint, or spirit is an extra-planar or dream plane inhabitant masquerading as a your deity.  20% change the masquerader is beneficient and a 50% change that the masquerader sincerely believes itself to be the diety in question.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Class Template

Intended for Guisarmes & Golems, Tactical Simulation Ruleset, and other fine elf games.

Class Name

Alternate Roles:

Required Attributes:
Required Alignments:
"Failed" Aspects:
Allowed Armor:
Allowed Weapons:

Melee Attack Bonus:
Ranged Attack Bonus:
Thrown Attack Bonus:
Full Defense Bonus:
Save Modifiers:
Melee Attacks:

Initial Hit Points:
Initial Combat Proficiencies:
Initial Skills:

Hit Points, Levels 2-10:
Hit Points, Levels 11+:
Combat Proficencies, Additional:

Class Abilities:

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Fixing Negative Ability Score Modifiers

The combination of point buy mechanics and new D&D editions have virtually eliminated negative modifiers from low attribute scores.  Seeing a swath of 11's and 12's on a character sheet is bland, especially if  a 13 bumps up your armor class in a mechanical but forgettable way.  Even old and old school games that feature them have issues.  In most cases they're a nice role playing nudge - the thief that is ugly and uncouth, the clumsy cleric, and the magic-user that is always coughing a sick.

The mechanical effects of those score can vary from negligible to disastrous.  If you're stringent with encumbrance, the thief's 8 in strength may come up, or the low charisma cleric is stuck with a few less hirelings. In many cases almost forgettable. A low Constitution for a fighter is annoying, but playable, but even a -1 one to rolled hit dice is crippling to a Magic-user - you're averaging less than 9 total hit points at 5th level.   The odds of survival are realistic for a susceptible person crawling around sewers and fighting monsters, but almost not worth trying.  Making it to 2nd level on 1 hit point can be scary and exciting for those sessions.  Still dreading a single hit from a halberd months later is tiresome.

We can do this better.  Penalties to fundamental game activities can turn a quirk into frustration.  Not only do flaws make the character more interesting, they should come up in sessions.

1.  Remove or change most class minimums.  The fighter with a strength of 8 is awesome.  Maybe for the rarer classes (Paladin, Assassin) you compensate for their not meeting the minimums in some other way (The Paladin Rules), but usually the low score or lack of bonuses is painful enough for the standard classes.

2. Change how penalties from low attribute scores work.  Use the disadvantage rules from 5th Edition (still may be too in some cases).  Find effects that don't require tweaking every die roll - a poor constitution manifests in requiring more rest at night (can't take a watch shift) or twice as much rations due to gastrointestinal issues.

A few ideas:

  • Strength - reroll door opening attempts, decreased encumbrance capacity, needs assistance in manual tasks (piling crates to block the door)
  • Intelligence - ability to read/write, becomes a fan of the New Orleans Saints, inability to learn other languages, may misunderstand written or verbal communications (misinterpret NPC saying: "I don't know if it's poisonous" vs "it's not poisonous") or miscount coins
  • Wisdom - saving through penalties are probably sufficient, becomes lost more frequently, poor perception (distance vision or other senses)
  • Dexterity - clumsy or unlucky in catching or grabbing items (You are Jack Burton), misfortunes that hit once random party member (rock falls from ceiling) tend to hit you.
  • Constitution - I think the examples above, plus the AD&D system shock and resurrection survival percentages are good.  A simplified disease system would make this really shine.
  • Charisma - loyalty percentage per AD&D, increased possibility of hirelings lying/stealing, noticeable feature (weird eyes, scar or tattoo), suspicious feature (extra finger, forked tongue, webbed fingers), poor reaction rolls in more mundane situations ("The innkeeper dislikes you and you end up sleeping in the stables").
Ideally you'd have a dozen possibilities for each attribute on a random table next to it.Multiple rolls or more serious interpretations for the lowest of scores.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

4th Level Clan Tzimisce Fighter of Tzeentch, Part I

.I played a lot of  White Wolf around the time of its peak, though attempts at Sabbat campaigns were more "proof of concept" sessions than anything lasting.  Which I guess is appropriate.  Nevertheless I was fascinated ritae and cult aspects that kept packs together, and the mechanics behind them.  The mechanics made sense to address the challenges of competing character motivations and forging reasons for cooperation, which are a challenge for Vampire game, much less a Sabbat game with higher character turn-over and selfish motivations push to the limit.

While a pack of 1 HD vampires taking on Village of Hommlet may fire some of my synapses, I keep thinking back to Sabbat characters as the ultimate murderhobos (remember to skip the last 10 minutes when you re-watch "Near Dark") even without adopting the cult/organization membership as the binding mechanism for party coherence.  It's too tight conceptually to work outside of specific campaigns, though I suppose the Cleric of Khorne might be able to create potions of healing by mixing the blood of all the party members.  I still feel there's something there in the mechanics even if the trappings don't work, especially in a party where a handful of PCs work with a larger number of henchmen and hirelings.  The vaulderie takes place in the form of sharing treasure, shaping the loyalty of the hirelings to the party and the willingness to take risks, or simply keep working for a boss they dislike.  Not much better than the typical Charisma-based loyalty rules right now, but the concept will remain percolating in my brain while I obsess on how to apply it.

My other hireling and party interaction fascination is the old Warhammer Realms of Chaos books, specifically the warband concept.  For the unfamiliar, it's an (ideally) narrative wargame campaign, where each play creates a fledgling champion of one of the Chaos Gods and puts together a ragtag random entourage of monsters and followers.  As games are played, the champion gains abilities or mutations based on their success (calculated with bias to the God followed), eventually becoming a daemon prince sitting by the right side of their god (winning) or a barely sentient ball of tentacles and mouths.

A winner.
I love the idea of an actual role-playing focused game where each player has a champion and retinue that may work in congress or directly against the other players, despite it being a full time job to actual run as a functional campaign.  More reasonably, I can see this as a way to adapt a game to a very small player count and take on more aggressive changes in the campaign setting.  It could be played from a different angle - exiled nobleman gathering forces to depose an evil occupying force or despot, though I'd gladly see two or three players conspire to take down Altdorf or equivalent.

One aspect of old-skool D&D that I haven't seen successfully improved by the OSR is handling followers during exploration and combat.  Sure a couple of hirelings, especially when PCs are at low levels, but once higher levels are tracking a menagerie of ablative targets becomes both less useful and a pain to manage.  There are some great resources likes Meatshields and Hireling traits generator for creating them, but once combat occurs their utility fades along with their chances of hurting Ogres and the implementation of magic light sources increases.

We can learn from wargames on how to handle the large numbers and use of some abstract benefits, which plan to get to in Part II and explore in details in my Supplement C.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Mearls Initiative

Initiative has always been my bugaboo in systems - they were all dumb, boring, or too complex/slow. Then a lightning bolt descended from the heavens, well Twitter-heaven, and struck me stunned.

This gave me the simulations stages of AD&D, the element of planning of side-based initiative, and the delusionally interesting bits of 2nd Edition AD&D.

The first things I'd adjust would adding something beneficial for charges vs normal "action + move",  tie spell casting time in (AD&D casting time + d6 or something, or better yet use the Mythus classifications:, and give some benefit for defensive reach.  But the core idea above is so strong, I don't want to mess with it too much.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

In the Minds of Children, Chaos Reigns

The God that Holds up the Moon rules everyone.  Everyone?

Nazi spiders.

Giants have 130 teeth.

Travel to the other side of the earth results in dizziness from being upside down.

Jesus like a nice ghost with magic powers.