Monday Pointers, Almost the end of January 2012

D4:If this isn’t a Dying Earth curse it should be
So, Ancient Vaults gives us a bug covered in coins that also acts as a coin magnet. While the cursed dwarf idea they suggest isn’t bad, having recently re-read Vance’s classic tale (which is a huge influence on the current Swords of the Red Sun campaign I couldn’t help but think this is a curse originally created for use on Cudgel himself.

D6:Pissing away treasure for fun and progress
Scott provides some easy rules for kickers to XP for treasure by disposing of it without profit, although if you’re using Holmes scroll creation (which I highly recommend) low level Magic-Users get a boost. Still, it helps a little bit with the too much treasure required problem I have.

Plus, “cannibalizing orphans for necromantic rituals should be its own reward.”

D8:A Runequest Geocities Remnant
Highlighting this page is a bit random. A sub-page is the first hit when you search on “lunar elves”, which are one of the two kinds of elves in Swords of the Red Sun (the others are Imperial, or Draconic, Elves). Although we don’t talk about it much in the OSR the early internet era had a huge number of pages about people’s homebrew worlds (there was even an index at one point: Worlds in the Net). They are one of many bridges from now to the early DIY era of RPGs so I thought I’d point one out.

Clockwork Skeletons

This page is part of the Swords of the Red Sun Monsters Project.

Clockwork Skeletons
Armor Class:7[12]*
Hit Dice:2+2
Number of Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d6/weapon
Dexterity:2d6+3(avg 10)
Movement: 40
Number Appearing: 2d6, rarely found in wilderness
Save as: Fighter 1
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: None

The Clockwork, or Bronze, Skeleton is one of the last remaining magics of the Cult of the Machine God. A bronze skeleton powered by wires and gears these automatons are a standard guardian in their temples and caves. They have rudimentary brain matrices limited to knowing a patrol area, responding to alarms, recognizing friend and foe, and standing guard. They will not automatically attack unless what they are guarding is disturbed. Because of the wires and pulleys that make up their mechanics they are vulnerable to edged weapons unlike undead skeletons.

Because they are not true undead they cannot be turned by a cleric. They have a weird vulnerability to electricity that appears to confuse them, often causing them to run away in a random fashion or cease working. If a Clockwork Skeleton is targeted by an electrically based attack it and all skeletons within 40′ of it react as if they were undead skeletons being faced by a cleric. Roll to turn undead at the level of the person wielding electricity. If turned they move about randomly without attacking. If destroyed they are not physically destroyed but merely freeze in place and cease functioning (if using BFRPG or similar games that interpret D as damaged instead of destroyed apply damage as per those rules).

It is said that the cult once had a secret to clothe these machines in artificial flesh and to allow them to speak, although in a stilted manner with little grace (phrases such as “Your clothes, give them to me” are recorded in stories involving them).

* For BFRPG add 1 to the AC, for LotFP use the conversion from DM book.

As per the licensing page the material in this box is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License or the Open Gaming License. Choose the license which best suits your purposes but I prefer the Creative Commons.

Actual Play: Gigabites Jan. 25

Again, no takers at the store although I did get into a convo with one of the Type IV players doing the Encounters stuff. They only have a few weeks left so maybe I’ll get some interest between it ending and the next beginning.

In order to generate more interest I’m working on fliers for the local libraries and other locations. I’ll share them as I get them done.

As excitement over the AD&D reprints grows I’m tempted to run it as AD&D including segment initiative and at least some tracking of spell components. We’ll see.

I also have an interest in digging out Lords of Creation and seeing if I can get some interest in that, but I worry about giving into my ADD too much. First, get regular players or give up after eight weeks of no sign-ups.

Monday Pointers, Bonus Week Edition, January 23, 2012

D4:Playing with Lessnard
What would it be like to play a game run by a man who played with Gary, Dave, and in Phil Barker’s early OD&D Empire of the Petal Throne game? Paul over at Blog of Holding has a three part report on playing with Mike Mornard (you may know him as Old Geezer on RPG.net).

D6:Magic Item: Earth’s Ending
taichara is back. What, you’re not familiar with the Hamsterish Hoard? Then you need to stop, right now, and go read some of the most creative content created for the Red Box (and adaptable everywhere) on the web.

A feat of integration

In my Basic Fantasy game I’m going to give fighters (and only fighters) feats on the same schedule as fighter bonus feats in Type III. As someone who has played fighters more than all other classes combined (at least, I suspect I have, and human fighters at that) I read with interest the preview article in Dragon 270 that introduced feats.

To make fighters more interesting without sacrificing the simplicity that aids new players, the designers made fighters masters of the feat.

There is a good idea there, but they screwed it up. They gave everyone feats. There is no reason to give everyone feats. Other classes had their own niche skills such as spells or stealth abilities. Yet, they still got combat progression and if magic-users were a tad fraigle for front like fighting clerics certainly weren’t. One way to fix this social imbalance is to prevent the other classes from advancing in combat ability. This is the route taken by Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplaying Game and it has been routinely praised for it.

The other route I’ve seen taken around the OSR is some form of fighter options. Sword & Board, a supplement for BFRPG has them in the form of fighter professions, one taken at creation and another at name level. These range from various bonuses to AC, damage, to hit, and so on depending on circumstance to the ability to use magic user scrolls. Delta’s Original Edition Delta includes a dozen fighter feats to be selected one every fourth level starting at fourth. They are about on par with the weakest of the S&B ones. I even reviewed a product that added them to weapons proficiencies. Clearly, the idea of feats as a form of fighter customization has caught on in the OSR at least a little.

The biggest complaint I hear about feats is “they limit what you can do, why can’t anyone try to cut through an orc so much it carries to the next one.” Looking back at the original conception of feats gives a bit of explanation:

Unlike skills, feats always work because they’re bonuses, not abilities. For example, the Dodge feat lets you designate one opponent against whom your character gains a +1 bonus to Armor class. You don’t have to roll for success; you just add the bonus

Had feats stuck to this system instead of the splatbook business model monster they became I doubt we’d have the “but they limit what you can do argument.” The explanation also gives a clue as to how to avoid that problem. For people with feats the bonus is automatic. Want to try to dodge when you don’t have the feat. Well, my a DEX roll and if you pass you get it but if you fail you lose you action this round as you stumble around. Everyone can try it, but someone who is good at it does it automatically without risk of penalty.

The reason I’m just using out of the box OGL feats is two fold. First, it’s just easy to get a huge selection easily and even free. This means I can add it without much creativity except integrating what players choose. Second, consider it a fig leaf to players of newer editions who try my games. Their fighters will still get a bit of flair and they’ll be exposed to one of the great things about the OSR: you can do what you want with it. I’ll even find ways to use non-combat feats if they want them.

Actual Play: Gigabites Jan. 18

There was no actual play. This isn’t a huge surprise as I only the posting on my blog. I’ve added one to the local D&D meetup page and I’ll make some posters to hang this week.

I did, however, hang out, just hang out, at a game store for the first time in close to a decade. Gigabites is more coffee shop than game store really. They are mostly a minis store and have lots of those, Magic cards, and a handful of RPG stuff. They will order anything and are doing the WotC organized play for Type IV.

What did I do while hanging out? I sat down to do my first real adventure design using material from Matt Finch’s Tome of Adventure Design. I’ve barely scratched the surface and couldn’t give it an honest review but I will say this, using a mix of rolls, just reading the tables, and my scraps of inspiration I’ve already created a more interesting dungeon than anything I’ve done since high school. Admittedly until about 2008 I hadn’t really written once since then (talking 1985 here) the ones I’ve tried to create since joining the OSR have been…generic and seemed identical.

Monday Pointers, MLK Day, January 16, 2012

D4:Slaying Giants
Noisms has a great discussion on different philosophies of encounters: the bunch of mooks to kill versus the big thing to gang up on. He has some great points on being in the bunch of mooks rut and why as you level up it should be more giant killing.

D6:Wandering Goblin Masacres
I also re-read this very insightful post at The Alexandrian on a specific type of encounter, the wandering monster. I can speak from experience that having wandering monsters completely changes the tenor of a Type IV game. When I played it we played with just the GM placed encounters. When I ran it, I used wandering monsters, in fact we probably had as many wandering monster fights are planned encounters. The pacing is entirely different. Enough, that I’d add “wandering monsters and random encounters” close to the top of a “old school vs. new school” list.

D8:Letter Writing
Grognardling has a very fun post arguing about how everyone should contribute to Type V D&D and follows through with his own desires. Not sure if I’ll write my post but I found his very interesting. Probably my favorite of the commentary so far.

D10:The Orcs of Navarone
Remember playing with plastic army men? Beedo says it’s the same thing as running a location based adventure.

D12:What’s in a Name
A look back at naming your campaign and how that signified you were playing your D&D and the attitude that doing so was a good thing.

Come Out And Play

Starting this coming Wednesday, January 18, 2012, I’ll be coming out to Gigabites Cafe in Marietta, Georgia to run a FLAILSNAILS game using Basic Fantasy Roleplaying as my home rules set (or as I like to call it, Intermediate D&D).

Start Time: 7:30pm
End Time: 11:00pm at the latest (it’s when they close).

I’ll have a sign so you can find me. I’ll have pregens if you need them. I’m happy to teach and according to at least one person at the local D&D meetup my games are very newbie/haven’t played in a while friendly (so bring your SO and/or kids).

And now, some inspiration video because fucking flailsnails.