Unispirations

It’s common for people to list the inspirations for their campaigns, but do you have uninspirations?

For example, The World After and it’s earlier version City States of the Apocalypse had H. P. Lovecraft as an uninspiration. Although I do enjoy his writing I think he’s overdone. One of his key ideas, humanity is insignificant on a cosmic scale, is completely opposite a key portion of both campaigns. In both, humanity, but it’s own will, broke the entire cosmos.

It seems many, many gamers want to have Tolkien as an uninspiration but their results are mixed.

So, what are your uninspirations?

Further Notes to Myself for Yellow Book D&D

Expanding on my Chinese menu D&D (for those old enough to remember Chinese menus in that form):

Also take:
Holmes: five form alignment
ACKS: spell formula versus spell repertoire plus free casting from repertoire
Neoclassical Geek Revival: Level breakpoint achievement requirement, especially at level 15 and beyond.

Actually, how many people ever really get to level 36 in BECMI/RC or level 20 in AD&D. I know D&D3 was designed to get to level 20 in something like 18 months (which WotC found was normal time to reboot). I would think a similar philosophy was in effect with Type IV’s 30 levels.

Still, assuming bi-weekly play over two years is 52 sessions or going up a level about every 4 sessions for 14th level (13 level increases). Assuming two weeks out of three (about my adult experience) it’s 72 sessions or just under a level every 5. Even a very optimistic three out of four only gets 77 or a level every 5.5 sessions. That’s assuming no character death.

Do we really need anything beyond BX or LL/AD&D with 14 and 20 level limits respectively.

D&D Next Characters

I haven’t played or even finished reading through the playtest materials, but a quick glance at the Race:Class:Background:Theme system with just what’s provided there are 400 potential combinations in the playtest.

Is anyone else trying to generate characters?

Also, why play a human? Is this something we’ll see later? Should we be surprised that only one of five sample characters is human?

Alternate Unified Elf Chart

Inspired by the Holmes Elf varient here’s a different take on the unified Elf chart in BX and BECMI based on the LBB.

Level Title XP Hit Dice
1 Sapling 0 1D8 + 1D4
2 Forest Warrior 4000 2D8 + 1D4
3 Eyes of the Forest 5000 2D8 + 2D4
4 Sword of the Forest 8000 3D8 + 2D4
5 Sage of the Forest 10000 3D8 + 3D4
6 Wearer of the Garland 16000 4D8 + 3D4
7 Leaf Bringer 20000 4D8 + 4D4
8 Spring Breeze 40000 4D8 + 5D4
9 Summer Flower 70000 4D8 + 5D4 + 1
10 Enchanted Grove 100000 4D8 + 5D4 + 2
11 Voice of the Forest 150000 4D8 + 5D4 + 3

Level To Hit Roll Saving Throws Spells by Level
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Death Ray or Poison All Wands Stone Dragon Breath Staves   Spells 1 2 3 4
1 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 12 13 13 15 15 1

Logic of the tables: Elves are multi-class fighters and magic-users
limited to level four fighter and level eight magic-users. They must evenly
divide the experience between the two classes even after reaching maximum
level as a fighter. This chart merely doubles all costs and arranges the
levels. Until the character has nine hit dice he gains one appropriate for
each class as he gains a level. This means an elf starts with two hit dice.
After maxing out hit dice the character gains extra-hit points as a magic-user
as these levels are all magic-user level.

Titles: I tried to make the titles martial until after the maximum
fighter level. After that I went more airy/fairy mystical names to fit my
conception of elves.

Effects: The idea is to move elves in a less even manner than
traditional BX unified elves. An elf will advance a bit slower and with a
bias. In traditional BX an elf with 8000xp will act as third level in both
classes. Here, he is a third level fighter but only second level magic-user.
He will never fight beyond a four level fighter where in BX he can fight as
tenth level. He does eventually cast as an eighth level magic-user although
slightly less powerful (only one 4th level spell

Reading Up On Remove Traps

One of the early OSR debates was about the theif. Did the thief break the original game by taking things that normally all characters could do, the big example being search for traps and remove them, into something only a specialized class could do. Cute a lot of hair splitting and word parsing about the topic. I won’t rehash it all here but in working on my own version of a BX Companion as well as running a BX game I actually read the rules.

Here’s what Moldvay has to say about the disarming traps thief ability:

remove small traps (such as poison needles)

However, on page 22 when discussing traps as part of the adventure:

Any character has a 1 in 6 chance of finding a trap when searching for one in the correct area. Any dwarf has a 2 in 6 chance (This does not apply to magical traps such as a sleep trap.

What’s interesting here is the thief is listed as having both find and remove traps (with the same score) which begins at 10%. No details are given for the find part.

While OD&D doesn’t give any numbers on finding traps that I can find it does have the same verbiage on springing traps (1 in 2) as Moldvay. Right before that section in Book 3 is the discussion on finding secret doors. It seems Moldvay’s trap finding is just an application of those rules with dwarves instead of elves getting the demi-human advantage.

Moldvay’s decription of disarming traps matches Greyhawk and Holmes pretty much word for word and both Greyhawk and Holmes do not mention finding traps, just removing them.

While Moldvay gives not description of the find part of the skill the AD&D Player’s Handbook gives us the most detail of any early (1980 or earlier) set:

Finding/removing traps pertains to relatively small mechanical devices such as poisoned needles, spring blades,and the like. Finding is accomplished by inspection, and they are nullified by mechanical removal or by being renderedharmless.

This verbiage is pretty much intact in 2nd Edition AD&D with some additions:

The thief is trained to find small traps and alarms. These include poisoned needles, spring blades, deadly gases, and warning bells. This skill is not effective for finding deadfall ceilings, crushing walls, or other large, mechanical traps.

The addition of gases and spring blades make it a little more vague on where the line is even if an outer limit is set.

What I make from all of this is the thief’s traps abilities are relatively weak. If you’re allowing a thief to find pits, falling blocks, deadman’s crossbows, or similar large scale traps with a simple role you’ve expanded this skill beyond what was intended. The same if you let him disarm such traps. Now, I’ll admit that’s how I long played and my experience with D&D3 and later seem to formalize that in their find and disable device skills.

However, if we unlearn what was in later additions and go back and read the thief the traps ability is a narrow one. Clearly, other characters can find large architectural traps and play skill is still needed to disarm them. That’s probably a good dividing line: anything part of the dungeon or other structure is not a trap accessible to thief skills. A stand alone object the thief can pick up and move or simple mechanisms mounted to walls is accessible.

Name level group founding for a witch

Along with my idea of the dwarf as a fighter/cleric and hobbit as a fighter/thief I’d like to add classes for the other three combos.

Charlatan: Magic-user/theif who is a failed (or thrown out) apprentice who learned to live by his wits. At name level he can form a company of players.
Yogi: Cleric/theif (I wanted to avoid monk and mystic) who studied in the inscrutable $DIRECTION. At name level he can form a ashram.
Witch: Cleric/Magic-user who is a bit of a druid but also does spell potions from level one (as well as some others) similar to a Holmes magic-user and scrolls. I guess the obvious choice for their group is a coven but could there be other options.

One thing from column A, one from column B

So, I looked at all the versions of D&D I own and wondered if I had to include a feature from each in my games, which would I use. I’ve included the clones if I own physical copies.

OD&D: The castle rules from Book 3.
Holmes: Scroll creation for low level magic-users.
B/X: The baseline system for everything.
AD&D (both editions): Hobbits being mostly thieves, dwarves being clerics (so, now like the Elf being a fighter/magic-user, the hobbit is a fighter/thief, and the dwarf is a fighter/cleric).
BECMI/RC: Thirty-sixth level characters and fighter combat options.
D&D3: Interestingly enough, this turns out to be a tough one. Feats are covered by DD and if I wanted skills I’d use the DD system as well.
Type IV: It’s Manual of the Planes, the one bit of assumed world I liked from it more than prior editions.
LotFP: The encumbrance system, attack modes for fighters, and the parry option. If I used my charlatan class (magic-user/thief combo) I’d base their player’s company name level rules on the inn rules.
BX Companion: The high level thief traits. Possibly the mass combat rules.
ACKS: Ritual spells, high level magic user abilities (creation of half-breeds), cleave rule (for fighters only), and mortality table.
Dark Dungeons: Weapons feats and spell training/research rules. Thirty-sixth level demi-humans (I know they’re an option in RC but DD assumes their use).
Neo-Classical Geek Revival: The various exploration and travel XP awards.