Friday, December 31, 2010

Weird Arms: Fire Lance

Weird Arms are suggested for use in those campaigns where magic and technology are often indistinguishable to the locals.

Firelance 2-8dmg + fire* or project fire to 20' fixed range.
Suggested Value: 2,000 g.p.

This large barbed lance-like weapon allows the user to project a flame attack against a target.
A firelance may be used while mounted or on foot. If a firelance hits the target must save at +4 vs entanglement or be held fast by the lances barbs. A trapped foe may be attacked by projected flames (no chance to miss and save is at -4).
A fully fueled firelance may be used up to 4 times to project a fire attack against a single target within 20'. The target is allowed a save or they will be covered in flames that will cause 2d6 on the first round and 4d6 on the second (the chemicals burn-off at the end of the second round)
Most users of firelances restrict themselves to projecting the flames against trapped foes.

Some alchemists and technologists will know the formula and procedures that allow them to mix the incendiary chemicals and safely refill the fire-lance. The fee to do so is typically 50-200 g.p. per charge and requires 3 hours of time if chemicals are on hand.

Weird Arms: Suspensor

Weird Arms are suggested for use in those campaigns where magic and technology are often indistinguishable to the locals.

Suspensor, 1d4 dmg + special, range 40' fixed
Suggested Value 1,000 g.p. + 500 g.p. per charge capacity.

A pistol like arm that traps a target in a warp field that suspends them via levitational reaction to 2' above the surface they were standing upon (should the target fail a save). Targets larger then men are +5 to save vs the effect. The projected force inflicts 1d4 on a successful hit roll if save fails or not.
The suspense filed levitates the target in place for 2-12 rounds. A victim in not entirely helpless but will have difficulty defending themselves and attacking others. (-2 to hit and 2 point penalty to AC).

Range is fixed at 40'. Creatures able to fly will still be able to move at 1/2 normal speed. Falling targets could theoretically be saved with this device but the situation allowing practical implementation for such use are unlikely. Suspensor have been crafted in a range of charge capacities each one being capable of holding anywhere between 3 and 12 charges (as manufactured). A suspensor if recharged with a triaxial-pulse-wheel generator (regaining 1 charge per 1/2 hour of recharging).

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Now that's a complement.

Over at his blog ChicagoWiz relates one of the best comments about his game he ever got. I must say I can relate and of course am going to share this little poorly formed tale with you gentle readers.

A few years ago I DM'd a long Sunday game for my son and a few friend's sons and a few neighbor kids of one of the friends sons, the boys were 10-11 mostly with one 13 years of age (as I recall it).
I had a little time to prep the adventure knowing it was going to include a number of inexperienced players so I had a few easy puzzles, some monsters that were easy to beat and a couple of think quick and run away encounters and a couple exploitable tactical positions that were screaming out...use me and a couple of spots that were likely to require team work. I decided to use a number of skeletons, they are turnable at 1st level and easy to beat in a fight.

An hour or so in to the dungeon the band of youthful explorers came upon some cobweb choked chambers. The youngsters figured they'd be safe because there'd be less wandering monsters (they already had a couple of quick but hairy encounters with wandering monsters at that point). after pressing on with their torches burning away sizzling bits of webbing they quickly realized they were in tombs with large sarcophagi, a wonderful opportunity to loot they hoped. They worked together to open the first sarcophagus and claimed a little cheap jewelry on one skeletal corpse. They opened another sarcophagus slidding off the lid. The PC of the oldest child was closest and asked what treasure he could see within and I told him about the expensive looking gold jewelery on the skeleton within, he reached in for it... blew his surprise check ... the skeleton made it's hit roll and I described it sort of like this "The dusty filth coating the bones of the skeleton shifts and drops away as it rears up and grasps you about the head and shoulders to draw you closer to it's snarled teeth, the linger dry threads of the funeral shroud brush your face as it's breathless mouth clamps tight on your face biting you." the kids freaked, destoyed the skeleton, went on to destory more skeletons and fight a low level evil cleric and most of the PCs escaped with their lives and some loot.

A couple of years later one of the fathers of the kids wanted to do an all night game with a number of the same kids and fathers and was looking for a co-DM.
I offered and he accepted but said "just don't give anyone nightmares this time"
I laughed it off and he went on to explained I'd actually inspired bed wetting nightmares in the older of the kids that gave him trouble for a couple of months. One of the best comments on my DMing I ever got. Seemingly among that group of kids that session of D&D has become the stuff of legends and set an example.

I miss zines

I miss the zine scene. Sure web pages and blogs are great (I wouldn't be typing here if I didn't like them) but they aren't the same thing. Zines were more tangible. They weren't just more tangible in the fact you could hold them and rifle through a whole stack on hand. When you were publishing a zine there was paper, scissors, xacto knives, actual cutting and pasting (with rubber cement and wax). There were heaps of sheets to locate, staple and fold before they were stuffed into envelopes (usually addressed by hand), Subscription lists were kept track of by novel and creative methods like writing down individual subscriptions on separate sheets of paper and keeping them in the same place (sometimes even using a database for a few issues).

A buddy and I used to publish wrestling zines and the occasional odd title,we sold comics for a time too and sometimes had a newsletter to go along with that, for a while they were output on his old dot matrix printer but after a while we got access to a couple of inexpensive macs (yes I said inexpesnive macs) but we didn't' have a functioning printer so we'd drive toa computer center and spend $10.00-$15.00 a hour renting out machine time to finalize the look of the zines and do some high quality out put before we took them to one of several copy centers to have them photo-copied (we were always bargain hunting there), some art was scanned and digitized but a lot of it was still pasted into place physically. We'd bring back the pile of copies (sometimes pre-collated if we could afford that in the issue budget) get together the sometimes hundreds of copies, stuff them in envelopes, address them and stick on the stamps before driving them to the post office. We'd also do a bank run every other week to deposit funds we'd collect, sometimes we'd even actually keep track of the total of all deposits. We'd go back to my buddies place after the mass mailing, pick up pizza or subs on the way. Do a little paperwork and get together the freebie mailings (to lapsed readers, people we wrote about that we could track down, prisons and military deployments that got mail) and we'd read letters people sent to us.
It's easy to type a comment online but it takes dedication to type a physical letter, tell soemone they suck, stuff it in an envelope and mail it out. It was also real satisfying to write a "polite" reply letter. Luckily most of the mail we got was cool and it was a joy to have correspondence from fans who took just as much time as the haters but it was sometimes more cathartic to write back to the people who were cranky (who oddly almost never wanted a refund and would often resubscribe). There was a lot of walking around and driving back and forth involved in the process, each zine production cycle must have involved at least a dozen hours of travel for face time with the "staff" (sometimes involving 3 people) and to actually produce and mail the zines.

Producing Zines wasn't the only thing that was fun. I'd read heaps of them comic collecting, cheap-ass indie comics,music, counter culture, sc-fi/fantasy fandom and of course gaming . I also did the occasional piece of art for music and counterculture zines, sometimes I'd even discover a piece of art I'd drawn for one person "borrowed" by someone else (this usually led to me doing more free art for the "borrower" and soemtimes even a paid bit of art for someone). A lot of it was like reading blogs and web-pages with less production values (and little spell checking or editing) but it also felt different, it felt a little more exciting. I get a little of that vibe these days with OSR blogs but it still isn't the same (Imagine if the OSR internet scene was 50 to 100 newsletters and true zines).

As with all things however time marches on. Expectations and tastes change. The zines started going online if they didn't' disappear overnight to, almost without exception, disappear shortly afterward. The web with blogs and forums just isn't the same thing. I never do a blog post that carries my pizza-stained fingerprints with a stamp I licked because I couldn't find the little stamp sponge-thingy. I miss zines.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A D12 Critical Hit rule for Mutant Future

Mutant Future is just begging for a critical hit rule (well, some campaigns are). There are 3 reasons I'm bringing this variant up 1- PC's and NPC's have alot of hit points and this bothers some folks, 2- If a game can survive a little more swingy randomness it's mutant future, 3 - rolling more dice is fun.

In brief when the to hit roll indicates a critical hit could have been scored the attacker is permitted to roll 1d12 versus their HD/level. If this d12 roll is equal to or less then the attackers HD/level they have scored a critical hit. A critical hit does as many additional dice of damage as indicated by the d12 roll.

When could an attack be a critical hit?

The roll to determine if an attack roll is a critical hit is made depends on the die roll of the d20 rolled to score a hit and the type of attack being made.

If attacking with a natural weapon and die roll of 18-20 is rolled and 18 or higher isn't needed to hit the target a critical hit may have been scored, roll the d12 to check.

If attacking with a melee weapon (primitive or advanced) and die roll of 19-20 is rolled and 19 or higher isn't needed to hit the target a critical hit may have been scored, roll the d12 to check.

If attacking with a ranged attack or mutant power and a die roll of 20 is rolled and 20 or higher isn't needed to hit the target a critical hit may have been scored, roll the d12 to check.

How many dice do I add on a critical hit and what type?

If the d12 roll is less then or equal to the level or hitdice of the attacker a number of dice equal to that roll are added to the damage done. If an attacker is level 2 and they roll a 2 on that d12 roll they would do 2 extra dice.
To determine what dice to roll look at the attack you are using. A spear doing 1d6 would do an extra d6 per extra die allowed. A fancy high-tech zap gun that does 7d8 normally will on a successful critical roll 1d8 per extra die allowed. For weapons that do a fixed amount of damage add 20% per "extra die".

Attacks that don't do direct damage dice on a hit roll don't inflict critical hits.

option: In all cases if the total score to hit rolled is over 20 add those extra points to the final damage score. This makes big to hit rolls a little cooler.

I'll be using this rule and the option in my NML:The MutantFront play sessions.

notes to GMs:
Mutant Monsters will be more dangerous then PCs if this critical hit system is used. Don't let on to the players that you are aware of this. If you feel the difference is a bit too much between PCs and Monster types use the save level instead of HitDice for the monster types.

The d12 check keeps things swingy and makes sure higher level characters aren't' always dishing out 50+ points of damage per attack.

High-tech weapons and mutant powers get slightly less oomph from ciritcal hits (comparing average damages rolled) because they have already been tweaked by the wonders of technology to do more damage.

Breaking the Mold with Equipment

One way to alter fantasy RPG campaigns is to alter the equipment available to PCs. In my post yesterday "Looking at the OD&D price list" I reproduced the equipment list with prices that is at the foundation of what everything costs in Fantasy RPG land , more certainly so in D&D and OSR games (the OD&D equipment list impacted games beyond D&D and it's clones). The use of the OD&D equipment list is loaded with assumptions of task, setting and role which define the campaigns that will follow.

Altering the equipment list will alter a campaign. Directed changes kept track of and maintained throughout play will have a lasting effect on how adventures unfold.

Breaking the mold with costume- One can break the mold that is set in place by adding to the equipment list with attire. The original equipment list doesn't include clothing for example (many later versions of the game do) and this provides room to costume the PCs and NPCs in the campaign. An equipment list with Frock Coats, Sleeve garters and Top-hats is going to look different then one with sandals and togas. With attention the DM of such a campaign is going to be able to communicate station and place of origin by how characters are garbed and this will carry over into PC play if costume matters.

Breaking the mold with prestige purchases- One can break the mold by introducing goods into the standard equipment list that are clearly luxuries that bring status to the purchaser and those at the table. The items that are considered prestigious will help set the tone for the campaign that follows. Silver arrows and silver daggers aren't opulent enough then why not silver swords? Exotic furs and foreign materials can declare one to be of high station and wealth and this can alter NPC reaction (He must be a king he's not covered in...).

Breaking the mold with availability- where and when goods can be purchased will impact a campaign. Many a player assumes the whole equipment list or a substantial subset of it is always available breaking this will alter play. If certain goods can only be found in specific places adventures can flow related to acquiring those goods alone. This can also lead to the issue of the shop-quest where entire sessions seem to get spent on shopping so it should be used as fits the pace and tone of a campaign. Goods can be tied to the size of a community. It is logical that some regions will produce some goods at vastly different purchase points. Supply and demand is an easy to understand economic force that can be represented in a campaign. Availability can also be altered by the locations and skills of craftsmen.
the following is and example of the availability based on he presence of craftsmen: In a my current campaign a player wanted a wyvern hide fashioned into a suit of Hide Armor, I as DM agreed it was possible and gave him the green light on getting it done. the limit on availability in this case wasn't on materials the player clearly had the hide but on the workmanship. With a little effort the player was able to have his PC find out what armorer in the surrounding realm was able to fashion the hide into armor and then he had to travel there and get access to the castle where the armorer was employed to seek a private meeting with the armorer to contract the work on the armor.

Availability of goods and services is also based on cultural and economic assumptions that need not be present within a campaign (or at least not ever-present). A campaign that simply doesn't' have a inns or taverns as common-place features will alter the flow of a campaign. Eateries and sleeping places can be tied to clan or cadre and outsiders may simply be unwelcome, over charged or only allowed limited access during holiday periods. This ties access to a commonly used service to a PC relations to NPCs and is sure to differentiate a campaign.
In one campaign I dm'd there were simply no formal Taverns and no Inns outside of major settlements. Drinking establishments were infrequent and varied based on what home had a batch of brew available for sale, a nights rest had to be sought out and bargained for in each village.

Breaking the mold by changing the prices. One sure way to make the players notice the differences in a price list is to alter the prices. An equipment list can be priced with a closer eye to actual production costs (which requires a bit of work on the DM's part). Prices can be set for purely gamist reasons, weapons that do more damage will cast more, noticeably more real world economics matter little to an adventurer who wants to purchase a Jotun Axe fro 200 g.p. because it does 1d12 damage instead of a Dwarven Waraxe that does 1d10 for but 100 g.p.. Gamist pricing can be front loaded to make most goods available to a starting party or they can be built to give players equipment purchasing goals for their PCs as they adventure. Plate mail that is 60 gp has a different role in a campaign from a suit that costs 400 gp or one that costs 1,000 gp.

Breaking the mold with expanded equipment capability. Including equipment that does something different in a campaign or adds extra functionality onto items in the commonly available equipment list will alter how a campaign plays. If there are pistols and muskets on the equipment list there certainly something different going on. Acid vials and smoke bombs are other examples of more exotic goods that will alter the pace and style of play if they are commonly available for the coin they demand. Expanded equipment availability alters the range of tactics in play and implies differences in the society as well.

Breaking the mold by introducing new sub-rules that relate to equipment. Altering the in game role of equipment and how that is expressed in play can have an impact on a campaign. Some goods will be in higher demand others will vanish or be odd purchases for adventurers. Will shields have special rules in combat, will presence or type of helmet matter in play? Which boots are better for sneaking? If clothing makes the man what impact on charisma does a Lucarddian Ruff collar have? How many drinks can my dwarf quaff before passing out? There's a lot of room here for campaign influencing detail. Too much cumbersome detail or seldom experienced sub-systems and they will be forgotten and shoved to the side

Equipment is a major factor for play in fantasy RPG's and it's a chance to express the campaign settign on the players record sheets,some place they actually look at on occasion. shaping the equipment and how it relates to play will help a campaign break the mold.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Looking at the OD&D price list

The OD&D price list and the impact it has on the game and games that have followed.

The OD&D pricelist
Melee Weapons
Dagger 3
Hand Axe 3
Mace 5
Sword 10
Battle Axe 7
Morning Star 6
Flail 8
Spear 1
Pole Arm 7
Halberd 7
Two-Handed Sword 15
Lance 4
Pike 5

Ranged Weapons
Short Bow 25
Long Bow 40
Composite Bow 50
Light Crossbow 15
Heavy Crossbow 25
Quiver of 20 Arrows 10
Case with 30 Quarrels 10
20 Arrows/30 Quarrels 5
Silver Tipped Arrow 5

Leather Armor 15
Chain-type Mail 30
Plate Mail 50
Helmet 10
Shield 10
Barding (Horse Armor) 150

Mule 20
Draft Horse 30
Light Horse 40
Warhorse, Medium 100
Warhorse, Heavy 200
Saddle 25
Saddle Bags 10
Cart 100
Wagon 200
Raft 40
Small Boat 100
Small Merchant Ship 5,000
Large Merchant Ship 20,000
Small Galley 10,000
Large Galley 30,000

50' of Rope 1
10' Pole 1
12 Iron Spikes 1
Small Sack 1
Large Sack 2
Leather Back Pack 5
Water/Wine Skin 1
6 Torches 1
Lantern 10
Flask of Oil 2
3 Stakes & Mallet 3
Steel Mirror 5
Silver Mirror, Small 15
Wooden Cross 2
Silver Cross 25
Holy Water/Vial 25
Wolvesbane, bunch 10
Belladona, bunch 10
Garlic, bud 5
Wine, quart 1
Iron Rations 1 week 15
Standard Rations 1 week 5

Analysis of the price list by category.

Melee Weapons: if one doesn't make use of the man-to-man combat rules from chainmail there is no point at all in having the range of melee weapons provided on the equipment table beyond providing people with names for the weapons, pricing differences with no other differences between weapons are meaningless. It's all up to the DM decision making as to when different weapons will aid or hinder and player choice for image really.

Ranged Weapons: the pricing fro ranged weapons seem to take into account value of utility and game impact over actual cost/difficulty of manufacture. A shortbow is not 2.5 times more expensive than a sword to manufacture. Do lords in D&D realms impose a tariff on bow prices to discourage people poking them full of arrows?

Armor: chain and plate armor is darned cheap. At least when it compared to the cost of ranged weapons. Helmets also serve no game defined function. this is good for newly generated fighters, they can almost all afford the armor they want. It's bad because with the exception of armoring ones steed there are no purchases down the road.

Saddles and saddle bags are really expensive. The stats for horses are at the bottom of the monster lists, a handy spot for the DM but a pain in the butt for the player.
A mule is worth 10gp more than a draft horse because are agile enough to navigate dungeons.
Ships are expensive and the only big ticket items on the equipment lists. This should encourage ocean borne adventures at least when a player purchases a pair of galleys with 60,000 gp laying around doing nothing (unless they are saving for a stronghold).

50' of rope for a g.p.- expensive indeed, day laborers sure aren't buying ropes in D&D.

Steel mirror vs silver mirror ? Wooden cross vs silver cross ? Are the more expensive items simply prestige purchases? If it is just a prestige based up-pricing why not have them cost even more?

Holy what is this doing on the general equipment list? It' supposed to be special isn't it? If I showed up at the local church with a pocketful of $20.00 bills and plastic bottles to fill up at the font I'm not to sure that would go over well. I think I'd be able to take one small amount for free, tanking up on a few quarts would be frowned on.

Wolvesbane, Belladonna and Garlic....may have uses spelled out in the monster descriptions.But the PCs sure aren't clearly informed. If characters find this stuff in the wilderness should they be able to get even 1/2the price. Pizzas would sure be expensive in a D&D world.

Iron rations are good for use in dungeons and standard rations aren't. What about the cost, 15 gp a week for durable dungeon food seems plausible, hey it's dungeon food but standard rations at 5 g.p. a week? Who the heck is paying for all the food eaten in a campaign world?

Wine costs 1 gp a quart. What's a pint of beer go for at the local?

We are told other items cost may be calculated by comparing to similar items listed above.

Really? I'd wager you could do almost as well by rolling 1d100.

Okay seriously now, from analyzing the list above a loaf of bread would cost about as much as 1/3 a days satndard rations. That's going to give us a loaf of bread cost of 2.38 sp, let's round that up to 2.5 sp for a loaf of bread or 1 gp since nothing on the list is less then a gp.

The OD&D price list is geared to enable initial play. It doesn't provide for developing economic capabilities of PC's, they'll be able to purchase everything on the list in pretty short order (except possibly for ships but they'll be in every adventurers reach by 5th level or so). So why are bows so expensive relative to other weapons?

There are certainly gamist reasons for some of the pricing on the equipment list ( bows do provide a tactical advantage over melee weapons) . Food is expensive as heck and one of the biggest drivers of early level play taking a look at economics, PC's have to be successful bandits or dungeon pillagers to stave off starvation. Keeping a retinue of hirelings fed will cost more then hiring the men at arms and torch bearers.

Breaking the mold with character races.

Last post I ranted some about the rut of quasi-medieval tolkiensque fantasy. I brought up the area of characters being terribly similar from campaign to campaign despite sometimes elaborate details in a given campaign. Here are a few ideas on breaking the mold through character races.

The strongest method of differentiating a campaign by the selection of character races is to simply drop the option. No character races at all save human does have an impact on play and the campaign. PC's don't get a host of pesky special abilities that can alter settign assumptions. No regular ability for anyone in the party to see in the dark (i.e. Infravision) and light sources are going to matter all the time. If the demi-human races are still present in the world but not as a player choice you have an NPC factor the players know well and will be able to deal with that doesn't require extensive explanation.

Reducing the number of available races. By cutting down on the number of available races a campaign is keeping some built in assumptions and special abilities but is making those abilities more important. Ultimately however, how different is a campaign where PC's can be Humans, Elves and Halflings all that different from one where PC's can also be Dwarves? Dwarves if they are excluded in a campaign as a player option but still exist in the game are likely going to be dealt with as more extreme stereo-types familiar to the whole fantasy RPG pastiche.

Race as culture. In this option Race isn't ones direct genetics but has more to do with the culture they were raised in. Culture having an impact on character differentiation is a useful tool that is touched on in fantasy RPGs but often underplayed or smushed up by having the non-human races represent a human culture. If one is a Viking in a quasi-medieval fantasy universe they most certainly are going to have a different set of basic skills and baggage to carry along when they meet others then say a Mediterranean Fisherman will. Cultures can be familiar or exotic but should have a lace in the campaign that has some value in building adventures and differentiation.

Race as Caste. In this option the traditional role of character race is that of the caste a character is born into. In some cultures this can be strictly defined with absolutely zero mobility in other cultures there is room for improvement or a change in caste. In a Caste system some character classes will be restricted to members of some classes or even the exclusive expression of that caste within the campaign. This will make for a world that is a fair bit different from the classical presentation of the pseudo-medieval tolkienesque pastiche. Real world society of the dark ages and middle ages could however be very rigid in what was expected of a serf, freeman, gentleman or clergyman. Campaigns with caste will be more alien then the traditional comfort zone of fantasy RPGs but castes themselves provide easy reference points for players to relate to.

Replace Races. Dump the old list of races (at least as PC options) and come up with some new races. There's an awful lot of room for fantasy races in fantasy RPG without having to use the same four or five over and over again. New races don't have to be brand spanking new in all of fantasy literature or D&D like gaming but a new mix of old tropes can have some impact. In my own one-off games of Swords & Wizardy I dumped all the normal non-human races and instead created one non-human race and two human cultures/sub-races as valid player choices (I went with Common Men, Amazons, Pygmies and Cyclops) to give the games a decidedly not-medieval setting. One should to write up these "new" replacement races as if they weren't going to be part of a campaign with the old classical mix.

Alien races. At first look the use of alien races seems just like replacing races. It isn;t really. Alien races are decidedly not the same breed of cat as replacement races. Alien races have more baggage to go with them and more mechanical differentiation from the each other. An alien race isn't just a person in a funny suit. Traditional RPG races can be recast as aliens and this adds a little excitement to old tropes but it also requires they be treated different within the campaign. A campaign with alien elves has could have them start life as flittering fairies that, as they get older, they lose the wings and grow larger and as they further mature they become dryads and treants, it's doubtful you'd have any half-elves and it's incredibly unlikely one would bump into an elfin serving maid at the local pub. Recasting familiar races as aliens can be difficult as player assumptions will pull them back to established stereotypes. Truly bizarre aliens can be hard to come to grips with because of the lack of familiarity but one has to question how familiar were folks with D&D-esque elves dwarfs and halflings during the early days of D&D? A campaign with true aliens has to be developed with these exceptions in mind or the alien-ness is simply forgotten or a barrier to play.

Dump mono-cultures. One of the largest annoying things about demi-human races is they often all are members of a mono-culture. A dwarf in one place is essentially the same as a dwarf in another place. By having cultural differentiation among non-human choices there are more opportunities to break the mold. Just stay the heck away from inventing Lake Elves, Moss Elves and Fern Elves.

Changing what race means or the selection of races can be very defining for a campaign but a campaign has to acknowledge these differences for it to work for the campaign. If guys A,B and C are really just treated the same as E,F and G there isn't much going on that's worth bothering with.

Breaking the mold [Rant of sorts]

What's too weird or strange for fantasy RPG? Why do vaguely tolkien-derived fantasy rpg settings dominate fantasy RPG? Is it really just because D&D used Tolkien trappings in it's early days and that became fantasy RPG? Sure some games stray further afield but moody vampires and tentacled horrors from beyond are easily glommed onto and shoved into the quasi-medieval tolkien-pastiche of fantasy RPGs.

Too many fantasy games and the campaigns that evolve from them too gosh-darned familiar. A dwarven fighter from the forgotten realms would fit in 99% of the fantasy campaigns I've ever seen. Seems to me fantasy rpg is a little too parochial.

Take a look at drive-thru rpg titles. There's an awful lot of great stuff there but when you look at it from a step or two back it's an awful lot of the same stuff. It's like there is something restraining broader creativity.

Some folks claim it's all about accessibility. People want to be able to get a handle on the game setting and the rules and jump on in and play. A lot about D&D wasn't all that accessible when it was new, it was unfamiliar country. D&D style elves and dwarves weren't in sync with the popular imagination just yet, but they would be.

One of the earliest fantasy games was Empire of The Petal Throne. It presented an original fantasy universe with D&D like rules. Many folks stayed away over the years because it required too much immersion to play, of course a lot of people would then go on to buy dozens of forgotten realms modules and novels or countless vampire/ghost/werewolf/fairy splat books so that argument is curious. The non-human races were too weird, the cultures too different and they were too fantastic (really?).

A few folks out in the blogosphere are pushing boundaries or being un-apologetically omnivorous in their campaign and game design. I feel they are too few and far between however and often not really breaking free of the mold (the kid who sneaks a smoke at catholic school is still a kid at catholic school).

Sword and sorcery as it differs from tolkienesque D&D is getting some attention here and there. Truthfully it isn't straying all that far from the mold but it is embracing some of the roots of fantasy RPG by excluding some popular elements. It's a start, if is a dead-end or a brief esoteric exploration of genre is anyone's guess. In the end of the day sword and sorcery still leaves us with fighting men, thieves and spell casters so it is not too out there.

Some folks lather on the details to richly develop a unique fantasy world but when we get down to the nitty-gritty the party of adventurers are often a band of misfits that would fit in virtually any other fantasy campaign. A blood drinking barbarian warrior of the thorn forests, a dwarven tunnel fighter armed with smoke-powder blunderbus, a jaundiced elfin shadow mage of the rotwood forest, a brownie gadget-master and a fairy healer would fit in almost anywhere in D&D land. The details of the cult of Narth can be cool but unless the cult of Narth profoundly influences the campaign and play it's never really going to matter or change the way the campaign unfolds.

I hate to offend anyone here but an awful lot of RPG fans/players are shockingly imagination impaired. Maybe that's why we seldom stray far from the mold. An example of this lack of imagination among RPG fans is the Rakshasa. In it's original AD&D appearance in the Monster Manual the Rakshasa is a shape changing evil spirits of Indian origin able to use illusion it has a wonderfully done illustration of a tiger headed man in a smoking jacket enjoying some opium; since then the rakshasa have been evil tiger-men in fantasy RPG land because of a well crafted piece of art even if the description indicated nothing of the kind. Iconic, even simle, definitions seem to stick in fanatsy RPG land. What happened to imagination?

I'm not offering solutions here (I may in future posts). Bear in mind my current regular campaign has a party that consists of a human mage, an elf fighter/mu, a thief, a fighter, and a dwarf barbarian who spend a fair bit of time kicking in doors, killing things beyond those doors and looting. Yes, I'm sitting in a glass house and i'll be throwing plenty of stones. Let's break some molds, let's make games and campaigns that are different and fantastic.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

post x-mas update

X-mas is all over the house. The living room is full of these gigantic castle blocks we gave the baby because our house wasn't cluttered enough :-) . I'm nibbling away at a chocolate orange. I got a number of pads of drawing paper of all different grades. I got a zombie comic form my folks along with a huge coffee table history of the Clash from my parents that I've been reading on and off today. The kitchen and dinning room are overflowing with the remains of Christmas presents.

I got the writing bug and wrote my way about 1400 words into an un-plotted sci-fi story last night before I retired to bed after we got home from my brother-in-laws house. I cooked way too much slab bacon for brunch today. The wife is having some sort of really active stomach virus (I hope it doesn't have anything to do with the brunch I cooked).

Today I went to the supermarket to sock up on non-refrigerated easy to prep foods just in case we lose power because of the blizzard we are getting all over the northeast. The kids and I are getting up for shovel-a-rama 2010, alarms are set for 6:30 AM. The kids are actually happy the storm is happening during Christmas break so they don't lose any school time because of the blizzard...(where did I go wrong).

In gaming land I've been doing a little bit of work on no man's land - The Mutant Front and I've thought up some bits for making a slightly different fantasy campaign. The more work I put into one game project the more ideas I get in other areas (as demonstrated by the magic item lists I've been blogging). Won myself a copy of Bean the D2 RPG thanks to Tenkar over at Tenkar's Tavern because of a Tunnels and Trolsl spell I whipped up.

It's cozy, cluttered, I've got tons of cool ideas dancing in my head, happy kids, a wife that needs a little tender care and snow falling outside. It's a a good Sunday evening the day after Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

X-mas minutes away

Santa is almost here. The teens are sleeping in the baby's room to keep the little guy in his room until morning. We were just checking Norad's Santa tracking site and he's moments away. The baby is excited and tired at the same time he's yelling "santa", "lil-lights" and "k-treeee" as I type. Daddy elf just drank a cup of coffee to make sure he can complete his elfing duties.

Merry Christmas.

Magical Footwear

Avariety of magical footwear for fantasy campaigns.

1-10 Slippers of the Lake
11-20 Sprightly Winter Boots
21-30 Gilded Skates
31-40 Ice Clogs
41-50 Boots of the Fox
51-55 Troll Boots
56-60 Deadman Walking
61-70 Coward's Boots
71-75 Thrall Boots
76-85 Sentinel Boots
86-95 Hoofer's Slippers
96-98 Shadow Slippers
99-100 Gallant Stride

Slippers of the Lake- these delicate slippers are seemingly bedecked by scintillating fish scales. The slippers allow the wearer to walk on calm water as if it were solid ground. Currents will carry the wearer along as if the ground were moving under their feet. Rushing torrents and rough seas are difficult and hazardous footing that will dump one in the water if they fail a save or ability check as per the DM's discretion based on the situation on hand.

Sprightly Winter Boots- these fine furred white boots allow the wearer to walk atop snow and leave behind no tracks in the snow itself.

Gilded Skates- these dainty golden ice skates can be attached to any normal footwear and they will disappear but will allow the user to travel on ice (when encountered) at a rate equal to that of their normal unencumbered travel with no notable risk of falling.

Ice Clogs - these clogs are seemingly crafted from ice and may be worn to no ill effect to their user. The Ice Clogs allow the wearer to walk on lava for up to 100 rounds and suffer no ill effects from the lava itself. The boots will seems to melt as the 100 rounds pass and will disappear following the last round of use. Rushing torrents of lava may still be difficult to walk upon and at the DM's discretion a save must be made to not slip into the lava in such a situation (where the boots will then offer no protection). It is certainly possible to find a pair of Ice Clogs with but a few rounds of use remaining.

Boots of the Fox- these finely crafted leather boots will lay down magical tracks that require a save vs spell each turn they are followed or the tracker will be charmed into following the tracks in the wrong direction. A charmed tracker wlil not usually notice the error until they return to the point they first discovered the tracks.

Troll Boots- These boots will leave behind the tracks of a large troll wherever the user goes. They are lamentably easy to follow but are enchanted so that those of 2HD or less must pass a morale check to follow said tracks out of fear of encountering what left them behind.

Deadman Walking- these seemingly normal boots will animate and walk the user to the nearest temple of their faith should they be slain while wearing them. They will activate 2-12 rounds after the wearers death. If a cleric of another faith encounters a dead person walking back and attempts to turn them they may do so as against a wraith, this turning attempt will will deactivate the boots on a successful roll or "T" result, they will teleport away on a "D" result leaving the body where it is.

Coward's Boots- these cursed boots will appear to be boots of elven kind and will act as such until the user is threatened by melee. When a fight breaks out a save must be made vs spells or the user will flee combat for 2-5 rounds at a rate of 120' a round (regardless of encumbrance). Once the true nature of the boots is revealed the boots can't be removed unless a cleric of 8th level or higher removes the curse or a wish is used.

Thrall Boots- These big ugly gray boots will allow one who knows the magic words to activate the boots to control whomever wears the boots as if they were under effect of a charm person spell. The wearer of the boots may not remove the boots. This en-thralled person does not limit the users ability to control others by magic in any way.

Sentinel Boots- these boots will allow one to go without sleep for one night out of every three with no ill effect.

Hoofer's Slippers- these dainty slippers allow the wearer to dance well to any musical accompaniment even if the music or the dance is unfamiliar to the wearer.

Shadow Slippers- three times a day the wearer of these dark grey slippers will be able to vanish in shadows. They will slip away and be able to observe the area but not interact while hiding. If the shadows are illuminated so as to disappear the hider will disappear until the shadows return. Detection spells and devices will reveal the presence of the hider but not their identity if able to detect invisibility or magic in general.

Gallant Stride- these boots will glamour the wearer such that when reaction rolls are called for two reaction rolls may be made in relation to the wearer and the better applied to the situation at hand. Note, these boots have no effect at all if the wearer is sitting or riding on a steed and may on occasion invite a negative reaction from previously swayed parties.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Magical Saddles

A number of magical saddles for your fantasy campaigns.

1-10 Alert Ritter
11-20 Secure Platform
21-30 Lofty Strides
31-35 Unicorn Bridle
36-45 Wondrous Pack Saddle
46-50 Master Equestrian Saddle
51-60 Phantom Page
61-65 Pegasus Saddle
66-70 Throne of the Nomad Prince
71-75 Lancer's Platform
76-80 Fearsome Cavalier
81-85 Hackney Saddle
86-90 Regal Platform
91-95 Jousters Delight
96-97 Dreamer's Saddle
98-100 Midnight Saddle

Alert Ritter- This saddle allows the rider to spend time in the saddle without being subjected to normal fatigue. A rider must be wary fir their steed will suffer normal fatigue.

Secure Platform- A rider in this saddle can't be dismounted or thrown from the saddle.

Lofty Strides- This saddle allows the mount (and rider) to take to leap into the air three times a day to cover a distance of up to 720'.

Master Equestrian- anyone riding this saddle will be able to handle any mount as if they were a master horseman.

Unicorn Bridle- If someone can get this saddle on the back of a unicorn they will master it (if it fails a save vs spells) and may ride it until the saddle is removed. Would-be riders take note this only works on true unicorns.

Wondrous Pack Saddle- this saddle allows up to 400lbs of gear and equipment to be attached at no hinderance to rider or mount.

Phantom Page- This saddle accompanied by a spirit that will lead the mount to follow it's rider, comb out the mount and even feed and water the beast.

Pegasus Saddle- this saddle will sprout wings and allow rider and steed to fly at a rate of 240' per turn. This movement is normal.

Throne of the Nomad Prince- this saddle allows the rider to fire missile weapons with no hindrance while mounted upon a moving steed.

Lancer's Platform- when riding in this saddle a warrior will be be able to make melee attacks at +2 to hit and damage.

Fearsome Cavalier- this saddle masks it's user and steed with a fearsome illusion that makes the horse and rider difficult for all but the bravest to stand against. Those of 2 HD or less are forced to make a morale check when confronted by the rider mounted in this saddle. Twice a day the rider may make a fear attack against all foes of 6HD or less within 60'.

Hackney Saddle- this saddle is so enchanted as to make the rider and steed unremarkable. Neither rider or steed will be noticed from 200' or further away unless they are attacking or engaged in some other provocative behavior that draws attention. Among company the rider and steed will not be chosen first as a target in combat and may be even be entirely ignored at check points and tolls (1-5 chance in d6)

Regal Platform- When seated in this saddle the the rider will be en-glamoured so as to appear to be royalty Those who fail a save vs spells on seeing the rider will defer to them as if they were royalty of their own realm (this doesn't effect foes in combat).

Jousters Delight- three times a day for 6 rounds following the utterance of the command word the rider seated in this will be masked by illusion so as to obscure their true seating. Any direct attacks against the rider have a 3 in 6 chance of missing regardless of the skill or quality of attack.

Dreamer's Saddle- this saddle allows the rider (and steed) to planeshift twice a day. The steed will also be able to follow the master with travel magics at no impact on the capacity of the spell.
(i.s. they can travel astrally with the rider, teleport or fly if the user is able to do so my magic).

Midnight Saddle- the rider and the mount virtually disappear and will be 90% undetectable unless engaged in combat. Three times a day the rider and steed may travel through the shadows up to 480' in but a round.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Magical Ropes

A variety of magical ropes for your fantasy campaigns

1-10 Weightless Rope
11-15 Razorbane Line
16-20 Hangman's Cord
21-23 Hangman's Surprise
24-30 Justicar's Bindings
31-35 Merciful Snare
36-45 High Wire
46-50 Life Line
51-60 Whisper Knot
61-70 Rusting Line
71-80 Leaping Cord
81-85 Fumble Line
86-90 Netting Line
91-94 Stumble Lasso
95-97 Secret Ascent
98-100 Catapulting Skein

Weightless Rope: this rope simply has no weight of note (1 coins worth), a man could manage 500 feet of it before the volume of the rope becomes too unwieldy.

Razorbane line: This rope can not be cut unless one knows the magic word which must be spoken as it is cut.

Hangman's Cord: This rope will when thrown to the floor and the command word is spoken navigate towards a target of it's masters choice at a rate of 60' a round (up to 1200'). The hangman's Cord will attack as a 4HD monster and on a successful strike it will begin to choke it's victim who must save vs petrification each round or they will be rendered helpless and choked to death (in 3 minutes).

Hangman's Surprise: This cursed rope will seem to be a Hangman's cord but if anyone attempt to use it to harm a lawful being it will turn on it's user.

Justicar's Bindings: this rope will when securely held leap towards a target up to 30' away and bind their hand together should they fail a save vs petrification.

Merciful Snare: If this rope is disturbed by someone that doesn't know it's secret command word it will attempt to entangle them (attack as 4HD monster) and on the following round the target must save vs spells or fall asleep. The rope will hold them secure and asleep until severed or commanded to release the victim.

High Wire: This magical line will attach itself between two points within 100' and may be walked upon by anyone so long as the angle between both points is less then 45 degrees.

Life Line: This rope is worn around the belt and should one fall they are allowed a save vs death and if successful the line will magically unreel itself and secure the bearer who will fall no more then 1/2 the distance possible (the climb back up could take a while)

Whisper Knot: This rope will tie and untie itself with but softly spoken command words.

Rusting Line: this rusty looking coil of wire is actually a fairly light and useable line. Any edged weapon used to try to cut this blade forces the bearer of the weapon to make a save vs spells or the weapon will rust away (without harming the line).

Leaping Cord: This magical rope will hurl itself into the air on command and attach itself to a usable mooring point on the users command up to 200' away.Bold

Fumble Line: This line will act as a leaping cord but there is a 1 in 3 chance it will shake dislodging a climber causing themselves to plummet.

Netting Line: this light fishing cord will if extended into the water form a net that can be used to snare small object and creatures. In areas with fish it will catch enough fish in 2 turns to feed 2-12 people a meal 2 times a day.

Stumble Lasso: this looped rope may be used to snare a target up to 50' away on a successful attack roll (at +4 to hit).

Secret Ascent: This rope is invisible to all save those that touch it (unless it is coiled) and a climber will be invisible during their ascent.

Catapulting Skein: This cursed rope will hurl anyone attempting to climb it who fails a save vs death away for a distance equal to the length of the line (this could be very damaging).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Magical Candles

A number of magical candles for your OSR compatible fantasy campaigns.

Magical Candle Table
1-20 Glory Glow, LG
21-35 Glory Glow, CG
36-45 Glory Glow, LE
46-50 Glory Glow, CE
51-58 Robber's Wick
59-60 Company Candle
61-65 Revealing Candle
66-70 Firefly Candle
71-74 Ever-lit Candle
75-78 Demon Warding Candle
79-80 Devil Warding Candle
81-83 Angel Warding Candle
84-86 Undead Warding Candle
87 Dragon Warding Candle
88 Goblin Warding Candle
89 Lycanthrope Warding Candle.
90 Fairy Warding Candle. (works on all fairy-kind)
91-95 Paralyzing Candle.
96-100 Sleeping Candle

Glory Glow (30'R, 4 turns)- each of these candles is tied to an alignment. All within the radius of the candle light of the same alignment are +2 to saving throws and attack rolls.

Robber's Wick (10'R, 12 turns)- only the bearer of this candle benefits from it's illumination.

Company Candle (30'R, 8 turns)- only those within the radius of the light can see the candle light.

Revealing Candle (20'R, 4 turns)- all invisible creatures and features within the illumination will be revealed. Invisibility is not canceled by being revealed the invisibility is simply non-functional within the radius of the revealing candles light.

Firefly Taper (30'R, 12 turns)- once lit the candle will transform into dancing lights that will follow the caster for 12 turns. The lights can only be dispelled they may not be extinguished.

Ever-lit Candle (20'R,unlimited)- this candle will burn indefinitely and can not be extinguished outside of the use of counter-magic unless it's command word is known. It must still be lit by a flame.

Warding Taper (30'R, 4 turns)- different types of this spell protect against a variety of foes and forces then to save or flee beyond the radius of the light. It offers +2 to saves against attacks such creatures may launch from beyond the radius and causes them to suffer a -2 to attack rolls even if they save vs the illumination.

Paralyzing Candle (20'R. 12 turns)- all who enter the illumination of this candle must save vs paralysis or be paralyzed in place until the candle is extinguished.

Sleep Candle (20'R, 8 hours)- all who enter the illumination of this candle must save vs spells or fall into a slumber until the candle is extinguished.

Taking Out The Sentry [NML-MF]

Popular fiction is full of scenes where combatants stealthily sneak up on a sentry and quickly disable them with a blow to the head, choke them or slit their throats so as to eliminate the sentry and slip past without alerting those beyond.

That can sure be a trick in Mutant Future where an average man can have 30 or so hp and a club does but 1-4 points of damage. In working on No Man's Land - The Mutant Front I've considered this sort of activity and worked out some guidelines.

Sneaking up on the sentry:
First one must actually sneak up on the sentry to take them out. MF has no explicit stealth rules but it does provide us with a couple alternatives for the task at hand.

Option 1. Use the surprise check: Use the standard rules for surprise with a slight modification on results as follows.

Attacker and Sentry Both Surprised: The sneaking attacker stumbles or kicks something alerting the sentry at about halfway in their approach to the sentry. They sentry may not certainly spot the attacker and they may be able to dive for cover and remain unnoticed (depending greatly on the situation at hand). The sentry will not raise an alarm unless the following situation warrants it.

Attacker Surprised: The sneaking attacker fouls up and is spotted by the sentry who may attack and will raise an alarm unless extremely unusual conditions still keep the PC from being spotted (illusions, invisibility, camouflage skin).

Sentry Surprised: The attacker is allowed to make the attack with no resistance from the sentry, see following guidelines for the types of attack

Neither surprised: The sentry will spot the character at an optimal distance. Roll for initiative whomever wins gets to act first. The attacker will be no more then 1/2 a move towards the sentry and no closer then 30'.
Option 2. Check vs AC. With this method one succeeds at a stealthy task by rolling dice vs their current AC score and getting that number or less. For characters with dexterity Modifiers to AC don't factor that into the AC score for this task but do apply that modifier to the die roll used.

Dice to be used in a stealthy approach of a sentry depend upon the discretion of the GM, the situation on hand and the players actions. As a rough guideline I recommend 1d12 for common tasks, up to 1d100 for extremely unlikely tasks.

ex: A Sentry is guarding a point on the perimeter of his forces encampment. The sentries position is carefully place but he is fatigued. The GM gives the player a d12 roll to approach in this situation. The would be attacks has a -1 modifier to Ac and a usual AC score of 4 but since the AC score doesn't factor in AC in this situation the AC is considered 5 and the player must roll 1D12-1 to get a score of 5 or less to sneak up on the sentry.

Knocking out A Sentry-
It easy in the movies, not so easy in real life and there are no rules for it in MF, so here is a suggested method.

On a surprised target the attacker makes his attack roll at +2 to hit. On a successful hit damage is rolled. The target must make a save vs stun or be stunned for 1-4 rounds and possibly knocked-out.

The following modifiers apply-

Target wearing helmet +4 to save
Damage score less then HD +2 to save
Damage score greater then HD -2 to save
Attacker using kosh/blackjack then -2 to save

If the save fails the target is stunned and has a % chance equal amount of damage suffered compared to current hp of being rendered unconscious.

Ex: Minko is armed with a blackjack and has snuck up on sentry with 28 hp who is wearing a helmet . The hit roll is successful and is for 3 pts of damage, the target gets a save at +4 for the helmet, the sentry has far more then 3 HD so the sentry gets an extra +2 to save, the attacker is armed with a blackjack so the save gets a -2 modifier for a total of +4 the save. The sentry fails his save. So we compare 3 to 25 hp (3 divided by 25 gives us 0.12) and we get 12%. The sentry is stunned for 1-4 rounds but the %roll comes up 43 and the sentry isn't knocked-out.

A sentry is knocked out for 2d10 rounds if the check to knockout is made.

Taking out the sentry by Choking

On a surprised target the attacker makes his attack roll at -2 to hit. On a successful hit damage the target must make a save vs paralysis for each of three rounds. If a save is successful the target is unharmed and breaks free. If 3 successive save fail the target is chocked out and rendered unconscious for 1d6 turns. A 4th save is required with a penalty equal to the number of turns the target would remain unconscious or they die from asphyxiation.

Targets that don't breath normally, can't be incapacitated by choking.

Taking a sentry out by slicing their throat
A surprised sentry may be dispatched by a careful and well executed blow which opens the arteries in their neck and kills them. An attack is made at -4 to hit and if the blow is successful the target is allowed a save vs stun or they suffer triple the normal damage roll and will continue to automatically suffer normal damage each round until death and are stunned for 1-3 rounds. Targets that save just suffer normal damage and are free to act,
modifiers to the save:

Target AC 3 or better +4
Target is large +8
Target has unusual anatomy +5
Damage roll is less then targets CON (or HD) score +2

Those nearby may notice the thrashing and activity while someone bleeds to death and flails about. If one survives the attack and bleeding during the stunned rounds they will be able to act (but will likely flee as they are bleeding to death).

Mutations and advanced medical devices may keep a target from bleeding to death. Creatures immune to stun checks generally can't have their throats sliced adequately enough to incapacitate them.

So, there we have 2 options for sneaking up on a sentry and 3 possible attack forms to neutralize the sentry. None of these options are meant to be used in standard surprise situations they are all intended for situations where the attacker has awareness of a relatively stationary target on guard. Each attacks type should be carefully considered before they are allowed in a campaign. Players may love them when they are sneaking up on foes, they will not care for them in the slightest if used against a PC guarding camp during the night.

Daggers and Blades, variant damage

When playing with daggers that do 1d4 of damage I've found the time will come in a game that someone wields a larger or smaller blade and will ask me...what's the damage rating for this?

The easy answer is 1d4 (for dagger like weapons) and while simple and easy it just isn't always satisfying in the long run.

Of course there isn't typically a lot of wiggle room. The die type above 1d4 is 1d6 and the 1d3 and 1d5 are both easy to fake with other dice but have limitations. One factor with daggers and other short blades that is troublesome is the damage bonus for high strength. If a knife does 1d3 and a dirk does 1d4+1 a character with a +2 bonus to damage is going to mitigate those differences quickly. One solution (and the one used in this post) is to stretch out the low end of damage roll.

Stretch out the low end by using a die and subtracting a number so as to extend how often a 1 is generated b a roll ( this all works off the practice of allowing no score to be less then 1 on a damage roll regardless of math).

Let's say we want a dagger doing a solid 1d4 of damage as the baseline for small blade damage ratings. We could well do otherwise but the 1d4 is familiar and established in a lot of games and in players minds.

How about a knife pretty much the same size as a dagger that isn't really as well designed for combat. Such a knife can certainly do just as much damage as a dagger just not as often. So let's move up a die type and apply a subtraction so the max damage for a knife doesn't exceed that of a dagger. I'm picking 1d6 so applying a 2 point modifier to that gives us a damage roll of 1d6-2 for a knife. Such a knife could do as much damage as a dagger but is more likely to do less damage. the possible damage rolls for 1d6-2 are 1,1,1,2,3 and 4 which give us an average damage of 2 as opposed to the average damage roll of a dagger which is 2.5.

Now let's move to a weapon a bit heftier then a dagger a big solid knife of which there are many varieties in the real world many of them fighting knives that are more substantial then a dagger. I'm going to used the invented identification of Broad Knife for such a weapon. Well use a higher damage range but we'll apply a modifier that allows for damage to be higher then a dagger on occasion. I'm going with 2d4 -3 here, this gives us an average damage of 2.25 with the occasional chance to do more damage then a dagger but keeps us out of a short swords damage range. The dagger is still a superior overall weapon vs the broad knife but for those that want a bowie knife the differentiation adds a little to the game and makes the weapons fee different in play.

Collected Table of Daggers and Other Blades
small knife......1d6-3.....1,1,1,1,2,3...........1.5
Broad Knife....2d4-3.....1,1,1,2,3,4,5........2.25*
Long Dagger...1d6-1......1,1,2,3,4,5............2.667
Katar ..............2d4-2.....1,1,2,3,4,5,6.........3.0625*

*note averages are based range of multiple scores of dice not simply the finally generated scores.

When applying a damage bonus or penalty factor it into the roll do not apply it after the roll so a +2 damage bonus due to strength would yield a damage range of 2d4-1 with a Broad Knife (letting us emulate the doughty Saxon warrior with his scarmisax). A Misericorde in the hands of a knight with a +2 damage bonus would be a weapon that did 1d10-2 damage. Applying the strength bonus after the roll would give us a different range of damage (applying +2 after one resolved 2d4-3 would give us a damage range of 3 to 7 as opposed to 1 to 7). Add magical bonuses to the damage roll after penalties and bonuses for strength are accessed (so by example a +1 Misericorde would do 2-7 pts of damage as opposed to 1-7 pts of damage).

This principal could be extended to other weapons as well but I'll leave it here for now for consideration and experimentation.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cave Geomorphs 2j

Cave geomorphs to go along with other geomorphs posted here on this blog and elsewhere. Last of Cave Series 2.

(click for larger image)

other geomorphs available here on this blog and

Cave Geomorphs 2i

Cave geomorphs to go along with other geomorphs posted here on this blog and elsewhere.

(click for larger image)

other geomorphs available here on this blog and

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cave Geomorphs 2h

Cave geomorphs to go along with other geomorphs posted here on this blog and elsewhere.

(click for larger image)

other geomorphs available here on this blog and

Tesseract stocking in the stars

More Tesseract Caves Dungeon Stocking from Geordie Racer, this time for Stars Without Number -

Americans In Spaaaaace

Stars Without Number has cool a game master resources section that gives names and a bit of cultural information on a variety of old earth ethnicities. Here is my take on Americans:

American male names
1-4 Trey
5-8 Shane
9-12 Ray
13-16 Earl
17-20 Verne
21-24 Jimmy
25-30 Bubba
31-36 Junior
37-40 Johnny
41-44 Willy
45-48 Jay
49-52 Randy
53-60 Billy
61-64 Dave
65-68 Tom
69-72 Mike
73-76 Matt
77-82 Kenny
83-86 Zack
87-90 Ike
91-92 Ronny
93-94 Wyatt
95-96 Richie
97-98 Danny
99-100 Bobby

American female names
1-4 Terry
5-8 Patty
9-12 Barbie
13-16 Jenny
17-20 Susie
21-24 Linda
25-28 Tiffany
29-32 Dotty
33-36 Nancy
37-40 Karen
41-44 Betty
45-48 Chrissie
49-52 Sandy
53-56 Beth
57-62 Sharon
63-66 Kim
67-72 Missy
73-76 Becky
77-80 Kathy
81-84 Pam
85-88 Debby
89-92 Ann
93-95 Jean
96-98 Milly
99-100 Ally
(i may replace the ending of most female names)

American surnames

American place names
Mount Vernon
Oak Grove
Forest Hills
Cedar Grove

American Names
American names often include a "middle" given name, sometimes related to a relative's name or a figure of importance, it isn't unusual for this name to be drawn from a different language or to be archaic. Sometimes the a first name and middle name will be used in junction (such as "Billy-Ray").

American Cuisine
Traditional american cuisine relies heavily on beef,chicken and Bar-B-Q as meats, potatoes, corn, veggies and cheese (sometimes pork or fish will be served). Common food includes sausages of dubious origin known as "hot dogs", "wieners" or "franks", hamburger and french fries (along with chips). Common condiments are ketchup, mayo, salsa, bar-B-Q sauce and mustard. Americans frequently serve cola, sweet-tea and beer with meals. American cuisine will faddishly adopt a new or foreign food and often forget about it inside of a generation. Veggies are typically smothered in cheese.

American Clothing
Cotton, Denim and Synthetic blends are used to produce jeans, jackets,shorts and tee's. Brimmed hats are popular as are knitted caps. "Western" styles flare up now and again as does the military look but these ebb and flow in popularity. It's not uncommon for jargon, slogans, pictures or advertisements to appear on American clothing. Popular footwear includes sandals and sneakers of all imaginable varieties and materials (often with clearly identifiable manufacturers' logos).

Cave Geomorphs 2g

Cave geomorphs to go along with other geomorphs posted here on this blog and elsewhere.

(click for larger image)

other geomorphs available here on this blog and

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Blog Stats Report

State of the blog.

The posts here on A&A with the most views this past month:

On the names of things:

Coin Sizes with handy graphics:

An Old Map my father drew over 40 years ago.

32 Additional Dungeon Geomorphs

Campaign development an Mutant Future setting

the colorized Carcosa map from February

A handy PDF of the first series of geomorphs I posted on the blog

44 Dungeon Geomorphs

Tesseract Caves Dungeon Stocking Challenge (It's only a day old)

Triangle Dungeon Geomorphs

239 Pageviews yesterday. 280 was my heaviest on NOV 26th.

Right NOW I have visitors from The United States, Brazil, the U.K., Japan, Canada, Germany and South Korea.

35% of all page views I've had for the past six months have been during the last month.

According to Cyclopeatron Aeons & Augauries is #45 in OSR blogs by followers
and #10 on the hottest OSR blogs ranking.

Cave Geomorphs 2f

Cave geomorphs to go along with other geomorphs posted here on this blog and elsewhere.

(click for larger image)

other geomorphs available here on this blog and

Cave Geomorphs 2e

Cave geomorphs to go along with other geomorphs posted here on this blog and elsewhere.

(click for larger image)

other geomorphs available here on this blog and

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tesseract Caves Sighting

Geordie Racer over at the blog Geordie Goes racing has taken up my Tesseract Caves Dungeon Stocking Challenge here in this post:

Roman Treasure

For 2,000 years a clay jar sat in a field in England with 16 kilos of coins (more then 52,000 of them). It will take up to 3 years to properly identify and record all the coins.

Cave Geomorphs 2d

Cave geomorphs to go along with other geomorphs posted here on this blog and elsewhere.

(click for larger image)

other geomorphs available here on this blog and

Cave Geomorphs 2c

Cave geomorphs to go along with other geomorphs posted here on this blog and elsewhere.

(click for larger image)

other geomorphs available here on this blog and

Tesseract Caves Dungeon Stocking Challenge

Here's a map I whipped up using some of the cave geomorphs 2a and 2b. It's a tesseract of sorts.

(click for larger image)

I'm just calling out the readers of this blog, stock this dungeon.
Rules- pick an old-school or retro-RPG and use that game to stock the dungeon yourself (and share here of course).
Reward- praise and adoration of your fellow readers and myself.
I'll also whip up a pdf version of my favorite(s) to share with everyone.

Cave Geomorphs 2b

Cave geomorphs to go along with other geomorphs posted here on this blog and elsewhere.

(click for larger image)

other geomorphs available here on this blog and

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cave Geomorphs 2a

Cave geomorphs to go along with other geomorphs posted here on this blog and elsewhere.
First of what I'm Calling Cave Geomorphs Series 2.

(click for larger image)

other geomorphs available here on this blog and

Like shooting fish in a barrel

Over at Jeff'sgameblog one of the worst games ever written has raised it's ugly head again.

It made me download the piece o'crud game again to give it a look over to see if it was awful as I recalled and it is. I started an incredibly long comment and then checked myself...why the heck go on? The offending game is so awful it really is just too easy to rant against, it even approaches boring. Jeff's post wasn't boring he pointed out an encounter with something just awful that he handled well. As I commented on his blog: Disregarding all matters of taste, the game raised in the post is just a bad game. Going on about it is as easy and pointless as shooting fish in a barrel.

Yet, I still felt the need to type this, go figure.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Vatman- Neutralizer
No. Enc.: 1d4 (1d4)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120’ (40’)
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 50 hp
Attacks: 2
Damage: Protein disruptor
Save: L5
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: None
These vat-men have brightly colored, obviously artificial flesh. They were utilized to eliminate troublesome rogue Vat-men and not intended to be front-line forces.
The vatman-neutralizer is equipped with a pair of integrated protein disruptors built into the palms of their hands which inflict 8d6 damage against vat-men and 1/2 that to other chemical and organic life at a range of 50/200. Some these vat-men neutralizers have become deranged and are unable to distinguish between friendly and rogue vat-men and sometimes even misidentify mutants and normal humans as targets for neutralization.
Mutations (vat-men abilities): none.

(a standard Mutant Future monster reworked to fit No Man's Land-The Mutant Front)

Vat-man, Blue Commando

Vat-man, Blue Commando
No. Enc.: 1d4 (1d4)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120’ (40’)
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 15
Attacks: 2 (contamination-jet, electricity)
Damage: 6d6/4d6
Save: L8
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: None
Blue Commando vat-men were meant to be elite soldiers capable of taking incredible punishment on the front lines of the great-war. The horror of the Blue Commando-Vat-men is what was required to ensure they had the high level of skils needed to fill that role; an intact brain of a previously living human was implanted in the vat-man body. Most Blue Commando Vat-men do not recall their previous lives outside of ephemeral dreams but some are anguished by incomplete memories of lives lost.
All sapient creatures without proper military clearance are treated as enemies. They may emit a concentrated blast of contaminant laced fluid in a tight jet up to 60' against a single target which suffers 6d6 damage from the attack and must save vs intensity 6 Contamination on the following round. Their right hand is equipped to shoot a bolt of electricity (4d6 hp damage) . They can use each attack once each round but can only build up enough contaminant laced fluid to launch that attack 3 times a day.
The reason for the blue skin-tone outside of the need for easy identification is a mystery lost in the military bureaucracy.
Mutations: thermal vision, energy ray(electricity)

(a standard Mutant Future monster reworked to fit No Man's Land-The Mutant Front)

post apoc fan vid

Thanks to a post on dragonsfoot I've discovered this video:

Veteran of The Psychic Wars

It's a fan vid of a Blue Oyster Cult song that certainly packs in apocalyptic fatigue of war.
I'm posting as a link because I'm not sure abut rights with something like this but the song kicks ass and the video is fairly good.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Deranged Mechanical Doctor [NML-MF]

Mechanical Doctor, Deranged
No. Enc.: 1 (1)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120’ (40’)
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 30 hp
Attacks: 1
Damage: 3d6+ special
Save: L5
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: XIX (100% drugs and medical devices)
Once functional mechanical medics that have been seriously damaged by duty on the front.
They will attempt surgery on anyone they come into contact with (favoring the clearly wounded over the less obviously wounded).
An attack by a Deranged Mechanical Doctor inflicts 3d6 damage per round. After 3 rounds continued attack a target must make a save vs stun or fall incapacitated. A mechanical Doctor will spend 10 minutes in surgery with an incapacitated "patient". After those 10 minutes the "patient" must make a save vs Death or die in surgery. If a victim doesn't die roll on this chart:
Deranged Mechanical Doctor Surgery Results
1 Hand amputated
2 Leg amputated below knee
3 Arm amputated below shoulder
4 Eye removed
5 Jaw Wired shut.
6 roll a random physical mutation.
Mutations: none

Monday, December 13, 2010

Wicked Thieves

Just read a great post on thieves and thieving that is a must read for many a DM and players of thieves by E.G. Palmer here:

It's simply chock full of thiefly details that any omnivorous GM/DM should find of value in designing urban environments and the more dastardly residents therein.

I posted an outline for a wider range of thief skills and (sub)classes of thieves that would go along well with that a while back here:

Many good posts on thieves in OSR games can be found on Lord Kilgore's Blog here:

Al of Beyond the Black Gate posted a thief class available here:

Any other thieving posts of any gentle readers would like to share by comment? Feel free to share them I promise to keep the watch off your backs.

Ferry Tokens

A bit of treasure and window dressing for fantasy campaigns:

Among some faiths and funerary traditions it is a common (even essential) practice to send the loved one off to the afterworld with a pari of coins (often places upon the eyes of the corpse) to pay the ferryman in the afterlife.

Grave robbers being the filth and scum they are do of course find themselves drawn to these coins. The faithful need not fret that their loved ones are doomed to be stranded on the gray banks of the river styx because of the depredations of a callous graverobber. Many temples sell Ferry Tokens which are easily identified as the funerary objects that they are as they often bear devices of the temple they were purchased from and a death's head or ferryman engraved on the other face.

Common Purchase (not resale) prices for Ferry Tokens(by the pair):

Lead Ferry Tokens...................4 c.p.
Brass Ferry Tokens...................5 c.p.
Pewter Ferry Tokens...............6 c.p.
Bronze Ferry Tokens..............8 c.p.
Gilt Ferry Tokens.....................3 s.p.
Silver Ferry Tokens....................5 s.p.
Norium Ferry Tokens.................2 g.p.
Electrum Ferry Tokens...............3 g.p.
Gold Ferry Tokens.......................5 g.p.
Grand Gilt Ferry Tokens.............6 gp
Grand Gold Ferry Tokens..........12 g.p.
Grand Platinum Ferry Tokens...50 g.p.

Notes on token types: Gilt is a gold platted base metal token. Norium is 1/2 or more copper and the remainder nominally gold. A grand Token is large and lavishly decorated with some even bearing tiny gems (which may drive the price and value up).

Possession of a single or pair of Ferry tokens isn't considered evidence of a crime as people often purchase them ahead of time and gift them to others. A person can typically sell a single or pair of Ferry Tokens at the related temple for 1/3 normal price. In places where it isn't illegal they may be often purchased by individuals at 1/2 normal price. Sometimes the Ferry Tokens are accepted as gambling/debt markers that are returned when the balance of a loan is paid back.

Attempted sale of multiple Ferry Tokens or ones well outside of the perceived means of an individual may result in the prosecution of the offender. The penalties for grave robbing can be quite serious and offenders can find themselves excommunicated or worse by the church of their faith. The gods may also have their own justice for grave-robbers beyond what would be suffered in the courts of mortal men.



posted today but it was an old draft I just edited so somehow it's posted last July just now.

actually posted in July of last year

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Working away on No Man's Land- The Mutant Front

I'm a busy beaver working away on goodies for No Man's Land- The Mutant Front as a campaign supplement(s) for Mutant Future.

Here's a sample of most of a map I've adapted from the main campaign map that is meant for a sandbox version of one of the eras for The Mutant Front meant to appear as an article elsewhere.

(click for larger image)

I've been working on the encounter tables for the map and realized there is a lot of room to impact how a campaign plays right there; I'm likely to create more NPC/Monster encounter types then I was initially planning just to reflect the unique nature of the campaign.

Terrain types and features on the map include: Open, Town/city, Necropolis, River, Wasteland, Runs, Wasteland, Desolate Hills, Twisted Forest, Hills, Forest, Steep Hills and Forested Hills.

Lot's of need to tweak and create "new" pieces of equipment have also presented themselves. In general the whole thing is a lot of fun.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Character Sheets Are Art

I must admit I really enjoy character sheets. They are a piece of art you can read. They tell you a lot about the game, the campaign and the player who used the sheet. Character Record Sheets are a work of art that changes.

Working on Town Geomorphs, opinions?

I've begun fiddling about with medieval fantasy town/city geomorphs and wouldn't mind a little input. I bounced a few graphics off my wife and daughter last-night and got left with these examples.

Fig-1 includes samples of a simple building/dwelling.
1-a shows a pair of windows at the front (along with the door) with two little dashes.
1-b. shows a flat roof with some form of edging/battlements.
1-c. shows a peaked roof with a little detail.

Fig 2 shows samples of larger buildings with a central courtyard.
The left most is a flat roof with edge-works.
The center shows the whole structure with an integrated peaked roof.
The rightmost shows a simplified version of a pitched roof on the building.

So what do folks think? Are window/arrow slit locations necessary? Should there be something on the buildings that indicates elevation of a building (by story)or should that be left out so people can more easily tailor it to their own needs?