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Sunday, July 29, 2012

OD&D Jousting Table

Found this table in my notebook. Looks like I was converting the jousting table from Chainmail to D&D.
Level Difference
Chainmail result-2 or less-1 to +1+2 to +4+5 or more
M*MMGG
GMGB/U*U
BBBGB/U*
HGHH/IU
UB/U*UUU/I
B/UB/U*B/UB/UU/I
U/IUU/IU/IU/2I
B/U/IB/UB/U/IUU/I
M A.PhelmMMGH
* or G at the choice of the attacker
Adjustments (to the effective level of the jouster, I assume)
Heavy Warhorse +1
Plate Armor +1
Light Horse -1
Leather or No Armor -1
Magic Spear + the bonus of the spear

M Miss, no effect
G Glances off: -1 to 3 hits to defender
B* Breaks lance: -1 to 3 hits to attacker, -0 to 2 to defender
H* Helm knocked off: -1 to 3 HEAD hits to defender
U Unhorsed: -1 to 6 hits defender if wearing plate, -1 to 3 if chain
I Injured: -1 to 8 hits defender if attacker wielding battlelance, -1 to 4 if jousting lance
2I Two Injured results.

Hits here is shorthand for hit points of damage.

This was using the Blackmoor hit location system - can only take 15% of total HP as a head hit, very dangerous.

I'm trying to figure out the handwritten notation at the bottom left of the table. it might help to dig out a copy of Chainmail.

The Catacombs of Zharn

This must have been one of the later dungeons of my high school campaign given the monsters and loot present. I was a bit overloading the loot, a Vorpal blade and the Eye of Vecna in the same dungeon, sheesh.



Key:
1. Entrance stairway

2. Three headed hell hound, 2 dice per head, 9 hits per head. three collars 2 worth 1000 GP, 1 worth 3000 GP. North door burnt down.

3. 8 zombies, 4 hits each

4. Spectre 29 hits. In the north chest: A scroll with Wall of Fire, Wall of Ice, Wall of Stone, Wall of Iron, Shield, Dimension Door. The south chest is trapped with poison darts. It contains 4000 gold, 3 x 2000 GP jewelry, and a Jeweled Dagger +1. +2 vs Kobolds and Goblins worth 2500 GP.

5. Evil Temple: 2 shamans, Evil Curate, 4 acolytes. Treasure: 2000 GP, 3000 SP, 6 x 500GP gems, 6 x 1500 GP rings.
If touched, the small statues animate. The secret panel behind the statue of the class II demon is trapped with poison needles set in the edge. Behind the panel is a sword +1, +2 vs. Magic Users and Enchanted Monsters and a Potion of Flying.

6. Seven ghouls and the statue of a warrior. If touched, the statue will animate. Statue is holding a Vorpal Blade I9 E2 Good, Detect Metal, Double See Invisible, and the Sceptre of Neutrality. Statue is 10 dice 48 hits, AC 0 and moves 1/2 speed. It has 2 x 8000 GP rubies for eyes. 
7. empty room

8. 2 ogress, 22, 29 hits, chestr contains 3000 gold, 3000 silver, 2 x 100 gems, 500 gem. Trapdoor opens 1-2, slide down to second level.

9. 12 goblins, 5 gold, 80 silver each

10. crypts - poor condition - have been robbed

11. tombs -  poor condition - have been robbed

12. vaults
 a - robbed and emptied
 b - tgwo ghouls among refuse, 1000 SP each
 c - robbed
 d - Vampire, 9 dice, 8000 gold, 1200 platinum, 12000 silver, Flaming sword - Evil I8 E12 Detect Magic, Telekinesis, Poltion of Heroism - poisoned, Eye of Vecna 

13. Fountain of Elcandor
Guarded by a Guardian Naga
3 sips to good characters, 1 to neutral
1: 3I
2: 2II
3: III
4: IV
5: V
6: I,II,III,IV,V
(I assume I meant roll a D6 roll per sip, but WTF is the Roman Numeral result, might have to read old rules supplements or other notes to figure it out).
14. Grey ooze on floor around door

15. Burial crypt of the High Archdruid Knoarssos II, an 11th level Druid Lich, 45 Hits
Shield +3, scimitar +4, +3 Neutral I12 E12 Purpose - Slay Clerics
Treasure: 1 x 60,000 GP jeweled sarcophagus, 6x4000 goblets, Druid Staff - Speak with Animals, Cure Light Wounds, Cure Disease, Call Lightning, Conjure Fire Elemental (3 charges), Animal Summoning, Wall of Fire, Conjure Earth Elemental (5 charges), Reincarnation(5) (3 charges) 150 charges - Final Strike Capacity

16. Elevator Room +/- 2 levels 6 orcs 6,8,6,5,5,4 hits

17. Trapdoor down to second level

18. 9 Giant rats

19. 3 Bugbears, 700, 700, 900 GP 16, 23, 14 hits

20. Basilisk 28 hits, 8 x 50, 6x100, 2x500, 1x2000, 1x5000 gems
Good Flaming Shortsword I7 E3 See Invisible, Ring of Invisibility, Potion of Animal Control, Scroll: Bless, Blade Barrier, Map #4 (Later annotations say the basilisk is dead and add statues of a rust monster and the PC Miho, I'd guess the rust monster was either a wandering monster charmed by PCs or wandered into the fight.)

21. Burrower Beetle colony, 9 beetles, on a 1-2 each turn 1-3 beetles may be met, each melee round 1-3 more with a 1 on the die, each has eaten 2-3 gems. 1x5000, 3x1000, 3x500, the rest worth 10, 50 or 100.
The colored patches are clean up crew blobs fed by the beetles.
Green - green slime
orange-red - Ochre Jelly
gray with flecks Gray ooze
Black - Black pudding
Yellow - Yellow mold
outlines indicate they are on the ceiling or walls

22. Balrog 53 hits 12 dice
Magic bow, Portable hole, Rod of Lordly Might, Crystal Ball, Figurine of Wonderous Power: Onyx Dog, Horn of Change, Mirror of Opposition, 12000 gold, 3x 10,000 GP jeweled swords, Plate Armor +1 that reflects spells 50% of the time. (pretty boring little room and lack of set up drama for a balrog, all those clean up crew outside were probably there to dissuade approach)

Wandering Monsters
1. Goblins roll 1D6 for number: 1: 3, 2: 5, 3:6, 4:8, 5:10, 6:20
4 hits each, 3 GP and 5SP each

2. Zombies as above 1:2, 2:3, 3:4, 4:6, 5:8, 6:10
There are 10 of them in all.

3. Ghouls 1:2, 2:3, 3:4, 4:6, 5:8, 6:10, 10 in all, wearing bearskins, one has a potion of ESP, two have no treasure, the rest have mixed stuff to a value of 100 - 600 GP each

4. Rust Monsters 1,2,3 : 1  4,5,6: 2
15, 25 hits

5 Werewolves 1: 1 2,3: 2  4,5: 3   6: 4
1 21 hits, 1500 SP, 3000 CP
2 19 hits, 1x100 and 1x500 gem
3 14 hits no treasure
4 20 hits, 1200 GP ring

5 Rats 1-12

6 Bats 1-12

8-10 Man-type ( I guess adventurers to be rolled up)


OD&D Sprites player character race

Transcribing from my 70s campaign notes. It's a straight mechanical description with no fluff. I think I solo gamed one and maybe had one or two players play them at some point.

Sprites (Pixies)
Sprites are small, frail creatures with human form and gauzy wings. They are generally between one and two and a half feet tall. (I made them bigger than a lot of legends or fiction would have it, so as to make it conceivable to have them in a D&D party and actually fight.) Sprites have an intrinsic knowledge of hedge magic (In this campaign, hedge magic was a second magic system that was available as generally weak innate magic for a variety of characters outside the conventional magic user class. I'll probably detail both it and the house rules spell points magic system in the future.) They have the ability to become nearly invisible and can fly. They can be fighters or thieves. As fighters they have a four sided hit die and a maximum of 7th level, as thieves a three sided hit die. (Greyhawk HD were in effect)

Sprites are very limited in carrying capacity because of their small size and flight.
Weight (in gold pieces, not pounds)
G.P.Movement
7503"
6006"
4509" or fly 6"
30012" or fly 18"
Armor weight (in G.P.) >
Helm15
Leather75
Chain150
Plate250
Shield50

Usable Weapons
One hand: daggers, handaxes, darts, javelins, shortswords
Two handed: short spears, maces, swords, hammers, light crossbows

Sprites have a basic 50% invisibility with an extra 50% (I'd probably make this a bit less now) if there is a varied background such and trees, bushes, rocks, or large amounts of people or clutter.

Thief Bonuses
Open Locks 5%
Remove Traps 10%
Pickpocket 15%
Move silently 20%, 5% if flying
Hide in shadows 50%* (they're half invisible in a typical dungeon)

Sprite fighters are a hampered somewhat by their low hit points and inability to use large weapons but this is offset by being able to attack invisibly on their first round and being able to choose the body part to attack on that round with a 50% chance of success and hitting an adjacent part if this fails.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Helm of the Walking Dead

Appearance:
A dark, closed-faced helm of grim visage, with a faint purple aura.

The Helm rouses the dead as skeletons or zombies, waking 1D6 of them per round starting with the closest, until all within 100 yards are awakened. These revenants will not attack the wearer but will attack all other living creatures within the radius. They will roam in the area within 100 yards of the helm, whether it is worn or not. If it moves, they  will move to stay in the zone, but if speed or other considerations make them stay out for more than two turns, they will collapse back to death if reanimated less than a day. If they have been animated and absorbing dark energy from the helm longer, they will begin wander around wreaking destruction for up to a day per day reanimated prior to the separation before collapsing.

A roused undead will obey a command by the wearer if the wearer stands within ten feet, directly before the creature, and makes a WILL save against a target number of 20. Fail and be ignored, score under a target 10 and be attacked.

Undead within the radius of the helm are much harder to turn. Give a -2 on the old 2D6 table or a -4 on a D20 roll to turn undead.

Undead creatures slain in the radius of the helm but not ground to dust, burned to ash, treated with holy water and appropriate prayer, or otherwise rendered permanently dead, will rise again at sunset,  with body parts more or less gathered and rejoined.

Anyone newly slain in area of the helm's effect will roll 1D6 each turn and arise as a zombie on a 6. If they were higher level in life, give their monster form another HD per level.

The first clue to the helm will be a mostly burnt manuscript. It has a few readable phrases:
"Vaskarn the Necrarch's army of the dead wrought destruction upon the town at"
"The dead rose and followed as he walked among the graves"
"Vaskarn died at the hands of the hero ----- and the helm passed into his hands"
"faithful servant torn limb from limb, arose and trailed his master, a gibbering horror"
"maddened by the lurching dead all about"

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Starting PC Background Charts

This little set of charts was my attempt at fleshing out starting characters with a bit more background. Transcribing later, for now the scan. The number or range with an M was number of initial magic items, from potions up to +1 weapons, for the richer sort. Looks like I intended male-favored primogeniture from the birth order table and generating details of the father, but not the mother, but didn't think about what to do with a roll of 1 on a female character. Not that it came up. I don't think we had a girl playing until Metamorphosis Alpha. Sigh...
I also note a little second roll indicated on father's class to pick subclasses. And yes, that's paladin and anti-paladin. Like so many others, I wrote up an anti-paladin class, though I don't know if I ever actually used it for any characters. Maybe a couple NPCs.

Borontin

At one point I was expanding this island with plans to do a more political mini campaign on it, if I remember right. Here is a more detailed scale map of the island.
I also had some political boundaries and names in overhead pen on the plastic over the main map. I took a scan of them for record before wiping them off to scan the clean map in the other night. Amazingly, blue Vis-a-Vis pen wipes off clean after decades.

Dungeon Digging Prices

I added a price list for dungeon digging under a player castle to go with the official price list for castle parts in book 3. I don't remember if it ever got used. Not much anyway.

If you want to actually read them, I recommend clicking to enlarge.

Some dungeons

Here are a few from my 70s campaign map. I'll start with the maps and add keys as I find them and the time to type it in.

 Castle Cairnin

































The deeper levels show a bit of level stacking with color.

The Catacombs of Zharn
Now keyed out in a new post.

Fortress Garnat
Exterior
Interior

Fragmentary Key to Fortress Garnat:
1. Entrance Hall
2. Large barracks - stripped bare
3. Small barracks - stripped bare
4. Chapel - Priest Dernon still have to find the character sheet
Three icons worth 1000, 4000, 8000 GP
5. Store room for linens, brooms, mops, buckets, etc
6. Long Hall
7. Weapons and armor - a lot of it rusting away with moldering leeather parts, none usable except for a suit of chainmail +3 hidden in a chest in the corner.
8. Servants wing: a,c,d,h,i empty, b- a wereboar





Entrance map for the Pool of the Undying One. I'll have to go read my notebooks to understand that name, but it sounds very Dunsany or A. Merrit inspired to me now.
The Dungeons of Treg beneath the Pool of the Undying one. It was a later experimental map, in this case trying to stack multiple layers with complex vertical connections and distinguish them by color. It might also have been my first avant garde gridless dungeon where angles aren't true and you measure with a ruler or just squint and say "about 40 feet". (note to self for transcription, key begins at pg 63 of blue notebook)

Dungeon Delving

My friend Scott ran some good dungeons when he wasn't pillaging mine. One of my favorite things to do there was to map our progress and decorate with tiny drawings of the aftermath to remind us of what we had killed and where.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hex crawling

There came a time in the successful adventurer's career to put down roots and build a castle, the great money sink of early D&D. When the ranger Otto Parts reached this lofty level, I did a mile per hex hexcrawl map, populated it with several red numbered points of interest and, if I remember right, a customized wandering monster chart, and our merry band went on a mapping expedition through the new fief he'd been granted on the frontier to find the best spot to build. Here's the map they plowed through, and a terrain key. The key to encounters is in a notebook and will take longer to transcribe.

Treasure Maps

I was really into futhark runes at the time... so I used them a lot to make things seem more ancient and give the players a small puzzle to decipher them.

Stuff coming up...

I was up late scanning in maps and notes last night, and rediscovering and rereading The Tarnheim Chronicle, a campaign log I kept for much of my high school D&D campaign. A couple posts ago I wistfully mentioned finding a record of deaths and not remembering how they happened. I'd also completely forgotten having written up so much of it at the time. Tonight I'll start posting up some scans and maybe transcribe a bit of the chronicle.

To start, my sketch of the town of Dostrey on Borontin...


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A few magic items

Found these in a printout, probably from my world stack...
Potion of stat swapping - DEX or AGI  and WIS
Cursed sword of increasing fumbles
Ring of Rings - On request roll CHA as a percent and get ring power of choice(short of wish), else get random ring power, works once per hour
Golden Dragon - usable once per day, becomes an adult gold dragon for 2D6 turns. Each time the dragon gets a small percentage save to break free and remain alive and independent. This is not revealed in basic understanding of the artifact. It's attitude towards the item owner will depend on how its been treated at summoning.


Mana Storms

I have a rough handwritten sheet about Mana Storms, more a list of ideas to use than a finished rule. For what its worth, I want to get it recorded & expanded a bit so I can find it again and maybe use it or flesh it out further.
Mana storms blow up with appropriate pyrotechnic effects in magically charged wilderness areas, where they will be big or can arise as a terrible side effect of spell fumbles, probably in a smaller area.

Some possible effects, which might shift over the duration of the storm

The storm should have special effects and add to the special effects of magic used within. In addition, it can have a variety of possible concrete effects.
  1. Heat metal as per druid spell on magic armor & weapons & metal items.
  2. Restore spells to spellcasters (maybe only arcane casters?)
  3. Make spells stick in memory - in a memorized spell system, mages save vs magic (or WILL save) or 1-6 spells get stuck in memory and cannot be forgotten until they are fumbled on casting or enough time passes. They still get scrambled by casting half the time so the mage doesn't get too much extra casting out of them, but they cannot be pried out of the spell slot to be replaced with another spell. In a spell points system, they hold onto the points they have committed to them. In DCC, they won't be forgotten on a miss except a fumble, but will misfire(1-3) or pick up an extra mercurial magic side effect. After each day's sleep roll 2D6 for each stuck spell, and on a 12 it loses its grip and can be normally replaced. A Forget spell can clear a stuck spell immediately, but a crit result will make the mage actually forget how to cast it entirely until relearned (twice as fast as originally learning it) or he levels up.
  4. Clear 1D6 spells from memory - an inverse to stuck spells, 1D6 spell slots are wiped clean. For each, roll again and on a six the spell is truly forgotten and cannot be cast until relearned or the caster levels up. If a spell is forgetten in a spell slots or spell points system, the slots or points can be used to prepare a different spell the next day.
  5. Each caster in the storm makes a luck roll. If lucky, spellcasting will be at a +1D6 bonus to the roll for the duration of the storm. If unlucky, a 1D6 penalty. Roll bonus or penalty at each spellcasting. If not using a casting roll, then apply an extra die to damage if appropriate or adjust saves versus the spell by half the bonus, whichever direction is appropriate for caster's luck or ill luck.
  6. Variable effects to spells. , 1 - add 50% to damage/intensity, 2 reduce it by half of an appropriate axis of power, 3 - 12 come up with a weird side effect (extra mercurial effect if DCC).
  7. Dramatic increase or decrease in duration, even inversion of permanent vs temporary.
  8. Intensify up to double the powers of magic items in the storm, and add a wild magic/mercurial magic effect. Roll 1d6 at end of storm: 6 the change is permanent.
  9. Weaken magic item effects in the storm.
  10. Warp targeting of spells and ranged items in the storm. 1- overshoot target by half of range & hit nearest character to that point, 2- undershoot by 1/3 & home on nearest, 3 - double area of effect, 4 - half area of effect, 5-6 roll 1D6 and count away that many potential targets from the intended target, and retarget.
Some magical gems might change color in response to being in an area prone to mana storms or when a storm is imminent.

Storm sense might be a skill or power of mages or magical creatures.

The duration of the storm should be whatever is most interesting dramatically.

Plants or sessile creatures endemic to the storm zone might be charged up with potion effects if harvested in or after the storm and consumed.

There's a list at the bottom that I'm not sure what I intended:
  1. Red Flux - Bloodthirst  "War flux"
  2. Black Flux - Death and Undeath, "Death flux"
  3. Green flux - Peace, calm "Peace flux"
  4. Blue flux - Magic discharging "Lightning flux"
  5. Purple - Illusion, change, mutation "Chaos flux"
  6. Yellow - Reality, Reversion, Stasis "Law flux"
  7. Orange - Magic charging "Power flux"
  8. White - Healing & life "Life flux"



Monday, July 16, 2012

The Gold Horror

A heap of gold beckons, glinting in the party's torchlight and magefire. Finally, a reward for slogging through all those orcs... They approach, eager to count the loot. But as the thief reaches for the first handful, it reaches back. With a crackling discharge of lightning chaining through the coins, the whole mound flows upward and the lightning strikes...
A Gold Horror is an magical golem that transitions from an innocent looking pile of coins into a flowing swarm of coins in the air, linked by a network of lightning-like electricity. When fully coalesced from its ambush form, it will have a vaguely humanoid form, 7 feet tall, with coins spinning and swirling throughout.
H.D.6-9, usually 7
A.C.0(old) or 20(new)
Move6"/9" charge
Init Bonus0
Attacks & powers - use one mode per round
Shock - electrical discharge to 30', 7 dice, save vs dragon breath (or a CON/fortitude save in other systems), costs it 1D6 damage to itself in lost energy
Throw Gold - 1D6 gold pieces are accelerated to very high speed, 1D6 damage each, range 90', can pick target for each.
Infiltrate - can pass through any narrow gap that a coin could slide through, changing shape into a sheet of flowing coins, and reconstitute on the other side, takes a full combat round
Batter - Balls up a pseudopod fist/cosh and hits with it for melee impact damage. 2D6 impact + 1D6 shock.
Steal gold - a network of lightning enwraps a character within 10 feet, shocking for 1D6+2 (CON/fort/dragon breath save to take half damage) and gathering around and bursting one container carried by the character that has coins in it, all the coins and other small metal items animating and merging into the Gold Horror, other contents scattering around in an area up to 10 feet away. This heals the Gold Horror for up to one point per hundred coins it siphoned away, growing it by 1 hit die per 400 coins if there is more than enough to heal it. It can do this on any round in which it rolls a 4-6 on initiative.
Defenses
Electrical attacks against the Gold Horror charge it up, healing it instead of damaging it. Any extra it discharges back at a target within 30 feet or crackles away in a lightning discharge.
Immune to Charm/Fear/other mind-affecting spells
Immune to normal weapons and missiles, and 2D6 shock damage transmitted back along metal weapons to the wielder, with a 1/2 chance of weapon destruction.
Magic weapons and missiles do full damage, with a chance of being damaged - roll 1D6 per plus to hit, if all are sixes, the weapon loses one point of to hit or to damage bonus, and a point of INT if intelligent.
Vulnerable to water(grounding), cold, or grounding on planted or anchored metal.
Treasure: A Gold Horror doesn't have treasure, it IS treasure, once you kill it.The Gold Horror will be a mix of coins, 1D6 times 100 coins per hit die, at least half gold, with the remainder a mix of whatever other metal currencies your game uses. Plus, of course, whatever it has added to itself by looting your PCs.

Found! The Lost City of Karth!

Did a delve through a bundle of papers tonight, sorted out piles, some I can use for the game I'm planning to set up, some character sheets and player maps and loot lists from the 80s game, some printouts from my HyperCard World Stack, a few dungeon maps, and the find of the night, the map to the Lost City of Karth, located on the SE section of the Astoria map. It was perhaps my biggest case of wasted DM preparation, and truly was lost for awhile there. I wasn't sure I still had it after a couple of digs through the expected folders hadn't turned it up. This map is six combined sheets of graph paper lovingly covered with a city map in garish colored pencil, with a reputation so fearsome my high school buddies refused to get within a hundred miles of the place. A lost city full of treasure and horrors in a big swamp, for some reason they wanted no part of it. I even made building interior geomorphs for the ordinary buildings, long lost unfortunately, and had grandiose plans for it, though I hadn't drawn up too many details of contents and factions, since they cravenly stayed away. Now I just have to figure out the best way to scan it in. And maybe populate it for Dungeon Crawl Classics or Barbarians of Lemuria. Here's a phone photo that somewhat blurrily captures most of it. I'll try to get a decent scan or set of scans to replace it.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Alignment plot and death log

This is an example of the Gygax cartesian alignment chart being used to log the moral progress of PCs as vectors over time. After each session I'd make a new dot if I felt someone's alignment was shifted by in game acts, often connected by a line back through older ones. For a few characters like clerics & paladins, or bearers of aligned magic weaponry it mattered. With all the erasures, it's kind of hard to see.
It also records the deaths of all my high school friend's D&D adventurers that didn't make it back out of the dungeon or the wilderness. They'd get erased off the plot and marked below. Wish I had logged a bit more detail about how each one died, now that it is so long I don't remember for most.

Astoria campaign map

This is the campaign map from my second D&D campaign, drawn circa 1978. The scale is 25 miles to the hex, so about one day's travel overland for a small band of adventurers. I'm still pretty pleased with the cartography. Some of the place names are borrowed from what I'd been reading at the time. Like there's this bit named after Pern, but its totally unique because its DWARVES that ride the dragons there and there's no thread, or something. I think there's a bit of Earthsea and a bit of Deryni, and of course some Tolkein influence in there. 17 x 22" hexsheet, ink and colored pencils, laminated with contact plastic against wear and spills. Since it's laminated I'd often plot party location below hex level with a dot from a dry erase marker. It's holding together remarkably well except at the folds. This is the second version of this map, the first was all pencil and colored pencils and is tattered from gaming wear and old age.
I just noticed I had placed the Judges' Guild Tegel Manor on it. That was one of my favorite dungeon modules. Astoran, the capital, used their City State of the Imperial Overlord map. The preprints of that map blew us away at GenCon VII, and got a lot of us to pony up for Judges' Guild subscriptions. I lived close enough (70 miles) that I actually got to drive down to Springfield and visit Judges Guild a few times with friends. We'd buy as much swag as we could afford and then hang out if things weren't too busy. I remember a great chat with Bob Bledsaw where we ended with one of those future getting back down for a game plans that never gelled.
NE
NW
SW
SE

Graph paper fun

Was really glad to see that Kevin McLeod's Incompetech website was still there when I searched for it. His graph paper generators are endlessly useful for anybody doing paper RPGs. I just printed out a couple of diamond sheets to try isometric dungeon drawing. The Cornell note taking sheets are also nice for doing an annotated dungeon map. Hex sheets, squares, choose your size and color... all so handy.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Balrog PC class

This one is for Nesbitt the hippy Balrog...
So I was getting that nostalgia game started around 1985 and my buddy says something like "Three brown books, huh? You know that rule on Other Character Types in Men and Magic where it says you can be a Balrog, just starting as a small one? I want to be a Balrog!" and a bit later to answer how he can be around other characters, "He was raised from an egg by a blind druid, so he's somewhat socialized, in a Deadhead sort of way." And I said something like "Ookkaaayyy, I'll work on that," and went off and drew up a playable Balrog class.
It had to grow, it had to at least start out as something that other characters could play alongside, and it had to feel different than a fighter with wings and a big whip, immolation and magic resistance. And as it levels up, the Balrog nature has to become stronger, and make the character less able to be part of an adventuring party.
I just found that sheet of notebook paper while digging through old D&D notes, so here it is.

Balrog Progression

LevelA.C.H.D.BMRIMMPower RequiredBerserk
172201005
263+13510100010
354+1509200015
455+2659400020
547808800025
6389581600030
73911073200035
821012576400040
9211140612800045
10112155625600050
Power will be obtained from ingesting magic items, hearts of magical creatures and magic-using creatures, and absorbing magical attacks. This is in place of experience points.
Approximate rate examples
Eat a sword +1: 100P
Eat a sword +2: 400P
Eat a cursed potion: 50P, suffer from gas for 2D6 turns, starting after 1D6 turns.
Eat a magical monster or magic user- HD squared x 10P
Absorb a spell - level of spell x level of caster P.
Use of the whip and immolation -- When not striking great blows with the sword, may attack as 2 weapon user for one attack per round, striking once with each weapon. Sword and whip is the habitual form so no penalty for this two weapon combination. Whip does 1D3 and target must make a DEX save versus entrapment for the next round + immolation damage if immolation roll is made. Can alternatively make multiple whip attacks, one per action, instead of using the sword, but counts only whip 1D3 and immolation damage, and only entraps the last one. IMM is the number or higher to roll on 2D6 to immolate each round.
Magic Resistance: BMR is Base Magic Resistance. This is the chance to resist and absorb a spell cast by a first level magic user. Each higher level of caster reduces this chance by 5%. So a 10th level MU casting a web on a 4th level Balrog has 20% chance of the spell being absorbed.
Berserk: This is the percentage change of battle madness setting in for 2D6 rounds when surprised while entering combat, if foes outnumber friends by hit dice estimate at the start of a battle, when hit for 10% or more of HP, etc. While berserk, the Balrog will attack at +2 and immolate at +2, and ignores all wound effects until the berserk state wears off, and only then rolls checks against CON. A berserk Balrog will attack friends if all foes are defeated, until the effect wears off or it is magically calmed.

House rules handout from my '85-89 D&D nostalgia game

I've edited it a bit from the original in the course of typing it up again, but this is the gist of how I ran the campaign.
This game uses the three little brown books, and specified bits of Greyhawk. Some of the monsters and spells from Greyhawk will be introduced as well. I'm leaving out Blackmoor and later additions.

Character classes

Fighter
Magic User
Cleric
Thief
period.
All humanoid races can be any class. No level caps. Human society is dominant over half the map, and race relations problems will make up for the tactical benefits of non-human races.

Alignments

Alignments are the old three value Law, Neutrality, Chaos system, interpreted this humanocentric way, since this is a campaign world with a shrinking human realm bordering on an growing magical one:
Law: Believes that humanity and human social order is basically a good thing. Neutrality: Neither for nor against the continued existence of humans. Chaos: Inimical to human life.

Experience Points

Experience points will be given out for monsters killed at a rate somewhat over original canon, and for treasure spent after the adventure on carousing/training/charitable donations/etc. Money saved for a rainy day, spent to gear up, hire muscle or fortify will not give experience points. Magic items will give some experience when used at first. There will be roleplaying, painful lesson, and quest rewards. I have some rules of thumb for calculating XP, but I'm not going to spell out formulas.

COMBAT

Damage

  • unarmed humans 1D3
  • most normal weapons 1D6
  • heavy crossbows 2D6
  • most monster attacks 1D6
  • special monster attacks: as noted in book 2 or by DM fiat

Chance to Hit Modifiers

Melee Weapons

  • +1 Two handed weapons
  • -1 Small weapons (dagger and handaxe)
  • -1 Using two weapons, primary hand
  • -2 Using two weapons -secondary (usually left hand) attack
  • -2 Unarmed attacks by men & similar
  • -1 Improvised weapons

Missile Weapons

  • 0 Short range
  • -1 Medium range
  • -2 Long range
  • +1 Crossbows

Situational modifiers

Helmetless men: A.C. averaged with A.C.9, round down (stronger)

Attack Roll conventions

To begin with there will be no fumbles but a roll of 1 will always miss. A roll of 20 will always hit, the hit will be for double damage if the attacker could hit on a 19 or less. The 20 will also entitle the attacker to a reroll for a 19 or 20 for an instant kill.

Number of Attacks/Actions

Characters who attack on the men attacking table will get to attack once for each level group they have. A level group is the set of levels which all attack with the same To Hit number. Thus a fighter gets two attacks at level 4-6 and three at level 7-9, etc. Fighters and some monsters may strike great blows. If they do so, roll only once to hit and if successful, do the damage of the sum of their normal number of blows. Thus a superhero can strike three times for 1D6 or once for 3D6.
Actions such as drawing a weapon take up the time of one attack. Some actions, such as rummaging around in a backpack for a potion, will take longer.
Rate of fire with missiles depends on the weapon. Self bows can shoot once per action if the minimum strength requirement for the weapon is met. Otherwise, they take an extra action to load and draw, or are impossible to shoot. Crossbows take a number of actions to load based on their power.
BowMin. STR to shootMin STR to shoot each action
Shortbow37
Composite Bow712
Longbow813
CrossbowActions to reload
Light crossbow2
Heavy crossbow4

Initiative

Each character rolls 1D6 and act in the order of high roller to low roller in each combat round. If desired, a group may choose to act together on the leader's roll, the choice being made before any dice are rolled. Dexterity, wound status and situation may modify the rolls. If acting as a group, the modifiers that apply to the most negatively modified character in the group are used.

Attribute effects on combat

Strength has the effects tabulated in Greyhawk.
Dexterity modifies a character's initiative, melee, and missile attacks, and defense as detailed in the table below:

DexterityModifier
3-2
4-6-1
7-140
15-17+1
18+2

HIT POINTS, WOUNDS, AND HEALING

Hit Points

Dice as per original D&D, not Greyhawk 4-6-8. Characters have bonus hit points equal to one half of their CON, round up. Monsters are hjit dice listed +5 H.P, unless under one hit die, then bonus is 0-4 based on size. Hit dice will be rolled anew at each level, the new hit point score being used if it is higher than the old.

Wounds

There will be no hit location rules in effect but I don't want the okay until you are dead phenomenon so the table below will govern wound effects on the characters. Calculate the threshold values for the character at 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 of the total hit points.
Fraction HP lostEffect
1/4Roll 1D20: If over CON+Level then character takes a -1 on all rolls, reduce movement rate by one class (3"). Else no effect.
1/2Roll 1D20: If over CON+Level then character takes a -2 on all rolls, reduce movement rate to 1/2 normal. Roll again with a second failure resulting in incapacitation for 1D6 turns. If first roll is successful, inflict the penalty given above for 1/4 loss roll failure.
3/4Roll 1D20: If over CON+Level then character takes a -4 on all rolls, reduce movement rate two classes (6"). Roll again vs 2D6 turn incapacitation, at end of which, roll again vs 1D6 day incapacitation. If first roll is successful, inflict the penalty given above for 1/2 loss roll failure, without the incapacitation roll.
For NPCs if CON is not rolled or specified, assume it is a 10.
For minor NPCs in large melees the effects are simplified:
1/4 Roll 1D6: run away on 1 or 2
1/2 Roll 1D6: Pass out 1D6 turns on 1-2, then -2 on all rolls. Run away on 3 or 4, -2 on all rolls. 5-6 -1 on all rolls.
3/4 Roll 1D6: Pass out 2D6 turns on 1-3, then -4 on all rolls. Run away on 4 or 5 at -6" speed, -2 on all rolls. 6 -2 Keep fighting at all rolls.
If runaway impossible, fight on on 1-3, surrender on 4-6.

Healing

Natural
1/4 hit points restored per week's rest if CON roll is successful on 1D20.
Skilled aid can add bonuses to the roll. Bad conditions will subtract from the roll.
Roll of 1: Special recovery, get 1/2 back.
Roll of 20: condition worsens, lose additional 1/4 hit points. If reduced below zero by this loss, save vs illness and death on this table:
Roll 1D20:
Under 1/2 CON - character falls only to one hit point, not killed, not crippled.
1/2 CON to CON - Reduced to one hit point, shock to system reduces CON by 1 permanently
CON +1 to CON + Level - Reduce to 1 HP, CON -2 permanently, DEX and STR -1 permanently
Over CON + Level - Death by illness and infection
Magical(Clerical)
I'm not running healing as a quick combat tactic in this one.
Healing magic puts the recipient into a trance in which they will heal at 1 pt/turn until the total effect of the spell has occurred. If the healing is by clerical spells, the cleric must closely attend the recipient, maintaining concentration throughout, or the spell stops healing.
Magical healing in one day totalling over the character's CON can overload the character's system. Save vs magic or lose one point of CON for each multiple of CON exceeded. This loss is permanent.

Magic

Magic spells will be learned and cast in the basic fashion with spells memorized and cast once, with some allowance for casting unmemorized spells and casting over your maximum number at increased risk for flexibility. A die roll will be required to cast a spell successfully.
Magic users must roll less than or equal to INT + level to cast spells successfully. Clerics roll vs WIS + level. If failed, the spell is not normally lost from memory and can be reattempted.
A roll of 1 is a critical success. The spell works and is still retained in memory. If unmemorized, no spell is wiped from memory to provide the "slot". If overcast, no damage is suffered.
A roll of 20 is a critical failure. The spell fails and is lost from memory. Unmemorized spells will wipe a same level spell from memory. Overcast spells will inflict double overcasting damage to the caster.
Unmemorized spells: You may attempt to cast a spell you know but have not memorized for the day. There is a -2 penalty per spell level to the roll. Spells to an equivalent number of spell levels will be wiped from memory by the successful cast or a critical failure. Normally this would be one spell of the same level, but multiple lower level spells or a spell of higher level may be burned off for the magical energy.
Overcasting: Spells can be cast beyond the stated limits in the rules. They are cast as a minus as unmemorized spells. The caster will take 1 hit point damage per level of spell if the attempt fails and 1D6 hits per level of spell if the cast works, due to the extreme strain upon the caster's body and psyche involved. First level clerics can cast first level spells only by overcasting.
Preparation: A spellcaster can improve chances of success by using ritual and preparing the spell before casting it. The bonus will be up to 1D6 rolled secretly by the DM. The spellcaster must remain concentrating on the preparation, gaining 1 point per full turn up to the secret limit (turns beyond are wasted), expending 1GP worth of magical supplies per tern per level of spell.
Duration: Spell durations, where imposed by Greyhawk, will apply.
Area effect damage will be a hybrid between doing full damage to everyone in the area and dividing up the damage among the targets. Damage spells such as fireballs and lightning bolts which do not specify that the damage is to be applied to each target will divide the damage among their victims rather than apply their whole damage to each. Dragon breath and other such large area weapons will be applied the same way. Add 2D6 per target in the area over one to the total damage before dividing damage among the targets. So a five die fireball on one ogre does him 5 dice, minus half if saved. A five dice fireball on a group of 6 orcs will roll 5 + 10 dice, but divide the rolled damage by 6 to apply to each orc. The orcs will save individually to reduce damage.

Coming out of the woodwork on OSR

I've been bumping along thinking about restarting an old school D&D game for some years, never quite passing the energy threshold, but Dungeon Crawl Classics has me inspired, so I'm digging into my old boxes for nuggets of good stuff.

I'll start with a bit of personal history. Skip to the next post for something actually useful.
My history with D&D started in with playing Chainmail first as a very junior tagalong to my school librarian and history teacher Greg Novak at the University of Illinois Conflict Simulation Society - a sprawling game with 10 to 20 players on the thin green carpeted floor of the Knights of Pythias hall. My command was a small batch of men at arms and archers made up from 1/72 plastic Airfix Robin Hood and Sheriff of Nottingham figures.

I was hooked hard. Bought a copy of the rules as soon as possible and was playing in my basement, first using Airfix Romans and Ancient Britons and assorted plastic dinosaurs with paper wings stuck on for dragons and bigger toy soldiers for ogres and giants.

A couple years later, January or February 1975 at the local Winter War convention I bought the little brown box of little brown books from Gary himself if I remember right, discounted a buck to $9. As a youthful veteran of Chainmail, I was very excited to get a game that built on its fantasy appendix, which was the part I played the most anyway. It was both puzzling in its not-quite-fitting together and thrilling with the ideas of doing dungeon crawls and long running adventure campaigns instead of one-off field battles. I set up right away and started DMing games for friends from school, some that had already been wargaming, some not. The first game devolved after some months into the worst sort of powergaming, as I hadn't yet learned to rule out some of the sillier possible interpretations of the rules.

I rebooted with a continental map and the intent to inject a bit more roleplaying and less out of whack stuff like undead pyramid schemes based on not putting a duration limit on potions of undead control combining with the rule about new created undead being under the control of the undead that drained them. The second campaign was a good one, lasted 3-4 years, with a continental campaign map pretty well fleshed out, a reasonably balanced set of rules, my experiments into rules writing in devising a pretty good spell points system for magic, and assorted other houserules, a lot of players and a huge cast of characters, a lot of which died at levels 1-2 and the highest couple of stalwarts lasting to around level 15.

I used all the early D&D add ons in the small format supplements, The Strategic Review, the first few Dragons, and a lot of Judges Guild stuff. I used only the Monster Manual from AD&D, was already set in how I wanted to play and a bit pissed at Gary Gygax's transition from the original "play it however you want" to "play it how I tell you to play it" transition in editorials in the Dragon.

By then I had pretty much burnt out on D&D, had also played En Garde, EPT, Metamorphosis Alpha, Tunnels and Trolls, Traveller, and a bit of homebrew, and fell in love for a few years with Runequest and ran that the last semester of high school and into college, mixed in with a bit of Aftermath, Bushido, Morrow Project, and whatnot.

At the tenth anniversary of D&D I had my first D&D nostalgia twinge and started a little brown books campaign again. I wanted it very simple, but patched to suit my tastes. This game ran every month or two for three or four years, with half a dozen regulars and maybe fifteen or twenty players overall. My next post will be the initial houserules handout for that campaign.