Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Great Week of Gaming!

Last week was a great week of gaming for our group!  On Monday, I ran my Star Clans Traveller game at V's house.  This was the first time at other than my house for this campaign.  V's older sister, L3, is home for the summer, and joined us as a new player.  V's Dad is around my age, and would have joined us, but he felt the table was too full.  Instead, he stood by commenting (both to me privately and to the players) and generally having a good time with us.  He was a big player of Traveller in college, so maybe next time, M2?

On Tuesday, I ran my OD&D game at my house.  For that game, I made two rule changes.  Since I recently found and downloaded a .pdf of Supplement I (Greyhawk), I converted the thieves to those rules.  I had been using Jimm Johnson's house rules for the thief class from his Planet Eris.  Of course, we've only had thieves for a few sessions, since it took most players far longer than I expected to level up from zero!  The other change I made was to do away with the OD&D experience awards in favor of trying out Alexis Smolensk's experience system from his "The Tao of D&D."  I liked it a lot, and several players commented in favor of it as well.  You can read about it in Alexis' own words here, but the short take is that you get 10 xp for every point of damage you cause, and 20 xp for every point of damage you take; and the party as a whole gets an equal share of another 20 xp per for all the damage the party suffered as a whole.  I'll use this system for a few more games and see how it goes, but at first blush I think it'll be a keeper for my OD&D campaign.

On Wednesday, we went to S's house (she normally Skypes in from college but she, too, is home for the summer), and my son ran his 2nd edition AD&D game.  M's game is the only one I play in, and I'm having lots of fun playing my rogue, Corrin Aledrinker.  We had no luck getting S's Dad to play (he's also right around my age), even though he played years ago... but we'll keep trying!

All-in-all, lots of fun last week!

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Ratter's Blade

In a city as old and powerful as Cittá  it often takes extraordinary circumstances to change the balance of power.  Four centuries ago, during Lord Belleroth's reign as local representative of the Emperor, a terrible famine struck, which lasted several years.  A group of foragers, who made their living scavenging in the ruins under Cittá  called upon Belleroth and offered to ensure a supply of meat to outlast the famine.  They were led by a shady rogue named Throck, and his stated price was Guild status for his foragers.  Belleroth put him off again and again, but as the famine stretched on into a seventh year, he finally agreed to Throck's terms, for the foragers seemed better fed than even the local nobility.

Within a few days, the foragers began delivering cuts of meat to Belleroth... 20 pounds the first day, 40 the next, 100 on the third day, and within a month, 1000 pounds of meat a day!  Belleroth happily made use of the new supply, feeding first his family, then the local nobles who most supported him, and gradually providing rations for the masses.  It was then that Throck's foragers stopped delivering cuts of meat, and started delivering entire corpses of giant rats. Belleroth was outraged, but cornered... he couldn't go back on his word, and didn't want to appear the fool, so he had his butchers and cooks continue to use the rat, as though it were the most normal thing in the world.  As the famine stretched on, Throck demanded recognition for his guild, but Belleroth put him off, saying that until the famine had ended, the meat supply must continue, or Throck would be hanged for breaking their contract, and his foragers all imprisoned.  For two more years, the foragers provided for Belleroth and the nobility, and finally the famine ended.
Belleroth, though, continued to make excuses to avoid granting the foragers their status.  Finally, Throck and the foragers had had enough, and six months after the famine ended they cut off the supply of rat meat, and disappeared into the undercity, where Belleroth's men had no chance of finding them.

A year to the day after the famine ended, Belleroth awoke to find a giant rat perched upon his chest... and not just his household, but several square miles of the city were infested with the foul vermin.  For weeks, no matter how many were killed, the rats just kept coming... and finally Belleroth was forced to announce publicly that he needed the help of the foragers.

Throck made his appearance later that day, in Belleroth's very own bedchamber, a supposedly secure room.  Spying a finely crafted dagger mounted on the wall above Belleroth's bed, Throck added it to his demand.  "Grant us guild status today, and give me that dagger as my symbol, and the rats will be gone in a week!"  Belleroth reluctantly agreed, and before nightfall, on behalf of the Emperor, signed the charter granting official guild status to the foragers.

Lord Belleroth fancied himself a witty man, and being less than enamored of the new Guildmaster, and hoping to embarass him, designated the new Guild "The Faithful Order of Ratters and Guild of Exterminators," or Foragers.  The promised dagger had been in Belleroth's family for several generations, and he was loathe to make the gift, but such was his rank and position that he had no choice.  Throck laughed at the joke, not at all upset, and took Belleroth's dagger as his own.

For almost three hundred years, the blade served as the symbol of the Guild, worn by every Guildmaster, and used repeatedly to dispatch not only giant rats and sewer vermin but many of the smaller humanoids that lived under Citta as well.  The Foragers were an open Guild, admitting anyone willing to enter the undercity, and several Guildmasters were accomplished mages who sought to weave powerful enchantments into the blade.  A little over a century ago, a group of Foragers, led by their Guildmaster, were exploring deep below Citta when the floor collapsed, sending the Guildmaster and half the party down into inky blackness.  When a rescue party finally reached the lower level a few days later, the gnawed-upon corpses of the Guildmaster and the rest of the party were found... surrounded by hundreds of dead rats.  The dagger was not found, and hasn't been seen since.

The Ratter's Blade

+1/+2 vs. Smaller than Man-size Creatures/+3 vs. giant rats (plusses apply both to hit and damage rolls)

In an underground setting the blade glows a very dim bluish white light.  In the presence of vermin, the blade brightens with an angry reddish glow.  The latter is evidenced whenever any creatures of animal intelligence or below (rats and mice, giant rats, wererats, cockroaches, beetles of all sorts, etc.) come within 60 feet.  The Blade grants its wielder multiple attacks against creatures of less than one hit die, granting one attack per level as if the wielder were a fighting man.  In addition, the Blade calls out to vermin within a half mile, and any small creatures within 30 feet may be charmed and will obey the spoken commands of the wielder for 2d4 rounds, even if they otherwise could not understand the spoken words; those that make their save vs. magic instead fall asleep for 1d6 rounds.  NOTE:  Smaller than man-size humanoids (kobolds, goblins, etc.,) save vs magic at +2; those who fail their save are charmed for 1d4 rounds, those who succeed are unaffected, and do NOT fall asleep.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Magic Items in my Campaign

When I first started playing, we used the LBBs... but in short order the 1st edition AD&D books started coming out, and pretty much our entire group bought them.  This meant that everyone knew everything; all the monsters, the magic items, etc.  At the time, I started thinking how much cooler it would be if there were magic items that fit my campaign world, or that had properties unknown to the players because they were not standard items.

My first attempt at creating such magic was a matched set of five polymorph potions, which happened to have long term effects we (unfortunately) never got to play through because the majority of us graduated from high school and moved away.  The idea of corrupting magic was one I very much liked, and these potions had it.

The potions only allowed the imbiber to become an ogre.  They were cursed though, with each potion having a cumulative 20% chance of effect.  Our bard, Eisbrandfahrer, chose the potions, and after three uses, the curse hit him.  Here's how it worked:  Each time he took more than a certain amount of damage, he would turn into an ogre until he had a chance to de-stress (relax after combat or get out of danger).  The transition healed him a few points, but upon reverting to human form, he was a little more ogre-like.  I'd written out a transition page (and probably still have it somewhere) that showed, over time, increases in height and weight, increases in strength, decreases in intelligence and charisma, changes in appearance, etc., so that after a while he would BE an ogre.

As I said, we never got to play it through, but following it to it's logical end, I would have had an ogre bard in my campaign.  Although I've never written them up, I've had in mind for three decades a race of ogres, more intelligent than normal and certainly wittier, who serve as bards and minstrels for other fell races.

But back to the magic, I have other items I created years ago that I'll bring up later.  For now, let me point out two interesting columns at other blogs:  Fr. Dave's tables for random history for magic items and Rick Stump's article about magic items that "grow" with the characters.  The two mesh very well, and have me convinced (whether or not that was their combined intent) that every permanent magic item in my OD&D campaign should be unique.  Of course, potions and scrolls and such won't necessarily be so, but every weapon, piece of armor or miscellaneous magic item will have a history of their own, which points to their powers.

In my son's game Friday night, my thief, Corrin Aledrinker, found a magical dagger... from the book it's a standard "+1, +2 vs. smaller than man-sized creatures" dagger.  Tomorrow I'll tell you about "Ratter," a magical dagger based on this one, but with a history in my campaign world that will probably show up there at some point.

BTW, Happy Fathers' Day!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Countless deaths...

May and June of 2013 saw countless deaths in O-Town due to torrential rains and the accompanying flooding of the citizens' burrows.  The great paved surfaces were covered; bodies were strewn about, stranded far from shelter, drying and dying in the heat of the sun.

When the details were later recorded in the Annals of the Annelids, the period came to be known as The Wormpacalypse.