Sunday, December 22, 2013

A New Class for My OD&D Game

I owe special thanks to James Mishler, for the “Vancian Adventurer” he described at his blog, Adventures in Gaming v2.

Since I mentioned his article to my players, I’ve been asked several times when it would be available to them… and I told them it would be ready for our 22 Dec 13 game.  I’ve taken the Vancian Adventurer he created, and modified it to fit better with OD&D and my own house rules.  This is really just a first draft, and will likely be changed as I see how it works out during our games.

Here it is!

The Adventurer

The adventurer class is an alternative to the standard classes, and allows a player to run a character best described as a “jack of all trades, master of none.”  The adventurer will not be the best at fighting, nor at spellcasting, nor at thievery, but he will have abilities in all these areas!

Prime Requisite: None.

Minimum Ability Scores: None.

Racial Level Limits: Human Unlimited.

Hit Dice: Adventurers gain one hit die per level up to and including 9th level. Two hit points are gained per level after 9th, with Constitution modifiers no longer applicable

Armor: Any, however, armor use can cause issues when using magic spells or thieving abilities.

Fight As: Thief

Adventuring Abilities: An adventurer begins play at 1st level with the following abilities:

  • All standard thief skills, but each is 5 points lower than the thief
  • The ability to cast spells, along with a first level spell book containing four spells, and a Casting Rank of 1.

Saving Throws: An adventurer begins at 1st level with a base saving throw of 16 in all five categories. At 1st level he divides 8 points among the five to lower the scores; he may spend no more than 4 points on any one saving throw in this fashion. Every level thereafter the adventurer lowers two saving throw scores by 1 point each. Once a saving throw reaches 7, it can only be improved 1 point by applying both points for that level to that saving throw. No saving throw may be improved to better than 3.

Spell Casting: An adventurer can cast spells. Spells are cast at a level equal to the adventurer’s level.

If an adventurer has a low Intelligence score, he has a base chance of spell failure with each spell as follows:
  • Int 3 = 10% chance of spell failure
  • Int 4-6 = 5% chance of spell failure

If the adventurer casts a spell while wearing armor, there is a chance of spell failure. The chance is equal to any base spell failure chance plus 10% per point of defense the armor provides (not including magical bonuses) plus 5% per level of the spell, less 5% per adventurer level, less 5% per point of Intelligence bonus.
The adventurer begins play at 1st level with a spell book, containing Read Magic and three randomly chosen spells.  To determine the spells known, roll a d10 and consult the1st level spell table. If you re-roll a spell it means you were stiffed by your master and were taught one less spell.

The adventurer can only learn spells that are of a spell level equal to half his level rounded up. An adventurer must have a minimum Intelligence of 18 to learn 9th level spells, a minimum Intelligence of 17 to learn 8th level spells, and a minimum Intelligence of 16 to learn 7th level spells.

While Read Magic is not needed to determine an unknown spell contained within a spell book, its use is required in order to read and attempt to learn the new spell.  The adventurer must spend the usual time and gold to learn the spell, roll a Learn Spell check based on his Intelligence score, and if he learns it, he can thereafter memorize it. He can only learn spells by acquiring other spell books or by researching and recreating a spell (i.e., the bonus spell gained by choice at each level).

If an adventurer fails to learn a spell, he may attempt to learn that spell from another spell book after he has gained a level. Note that the Intelligence-based minimum and maximum spells known is not applicable to adventurers.

The adventurer does not need to memorize spells in order to cast them, but he must spend 5 minutes per spell level per spell studying his entire spell book each day in order to cast any spells that day.  This study enables the adventurer to cast any spell he knows as needed.  The adventurer can cast a total number of spell levels per day equal to his level plus his Intelligence bonus plus his Wisdom bonus plus his Casting Rank

An adventurer can attempt to cast a spell from a spell book.  If it is not the adventurer’s spell book, a Read Magic is required.  This requires one full round per level of the spell. The chance to successfully cast the spell is equal to the adventurer’s chance to learn a spell, plus 5% per level, minus 5% per spell level.  Casting a spell this way does not count against the adventurer’s daily total, but does erase the spell from the book as though it were a scroll.

Thieves Abilities: Adventurers possess all the basic thieving abilities at 1st level (but at 5 points lower each), and may advance in them as they gain levels.  The Adventurer does not gain the backstab ability.  An adventurer may wear armor while attempting thieving abilities, but suffers the usual penalties for doing so.

Advancement:   An adventurer chooses which of his abilities to improve upon as he gains experience.  Upon reaching a new level, the gained the adventurer may choose one of the following:
  • Advance thief skills by 35 points total (for example, add 5 points to each of the seven thief skills); or
  • Advance thief skills by 18 points total and learn one new spell of his choice of any level he can cast (provided he can find and hire a teacher); or
  • Advance thief skills by 18 points total and increase his Cast Rank by 1; or
  • Increase Cast Rank by 1 and gain one new spell of his choice of any level he can cast (provided he can find and hire a teacher); or
  • Automatically learn two new spells of his choice of any level he can cast (provided he can find and hire a teacher); or
  • Provided he can find a cleric to train him (usually requiring training, tithes, and certain spell casting knowledge, if not also adherence to dogma), he can gain the cleric’s turn and/or control undead ability as if he were a first level cleric; or
  • Advance his clerical turn or control ability one rank and learn one new spell of his choice of any level he can cast (from among those taught by his temple)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Environmental Effects to Help the Players Immerse...

In my OD&D campaign, all my players are teens... my son and his friends, and some of their friends.  The game doesn't always run smoothly, as I've mentioned here before, but it's usually fun.  One of the things I've always wanted to do when running a game is to set environmental clues to help the players get into the game... I've tried lighting changes, which don't work all that well for me, since my poor old eyes need bright light to read.  I've tried music, which works fairly well, but I never have time to create a playlist, which would be tough anyway, since I never really know for sure where they're going to go.  I've also found music can be distracting, since the majority of my players are band kids.

The last two times we play OD&D, though, I got it right.  The party was exploring southward from Milburn Hall, their home base, and came to a 300' cliff overlooking what they thought was a forest.  They worked their way down the cliff, and about 200 feet down from the top, passed through a glowing green layer in the air that extended as far as they could see, from the cliff outward.  As they passed through it, I told them the air temperature when from the mid-70s to the high 90s, and the humidity from the mid 40s to a hundred percent.  As the continued downward, they realized the cliff was higher than they'd thought...the three hundred feet got them to the top of the jungle canopy.  They were able make it all the way to the floor, though, and I switched on recorded jungle noise I found online:  Exotic Deep Jungle Sounds.

The entire time they were in the jungle, a total of about 8 hours between two different sessions, I kept the sounds running.  The first time they encountered something large and carnivorous, I turned off the sound... and told them all the jungle noises died away.  The creatures don't matter, nor does the battle itself for this discussion, but the sudden silence in the room brought everyone's attention to me!  As I've mentioned previously, for this game, we usually have between 9 and 11 teens at the table, and keeping everyone focused isn't always easy.  After the battle had ended, I turned the sound back on, quietly at first, then turned it up again.  The next time something large and carnivorous appeared, I rolled for surprise, and they were... so I turned off the sound, and we fought the battle.

After that, each time there was a significant encounter, I'd check for surprise, then turn off the noises.  If they were surprised, I'd roll the creatures' attacks; if they weren't, I'd give them time to tell me what they were doing.  The effect was truly awesome from my side of the table... turning off the sound and then seeing the "oh shit" looks on the players' faces was great!

Whether the encounters harmed them or not, the sound dying away was a wonderful cue for them to be on guard, and I really need to look for other sound-scapes for use in my games!  Anyone else have any luck with sounds or any other environmental cues?  Let me know!

Friday, December 6, 2013


Thanks to Charles Akins for listing this blog in "The Great Blog Roll Call" on his blog, Dyvers.  Here's what he had to say about me:

"The Concierge A relatively new blog that seems to be searching for its focus. The author has some amazing ideas about the game he plays and the blog is decidedly in the OSR vein, but there's a lot of potential here. Updates: Currently dark since September of this year."

I'll see if I can't start blogging regularly, and live up to some o'that potential!