Sunday, August 17, 2014

Draft Players' Guide - 50%?

I've spent quite a bit of time this weekend working on the Player's Guide (PG) for my OD&D campaign world.  Not sure how much longer I'll be able to say it's OD&D though.  The PG started off as a copy of LBB 1:  Men & Magic.  I've been working through it, updating things here and there based on my house rules and other things I've posted here on the blog.

The goal is to create the document I can hand to any new player at my table, so that she can begin play immediately, but still have access to all she needs to know for long term play.

So far, I've added the Adventurer Class, the Initial Occupation table, a section on creating zero-level characters as well as one on creating leveled characters.  I've also added in the modified combat rules (ascending AC w/Combat bonuses vice Men Attacking and Monster Attacking tables or THAC0).  Still need to update the other classes, experience awards, magic and add the rest of my house rules.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Resources Used in my Milburn Hall Campaign

Had a great time yesterday, running my Milburn Hall campaign for the first time since January.  I had a blast, and my players did as well.

I've always had time pass in-game at the same rate as the real world between sessions, so I started off by letting the players know they'd been hanging around the budding Village at Milburn Hall for six months.  During that time, another 350+ refugees from Cittá had arrived, with most staying at the Village, and the rest heading north to settle down with the Clerics in Kemper Village.  Earlier in the week, I used my old copy of Midkemia Press' "Second Edition of Cities" to generate the two growing villages.

I wanted to start using weather because of the long term plans of the inhabitants of the Shining City to CHANGE the weather... hard to make that seem like a threat if we've never bothered with it!  I had looked at the weather generation tables in my Wilderness Survival Guide, but found it WAY too much work.  Instead, during play, I made use of the "Empire Weather" chart, which proved useful AND simple.  I'll probably go with a little more crunch, but this was a great start!

I introduced a new NPC, Fasu Susalliassa, an Ambassador from the Shining City, and his retinue.  The plan was to have him visit Milburn Hall and be there as a minor but growing threat during the next several sessions... but as always, the players surprised me and dealt with him right away.  Of course, the Shining City itself is still south of Milburn Hall, and sooner or later they'll have to deal with it!  Prepping for the NPC led me to come up with a lot more background data on the city and it's inhabitants, as well as their naming conventions, which frame the culture of the Masked Ones for me and will make future prep work much easier.

I also made use of what my players came to refer as "Satanic amphi-bunnies," the Skwugs I found at "destination unknown."  They were fun to use and my players seemed to like them.  I let them read the description after the session ended, and there was immediate discussion over whether the spit could be used to make potions, and whether a gain in intelligence was worth the risk of a loss of the same.

Love that I have access to the work that others share thru the internet; it makes the execution of ideas (both mine and theirs!) so much easier.  Now, if only I had a secretary to transcribe my words...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


As I mentioned, I found a box of old game notes.  I looked through it trying to find my missing Freeservers password, but had no luck.  Happily, the company was able to help me out, and I now have access to the old site again.  I'm unsure of what to do with it, though.  Do I retain it as it?  Should I delete it and transfer the data to this site?  Should I update it with the notes I had and use it as a campaign specific website?

I was especially excited to find the vocabulary notes I thought I'd lost.  I've never designed an entire language, but I like to sketch out the basics of grammar and a smidgen of vocabulary so things like place names have the coherent feel of a real culture, rather than just random sounds.  This is also a great way to leave subtle clues for players about campaign world history.

Now if only I could find the detailed notes on the calendar I created for my 2e game!  I was very pleased with it, but right now, all I can find are some notes with specific dates in them, rather than the entire construct.  Oh well, more digging to do!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Lost Treasure Found!

About fifteen years ago, I decided it was time to update my campaign world, by consolidating all my prior notes and ideas into one.  I took my 1e notes from high school, and the 2e world I ran during my first assignment in the Air Force, and all the other half-baked ideas I'd collected, and began to put them together.  I was having fun working on it, and the Western Marches Campaign briefly described on the site was going to form the basis of a new campaign world.

Today I found a box of old gaming files.  As I looked through it, I recalled my first attempt to post campaign information online... so I decided to share the link.  Sadly, I lost the password to the site, so it didn't get the treatment I felt it deserved.  Think I'll contact the company and see if they can't help me out.

I never did pull a group together to play that world... but with my notes again in hand, I can make use of it in my current game!

Monday, August 4, 2014


Lord of Sleep, Giver of Health, Loremaster.  Lawful.

Thanatos is a member of the Concordat, and is worshipped in Cittá as well as in the newly founded monastery at Kemper Village.  His priests have access to a first level sleep spell, as per the 1st level mage spell, and to a 3rd level spell, "Healing Sleep" that causes the recipient to sleep for 2-12 hours, during which they heal 1 point for each hour slept.  Temples and monasteries of Thanatos tend to include libraries and often host sages and researchers for a fee.

Thanatos' symbol is a stylized eyelid, found in two forms:  Thanatos Aware, (Up, with 17 eyelashes) and Thanatos Dreaming (down, with 7 eyelashes).  His clerics will normally keep this as their sleep cycle, being up for 17 hours and asleep for 7 each day.  The "Thanatos Aware" symbol is used when seeking knowledge; the "Thanatos Dreaming" symbol when invoking sleep or healing.

Thanatos himself is never portrayed.  His clerics turn undead as though they were a level higher than they are, using the Thanatos Aware symbol.  They fight only with blunt weapons like clubs, maces and hammers, bludgeoning their opponents rather than cutting them.

Thanatos is the patron of healers, sages, and those who seek hidden knowledge.  His clerics often wear a Thanatos Aware platinum earring on their right ear, and a Thanatos Dreaming earring on their left.  Those who seek his favor give either books or medicinal herbs to his temples.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Where has 2014 gone?

Played yesterday morning for the first time in quite a few months.  My "year in gaming" hasn't turned out quite like I hoped, as I've gotten side-tracked not only with work and real world issues, but big time-sinks like Facebook.  Anyway, I played in my son's game, where my thief, Corrin Aledrinker, is now 7th level.  When we started, my son was running with 4th edition, but he switched backward to 2nd edition after he and the players saw how much simpler the rules were in my OD&D game.  For Christmas 2013, he got a spiral-bound copy of OSRIC, and soon switched back from 2nd edition to 1st.  I've got to admit, I liked the 2nd edition rogue's ability to decide which thieving abilities he wanted to improve when gaining levels, but I don't mind the loss all that much.  Corrin is still Corrin after all... a halfling from a family of brewers who left home to see the (ales of the) world!  I have a great time playing him.  From sampling every wineskin we find, to using ale and wine when negotiating with the orc merchant we sell our found gems and jewelry to, he's been a blast!

I've set up a game for this coming Saturday in my OD&D campaign.  Even though I haven't done anything with it since, I think, January, I'm already thinking up new adventure hooks to lay before the players!  The local village around Milburn Hall has grown, the recolonization of Kemper Village has proceeded, and the lizard men in the swamp south of Milburn Hall are about to make themselves known to the PCs... I'm very much looking forward to Saturday!

Game on!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge

All right, I'm not actually playing this little game, but maybe if I was, I'd be doing better on my stated blogging goals for this year.  I saw this question over at Rather Gamey, and had to answer it!

Day 23: First song that comes to mind that you associate with D&D.  Why?

I'm not sure how accurate this memory is, but it seems that whenever we played at the Flanigan house we kept Floyd and Zeppelin and the like playing in the background.  The Flanigans were part of original group of kids in our neighborhood that started playing in, I think, 1977.  It might have been '78... I'll have to ask next time I talk to them.  So is my choice a Pink Floyd song or a Led Zeppelin song?  Not even close... that prize goes to Gloria Gaynor singing "I Will Survive.!"

In '79 or '80 (wow, I'm not very good with the dates here, am I?), I started running a game for a group of friends from high school that didn't live in the neighborhood.  We rotated games primarily between four of our houses.  After I got my license, it seemed that whenever I drove over to the Daschbach house, I'd hear Gloria Gaynor belt out "I Will Survive" sometime during that short ten minute drive.  My wife and son have known for years that song SCREAMS D&D to me... simply because it's tied in my mind to the anticipation of heading to a gaming session.  These days, I'm far more likely to hear Cake's version, and I get a kick out of hearing my son sing it.  Truth be told, this version causes the same Pavlovian response in me.

Want me to run some AD&D for you, but I don't seem to be inspired?  Lemme hear you sing, "At first I was afraid, I was petrified..." along with Gloria Gaynor or Cake, and I'll be ready before you finish the song!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Fully formed?

The last two times we played OD&D, my players asked when we'd play Traveller again.  I wasn't ready, as I've been fully immersed in my OD&D world for a long time, but suddenly I find myself back in the Star Clans universe.  During our last Star Clans session, the characters misjumped to an empty hex far from home, and were out of fuel as we ended the session.  Part of the reason we haven't played for six months was because I wasn't sure what would happen next.  I don't tend to plan things out in my game worlds; random events occur because of die rolls during play, and between sessions, I won't give things much thought until something big jumps into my head, 90% complete.

That happened twice in the last two weeks with Traveller.  I knew exactly what to write up for the next session... until two days ago, when the first scenario was completely replaced!  Now it's just a matter of jotting down some notes and scheduling the next game!

Am I the only DM/Referee who "discovers" his world rather than creating it?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Combat Charts for my OD&D Campaign

Armor class in OD&D

I have no real idea as to the history of Armor Class in the "alternate" combat system in OD&D... why it goes from 2 to 9, for example, rather than 1 to 8.  We had a copy of chainmail, but never used the original combat system out of it.  I only played OD&D for a year or two as a kid before AD&D came out, and we made the switch.  When it came out, I embraced THAC0 as a great little innovation for simplifying things for players and DM alike.

Now that I've been running an OD&D campaign for about a year, and again using the combat charts from LBB 1 (Men and Magic), I find myself wanting to simplify things.  THAC0?  Nah.  As I make changes to the rules, I'm trying to make them better support the gameworld I've created.  In that world, normal humans are the dominant race, so the rules should be based on what normal humans do; with modifiers added as PCs level up.  If I recall correctly, zero level men-at-arms attacked as 1st level fighters.  I don't like that, since I've already added zero-level play to my rules.  Here is the original Men Attacking chart:

And here is the Monsters Attacking chart:

Instead, add one to the first column in Men Attacking, and you get a required "to hit" roll of 18 for Plate Armor & Shield.  That is what it takes a zero-level character to hit in my game.  Therefore, make 18 the AC value rather than 2.

Now the chart looks like this:

We can see clearly here that a shield improves armor class by one.  Should someone opt to use two shields, they won't be able to attack, but will improve their AC by two.  In the same way, I'll allow a character to parry with his weapon instead of attacking, and that will also improve AC by one.

To account for the improvements gained when leveling up, we use a "combat bonus" based on the improvements in the Men Attacking table:  +1 for levels 1-3, +3 for levels 4-6, +6 for level 7-9, +8 for levels 10-12, +10 for levels 13-15, and +13 for level 16 and above.  Of course this is just for fighters.  Clerics progress at 4 levels per group, and mages at 5 levels per group.  Adventurers and thieves in my campaign fight as clerics, so here's the Combat Bonus Table:

To compare, lets look at a 5th level fighter attacking an opponent wearing chainmail & shield.  Per the LLB chart above, we'd cross-reference the AC of Chainmail & Shield (AC=4) with the column labeled 4-6, and find that he needs to roll a 13 or better.  Using my charts, we know that Chainmail & Shield is an AC of 16, and a 5th level fighter has a combat bonus of +3.  Therefore, any roll of 13 or better would still be a hit.

To account for Monsters Attacking, their combat bonus will simply be their HD from now on, with any modifiers pushing them up to the next value, and 11 being the maximum bonus.  This eliminates the need for the second table.

This won't be an exact match to the old tables, especially for monsters attacking, but I like the way it works, so as of today, that's how combat in my game will work.  Hopefully, actual play-testing won't reveal some terrible bug I haven't thought of!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Xenili Opokwa

The Hunter, He Who Provides, The Seeker.  Neutral.

Primitive tribesmen, living in the deserts beyond the edge of civilization, worshipped The Hunter long before the Concordat.  Xenili Opokwa favored neither the encroaching civilizations, nor the terrible creatures that roamed the deserts where his people lived; and so He Who Provides protected them from both.  In the end, though, as Cittá continued to expand, he joined the Concordat, and his people were assimilated.

The Seeker is most often portrayed as a tall, wiry man with dark skin, carrying a boomerang and either a spear or a sling.  He is clad only in a loincloth.  His clerics tend to specialize in spells that assist with basic survival.  They may use any weapon made of wood (staves, bows, spears, slings. etc.), and may not wear metal armor.  Upon reaching 4th level, they gain a 20% chance to move silently and to hide in shadows, and each time they gain a level, may split 5 additional points between the two skills.

Xenili Opokwa is the patron of huntsmen, the heads of families, guildmasters, bounty hunters, and those who seek lost items.  Those who wish to curry his favor give gold to his temples or directly to those in need, saying "This comes from He Who Provides."

Monday, January 13, 2014

Clerics of the Nine Hundred Gods of Citta

Temples of the Nine Hundred Gods of Cittá vary widely, but as mentioned, all contain the stone tablets listing the deities; and all conduct an annual service that includes a recitation of the names of all the deities in the Concordat.  This is not to say that all temples are generic to the Nine Hundred.  Most temples have active clergy of only one or two deities, or at most a small group forming a single pantheon.  In such cases, each cleric would be dedicated to one deity, but would help followers of the Others as well.  Temple clerics and adventuring NPC clerics have a 10% chance per level of knowing whether any named deity is a member of the Concordat.  If asked to identify religious items, such as a holy symbol, special garments, etc., of another deity, an NPC cleric who recognizes the deity as outside of the Nine Hundred receives a -3 on his reaction roll.  If the deity is a member of the Concordat, but an opposition deity or alignment to the cleric's own; his reaction roll will be at -1.

Clerics of the Nine Hundred Gods of Cittá must choose a specific deity before they reach 4th level; prior to that they receive their power generically from the deities of the Nine Hundred whose alignment they share.  Once a deity has been chosen; clerics begin to work toward the goals of their deity, which means they must adhere to their alignment and any specific tenets of their faith.  Clerics who aid those whose alignment is different from their own without a very good reason may find themselves at odds with their deity, and face sanctions ranging from visionary warnings to loss of spells or other powers, and a requirement to atone by donating their wealth to the temple, or even embarking upon a long and dangerous quest to benefit the deity or his temple.

Of course, no two deities of the Nine Hundred will have the same requirements or restrictions for their clerics; and chaotic deities will tend to play fast and loose with the requirements of the Concordat.  A few of the Nine Hundred will be detailed here in the near future for player use.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Concordat or The Nine Hundred Gods of Cittá

The one common feature of every large cathedral found anywhere in Cittá is a collection of carved stone tablets naming the Nine Hundred Gods of Cittá.  The one common ritual among all the organized religions of Cittá is an annual service which includes a recitation of the entire list.

The tablets are known as the Concordat.  The Sages however, tell us the Concordat is more than just a collection of stone tablets.  They say the Concordat is an actual agreement made by The Nine Hundred Gods of Cittá.  There is certainly some truth to this, for while The Nine Hundred have many conflicting goals and intense hatreds, they have not fought openly in the city since the Concordat.  Our history is replete with stories of the gods and their battles.  Many ancient civilizations collapsed when their gods joined them on the battlefield and fought their wars with them.  Cittá was spared this fate.  For eight thousand years, Citta has grown and spread across the world; surely the Concordat is the reason.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Further modifications to my OD&D... Hit Dice changes

As I modify the rules of what I'll continue to call my OD&D game, I've decided to change the hit dice progressions away from what is found in the LBBs and Supp 1.

Here is how the new hit dice progressions look:

As a character moves up a level, he will roll the total number of dice shown... and if the number rolled is higher than his current total hit points, he'll use the new total.  For example, a 3rd level thief with 11 hit points makes it to 4th level.  The player rolls 4d6, as shown.  If he rolls higher than an 11, he gets the new total; otherwise he keeps the 11.

For Mages, a d5 will be simulated as follows:  roll a d6, rerolling if a 6 appears.

In addition, characters with a 15 or better constitution can add a +1 per level to their score; and Fighters and Adventurers with an 18 constitution can add +2 per level to their score.

*From this point forward, a character's constitution bonus is frozen, and a cumulative addition as shown is added to the roll of the dice.  For example, a player with a Cleric attaining 12th level with a 16 constitution would roll 10d6 (tenth level) +10 (Cumulative but frozen constitution bonus) +2 (11th level) +2 (12th level).  If this sum were higher than the current hit point total, the cleric would use the new, higher total; otherwise would remain at the previous hit point total.

As with all modifications I attempt; we'll see how this plays out in the game...

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Adventurer Class Update

In December, I posted about a new class I'm using in my OD&D campaign, the Adventurer.  Thanks again to James Mishler for the inspiration!  One of my players read it over, and opted to make one of his characters an Adventurer when he leveled up from zero.  He pointed out one thing I've mentioned at my table about fighters and wanted to know if it would apply here... I allow Fighters one attack per level when fighting creatures with less than full hit die.  His question was whether I was going to give the Adventurer that ability as well.  

The answer is yes, but as with most other abilities, the adventurer won't be as good at it as a straight up fighter.  Instead, he'll get one attack per level divided by 2, rounded up... like this:
As we play, I'll keep an eye on the adventurer, to see if anything else needs tweaked.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 Gaming Goals

I posted my 2013 Gaming Goals back on 23 Dec 12.  How did I do?  Well, the first goal was to run my Traveller game at least monthly... FAIL - I only ran 7 games!  The second goal was to start my OD&D campaign... SUCCESS - I ran about a dozen games.  Third goal was to start running OD&D with another group, not made up of my son's friends:  FAIL.  My final gaming goal was to do a better job blogging, both in terms of frequency and length/content... PARTIAL SUCCESS - Overall blog count was up, but I slacked off after the school year started, so frequency fell to zero.  Not so hot, 2013!

For 2014, my gaming goals are as follows:

  • Run at least 26 sessions with my current gaming group, including both my OD&D and Traveller campaigns 
  • Blog at least thrice weekly, all year long 
  • Create a "players' guide" to my OD&D world, and print it for each of my players 
  • Start a second group in my OD&D campaign, with a group of coworkers/friends 
  • Host non-RPG game nights to try out some other games 

What are YOUR gaming goals for 2014?