Friday, September 23, 2011

Adventures in Munchkinism

So my brother-in-law decided he wanted to run a drow noble campaign, using Pathfinder rules, and allowing everything on the Pathfinder SRD site. I'm thinking, this is crazy! He had us roll stats three different ways: 3d6, reroll 1s; 4d6 drop lowest; and d12+6. Then we could pick whichever set we liked the best and arrange to taste.

Thus, I set out to make the most broken character I could without putting forth too much effort. There is so much crap available, I'd still be sifting through feats if I wanted to really take it seriously. First, the stats. d12+6 gave me the best results, with the following scores: 18, 18, 15, 12, 11, 10. Two 18s! The drow noble modifiers are totally insane. +4 Dex, +2 Int, +2 Wis, +2 Cha, -2 Con.

Dex being the best, I went for a Dex-based class. Rogue seemed kind of lame, but I found a new class from the new Ultimate Combat book - THE NINJA! This class is totally broken. At level 2, I can already turn invisible as a swift action (meaning I can still move and attack in the same round). It's totally fucked. We played one session, and let me be honest, it was fun as shit. We're all supposed to be brothers/sisters from the same family, and we just came of age (86 years old) and are going to be sent to the drow school for learning devious shit. So for our first session, we did some trials. One was to pick a mushroom from a set of four and hopefully not die or get fucked up. I'm not sure what we were supposed to figure out, besides just guessing. Anyways, I got a crazy-ass bluff score so I faked eating the mushroom. I rolled shitty, so it didn't work, but I followed up with a use of my 1/day suggestion spell, to convince the test's administrator that I had in fact eaten the mushroom. At least that worked. I later found out the mushroom I picked was some crazy hallucinogenic kind, so later that night all our PCs split it and ate it, and promptly proceeded into the dungeons of our own house to pull monsters out of the cells and kill them for sport, while tripping.

I laughed my balls of the entire session, and was in tears once or twice. We decided to be the Black family. We have Joe Black (me), Jack Black, Frank Black, and I forget what my sister's was. I think next session, we will actually be going to the school. I expect lots of amazing fun, sort of like if completely immature superheroes were to attend whatever school Harry Potter went to.

Now for your pleasure, here is my completely overpowered level 2 character:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Loads of Free Fun

A few weeks back, I ran a sort of experiment. I wanted to run a level 1 Pathfinder adventure with level 0 DCC characters. I already had some copies of the free DCC RPG Beta Rules printed up, and I had picked up this free goblin adventure on Free RPG Day.

In order to make it a little more meaningful, I told the players they could each roll up 4 level 0 goblin dudes, and any survivors could become level 1 henchmen of their main characters in our Pathfinder/DCC frankenstein game that has been running for almost a year now. It was easy to fit this in plotwise with our ongoing campaign.

The adventure was a ton of fun. The module needs a little bit of adjustment to run for DCC, but I did it all on the fly without any problem.

The dares were especially fun, and since level 0 DCC characters don't get hardly jack for items, it is very worthwhile for the players to try. I think I killed like 5 PCs from the dares alone.

Here were the most memorable:

The very first dare, "Dance with Squealy Nord", where a character has to ride a piglet rodeo-style for three rounds (3 successful Agility checks, roll equal to or under Agility score on a d20). First roll was a fail, and the PC fell off the pig and died.

Hide or Get Clubbed: This is the goblin version of hide and seek. The dare-taker rushes off into the marsh without any weapons and attempts to find a good hiding spot (I allowed the PCs to make two checks - d20+agi mod and d20+int mod and take the better result for their hide check). The other goblins try to find him, and if they do, the finder is allowed to whack the previously hidden goblin with a club. Once the goblins start looking, roll 1d10 to determine how many goblins come close enough to the hiding goblin to attempt –1 Perception checks to notice the hiding goblin. (Rolled a 10 and the first one found him.) If a goblin finds the hidden goblin, the resulting club strike automatically inflicts 1d4–1 points of damage. (BAM! DEAD! HAHAHAHHAA!) If no goblins find the hidden goblin, he wins a loan of the mystical Ring That Lets You Climb Real Good (a ring of  climbing).

After the dares, there's just one encounter on the way to the target. (Note that the adventure references the Pathfinder Bestiary, but you can get the needed stat blocks for free at if you don't have the actual book.) This is a relatively straightforward encounter against a big spider. Probably one or two guys will die depending on initiative. I made certain to explain the obvious trail back to the spider's lair after the fight so the PCs could pick up a few more mundane weapons.

Then, the final part, which really needs to be toned down unless you don't care about having a TPK. There is a wasp swarm trap, which the PCs will find impossible to kill off once triggered using Pathfinder swarm rules, since they are immune to normal weapon damage. Additionally, the druid at the end can summon a swarm (and she should!), which can be very deadly, potentially killing up to 4 PCs per round, but that one only lasts 2 rounds.

By the end, only 2 PCs remained from the 16 we had at the beginning. One of the players took a body part from one of his deceased 0-level dudes that he was particularly fond of, in order to have his main character get him resurrected someday. (Awww, how sweet.)

In summation, this session was a big hit with the players, and we spent most of the session laughing our asses off, which is how it should be. I highly recommend trying this combo, as the silliness of DCC 0-level play and this particular adventure complemented each other perfectly.

Monday, September 19, 2011

B2: Outpost on Outland

Zak with porn stars made a pretty good post about B2 as a one-page dungeon. Since a lot of the work I've been doing with Outland is very similar (although still not as lightweight as his stuff), I figured I'd take the opportunity to say, "Look at me! I'm smart too!"

Outland has barely anything to it right now. This is by design. For me, Outland is somewhere I can dump any idea I have and have it fit in okay. It's kind of meant as a remedy for my gamer ADD. If I get bored, I can just drop in a few hexes of whatever it is that is catching my fancy at the moment, whether it be space aliens, colorful dinosaur-riding men, wicked fey munchkins, the traditional huge ruined pile, a haunted house, castle amber, you name it. In case you are curious, the entire concept of Outland was sparked from this fine piece of work. I hope that guy starts posting again. I really enjoyed his stuff.

The basic framework I've started with and am building upon is of course B2: Keep on the Borderlands. The only thing is it's terribly organized and too wordy, so I'm basically rewriting it for my actual use at the table. I've changed the details, but the basic underlying framework is identical. Outpost of some far-reaching empire... check. Caves with a bunch of monsters... check. One of the things I've learned about myself is that writing stuff down makes it stick in my brain. Even if I'm running a module, I need to write down the important stuff myself, or I'll just forget it all. So I just figured since I'm doing that anyways, I'll just change everything.

The Last Outpost of the Undying Empire (a.k.a. The Keep)
So the keep is roughly the same, but it's crappier. It's surrounded by wooden palisades. Anyone riding a horse there gets their horse confiscated and slaughtered, since the beastmen can smell horses from miles away, and will mount a raid if they know horses are around. The place is watched over by Lord Something-or-other (it hasn't come up yet). There's guards, a sage, some shops, crappy tenements for the poorer folks, and nice apartments for rich visitors. Also a handful of undefined buildings in case I need them for something. The map stays in pencil in case there are changes I feel like making.

A lot of farmers are coming up here to farm the "blue tubers" that grow so well here. They are exported back to civilization for top dollar. No one knows why they're so popular amongst the nobles back home yet.

The Bell & Weasel, a dive bar outside the walls, has been the most popular place to party thanks to the tavern tables from Vornheim. An elf made it to level 2, only to get greedy and try to make some money by pit-fighting in the basement of that place. I just rolled a random encounter, and it was appropriately a pit viper, which he fought against and promptly proceeded to die. He made the first few saves, and came close to beating it, but fell just short.

The Outpost Hinterlands Wilderness Map
Here is the hex map, and you can see a lot of eraser marks on it already. The vast majority of it is still subject to change, as the only hexes that have been adventured in (not counting traveling) are 1014 (the keep), 0816 (the caves), and 1111 (Raid on Black Goat Wood). I love swamps, so I have to have a swampy spot in there, and I'm thinking of a Pembrooktonshire-style village up there by the lake, provided it doesn't get erased, but the thing is pretty wide open at this point, so the sky is the limit. I really like B4, so I may drop that in somewhere if I get around to giving it another read-through and jotting some notes. I'm also pretty certain that one of those forested hexes leads to X2: Castle Amber, a module I was very excited to run a few months back, but it didn't work out.

The Caves of Insert-Word-More-Evocative-Than-"Chaos"
Here's my version of the caves. First session yielded an air shark attack, which was pretty awesome. Can't wait for the Old Lady encounter to come up either. I have absolutely no idea what it is at the moment, so I'll be forced to think of something on the spot, which can be stressful, but it tends to yield fun results.

So far only the cyclops monkey nest has been fully cleared. It would make a decent base for anyone wishing to make some serious excursions into the caves, or the strange dungeon, the entrance to which was discovered in the back of the alien caves. I wish I could post the alien caves map, because I'm pretty fond of it, but it hasn't been fully explored yet.

Cave A: Cyclops Monkey Nest
I can post this one, since it's been fully cleared and the cave is now vacant (but for how long, no one can say). Anyone that's been paying attention to this blog for a while might notice a striking resemblance to a previous endeavor of mine. But, the players from my home group already did that version, so I had to switch it up a bit.   I wish I could nicely type up all my stuff with detailed notes and such for others to use, but honestly, it's boring as shit and takes 100x longer to do it that way versus just coming up with the idea and jotting down the rough notes like you see above.

At any rate, I got the opportunity to give (shameless name drop incoming!) Bruce Heard's cleric a cyclops eye mutation in these caves, and that was one of those awesome moments in gaming. He just gave me this weird, blank look, like, "What the fuck are you doing to D&D!?!?" No idea what was really on his mind, so we'll just have to see if he comes back to play a second session.

Now, I still have a few things left for me to refine in my games:

  1. I always bring way too much crap. I need to DRASTICALLY cut down the amount of materials I use in my games. My goal is a single Miscellaneum of Cinder-style booklet that has all the charts I use in one place, so I can stop flipping through literally a dozen books. And I would love to find a single monster book to rule them all, rather than the five or six I usually depend on. No, not Tome of Horrors, that's way too fucking big. I just got my copy of AC9: Creature Catalog in the mail today, and I'm hoping that will do the trick, at least for a while.
  2. I think I need to do more work up front regarding treasure. I fancy myself a monty haul guy (learned that from Jim Ward), but I've just been putting rolls on two-or-three-levels-higher-than-party-level treasure tables from Kellri's Encounters Netbook in my adventures, and they haven't yielded the magic item wealth I was hoping for. At a minimum, I think I need to just put rolls on magic item tables specifically in rooms, rather than waiting for them to come up on the treasure tables.
  3. I need a better way to organize my NPC notes. They always end up scattered all over the place. Hasn't been an issue so far, but as more and more play happens, I'll begin to lose track of things.
  4. Probably a bunch of other stuff, but those first 3 have been the biggest annoyances so far.
So there you have it. This is my creative-outlet-for-an-uncreative-guy thing I've been doing, and I've been having a lot of fun with it. If you made it this far, congratulations! I never read anyone's blog posts about their personal campaigns if they are this long, so I try not to write this kind of stuff myself, but I just felt compelled to do this one. If you read the whole thing I hope you got something out of it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Outland House Rules Booklet (Draft)

I finally got my Outland house rules booklet about 99% done. I just need to put in the credits to all the people I got art and ideas from, and figure out how to get that damn Quentin Caps font embedded on the first page. If it's something you think you might be interested in, feel free to take a peek and let me know what you think.

click for link to download

This was inspired by the work of Jason Vey, Jimm Johnson, and includes many of my favorite house rules by OSR dudes around the globe. It represents the vision of my personal "perfect D&D" (although that's certainly a moving target, and there's always room for more!)


P.S. - I will update it as soon as I get the final kinks out as well.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Outland Sorcery

"The Hand" by Miguel Santos (pictishscout on deviantart)

Here is my first draft of B/X-ish sorcery, which is being introduced not as a new class, but as an alternate magic system that standard magic-users can opt into.

Outland Sorcery
At any time, a magic-user may choose to abandon the traditional study of magic and pursue the dark sorceries that are so prevalent in Outland. This decision is permanent, and gives the sorcerer the following benefits and limitations.
Spells no longer need to be memorized. A sorcerer can cast any spell he knows at any time, but he must make a spell check to do so (roll 2d6). The effects will depend on the result of the check. Thus, the sorcerer is sacrificing the reliability of the traditional magic-user for the flexibility of sorcery.
  • Spell Fumble:
  • On a result of 2, the casting results in a critical failure. The sorcerer takes 1d6 subdual damage from the backlash per level of the spell. Additionally, there is a 10% chance of corruption per level of the spell. Roll a d10, and if the result is equal to or less than the level of the spell, a corruption occurs. The referee will let you know the nature of the corruption. Corruptions are generally permanent, but it is rumored that some sorcerers have successfully sought out ways to remove corruptions which they found to be particularly bothersome. If such a method exists, it certainly won’t be cheap.
  • Failure:
  • If the result on the table indicates an F, the spell is lost and cannot be cast again until the following day after the sorcerer has rested.
  • Delayed:
  • D indicates that the result of the spell is delayed, and will not take effect until the following round. If the caster is hit by a missile or engaged in melee before the spell goes off, the spell is treated as a failure.
  • Immediate:
  • An I indicates that the spell goes off immediately.
  • Spell Critical:
  • A result of 12 is a critical success, and the spell will have an increased effect, as determined by the referee.

To give credit where credit is due, this is influenced by Chainmail, the excellent work of Jason Vey in his Age of Conan and Forbidden Lore OD&D supplements, and the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG.

I would also like to have rules for sacrificing money/animals/people to get bonuses to spell checks (I really like Jason's rules for this, as outlined in his Secrets of Acheron supplement IIRC). I think a Summon Monster ability would be a nice touch as well. Actually, there are a million things I'd like to add, but I'm trying to keep it small enough to fit on a single digest-sized page, so I have to decide what's really important. I suppose I could always add complexity in the game through tomes or magic items, which is a strategy I've become quite fond of lately.

Anyways, I'm curious to know if anyone has any thoughts on the matter - good, bad, or indifferent.